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In place of a legal notice, here is a blessing


From the README -

> If you are reading this on GitHub or some other Git repository or service, then you are looking at a mirror.

The same file from the fossil repository -


Thanks, the text was much harder to read in the mirror.


I almost feel like SQLite could have documentary made about it at this point. There are so many things about it that are just unique and fascinating.



That story about how Mitchell Baker helped set up the SQLite Consortium is interesting, hadn't heard of that before. She gets a lot of flak for the direction Mozilla has been heading, so it's heartening to hear how she advocated that the Consortium be set up in a way where the developers retain the power.


Thanks for the link I very much enjoyed that


I remember several years ago, I was considering pushing for some changes to our application to use a database like sqlite instead of a proprietary flat file format. I remember reading through the source and realizing how beautiful C source code could be, compared to the prop C code I was used to working on. That plus the constant improvement, stellar performance, and beautiful source code make Sqlite one of the top most gems of open-source software in my opinion. Huge props to Dwayne Hipp and the other contributors to this database which has enabled so many apps and products!


FWIW: when i met drh for the first time in September 2011 i asked him, "what's the D in your name for, if i may ask?" His answer was, "only my mother gets to call me that."

PS: He goes by Richard.


Has anyone heard of any issues using SQLite in jurisdictions without a concept of the public domain? The copyright page [1] seems to imply that you'd need to buy a license from Hwaci.



It remains an open legal question (at least in the United States) whether or not an author even can voluntarily release something into the public domain. Hwaci could theoretically decide that, actually, that they never really put SQLite in the public domain and in fact possess full copyright over it and would like not only current and future licensing fees, but also retroactive fees from everyone who's used it over the past 20 years without legal permission. Lawsuits ensue, pandemonium happens, etc.

However, if you actually did acquire a license from them beforehand (when it was still theoretically free), they'd have no ground to sue and such a case brought against you would be thrown out of court immediately.


Uh, no, they can't change history and take back the words they put there 20 years ago, or decide unilaterally that those words actually meant something else. The matter of whether a work has been successfully dedicated to the public domain (and when, and in what jurisdictions) is a matter for a court, not a matter to be arbitrarily decided or revoked at any time by the (at the time) copyright holder. It's a matter of words, interpretation, and copyright laws and treaties. Everyone has understood it to be public domain, this matches all the statements on all their documentation, and it would be ridiculous for a court to find otherwise.

The "open legal question" of whether you can voluntarily dedicate something to the public domain does not mean there is open slather to anyone who has done it to choose what the answer to the question is. It means it is open to a judge to decide the question once and for all someday, and then that question is resolved for everyone. I don't even know if your assessment of the question's unresolved status is correct.


>The matter of whether a work has been successfully dedicated to the public domain (and when, and in what jurisdictions) is a matter for a court, not a matter to be arbitrarily decided or revoked at any time by the (at the time) copyright holder.

Right, and a judge could rule that, in fact, it is possible to arbitrarily revoke free licensing at any time.

>it would be ridiculous for a court to find otherwise

You say that, but we live in a world of ridiculous IP law.


What prevents this scenario is estoppel: the users of sqlite have been told they can use it freely and Hwaci can’t retrospectively withdraw their promise.


every time I see this word as a non native english speaker it sounds to me as a low level error ESTOPPEL ("Error: Stopped by Eminent Lawyer" or something)


Even when the concept of "public domain" may not apply as such, one can create a license that effectively grants public domain rights. CC0 is an example of such a license. What SQLite is doing here is similar.

Jurisdictions may impose limits as to what rights can be waived via license, but those limits apply to all licenses. In other words, if a PD-style license is invalid and does not confer the right to use the software, allowing the author to sue you for using the software, then the same is true of all freeware, open source, and commercial licenses. Buying a license wouldn't magically grant you any additional rights just because you paid money.

The commercial license stuff is CYA for companies with legal departments that don't understand open source or think the words "public domain" are spooky. In practice, SQLite and anything under a similar license is basically "as free as the law lets us make it" - and if it turns out that's not very free, that means we have a bit problem with more popular licenses like BSD, MIT, and GPL.

In practice, AIUI, the finer points that are under debate depending on the jurisdiction are around things like retaining authorship and moral rights (i.e. being credited). I don't think the idea of being able to provide a piece of software for free with no restrictions on usage or modification is under any kind of serious question. And the idea of not requiring credit for derivative works is also universal in the entire copyright industry - when was the last time you saw a CD crediting the author of every single royalty-free sample used in its creation? So embedding SQLite into a piece of software is pretty uncontroversially fine.

Now if you took SQLite, changed all the licenses to say you wrote it, and tried to distribute it stand-alone like that, some jurisdictions may have a problem with that. That's where moral rights come in, and where "public domain" might not truly mean "public domain".

As long as you don't do that, you're fine.


