Editing Open Source Comes to Campus/Curriculum/Licensing

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* '''If you're not 100% sure you have the right to do something, you don't.''' Don't assume you can copy and modify a program unless you've found specific permission to do so, somewhere. This could be a personal message from the distributor, or a COPYING file in the git repo, or a license statement in a specific file. Just make sure it applies to what you're copying or changing.
 
* '''If you're not 100% sure you have the right to do something, you don't.''' Don't assume you can copy and modify a program unless you've found specific permission to do so, somewhere. This could be a personal message from the distributor, or a COPYING file in the git repo, or a license statement in a specific file. Just make sure it applies to what you're copying or changing.
 
* '''If you aren't exasperated by the verbosity of a license to do something, you probably still can't do that thing.''' Lawyers get paid well for a reason: They spend their days sitting in an office thinking up ways to screw with their own work. That's why the GPL and licenses like it are so very, insanely, mind-numbingly long. If the license you're reading just says "Do whatever you'd like" or "This project is free for everyone", there's probably some subtle thing in copyright law that the authour didn't think of. Even if you don't think there is, it doesn't hurt to be absolutely certain. Suggest that they use an existing license, probably a permissive license - not just to protect you, but to protect them, too.
 
* '''If you aren't exasperated by the verbosity of a license to do something, you probably still can't do that thing.''' Lawyers get paid well for a reason: They spend their days sitting in an office thinking up ways to screw with their own work. That's why the GPL and licenses like it are so very, insanely, mind-numbingly long. If the license you're reading just says "Do whatever you'd like" or "This project is free for everyone", there's probably some subtle thing in copyright law that the authour didn't think of. Even if you don't think there is, it doesn't hurt to be absolutely certain. Suggest that they use an existing license, probably a permissive license - not just to protect you, but to protect them, too.
* '''Always include a license in your projects.''' If you have ever run across a project without a license file, you know how frustrating it is, and you should try not to inflict that frustration on others. This is a huge problem on the popular code hosting site, GitHub, where many people simply upload code and assume that's enough. Sharing freely requires a bit more thought.
 
  
 
== Further reading ==
 
== Further reading ==

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