Sharing Code

This editorial was originally published on Jan 25, 2011. It is being re-run as Steve is on vacation.

It seems that almost every week I encounter some form of plagiarism it the SQL Server community. Whether its from SQLServerCentral or it’s someone else, it seems that I’m either alerting someone or sending my own takedown notice.  It’s a little sad that I have to even explain the morality of re-publishing someone’s else’s content without giving them credit to anyone over 8 years old, but apparently I do. However this isn’t a piece about plagiarism.

I have seen people take various additional steps to protect their content, and that’s fine. It’s their right, and I understand that some people derive a level of income from their work. Whether it’s direct or indirect, it doesn’t matter. If someone wants to protect their work and they don’t want you to reuse it, then respect their wishes. If not for legal reasons, for moral ones.

As we publish information on the web, however, I would think most of us hope our code and ideas are adapted and re-used. Not used in another publishing piece (blog, article, etc.), but used in a piece of production code that makes a system run better. I know when I’ve published code that helps someone track backups or monitor their servers, I was quite honored to hear that someone used my code in their system.

Sometimes I wonder if  other authors out there feel the same way. Do writers assume their code will be rewritten by someone before it is used. Digital rights and intellectual property are immature fields, and I’m not sure how we ought to best handle the re-use of code. Authors have the right to decide how they want their works to be shared, and should publish their decision. I would hope that others out there would respect that.

Steve Jones

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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