A few days ago I’ve seen some pointless argument on a forum where some user claimed that any website that uses addon third party scripts (like js files, css files etc.) and does not show up the licensing comments within the files itself is actually violating the licensing policy of the third party script. After that I’ve seen this same argument in few other forums too and even I’ve received some emails about this concern too. So, I decided to write a small article to clarify this whole false licensing violation hoax.
When you use any free scripts from any websites like github and incorporate into your own website, in most cases the scripts are released under GPL2 or MIT license. You are free to use these scripts anywhere you want at any means you want. If you read the GPL v2 License Preamble or the MIT license you’ll see that it is not mandatory to show up the original author name, but from the humanity perspective it is always best to give credit to the proper people who spend hours developing the script so that you can have fun.
What’s happens to this licensing with minifiaction enabled?
Minification is a process to remove unnecessary text from your static files like CSS, JS etc. to make the file size as low as possible. Some advanced minification scripts even completely change the function names from
b() so that the minified file contain less character and hence file size gets reduced.
Now this is needless to say that when you enable minification it not only removes comments that you have added in your code for easy debugging but also removes anything mentioned under comment tags (i.e.
//…..), including the basic licensing texts which you will see at the top of all free scripts you download from internet. It generally looks something like this:
/*! * jQuery Example Library v1.11.3 * http://jquery.com/ * * Includes example.js * http://example.com/ * * Copyright 2005, 2015 jQuery Foundation, Inc. and other contributors * Released under the MIT license * http://jquery.org/license * * Date: 2015-04-28T16:19Z */
So, after minification you end up with a tiny file consist of only the things that is really needed, no useless stuffs. That is why minification is something that all professional webmasters use on their website. Along with minification another thing that comes is combination which actually combine similar static files like (css/js) into one or very few number of files so that less number of HTTP requests made by the browsers to load site faster.
Now after using combine feature it’s hard to keep track of your individual script codes as one js file might have all codes from 6 other js files. So, again it’s hard to understand what you are looking for just by reading a minified & combined code.
What’s the best way for giving credit to authors?
Actually there is no licensing violation for using minification & combine option in your website and again you are not obliged to mention the author name too. But if you are a humanitarian and want to give the proper credit to the respective authors whom work you have used in your project or website, I will suggest to create a page or article and mention the respective author and script name within it like I did with my v5 release article posted few weeks back.
By doing this, you will not just give a proper credit to the respective author besides you will give them an organic backlink too. Trust me this is much more helpful than just a few commented stuffs within your script file.
Where does this concern come from?
As internet gives power to everybody, some people (with little knowledge) tries to be jack of all trade in various known forums and when some newbie user go there for help these guys share opinion on things as statement and create a panic. Lol! 😀
Anyways, the short answer is some half-educated person shared his wired theory about licensing violation in such a way that makes people worried. I do not want to share the name of the forum as it is a well-known forum and I don’t want to kill their reputation for some half-educated users.
What if I use these free scripts in my paid theme or plugin?
Again both GPLv2 and MIT license allow users to reedit the original code and sell it any way they feel fit. But the sold code again can be reedited by someone else and re-selled for some other purpose. You will get a more clean idea if you read the GPLv2 preamble and MIT license link that I’ve provided above. So, what if you don’t mention the author name whose scripts you have used for some part of your project.
Well, if it is under GPLv2 or MIT license the maximum it can do is that it can make the author very angry knowing that you are selling something that uses his code but you didn’t give any credit to him. But that’s it, he/she cannot do anything else about that.
As a developer myself, I always believe in giving proper credit to everyone who deserves it. So, if you have used someone else’s script for something in your project, just mentioned their name along with the proper URL to those scripts either in your product page or in some blog post. Humanity is what keeps the open source really open. So, please don’t be evil and give credits to everyone who deserves it.
So, does anyone also fooled you with this similar licensing violation story? Do you use minification in your website too? What is your opinion about giving credit to the proper authors? Which method do you use to give proper credits to authors? I’m very excited to hear your thoughts about this matter. Feel free to carry on this conversation in the comment section below.
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