Paint.NET v3.20 … soon! And updated licensing details

All the translations are ready to go, and there was only 1 bug that had to be fixed which you can read about on the forum if you really want to. Now I just have to finish updating the help content. I’m hoping to have the final release of 3.20 available tonight or tomorrow.

Well, that and I have to finish drafting this update to the Paint.NET licensing. I had a discussion with Dioni, who manages the translations of Paint.NET, about the licensing of both the regular release and the source code release. I believe we have come to a good decision about how to change the licensing that won’t affect normal users and that will have minimal or insignificant impact on those who are interested in the source code.

There are 4 types of abuses of Paint.NET, or even simple hazards of otherwise legitimate use, that I want to protect against:

  1. Blatant and insulting “Backspaceware”, as detailed in my two previous fuming posts on the matter (first post, second post).
  2. Paint.NET being sold on eBay, or in an otherwise similar fashion. This includes burned on to a CD by itself and sold for shipping costs, or the typical selling of “information” (“Ooh I know where to get this awesome thing, send me $5 and I’ll tell you!”), or even charging for a mirrored download link. Yes, I’ve seen all of these.
  3. Renamed and resold versions of Paint.NET, such as Office ONE Paint. I find this to be inappropriate, but far less offensive than the aforementioned backspaceware, and so I’m calling it out separately. I believe it’s even within the rights of the Paint.NET license, so I have not pursued it. However, I still don’t like it and want to prevent it going forward.
  4. Honest and appropriate derivative works that are still using Paint.NET’s Internet resources accidentally. For example, the Help menu item, “Send feedback” should not have AT in the source code release. Otherwise I’ll get crash logs from forked projects. Also, the auto-updater will not be functional because I don’t want derivative projects to be pinging my server, nor do I want those users to get new versions of Paint.NET offered to them (which will uninstall their non-Paint.NET software). Derivative works must not be confused with Paint.NET, or vice versa.

Here are some of the things I do not want to hinder or prevent:

  1. Normal installation and use of Paint.NET. I don’t want any of Paint.NET’s licensing to “follow” or “infect” any files that are opened, modified, or saved with Paint.NET.
  2. Legitimate educational study of the source code.
  3. Legitimate and honest adoption of portions of Paint.NET source code in to other software. For example, I’m totally fine with someone using the code for Gaussian Blur.
  4. Translation of Paint.NET to another language, by way of releasing a language pack. Note that I am not opposed to someone charging for a language pack – I personally think that’d be weird, but it’s not really a concern of mine.
  5. Free-of-charge distribution of unmodified Paint.NET through channels such as websites or magazine/book CD-ROM’s. This includes the fact that I don’t want to be required to approve every website that wishes to do this. Just do it.

So, here are the changes to Paint.NET and its licensing:

  1. The source code for the installer will not be released. This also includes the project files for creating the MSI.
  2. The text / string and icon / graphic resources, which is *.resources and *.resx as well as all embedded graphics files within PaintDotNet.Resources.dll, will now be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivate Works 3.0 United States License. An exception is provided for releasing a non-English translation of the text/string resources. I am having to be careful here so that people don’t think I’m trying to force images loaded or saved with Paint.NET to be “infected” with this license.
  3. The non-English translations will not be included in the released source code. This does not affect normal use of Paint.NET – the compiled translations will still be included there.
  4. Any place where URL’s or e-mails are included in the source code will be erased, along with a compiler-error inducing text such as, “You need to provide a URL or e-mail address here.” (Note: This has been in place for several releases, but I’m including it for completeness)
  5. The auto-update functionality will be disabled somehow in the released source code. Most likely this will be done by using the aforementioned “URL erasing”.
  6. The installer that is released will have text during installation that clearly spells out, “Paint.NET is FREE OF CHARGE. If you paid money for it (other than to donate at the Paint.NET website, of course) then we recommend that you get a refund!” (Note: This was in place for v3.20 from the beginning, I’m just including it for completeness)

I believe these will correctly prevent what I don’t want, while still protecting what I want to allow. There are still loophole opportunities in these provisions, but the goal is that any rhetorical loophole will present a huge barrier in the amount of work required to “jump through it”. For example, even though the RESX files are no longer released you can still generate them from the publicly available RESOURCES files. But the RESOURCES file doesn’t allow derivative works, so you’d have to rewrite all the UI text for Paint.NET anyway. And you wouldn’t be able to re-use any of the icons or graphics. Or, maybe you’d decide that you wanted to release a scam version in another language using the translation excuse. Well, then you’ll only be able to target a fraction of the market anyway. Etc. etc.


