Questions about Processing codes and copyright.

My name is Adrion T. Kelley and I am an Art &
Tech major at the University of Oregon. I am interested in making an
online Processing tutorial through and charging for the
tutorials but I am unsure about the legalities surrounding Processing
codes. In some of my Processing example codes I use some lines of code
from another person’s Processing sketch, do I need to contact the author
of the original code and ask their permission to use it, or do I need to
mention the creator of the original code in a comment within my code? Is
there a limit to how many lines of code I can use from another person’s
Processing sketch? Some of my Processing examples use libraries written
by someone else, do I need to contact the author of the Processing
library for permission, or do I just make a comment mentioning the
library’s author? Also do I need to give some mention about the creators
of Processing and include some copyright statement about Processing?
Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Did the original code you’re re-using come with a license of sort?

There is a good discussion and good information about licenses right here:

I hope this helps.


Some of the codes I want to show in the tutorials do contain a license from Generative Gestaltug and some of the codes do not contain any lilicenseq. Here is a link to the codes in question.

Very generally speaking:

When somebody creates something, including code or tutorials, they automatically own the copyright on that thing. They don’t have to do anything special- if you create it, you own the copyright.

So unless they specifically release their content with a copyright license that gives you permission to use it, you do not have the right to use it. If the work does not contain a license, then you do not have permission to use it.

If you’re using other people’s code without their permission, you are violating their copyrights. It’s also just a crappy thing to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re just using part of the code or if you’re providing a link back to the author, unless that’s the terms of the license they gave you.

Processing itself is released under a GPL license, which you can read more about here. That’s for the code itself though- if you’re creating tutorials, you’re probably not bundling Processing with the tutorials.

I will say that it seems a little skeevy to use other people’s content and then charge for it. Processing is built for free by a bunch of people in their spare time- I recommend keeping that in mind as you use it.

The following is Dr. Ben Fry’s response to my original inquiry. He didn’t seem to find my motives to be “skeevy”. I recommend keeping that in mind as you use it.

“I would treat it similarly to the way you would any citation—that if you’re using someone’s code you make sure to contact or cite them clearly. You needn’t include copyright information about Processing itself (unless you’re using/modifying that code directly), but a mention is always nice.
Ben Fry”

That’s great. But please note the part about contacting the original author.

Simply providing a link is not enough by itself, unless you get specific permission. Otherwise you’re violating copyright.

If you want more specific advice, then the best thing you can do is contact a lawyer.

I find these could be helpful. Read at your leisure and just as a guide.