I know that US courts do some weird things sometimes but "The author disclaims copyright" is abundantly clear, and also the author has made plenty of public statements clarifying exactly how that is to be interpreted.

The situation in civil law countries and especially countries that have inalienable "author's rights" is much less clear and hostile even to the SQLite copyright release.


But even in those countries, it would seem that only the authors, the people with "author's rights", have a claim on anyone's use of the code. If they intend for people to use and copy the code without restriction there is no one else to say otherwise.


Broadly speaking, licensing authority is not the problem. The absence of liability disclaimer is the problem.


Everyone is happily using public domain software in all jurisdictions. The timezone code used by many (all?) Linux and Unix distributions is public domain.

If you can find a jurisdiction without the explicit concept of the public domain and judges and lawyers that think there is no implicit concept of the public domain and someone who can claim copyright with a straight face to code that explicitly states that the authors relinquish their claim, then I still suspect it would get thrown out of court and the claimant opening themselves to charges of criminal fraud (entrapment and extortion) or abusing the justice system for profit.


The reason it would fail in court is estoppel.


Entrapment can only be committed by government agents.


Generally I don't think so, but sometimes legal departments are extremely careful and would rather spend money on an explicit license than relying on something they see as not 100% certain.

Offering this "service" seems like a great way to monetize your software, because it only hits those with overcautious legal departments that really don't care about the money, and everyone is happy: Legal gets their paperwork, company pays some amount that they don't care about, author gets money, engineers get to use it, everyone else who doesn't have a paranoid legal department gets to use it without any hurdles.

I'm pretty sure the author got sick of getting (from his perspective stupid) requests "hey you already said it's free but can you give that to us in writing, our lawyers won't let us use it otherwise" so he turned bureaucracy into money.

Edit: It's also a convenient way for companies to support the project with money. Very few companies have a "donate to this open source project" process, most have a "buy this software" process, so a company where the people using SQLite would like the company to pay for it now has a convenient way to do so.


Richard Hipp is a devout Christian, and demonstrates James 2:18: "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

Thanks for the blessings and the beautiful code; you really can be a poet in any language.


take that, sola fide!


I always found it interesting that sqlite was released into the public domain only a few days after 9/11. Surely, this was not a coincidence.


SQLite feels older to me than that. Weird


Kids born after 9/11 can drink in most countries at this point. Some will have graduated university and are working among us.


And a lot of kids born before 9/11 don't remember it, and they're in the workforce now.


What are you implying? I'm missing the connection.


That's pretty cool in some ways. In other ways it's interesting as a reflection of the author's obvious preference for subjective ethics.

For example, what is good? A lot of people share concepts of what is good, but a lot of people really don't. Not because they're bad people, but because life circumstances typically go way deeper than good and evil, for instance. So--what is the author saying, really?

Subjective stuff like this isn't bad, but it does really lead directly into the deeper questions.

Also, how does one determine whether they've taken more than they've given? A lot of people are going to bring subjective past impressions into this determination, which, like good & bad above, are complex enough that you can make that take-or-give-o-meter read just about anything--and again, justify--just about anything.

So on the one hand, it's nice that it's framed as a generous blessing, and good lord does it cut right through all that stupid legal bull! And on the other hand, people who place boring, obtuse, business law terminology where this project has placed a blessing have really good reasons for doing so, as such efforts, which get at objective use cases and expectations, have helped to remediate a lot of damage done by a bit too much subjectivity and projection of expectations in our communications.

(Bless me father, for I have clause'd)


> "The author's obvious preference for subjective ethics"

I doubt this interpretation, given SQLite's Code of Ethics ( Abrahamic faiths and subjective ethics don't go well together; "I am the way, the truth, and the life" doesn't leave much room for alternatives.


> 16. Visit the sick.

Worst rule ever during a pandemic.


What's funny is the principals of what modern progresive intellectuals find right or wrong were introduced by Abrahamic (specifically Christian) teachings. Before that, the whole framework of the poor or meek being something everyone should protect wasn't a common idea. Even devout Atheists are basically Christian philosophers with scientific faith replacing theistic faith.


faith /feɪθ/

1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Science is not something you have faith in. The entire point of science is allowing your beliefs to change when presented with evidence. That's the exact opposite of "complete trust". If anything, the only thing you need to have faith in is in the validity of your own experience - and that's a philosophical dilemma, not a scientific one.

Doing science means knowing we're probably wrong and will learn something new tomorrow - but we're probably at least a little bit right and that will have made our lives better until now.


Nietzsche wrote a fascinating book about this - The Genealogy of Morals.

If I remember correctly, he uses the ancient city of Rome as a symbol of the pre-Abrahamic, natural han ethic. Power is good, sex is good, wealth is good, strength is good, competence is good.

This contrasts with the Jerusalem ethic where an almighty god is worshipped, not perched on a mountain or a cloud, but while nailed to a cross. So now self-sacrifice is good, and the whole story revolves around the weak, the poor, the downtrodden.

