ThinApp – Licensing Issues – Ethics do not ship with the code

The recent VMware Communities Podcast had ThinApp engineers on the call. Their mantra when presented with questions on licensing was “Ethics do not ship with the code.” In other words, applications that could end up as ThinApps could violate your End User License Agreements (EULA).

The key to this is based on the fact that when you create an application within ThinApp you include many different components, from the application vendor, from the operating system, and from ThinApp. You are allowed to redistribute the ThinApps-bits within your environment to as many seats as you have licensed.

However, will you be able to redistribute the Microsoft-bits or Vendor-bits to these same seats? That once more depends on what you have licensed? Are you using redistributable libraries or code within your ThinApp? Which really depends on your licenses within your environment. If you do start using ThinApp be sure you read your Microsoft, Vendor, and ThinApp EULAs well.

Most EULAs do not allow you to create derivative works. Is creating a ThinApp of an Application considered a derivative work? I can see the argument going either way in the court of law.

The one thing the ThinApp tool does not provide is a list of included libraries that require checking on the legalities of inclusion. The comment from the podcast is that you need to do this yourself.

It would be better if ThinApp could tell me whether or not pulled in library comes from a legally redistributable package or is really tainted with possible illegalities. Since ThinApp is doing the work, it can provide minimally the list of libraries, but instead it would be better if ThinApp knew the basic redistributable packages and could tell us if there is a possible legal issue that needs to be addressed.

Much like the way the Linux Kernel will tell you if a driver is tainted with non-open source code, ThinApp should provide a way to determine if it is legal to redistribute the resultant ThinApp application.

If you do use ThinApp, read your EULAs as “Ethics do not ship with code!”

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