[License-discuss] exploring the attachment between the author and the code

Christopher Sean Morrison brlcad at mac.com
Fri Feb 28 17:26:59 UTC 2020

This exploration is a beautiful change of pace that I can get behind, so thanks Gil!

I would offer a counter-perspective to your code ownership claim.  I’ve authored and modified more than a million lines of code over decades across multiple projects, but I actually don’t perceive any of it as “my code” even where the inception, authorship, and sharing are 100% me.

In my world view, the code belongs to all and can’t or at least shouldn’t be “owned” once it’s Open.  I wrote it, but it’s not “mine”.  It WAS mine … before I shared it, before it was “performed”, before it was dedicated as Open Source.  Even my subscription to the legal practices of licensing are more out of desire to engender community and protect the code’s vitality, protect the performance as it's subjected to change.

To quote author Ursula Le Gain, “Nothing is yours.  It is to use.  It is to share.  If you will not share it, you cannot use it.”  Of course, I accept my world view is unconventional and to each their own.


> I'm exploring the psychological relationship between the author of a work, and the work. i.e. parsing the phrase "my open source code" and would like your thoughts. 
> Assume I need an algorithm, say the quadratic formula. Option A <https://github.com/spilos/Equasion-Solver> is promising and is licensed under GPLv3. Option B <https://github.com/jasonwynn10/Past-Console-Projects/tree/master/quadratic%20equasion> is also promising, and is released to the public domain under the Unlicense. Option C: I write my own code and publish it under a license of my choice.
> Obvious differences (language, licenses, amount of work involved in incorporating it into my larger solution) are apparent. Less obvious to everyone but me is that Option C is "my" code, and I feel an attachment to it. When I license it, I'm declaring terms on how I want you to use 'my' code. Thus I'm exploring the idea of "my code" with this group, since it informs my license choice.
> When I use open source code in my solution, I still feel that my solution is mine (even though others wrote some of it).
> When my code is used by others, I don't feel less attached to my code. It still feels mine.
> When an open source community modifies my code, when is it no longer my code (grandfather's ax problem)?
> You see, I realize the quadratic formula is not mine. My coding is mine, but I'm just encoding someone else's solution, a solution discovered hundreds of years ago. I'm encoding it in a syntax someone else specified. My solution may be novel to me, but not to others. So what is it that attaches me to code such that I decide the terms under which you use it in your solution?
> Gil Yehuda: I help with external technology engagement
> From the Open Source Program Office <https://developer.yahoo.com/opensource/docs/> at Yahoo --> Oath - -> Verizon Media
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