A New Closed Source Viral License

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The “copyleft” provisions of the GPL (GNU General Public License) require that any changes or additions to a GPL licensed work must itself be licensed under terms that adhere to the GPL.

Critics of these “copyleft” provisions have derogatively labeled the GPL as a “viral” license. Such criticism points out that any code that seeks to incorporate GPL licensed code must itself adhere to the terms of the GPL, thus potentially “infecting” other code with its restrictions.

This has caused many developers of proprietary systems to be concerned about any usage of GPL code within their products for fear of turning their closed source codebase into a GPL licensed open source codebase.

But now there’s a new viral license to be feared. This new license us the product of a legal thought experiment that was assumed to be purely theoretical in nature, but impossible to actually realize. The experiment proposed the following question:

Just as there is a license which virally turns closed source code into open source code, is it possible to craft a viral license that does the opposite, turning open source into closed source?


Jim, I’m afraid it is.

The possibility of this specter has been a grave concern for many open source experts for years, but now has been realized by the new antithesis to the GPL called the CSPL, which stands for Closed Source Proprietary License.

Under the terms of the CSPL (pronounced Sess-Puhl), any codebase operating within the same user memory space of the CSPL licensed code is itself licensed under the CSPL which removes all rights to view or change the source code.

Famed Linux developer Linus Torvald, when presented with this news, could only muster the following comment.

Are you fucking kidding me?!

Which coincidentally was the same response uttered by notable Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson (aka DHH), apart from the fact that DHH omitted the words “Are”, “you”, “ing”, “kidding”, and “me”.

Noted open source developer Miguel De Icaza railed against this library in his twitter feed 140 characters at a time noting:

The CSPL is a travesty and a cancer and it must be stopped. OTOH, as long as http://trollcats.com/ is unaffected it can’t all be bad. BRB…

Miguel could not be reached for further comment as he was ostensibly engaged in finding the proper TrollCats image to express his complete outrage.

TekPub co-owner Rob Conery glumly noted that sales of his developer focused educational videos have declined precipitously ever since he was forced to redact the source code from his screen casts.


Well regarded speaker and .NET luminary Scott Hanselman had this to say…

This reminds me of the panic that ensued when it was discovered that the last GUID had been used up. By the way, have you seen the Hamster on a Piano?

Prolific blogger and open source developer, Oren Eini (also known as Ayende) noted with dismay that he was finding it very difficult to continue working on his projects formerly known as open source while averting his eyes from the screen in order to comply with the license. His blogging and open source contributions took a noticeable hit as he only managed 256 blog posts in the past week while contributing 297,051 lines of new code to NHibernate, Rhino Mocks, and Log4Net.

Richard Stallman could not be reached for comment on this matter, but it can be safely assumed a legal challenge is brewing.

Found a typo or error? Suggest an edit! If accepted, your contribution is listed automatically here.



15 responses

  1. Avatar for thoroughly disappointed
    thoroughly disappointed March 31st, 2010

    So sad that I cannot even see the source code on screen casts or training videos. I'm going to commit suicide. It is end of it.
    Good Bye!

  2. Avatar for Galilyou
    Galilyou March 31st, 2010

    The text CSPL is not linked to anywhere! Aaaahh hahahahaha .. this must be an April fool! Hopefully!

  3. Avatar for Martin Aatmaa
    Martin Aatmaa March 31st, 2010

    You think that's bad? I heard of another notable OSS developer who actually got his balls in a twist over this.

  4. Avatar for Martin Aatmaa
    Martin Aatmaa March 31st, 2010

    Also, I think there's a typo in your post.
    It's not CSPL. It's MS-PL.

  5. Avatar for Henning Anderssen
    Henning Anderssen March 31st, 2010

    Nice one, happy april fools day ;)

  6. Avatar for Kariem Mohamed
    Kariem Mohamed March 31st, 2010

    After reading this so seriously, i searched for it and nothing :D
    Nice April Fool :D

  7. Avatar for Kariem Mohamed
    Kariem Mohamed March 31st, 2010

    I have been "Fooled" and i like it :D

  8. Avatar for Shivam Guness
    Shivam Guness March 31st, 2010

    Nice one but I didn't catch me, Ihave been on th elook out the whole day.
    Happy April fools Day.

  9. Avatar for Seth
    Seth March 31st, 2010

    cess·pool [ˈsɛsˌpuːl]
    1. A covered hole or pit for receiving drainage or sewage, as from a house.
    2. A filthy, disgusting, or morally corrupt place.

  10. Avatar for Dhananjay Goyani
    Dhananjay Goyani April 1st, 2010

    Very much enjoyed. Ha ha...!!!

  11. Avatar for Josh
    Josh April 2nd, 2010

    You had me until the pronunciation

  12. Avatar for MvcPager
    MvcPager April 2nd, 2010

    It's sad that I could not subscribe to your rss feeds! I'm in China, is your rss feeds been blocked? very very sad!!

  13. Avatar for John Petersen
    John Petersen April 6th, 2010

    Great April Fools Post!!
    All kidding aside, the MIT license is just such an OSS license where open source can find its way to closed source/proprietary projects. It's precisely why jQuery is dual licensed under the MIT and the GPL. It facilitates companies like Telerik to issue proprietary licenses on their MVC extensions. It also makes open source feasable to those companies who wish to remain on a closed source track.

  14. Avatar for Roman
    Roman April 9th, 2010

    A very funny post. Ha Ha!!
    I see that Scott Ha is still on the "hamsters on the piano" acid trip.

  15. Avatar for Anaoyun
    Anaoyun April 23rd, 2010

    Very Nice. Ha Ha!