Stop with the armchair lawyering already…

So there’s an on-going argument about Stillsecure’s use of Snort.

As I look back, a few things become crystal clear to me:

  1. Coders should code and lawyers should write licenses.
  2. Coders shouldn’t try to write “clarifications” aka how they interpret a license.
  3. If you don’t think someone is following the terms of your license, having arguments on the internet is a waste of everyone’s time. Go talk to a lawyer who is an expert in this area and see if you have a case. If so, go sue them; if not, pick a new license or learn to deal with it.

Hopefully #1 is self explainitory. Obviously some big names in the open source community disagree with my opinion of #2. But let’s think about this for a minute:

Either these are merely the author’s (who’s not a legal expert) opinion and not legally binding, in which case they can be safely ignored OR they are binding in which case not only are they violating #1, but also potentially changing the legal definition of the license they choose (in these two cases the GPLv2).

To make matters worse, you now have a bunch of computer geeks arguing what the legal definition of a “derivative work” is which really is pretty pointless when you think about it. Even if you could get everyone to agree before the heat death of the universe, it still doesn’t mean anything from a legal perspective. All it does is confuse people and obscure the real issue at hand.

Hence, I would like to make a simple solution which actually would resolve this issue in a reasonably clear manner: Marty and Sourcefire should just sue Stillsecure for violating the GPLv2 which Snort is licensed under and let the courts figure out who’s interpretation right. Seriously, put your $$$ where your mouth is. Yes, lawyers aren’t cheap, but you’re already complaining about how violating the license hurts your company and it’s pretty clear you’re not going to guilt Stillsecure and these other companies into doing things your way.

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