Algorithmic Assertions - Craig Gidney's Computer Science Blog

[Meta] Who Owns Quirk?

18 Jun 2017

When I first started making Quirk, the toy drag-and-drop quantum circuit simulator at algassert.com/quirk, it was clearly separate from my day job at Google. After I joined the quantum computing team, that separation wasn't so obvious. So I decided it was worth going through the internal process to get Quirk declared as an independent hoppy project.

... What I'm trying to say is that Google now owns Quirk. [insert vaguely annoyed face here]

Pragmatically speaking, this doesn't really change anything. I added a CONTRIBUTING file, I added license headers to every source file, and that's about it. The license is still Apache 2.0, the repository is still at github.com/Strilanc/Quirk, it's still a project I only work in my spare time, and there's still a live instance at algassert.com/quirk.

As for how I feel about this development... meh. As long as I can add features and fix bugs, and no URLs get broken, who cares? I open-source code using permissive licenses because I really don't care that much about control over the things I make. Partly this is because I grew up making starcraft and warcraft 3 maps, where it was common for people to take an existing map, make changes to it, and slap their name on it. Blatant plagiarism bothers me, but people changing the stuff you make, trying to make it better? That's not bad, that's awesome! Some map-makers reacted to people changing their creations by going defensive and trying to lock everything down. I went in the other direction, and embraced confusing ephemeral ad-hoc authorship. For example, when I made Storm the Fort, I put an "Author Chain" field instead of an "Author" field. And when someone made a version that I thought was better, I worked off of theirs instead of mine.

I admit to finding this whole ownership-of-Quirk thing ridiculous. But it's hard to be mad about something that has no consequences.

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