Why I don't recommend the MIT license

Date: May 17, 2022
Tags: [tech] [copyright]

( I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. This is not the opinion of my school, employer or personal lawyer. Contact a real lawyer for actual legal advice. :) )

The MIT license has become popular in software development but I see it as possibly one of the worst licenses to ever exist, and I will explain why.

The software movement is made up of volunteer developers who have the best intentions and who create amazing software and then release it freely to anyone for any purpose.

The problem is that corporations are brainwashing developers into using the MIT license, but it has a number of staggering flaws.

Why? Because it’s beneficial for them. The MIT license allows corporations to steal from open-source applications and to incorporate them into proprietary applications.

The problem with permissive licensing.

For example, what if I created a library to do a small algorithmic calculation, and I licensed it under the MIT or any “Permissive” license, and then a corporation saw that it was licensed under a permissive license, stole the code and incorporated it into a full commercial application.

I would feel robbed, but here’s the thing: If I licensed it under the GPL, no such problems would occur, if a corporation REALLY wanted to not make their app open source, then they would create their own proprietary library.

And also come on! I don’t have to explain why the MIT license is bad, just look at it! It’s a simple license that provides a vague attribution notice (hidden in the settings of whatever app, meaning the users won’t see your contributions) and it doesn’t protect you from patent trolls.

Yet, proponents of the license argue 3 reasons why the MIT is better than the GPL.

  1. “The license is simpler than the GPL, so it’s better”
  2. “The license gives more freedom to developers than the GPL”
  3. “The GPL is created by the FSF, which does not fight for true freedom”

Let’s go one by one and debunk them.

“The license is simpler than the GPL, so it’s better”

The best licenses are the ones that cover every possible edge scenario, lawyers are smart at arguing themselves out of legal trouble using loopholes in the license. Seriously, this one’s not even up for debate, if you ignore the preface (which is the only “Bloated” part in the GPL license) then you will see that the license is relatively lean.

And yes, the MIT license fails in this respect, it fails to protect you from patent trolls which are a real threat to the free software movement.

“The license gives more freedom to developers than the GPL”

True, but in the worst kind possible. The freedom to take code without giving back is a real freedom but it benefits no one! think realisitically, only a corporation would benefit from being able to take your code and not give back.

It is quite literally a backwards license and not much better than a public domain declaration, at least the Apache Software License provides some protections, but the MIT does not.

I don’t understand why people try to defend corporations, climate change? global poverty? and just depression over the state of the world? Yeah, that’s all from capitalism, why defend it. Corporate freedom is not the same as human freedom, corporations are inherently immoral even if they do any practical good because their only motive is profit.

And I am sad to say this but some people genuinely cannot see how the GPL is better than the MIT and I have to explain step-by-step, like I am explaining to a 5 year old about why it’s better.

The MIT license is a coward’s public domain declaration.

I can easily find lots of evidence that corporations steal from permissively-licensed open-source works, corporations also steal from the GPL but we can force them to release the source code.

Also if you seriously believe that if we let corporations do whatever with our code, they will release their code, then I am worried about you, what propaganda did you read? Atlas Shrugged? Go read “Das Kapital” then.

“The GPL is created by the FSF, which does not fight for true freedom”

You are wrong in so many ways, the FSF is smart, they know that permissive licensed works are being stolen by corporations, that’s why they still support the GPL license.

If the MIT license was objectively better than the GPL license, then they would abandon the GPL license, really, they care that much that they would abandon their own works if they sucked for the free software community. (No 9Planers, I will not respond to any of your “Ha, better delete GNU then cuz it’s bloated” emails. Go back to cat-v)

Irregardless if the FSF abandons the GPL or not, you should objectively look into the benefits of each one, the GPL (or heck, even the Apache License) is objectively better than the MIT.

There really is no reason to use this license, so let’s abandon it for good.

Let’s regain our freedom, one GPL work at a time.

(Here’s a more detailed document, for activist and collaboration purposes: link

I did make some points here that I did not consider when writing the detailed document, so I have to update it soon, this notice will be removed when it is updated.)