Please change license from WTFPL (e.g. to GPL) #474

jaalto opened this Issue Dec 7, 2011 · 28 comments


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jaalto commented Dec 7, 2011

The code is covered by This license is, to put it mildly, rude and offending.
Please consider choosing a well established license that promotes Open Source better. A Good list can be found at

Emacs Lisp Code have traditionally used GPL-[23]+ at the beginning of file:

;;; file.el --- One line description

;; This file is not part of Emacs

;; Copyright (C) YYYY-YYYY First Lastname
;; Keywords:
;; Author: First Lastname
;; Maintainer: First Lastname

;; This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
;; under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free
;; Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option)
;; any later version.
;; This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
;; WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY
;; or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License
;; for more details.
;; You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
;; along with this program. If not, see
;; Visit for more information.

Silex commented Dec 7, 2011

GPL is much more restrictive than WTFPL. I think changing it to a BSD-like license would kinda achieve the same goals and remove the offensiveness away.

dimitri commented Dec 7, 2011

Yeah, MIT, BSD (modern, 2 clauses) or PostgreSQL licence would be other choices I would consider. But really, the way I think about it, WTFPL is exactly the licence I want for el-get. Sorry about the "rude" parts of it, though.

Also please consider that el-get is not the first WTFPL licenced code to enter debian, that WTFPL is considered free by the FSF (see ), and that it's entirely compatible with both BSD/MIT and GPL software (which is not the case with GPL).


jaalto commented Dec 8, 2011

I think there are much better and more professional alternatives to choose from. It's debatable how "free" BSD license really is. Philosophically BSD license allows to close the source and make subsequent versions non-free. Anyway, anything from OSI list as long as it is GPL compatible (to ensure Emacs Lisp code sharing), would be better.

In general, License fragmentation, is not a good thing in the long term.

dimitri commented Dec 9, 2011

You're right in your analysis, and it would be really helpful if you would ask the OSI to add the WTFPL in their list of approved licences, as did the FSF already. Thank you!


The OSI won't put the WTFPL on their accepted list of licenses because they believe it's redundant to the Fair License.


You know, the WTFPL allows you to change it...

                    Version 3, January 2012

 Copyright (C) 2012 Ryan Thompson

 Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified
 copies of this license document, and changing it is allowed as long
 as the name is changed.


  0. You just DO WHAT YOU WANT TO.

I guess this would now be called the WPL?

jaalto commented Jan 23, 2012

OSI Comment[1]: "[WTFPL] It's no different from dedication to the public domain. (...) Mr. Michlmayr notes that public domain doesn't exist in Europe". For more information, see "Why the Public Domain Isn't a License"[2] by attorney Lawrence Rosen who is the Open Source professional in these matters.

All the reasons to always use one of the well established licenses and not to invent one's own.



Weren't you the one requesting a change? Your argument seems to be for keeping the current license...

jaalto commented Jan 24, 2012

The OSI comment indicated that WTFPL would be interpreted similarly to "Public domain", which unfortunately is not a valid license internationally. Therefore "All the reasons to always use one of the well established licenses" like GPL, BSD, Apache et all.


The reason the WTFPL exists is because of the legal ambiguities of public domain - it isn't even legal in some countries (iirc Germany) to release work into the public domain. Hence, we have the WTFPL - an explicit licensing of the same rights.

Isn’t this license basically public domain?

There is no such thing as “putting a work in the public domain”, you America-centered, Commonwealth-biased individual. Public domain varies with the jurisdictions, and it is in some places debatable whether someone who has not been dead for the last seventy years is entitled to put his own work in the public domain.

As I mentioned previously, in the meeting you linked to, the OSI voted to not include the WTFPL because they believed it to be the same thing as the Fair License, not because it was an illegitimate license.

Mr. Michlmayr moved that we reject the WFTPL as redundant to the Fair License. Mr. Tiemann seconded. Passed unanimously.

It should be noted that a no-warranty clause is a useful thing:

Why is there no “no warranty” clause?

The WTFPL is an all-purpose license and does not cover only computer programs; it can be used for artwork, documentation and so on. As such, it only covers copying, distribution and modification. If you want to add a no warranty clause for a program, you may use the following wording in your source code:
/* This program is free software. It comes without any warranty, to
 * the extent permitted by applicable law. You can redistribute it
 * and/or modify it under the terms of the Do What The Fuck You Want
 * To Public License, Version 2, as published by Sam Hocevar. See
 * for more details. */

dimitri commented Jan 29, 2012

After some research I could accept a move to the ISL licence, But as long as I don't understand what's wrong with WTFPL I see no urge in moving out from it.


