Make license/licenses field mandatory

Eric Hodel drbrain at
Thu Oct 13 23:15:09 EDT 2011

On Oct 13, 2011, at 2:45 PM, Jay Feldblum wrote:
> Instead, some innocent programmer might download and use a gem from *illegally*, and *punishably under the law*.

It's not the job of RubyGems to police what people do beyond making sure the versions of gems they install are mutually compatible.

I've heard people claim that using certain combinations of GPL and certain other-licensed software is illegal.  Restricting this through RubyGems is not going to prevent people from using such combinations as they'll work around it.

Yes, I understand that mandatory licenses in the spec will make it easier for users of gems that want to audit licenses of gems they installed to do so, but getting authors setting the license in the spec is your first problem.  Sudden, mandatory licensing is likely to go over with them about as well as the deprecation warnings on RubyGems 1.8.0 without a careful campaign of education on why it is useful to pave the way.

PS: Can you show a case where a software author has uploaded unlicensed (or non-free-licensed) software to a website where open-source software is shared (like,,, or similar) then sued users who downloaded it?  I haven't heard of such a thing in over ten years of open source contribution and use so I'm highly unconvinced.

I think a successful suit is about as likely as an arrest for taking cookies from an unsupervised plate in the middle of a public park that's sitting next to a box with a "free" sign.  Sure, the cookie plate doesn't say "free", but why did you put it next to the free box in the first place?

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