Brussels / 2 & 3 February 2019


JavaScript: If you love it, set it free

The vast majority of JavaScript carries no license or copyright notice at all, often because of concerns about optimizing bandwidth and speed, but also because of a lack of awareness. As JavaScript developers, you are well-positioned to help solve this problem -- by clearly licensing your code, by making improvements to the common tooling, and by providing important feedback on what licensing methods make the most sense.

The lack of clear licensing info, especially when combined with minification, makes most JavaScript proprietary for the users who receive and execute it in their browsers, even if the source code is available elsewhere on the Internet in some repository under a free license. The lack also means rampant license violations, for both permissively and reciprocally licensed code. The Free Software Foundation has proposed and implemented a couple of licensing metadata methods by which JavaScript which is intended to be free software can clearly say so, and therefore actually respect the freedom of its users. This is the first step in compliant and realistic distribution of copyleft-licensed JavaScript, as well as a step toward allowing free software users to run only free software inside the browser as they do outside the browser. Other approaches have been proposed as well. We will discuss these questions and seek input on the approaches so far, and hopefully leave with some momentum to make positive changes.


Photo of John Sullivan John Sullivan