Healthcare.gov Violates Open Source License
from the this-could-be-interesting dept
With all of the other problems associated with the launch of the Healthcare.gov website, you’d think that some of those expensive government contractors would understand open source licensing and how it works. Apparently not. It would appear that the site uses DataTables, which is a free and open source plug-in for jQuery, allowing for much better data handling and display. But, as most people who understand open source software recognize, there are often conditions for such usage, including the need to retain the license information in the software. DataTables is available as both a GPL v2 and BSD license, and even the DataTables team notes that basically all you have to do is “keep the copyright notices in the software.”
But Healthcare.gov did not do that.
Oops. While it’s not exactly “blatant software piracy” as some consipiracy-theory sites are claiming, it is a violation of the license, and thus, a form of copyright infringement. SpryMedia, the company behind DataTables has responded by saying it’s “extremely disappointed”. While the almost always sensationalistic Russia Today is claiming that SpryMedia “plans to sue” that doesn’t seem to be supported anywhere else. So far, there’s just a tweet saying that it’s “excellent to see DataTables being used” and that “leaving the copyright header in place isn’t too much to ask :-).”
Open source developers don’t often sue over misuses of their licenses, though it does happen. Of course, a better solution than going to court would be for the government to fix the mistake, make a public statement about this and, potentially, donate to DataTables.