17 thoughts on “Paint.NET v3.20 … soon! And updated licensing details

  1. F S F says:

    I just want to tell you, f*** you.

    F*** you, because you don’t understand the ideas of open-source freedom.

    F*** you because you adopt yet another retarded non-OSS license.

    F*** you for taking an opensource project and making it un-free.

    F*** you and your proprietary shit.

    Your license didn’t protect you from commercial exploitation before and this new one isn’t going to either. They stole your software without attribution, they are going to do it again.

    If you wanted attribution you should’ve BSD’d it instead of the retarded MIT license.

    Oh and btw any file where you accepted and added external changes to it, from someone who wasn’t you you cannot remove the MIT header from it. You cannot take their copyright off of it. You cannot change the license without their agreement.

    Your stupid license change won’t prevent anything, even worse you were probably one of the only people to prevent anything and you failed! Did you sue them? Did you do anything but whine? What’d you do to the fix the problem? You changed the license, that won’t stop anyone. They already violated your license once.

    Wake up little boy.

  2. David Mackey says:

    You can do whatever you like with your software – and I personally love it. But I’m not a big fan of the new restrictions you are adding. It stinks that people are repackaging and reselling your software, but I think this is only going to occur for a very small minority of users and once they learn about the real deal they’ll come use Paint.NET. I think you will introduce unnecessary confusing into your licensing scheme. But great product, I love it, and will continue to love it even with these changes.

  3. Rick Brewster says:

    F S F — It is apparent that you did not read the article at all. Please read it, and then post your real thoughts, not this knee-jerk froth.

  4. F S F says:

    Dear Rick Brewster,

    You used an Open Source license yet you are against people charging money for your software or distributions of it. You violate the spirit of distribution of sharing that is open source. Did you know the FSF used to charge $100 for emacs, yet all receivers could do the same!

    You’ve hobbled anyone from distributing your software in say a free software distribution CD and to charge for the cost to make the CD.

    You hobble an open source package by removing the source code to distribution mechanisms such as the installer.

    You intentionally limit commercial use of your software via Trademark and claims a noncommercial copyright on your art files.

    Debian couldn’t include your program in their distribution because of these restrictions and debian cares about freedom. If you don’t understand this then you don’t understand what OSS is.

    Go to the osi page and read what open source is and how your restrictions in the form of data files and removing the installer violate the spirit of Open Source:

    The FSF says:
    Nobody should be restricted by the software they use. There are four freedoms that every user should have:

    * the freedom to use the software for any purpose,
    * the freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors,
    * the freedom to change the software to suit your needs, and
    * the freedom to share the changes you make.

    So what are you doing?
    * You are restricting distribution of your project
    * You are violating the spirit of OSS
    * You are attempting to defend yourself against those who violated your licenses you already had in place
    ** Your recourse is to make your product more closed and more proprietary? That’s just silly. They violated the license already and you didn’t do anything!

    They don’t care about your license, and they can modify binaries too.

  5. Aidan Thornton says:

    Rick Brewster: F S F is entirely right. The changes do make it non-open source and completely miss the point of open source. (A large chunk of the reason why open source software is successful is the ability to take something and release a modified version of it without having to get the permission of the original author.)

    By the way, the rest of Office ONE smells like a rebranded version of, which would most likely be a license violation. Since is owned by Sun, if this is the case I expect they’re not long for this world anyway.

  6. Rick Brewster says:

    F S F, Paint.NET nor myself have never been aligned with GNU, GPL, or FSF. I personally do not like the GPL license, and do not have the same convictions or beliefs as the FSF. At the same time, I respect them and do not believe them to be wrong, stupid, etc. They have very good and strong reasons for what they do and believe in. I just don’t agree with them for the stuff that I work on. If Paint.NET is not allowing some of those “four freedoms”, then that is not a surprise to me.

