What You Do Says About You

Friday, April 29, 2016
कर्मणयेवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोस्तवाकर्मणि

John Czaplewski aka @johnjcz texted me kvetching that someone had taken his work, work that John had put in the public domain via the CC0 Public Domain Dedication, but this other person neglected to give John credit. Here is how our conversation went:

John [11:30:50 AM] John: i had one person (from <nameless bad organization>) that they use a module I wrote, but had to make a bunch of fixes - they haven't contributed them back

i just found some dude who took a different module I wrote, added two lines of code, and didn't cite me or contribute back

Puneet [11:30:57 AM] punkish: he doesn't have to. That is why it is CC0

John [11:31:01 AM] John: I know

Puneet [11:31:09 AM] punkish: if you have expectations, then don't make your work CC0

use CC BY

John [11:31:30 AM] John: I can't tell if I'm bothered or not

Puneet [11:32:28 AM] punkish: but then you will spend a certain fraction of your life worrying about those expectations. On the other hand, if you are like me, you make something CC0 because you get joy in just making it and then moving on. Don't give a fuck about what others do. You've had your fun. Move on to the next bit of fun. I find that attitude has simplified my life by an unquantifiable fraction

John [11:32:59 AM] John: I definitely lean toward CC0

Puneet [11:33:09 AM] punkish: also, if you did make it CC BY, or even "All rights reserved," what is the guarantee they would credit you?

the fact that they are not crediting you says more about them than about you

John [11:33:21 AM] John: For me it's on the principle that I am paid by tax dollars

Puneet [11:33:32 AM] punkish: the fact that you made your work CC0 says a lot about you

I am not paid by tax dollars but I just have little desire to own stuff, and definitely not on the basis of IP

actually, I am lying a bit. As of right now, I am indeed being paid by tax dollars, because the program that has hired me is funded by federal monies

but the principle remains the same

John [11:34:52 AM] John: That's a good point

the chosen license says something, but the respect of it says more

John is a great guy, very smart programmer, sweet temperament, cat-lover, skinny-jeans-wearer, eats organic food, check-all-the-boxes. He has also used CC0 for most of his work almost ever since we have known each other. While I would like to think I may have something to do with that decision of his, he himself has everything to do with it. And therein lies a lesson:

कर्मणयेवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोस्तवाकर्मणि

Chapter two verse 47 of भगवदगीता or Bhagvadgita, or simply Gita, is “set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Lord Krishna. Facing the duty as a warrior to fight the Dharma Yudhha or righteous war between Pandavas and Kauravas, Arjuna is counselled by Lord Krishna”1 to do his duty and not worry about the result.

Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana: You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani: Never consider yourself the cause of the result of your actions, and may you never want to not do your duty

  1. Bhagvad Gita description from The Wikipedia used under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.