6 Open Source Licenses Guaranteed to Annoy Legal

A collection of interesting open source licenses I've come across.

Source: An actual Facebook post by my own father.

Many of us have copied and pasted a MIT, Apache 2, or GPL license to a newly created open source project without thinking twice. However, there are some engineers who had more specific thoughts on how they wanted their software to be used.

  1. D&R (Death and Repudiation) License

Engineers are dying to use this license, literally. The Death and Repudiation License says that no living beings may use the software. Even ghosts and angels are not safe from this extreme license. The license does specify that the software may not be used directly by any living being, so you might be able to safely incorporate it into an automated deployment script.

This software may not be used directly by any living being.  ANY use of this
software (even perfectly legitimate and non-commercial uses) until after death
is explicitly restricted.  Any living being using (or attempting to use) this software
will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

For your protection, corpses will not be punished.  We respectfully request 
that you submit your uses (revisions, uses, distributions, uses, etc.) to 
your children, who may vicariously perform these uses on your behalf.  If 
you use this software and you are found to be not dead, you will be punished 
to the fullest extent of the law.

If you are found to be a ghost or angel, you will be punished to the fullest 
extent of the law.

After your following the terms of this license, the author has vowed to repudiate
your claim, meaning that the validity of this contract will no longer be recognized.
This license will be unexpectedly revoked (at a time which is designated to be
most inconvenient) and involved heirs will be punished to the fullest extent
of the law.

Furthermore, if any parties (related or non-related) escape the punishments
outlined herein, they will be severely punished to the fullest extent of a new
revised law that (1) expands the statement "fullest extent of the law" to encompass
an infinite duration of infinite punishments and (2) exacts said punishments 
upon all parties (related or non-related).

2. Chicken Dance License (excerpt)

Chicken dance for the uninitiated. The Chicken Dance License (CDL) is interesting because the restrictions increase with the usage of the software. A user must perform the chicken dance 2 minutes for every thousand "units" of software distributed. For over 20000 units distributed, the user needs to record themselves and submit the video to the OWNERS of the repository. There are also some other random restrictions, such as restricting any employees or people affiliated with the product from saying "gazorninplat", which apparently is one of the random words typed by a monkey that was otherwise showing promise in an experiment to prove the infinite monkey theorem.

4. An entity wishing to redistribute in binary form or 
include this software in their product without 
redistribution of this software's source code with the 
product must also submit to these conditions where 
applicable: 
	* For every thousand (1000) units distributed, at 
		least half of the employees or persons 
		affiliated with the product must listen to the 
		"Der Ententanz" (AKA "The Chicken Dance") as 
		composed by Werner Thomas for no less than two 
		(2) minutes
	* For every twenty-thousand (20000) units distributed, 
		one (1) or more persons affiliated with the entity 
		must be recorded performing the full Chicken Dance, 
		in an original video at the entity's own expense,
		and a video encoded in OGG Theora format or a format
		and codec specified by <OWNER>, at least three (3) 
		minutes in length, must be submitted to <OWNER>, 
		provided <OWNER>'s contact information. Any and all
		copyrights to this video must be transfered to 
		<ORGANIZATION>. The dance featured in the video
		must be based upon the instructions on how to perform 
		the Chicken Dance that you should have received with
		this software. 
	* Any employee or person affiliated with the product 
		must be prohibited from saying the word "gazorninplat" in 
		public at all times, as long as distribution of the 
		product continues. 

3. YOLO License

Because You Only License Once. The YOLO license looks like something a Markov chain text generator would spit out. You know it's official when the license is written in all caps and contains legal jargon like "tort". It's unclear how you comply with the license fully, but it seems like even putting any sort of consideration into compliance would be a violation of the YOLO spirit.

YOLO LICENSE
Version 1, July 10 2015

THIS SOFTWARE LICENSE IS PROVIDED "ALL CAPS" SO THAT YOU KNOW IT IS SUPER
SERIOUS AND YOU DON'T MESS AROUND WITH COPYRIGHT LAW BECAUSE YOU WILL GET IN
TROUBLE HERE ARE SOME OTHER BUZZWORDS COMMONLY IN THESE THINGS WARRANTIES
LIABILITY CONTRACT TORT LIABLE CLAIMS RESTRICTION MERCHANTABILITY SUBJECT TO
THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

1. #yolo
2. #swag
3. #blazeit

4. Hot Potato License

Sorry - Legally, I can't fix my bugs. The Hot Potato License (HPL) allows anyone to make changes, but only the last person to change the software gets all rights to the code.

HOT POTATO LICENSE
Version 1, September 2017
All rights reserved by the last person to commit a change to this
repository, except for the right to commit changes to this repository,
which is hereby granted to all of earth's citizens for the purpose of
committing changes to this repository.

5. WFTPL (v2)

I actually remember reading an internal thread at Google about this license. While the spirit of the license seems clear, it hasn't been tested in a court yet. For this reason, its suggested that you just use the MIT license instead, despite how appealing the wording of this one might be.

DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE
Version 2, December 2004

Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar <sam@hocevar.net>

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified
copies of this license document, and changing it is allowed as long
as the name is changed.

DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE
TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION

0. You just DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO.

6. Beerware

To Whomst Beer Createth Value, Beer Transferth Value. To a maintainer of an open source project, the only thing more valuable than a contribution is a free beer. This license lets users use the software for any purpose, with the only restriction that if you ever meet the author in-person one day, you must be them a beer in return. Before COVID-19, a clearly profitable strategy in engineering hubs.

/*
 * ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 * "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):
 * <phk@FreeBSD.ORG> wrote this file.  As long as you retain this notice you
 * can do whatever you want with this stuff. If we meet some day, and you think
 * this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return.   Poul-Henning Kamp
 * ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 */


Hi 👋, I'm Matt Rickard. I spent the last few years at Google working on open source distributed systems. Now, I'm at Stanford getting my MBA. I write about technology and startups.

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