Today I was looking over the details of the eBay Flash/Flex widget contest and thought maybe I’d whip something together and enter. I figured I could probably throw together some eye-candy nonsense using PaperVision, Box2D, fire effects, etc etc and make something that looked impressive. Might be worth a shot at a cool $10k. Then I read the details a little closer and found this clause:
- Widget may not incorporate any open source code except for Adobe Flex under the MPL license;
Fuck that. I use open-source projects in nearly everything I do. Literally everything. This becomes an issue when dealing with consulting work for clients, and I bring this question up right away and ask what kind of restrictions the client wants to place on the use of open source code. On one hand, the client usually wants 100% of the code to belong to them, they want the IP, and using any open-source code in the project is frowned upon. On the other hand I explain the cost of having to build from scratch all the stuff that I can get for free from these open-source projects, and when it starts being thought of in dollars then we usually arrive at an agreement to allow open-source code. Note that this only applies to MIT and other completely open licenses, if it’s not MIT I usually won’t touch it with a ten foot pole.
So eBay wants to run a contest where you can’t use open source code. That means no 3D engines, no physics engines, no custom component libraries. If you wanted 3D you’d have to build your own custom 3D engine. Umm, no thanks. It’s funny because they make the explicit exception for the Flex framework, since if they didn’t do that you wouldn’t be able to make any Flex app at all.
Hell, if you take that clause strictly, you probably can’t even use eBay’s own Flex Toolkit, which is licensed under the Common Development and Distribution License, which is an “open source license based on the Mozilla Public License.” I hope every entry in the contest gets disqualified 😛 Come on guys, the Flex SDK is about to be open source, your developer toolkit is open source, and yet you want to say we can’t use open source code?