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I'm writing some OS software just for funsies, and it's licensed using MS-PL (ie, do pretty much anything you want with it).

It's a project from which I'm using many different sources (lots of personal reading/research going into it) and I'm crediting the original book/writer in the comment header(s) of the files as applicable. I'm doing it so that if anyone actually decides to read or use the code, they can refer to the original sources that inspired the work.

Of note:

  • I own a copy of each source
  • All of the sources are able to be purchased by the general public (amazon)
  • As far as I can tell, none of the books explicitly state that the code is licensed
  • None of the code is copied verbatim. I've translated it all from various languages (mostly C++) to C#, and when appropriate I've added exception handling etc.

I'm just wondering if there are any implications of sourcing these books in a freely open source application/library.

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3  
Out of curiosity, why the MS-PL? It's not a very popular license. –  Rein Henrichs Apr 30 '11 at 17:32
    
You haven't made clear how you are using the sources. Do you mean that you are copying source code from these books verbatim? –  Rein Henrichs Apr 30 '11 at 18:37
    
@Rein Henrichs: I think I mentioned that in my 4th point. What should I add to be more clear? Also, I don't really know (or care TBH... I just wanna write some code) much about licensing at all. It was short and available in the codeplex drop down. –  Steve Evers Apr 30 '11 at 18:47
    
Huh. Somehow I missed your fourth point. –  Rein Henrichs Apr 30 '11 at 20:20
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It really is going to depend on the book. If there is no explicit license stated granting you rights, then the rights are reserved by the author.

The best course of action would be to contact the publisher of the book or the author if you have any questions about using their code in your own projects. I know O'Reilly has a statement about this in all of their books that I own.

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If rights are not explicitly granted, then they are, by default, reserved. Contact the author, and get an individual or collective grant of rights in writing (email es good enough). –  Apalala Apr 30 '11 at 18:06
    
@Apalala Thanks, edited my answer to be more accurate. –  sp0rus Apr 30 '11 at 18:16
    
Thanks for the info, I'm contacting the authors of the respective books asking for permission to use and reference the books/articles that I'm using. –  Steve Evers Apr 30 '11 at 18:45
    
If you didn't copy the code verbatim, they don't hold a copyright on your version. If it's in a different language, they can't possibly claim copyright. There's no copying. It might nevertheless be a good idea to contact the authors. –  Rein Henrichs Apr 30 '11 at 20:22
    
@Rein Henrichs - Translating (Transposing) falls under copyright as well. So to type the code from the book and to translate it from C++ to C# is actually copying. –  hakre May 30 '11 at 1:26
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A possible implication would be that any code (if the work is indeed under the MS-PL) would be incompatible with any version of the GNU GPL (ctrl-f to find MS-PL).

The least restrictive (and compatible choice) would be a 2 or 3 clause BSD license. If you are distributing your own implementations of what you saw in books, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

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Ehh, he's not writing a book, but using code from books in an open source project...? –  Marjan Venema Apr 30 '11 at 18:04
    
@Marjan - Brain fart, edited as you posted that. –  Tim Post Apr 30 '11 at 18:05
    
-) (...and all this to avoid 15 character limit...) –  Marjan Venema Apr 30 '11 at 18:07
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Thanks for the heads up. I've changed the license to the New BSD license, and I'm also contacting the authors of the respective books asking for permission to use and reference the books/articles that I'm using. –  Steve Evers Apr 30 '11 at 18:45
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