Open Source: Don’t Steal What You Can Have for Free

Open source is not the same as public domain material. It is not content that is not owned by anyone.

The fact that we give something away for free does not allow you to just steal it.

DrJava is an open source project, made available under the BSD license. We freely distribute our source code and hope that others can use it and build on it. But we have not abandoned ownership of the code.

All we ask is that you follow the BSD license agreement, which can be found very easily on our website, in the “About DrJava” dialog of the program, and at the top of every source file:

  • We ask that you keep our license and copyright notice in the source files that you use.
  • We ask that you display our license and copyright in your running program.
  • We ask that you do not use our names (DrJava, JavaPLT, Rice University, and the names of the developers) to promote your product.

These are very simple rules. It doesn’t cost you anything. You can even still sell your product. Your product does not have to be open source like ours. We just ask that you give credit were credit is due.

In this particular case, we receipt a DrJava support request (and later another one) from a student at the Instituto Tecnologico de Ciudad Guzman in Mexico, who registered himself at SourceForge as francisco javier sainz ozegueda. I didn’t quite understand what he was trying to do, but I was assuming he was using DrJava as an IDE. I didn’t understand that he was writing his own IDE based on DrJava source code, and that’s why he was contacting us.

I wouldn’t have had any objections to this and would have tried to help, but when I looked at the source code he sent us, I discovered that he was using our source code, but had removed our license and copyright statement.

That means he is stealing something that we give away for free. Why?

I am going to chalk this up to the language barrier for now and hope that he will follow my request to adhere to our license.

Because otherwise this would be a dick move of him.


About Mathias

Software development engineer. Principal developer of DrJava. Recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Computer Science at Rice University.
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