Sorry to bring up this "corpse" (this Issue appears on the first page of a Google search on "WTFPL"); I just want to share a quote:

I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended
(Linus Torvalds)

I highly agree, so here some more "fuck"s to offend:
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!
Maximum offense achieved? If not: FUCK!

jd commented Aug 3, 2012


closing according to @dimitri

@jd jd closed this Aug 3, 2012

👍 for @dimitri ! :-) I've the exact same situation with but I will not change the license! For me WTFPL is as open as it can get because real freedom means to have not a single legal clause but as this would mean legal issues for the users there needs to be at least one clause. Which for me is to do what the fuck you want to :-)

                   .' .'      '.\    .                     
     _.._         / .'             .'|                     
   .' .._|       . '             .'  |                     
   | '           | |            <    |                     
 __| |__  _    _ | |             |   | ____                
|__   __|| '  / |. '             |   | \ .'                
   | |  .' | .' | \ '.          .|   |/  .                 
   | |  /  | /  |  '. `._____.-'/|    /\  \                
   | | |   `'.  |    `-.______ / |   |  \  \               
   | | '   .'|  '/            `  '    \  \  \              
   |_|  `-'  `--'    __.....__  '------'  '---'.           
 .-.          .- .-''         '.             .'|           
  \ \        / //     .-''"'-.  `.          <  |           
   \ \      / //     /________\   \    __    | |           
    \ \    / / |                  | .:--.'.  | | .'''-.    
     \ \  / /  \    .-------------'/ |   \ | | |/.'''. \   
      \ `  /    \    '-.____...---.`" __ | | |  /    | |   
       \  /      `.             .'  .'.''| | | |     | |   
       / /         `''-...... -'   / /   | |_| |     | |   
   |`-' /                          \ \._,\ '/| '.    | '.  
    '..'                            `--'  `" '---'   '---' 
jabbink commented Aug 26, 2015

(sorry for commenting in this very old thread)

FYI: the WTFPL does not explicitly cya in case your product did something wrong, there is however an adjusted version of the WTFPL which does this:


dimitri commented Aug 27, 2015

As mentioned before (IIRC) if I were to switch away from WTFPL I would pick ISC ( I'm ok with using the WTFPL as it is, even without the CYA wording, and if other contributors feel like we should change, please consider ISC: I will help transition to it.

jabbink commented Sep 8, 2015

The main reason I posted my previous comment was to point to an issue this license could have (the missing cya clause), because I actually only found this issue via Google Search after searching for permissive software license. But yes, using the ISC license seems like a better choice, as it, afaik, states the same as the WTFNMFP license with the use of some better wording (more suitable for businesses, as a copy of the license has to be included to your end user).

odigity commented Oct 15, 2015

Just wanted to chime in with support for keeping WTFPL. It seems like the only complaint in this thread is being offended by the work "fuck", which is silly. (You know you're dealing with emotional programming when people start using euphemisms like "unprofessional".)

And I love that Linus quote. The fact that the most important OS in the world is in the hands of someone with such a no-bullshit attitude is one of the few things I enjoy about living on Earth in this era.

gsouf commented Dec 4, 2015

I dont see a problem with the WTFPL.

It's not so offending, this might be offending:


@gsouf @odigity these are the problems with WTFPL:
It means to be a license that's cool and do whatever you want, but actually doesn't offer any protections and was written by someone who clearly does not understand law, nor (from that I've been told) has not been interested in improving the license to actually offer legal protection.
At the same time, why bother when the MIT license already offers all this anyway. It's just sad that people think that WTFPL is a better license than MIT, when it really isn't.

jabbink commented Dec 10, 2015

@marcmerlin hence the reason I suggested a change: it wasn't about the word "fuck". It was more about the legal issues with this license and therefore I agree with you.


Right, I don't care about the word either, but it's a distraction from the fact that it's a non license.


That Wikipedia section cited above is poorly written and has no references. While it is true that the licence is rejected by the OSI, it is considered valid by the Free Sofware Fundation, the Fedora Project, and as for the "no warranty", this issue is addressed in the FAQ.

marcmerlin commented Dec 22, 2015 edited

@Ash-Crow, are you a lawyer?
Or did you get the wikipedia bit counter reviewed by a lawyer?
Why do you say ithe wikipedia entry is poorly written?
As for the FSF saying that it is a non recommended free software license, did you consider why they say it's "non recommended"? You know they have lawyers to review this too, right?

The intent of the license might be clear, but the way it's written is not legally sound, and that's what courts care about.
The FSF simply stated that as a user, WTFPL means that the software is free, but that doesn't mean it's actually safe to use with that license which is why they slapped a "not recommended" on it.
Are there any other free licenses that the FSF does not recommend be used?
I personally don't claim to be smarter than them or their lawyers, or to the ones from OSI.
Arguing this here further ad nauseam seems pretty counter productive. If software is meant to be shared in a way that's safe for the authors and user, slap a real license on it.
MIT and BSD as both about as free as it gets, licenses.



was written by someone who clearly does not understand law

And you clearly eat your boogers, sir.


@samhocevar my boogers are under WTFPL and therefore I do WTF I want with them.


@jabbink regarding the WTFNMFPL. I'm currently using the WTFPL in my projects but was thinking of going over to the one you mentioned here. My concerns are the order of terms, eg:
1 ) do what you want
2 ) don't blame me

As I understand legal disputes, the order of these terms are of importance as an hierarchy. The correct way should there for be:
1 ) don't blame me
2 ) do what you want

I'm not a lawyer, but just wanted to give a headsup for anyone else finding this amusing thread 😀

@fuzzybear3965 fuzzybear3965 referenced this issue in JuliaLang/METADATA.jl Dec 1, 2016

WTFPL + OSI #7182

@dimitri dimitri added a commit to dimitri/mbsync-el that referenced this issue Jan 17, 2017
@dimitri Add a License file to the project.
Of course, we pick WTFPL as the license, see

Fix #7.
@dimitri dimitri referenced this issue in dimitri/mbsync-el Jan 17, 2017


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