We’re still in the Jerusalem phase, despite having replaced the church with the state. Perhaps one day, in a few millennia, the wheel will turn back around.

It’s a good book!


It says somewhere that there is nothing new under the sun...

Christianity, including its ethics, obviously also had sources and influences. Both in its inception and as it has changed, fractured and adapted to its surroundings over time. And if you truly think that Jesus invented helping the poor and acting righteous, I can only recommend you read about religions. Both those that influenced Christianity and those that never came into contact with it.


Is it necessary for all Atheists to have faith in science? Science is a process to figure out the universe, not a thing/person/god. It's not the only way to know stuff, its just a good way. If the argument is that some people say Science as if it was some god, well, not much I can argue against there. Certainly not all atheists though. Otherwise, I agree that modern people took some of the good stuff old religions. It's so hard to know the truth, even about ourselves.


There's no reference to any Code of Ethics in the linked space above, though. Contextually the blessing text is completely subjective.

(PS Are you also saying they have objectively measured the existence of God, or the divinity of Christ...?)


I'm saying that Abrahamic faiths generally don't leave any room for "my truth" being different from "your truth." There is only one Truth with a capital T, because there is only one God with a capital G. So if two people differ on some point of doctrine or ethics, one of them must be Right and the other must be Wrong. Mere mortals might not be able to determine which is which with perfect accuracy, but the One True God certainly can.


> PS Are you also saying they have objectively measured the existence of God, or the divinity of Christ...?

There's only one objective reality/truth, regardless of human ability to measure it. It's like arguing that the stars' existence is subjective because you can't count them.


>Abrahamic faiths and subjective ethics don't go well together

christian existentialism is alive and well and has a loooong history.

(and john 3:16 is a lot more universalist than the people who wield it like a club seem to believe)


Has it ever been shown in court that there's any real point to putting a license at the top of every file? I'd think that the whole project is licensed under some terms, rather than having to do each file individually....

Anyway, I think structuring it as a blessing means that it doesn't tell us much about the author's view of ethics. Which is to say, it is so clearly just a reminder to the reader that they should be their best self, that it couldn't possibly be misinterpreted as the actual, objective legal requirements. So, those must be somewhere else, right?


Subjectively you may personally think that it _must_ have a license somewhere, sure. But the file itself says right there--no copyright, no legal notice.

The rest is also your interpretation, and the reason I say that is that you're also kind of putting yourself in the objective audience's seat in creating the interpretation. So there's still a subjective hand-wave effect.

Get into the position of somebody who has no idea what the expectations are for "never taking more than you give"--where exactly is that line supposed to be, speaking in terms of details that matter...? ...and see if you can understand what it's like to be spoken to from someone else's set of simply-expressed, vague expectations connected to exactly which ethical framework we do not really know.

If you're "average joe"ing this, that's more of a subjective demonstration of where this kind of language may feel awesome for the author or even average-yourself-speaking-about-you-personally, but for others--what about them?


The per-file license notice is for clarity, particularly when a single file is taken from a project and used separately. It's not a legal requirement.


> For example, what is good? A lot of people share concepts of what is good, but a lot of people really don't. Not because they're bad people, but because life circumstances typically go way deeper than good and evil, for instance. So--what is the author saying, really?

IBM had the same problem, see: for the solution :)


I like it when software and spirituality come together. Reminds me of "the temple of God" operating system and I'm sure there's a lot of other developers who have sort of a spiritual or rapture experience.

From a way more zany far out and perhaps metaphysical perspective I mean God if he she or they exists really is the ultimate programmer crafting whole realities. Maybe there is an inherent spiritual connection in code? Even if it's just analogical


> Reminds me of "the temple of God" operating system and I'm sure there's a lot of other developers who have sort of a spiritual or rapture experience

He was a very intelligent individual who’s life was ruined by mental illness. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.


Oh I'm not making regard to that: to its goodness or not in that comment. That's you're doing that. I'm just saying what I said there about it, thanks. I hope you'll not misinterpret me.


>who’s life was ruined by mental illness

If some FOIA request decades down the line reveals that the CIA was actually involved, I wouldn't be surprised. MKULTRA happened after all.


That would be a disaster for them. But I don't think we'd have to wait decades, I'm sure those things are already known.

Although, attributing all the world's ills to a shadowy cabal of corrupt operatives is a pretty crazy conspiracy theory... that might just be the problem.

However, looking at how crazy society is today you can kind of understand how people would reach that conclusion..


Imagine if one day every product in the world was released for free under this license

Make it happen.


Note that while the sqlite code is public domain, the enormous test suite that every release has to pass is not!


And so we find the catch




was the header really last edited 15 September 2001? I can understand the sentiment even more, if so.


If nobody ever takes more than they give than nobody can give or take anything.




Anyone with a two-liner what this is all about?


The author disclaims copyright to their source code.

See the actual license here: