Monday, June 11, 2007


Courtesy of my coworker, Andrew, who wrote the following on my whiteboard:
Plz Use namespace System
Awsum! KThxBye!
I don’t know if I have the heart to tell him that his syntax doesn’t appear to match the only known implementation. Further alas that it’s GPL’d, which means that per Microsoft’s Chinese-wall-like policy, if I desire to keep my job, I can’t even look at the implementation. Ah, well. I guess, IM NOT IN YR CODZ.


Nick Johnson said...

Good news, then (at least potentially): I've been meaning to change the license due to a conflict with the command line parsing library we're using. Thus, I've just changed the license to Apache 2.0, which to the best of my knowledge is 'compabitle'. Hopefully that's more compatible with your employer, too. ;)

Nathan Herring said...

From the Legal Dept's perspective, it's not merely the license the code was released under, it's also the heritage of the code. If some evil coder had stolen code IP from a source base, added it to a project with an open source, copy-reuse-repackage freely license, and I used it, the original IP owner could still sue me to get me to desist using their IP. So, in the interest of protecting corporate code from this sort of legal attack, Legal usually has to perform some pretty thorough (and thus also expensive) investigation before letting anyone see open source code; you can imagine that there generally has to be a good business justification before that kind of thing happens.

On the other hand, binary distributions are OK. Source distributions where we don't have to look at the source in order to get it to build (configure and makefiles etc. are generally OK to look at) and we don't redistribute can be OK, but still require Legal approval.

Theoretically, I could leave the company, work in open source for years (well, at least for the first two in non-competing projects), and then re-join Microsoft (assuming they'd still have me), at the cost of possibly not being able to develop on any team that was producing some technology that I had viewed or contributed to while away, out of the same general reasons for IP-taint-avoidance.

In any case, I guess I was not completely forthright, implying that the GPL-ness of the code being the main issue behind my not being able to look at it. :) I suppose, though, if it is a source-level distribution, I could ask Legal, "CAN HAS LOLCODE.NET?"

Nick Johnson said...

Fair enough. I was planning on changing the license anyway, this post just served to make me stop procrastinating. ;)

There _is_ a binary distribution on the project page, by the way. Not thoroughly packaged (it's just a zip file with the relevant binaries, a README and a CHANGELOG), but it does the job.