    I actually prefer to classify Paint.NET as “released source” and not “open source”. Paint.NET’s primary audience is the normal Windows user base, not the OSS community. I do not accept unsolicited contributions to Paint.NET, and have made this abundantly clear in the past. It is not a community project. It is my project. You’re absolutely right that I protect and restrict parts of Paint.NET with trademark, etc. I worked real hard to built up this software and it has real value to me, and I want to protect that. Unfortunately, “released source” isn’t a colloquial term, so things like search engines and magazines don’t know what to do with it. “Open source” is the closest, and is what they would publish anyway.

    Also, I’m aware that the licensing change my have inadvertent side-effects, and am prepared to make iterative adjustments. My goal is not to restrict honest use or distribution in any way.

    The goal is not to completely stamp out this problem. There will always be abuses, and there isn’t enough time in the world to fix everything or sue everyone! I also don’t want to be holed up in court for the rest of my life chasing these things down. The goal is to put up barriers to the *lazy* scammers (eBay, backspaceware) so that they think twice. Sometimes a legal barrier is necessary, sometimes adding text to the installer loudly proclaiming that Paint.NET is “FREE OF CHARGE!” works fine (wouldn’t you be annoyed if you had just bought it off eBay and saw that?), and sometimes withholding source code is the answer (a scammer would have to write their own installer). I also need to protect myself personally, professionally, and from a business standpoint (you do know that Paint.NET makes money, right?).

    Please understand that Paint.NET is not, nor has ever been, a traditional OSS / community project.

  7. Wilfred Verkley says:

    Good rebuttal Rick. Its your project, entirely your code. I would feel the same way on any projects i exclusively spent a large time on. While i would love it to be fully open, control of its distribution is your right, and i fully support this compromise. Im a big fan of OSS, but those licenses exist for projects with shared contributions, to protect the rights of a larger community and public, to prevent exploitation of something commonly owned, which is not relevant to this scenario.

  8. samwyse says:

    I agree that it’s your project, Rick, and that you can do anything that you want; unfortunately that includes shooting yourself in the foot, which is what I think you’re unwittingly doing. I’ve written lot of programs in Python and Perl wherein releasing the source is pretty much automatic. I’ve worried about the same issues that you have. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to change what I do.

    I could use any of several obfuscation packages to make things harder to steal, but they wind up making bugs harder to track down, etc. Are you now going to step up to the plate when someone has installer issues?

    Instead, I’ve gradually recognized that my mother was right, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” I expect that your software is available in all the same download sites as the backspaceware. If not, make it so. Then people will see that they have two places to get identical functionality, and will over time gravitate to your version. If you want to issue takedown notices, by all means do so, but you might want to somehow “automate” the process by using form-letters and such.

    Personally, I don’t mind if someone “sells” my software for a nominal amount. $5 for a CD on email seems reasonable to me; I know that I couldn’t make any profit at that cost, so I assume that they aren’t ripping people off too badly, while performing a service for those who still don’t have high-speed internet connections.

    I must say that I’m confused about the difference between Office-One and the rest of the code-stealing scum. Did they just do a better job of backspacing, or did they do a real value-add that you are now going to disallow?

  9. Vladimir says:

    I’m ok with the changes, as long as you don’t call it ‘open source’ any more. (See F S F’s second, less abusive post.

  10. person says:

    Rick: I believe the correct term is not “released source” but “source-available” (a program such as the XeroBank (formerly TorPark) Portable Browser or even a few tiny parts of Micro$oft and Apple Mac OS X also fit in this category)

  11. person says:

    Also I wanted to say – great product, but please rephrase the incorrect “open source” term you use for your software – it saves a lot of argument, hatred, and conflict.

    I wish your product was freely available to be used in an OS such as Ubuntu Linux (or at least the Mac – there’s no good paint replacement that meets my needs except GIMP which is out of date and whose interface is REALLY unintuitive)

  12. person says:

    Again, its your source code mainly, and I respect your decision, and will probably continue to use your fantastic software.

  13. Stefan says:

    I am still unclear on the license: is this software FREE for commercial use? I work for a photo agency that could be interested in actively encouraging the use of paint.NET to freelance contributors as a way for them to avoid using pirated Photoshop.

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