I was just looking through XSnippets for IP issues (yeah, I know, they are only snippets – but read on) and noticed something that is a really common problem – code from blogs – with no permission for anyone to actually use it.

There are millions of code snippets that are posted on blogs all over the place. And, tt is very likely that the intention of the bloggers is that anyone looking at the code should be able to use it. Why else would the blogger post the code.

Most blogs say nothing at all about how the posted material may be used. Worse, some blogs, like blogspot.ca, state “All rights reserved”. Others rely one of the more restrictive Creative Commons licenses that don't permit commercial use. There is an IBM Lotus blog which restricts use of posted material to the personal use of the reader.

None of these situations is good.

Just because someone posts code, it doesn't mean that you can use it. Of course, you can argue that no one is going to sue you for using code that was obviously put there for people to use. Good argument. However, if your code makes it into your company's product, and if a large company with strict IP rules wants to either distribute that software or buy your company – it will be a real impediment to the deal if your code has unlicensed blog-derived code. Large companies want to make sure that all your code was written by you or was acquired under a proper license. And when you have code from blogs, based on code from other blogs, tracing back to get all the required permissions can become a nightmare. (I've been through it.)

So – my suggestions are:

- For those posting in blogs – add a line that clearly gives the reader permission to use the code for any purpose.
- And for those using code from blogs, ensure that there is some license or permission statement, and if not, email the author to ask for permission to use the code. If enough people started emailing for permission, perhaps bloggers would take a hint and clarify the matter at
 the time of posting.

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