Quick Reference For Choosing a Free Software License

Russell Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Thu Aug 9 15:40:09 UTC 2001

Forrest J Cavalier III writes:
 > Rod, you are a very frequent contributor to the list, and I
 > don't want to discourage you.  But... you have never criticized
 > a non-lawyer for posting to license-discuss.  What is 
 > different about a web page?  It has a very clear, prominent
 > statement that the author is not a lawyer and it is not legal
 > advice (even though such statements are not required.)

Larry Rosen has whacked me upside the head for using legalistic
language.  Basically it misleads people into thinking that the IANAL
disclaimer is merely a disclaimer, and that the advice given actually
has legal meaning.  It would be the same as if Larry said this to
someone in response to a question about qmail:

    To add a virtual host to your system, and redirect all the email to
    the user's AOL account, do this:
    echo example.com:alias-example:com >/var/qmail/control/virtualdomains
    echo example.com:alias-example:com >/var/qmail/control/rcpthosts
    echo '&luser at aol.com' >~alias/.qmail-example:com-default
    svc -h /service/qmail


Sure looks like Larry knows what he's doing, eh?  But there's a subtle 
error in there which will remove all you other virtualdomains.  If you 
adjudged from his detailed reply couched in programmer's terms that he
knew what he was doing, you'd start bouncing email left and right.

Well, he has the same objection to programmers using legalistic

-russ nelson <sig at russnelson.com>  http://russnelson.com
Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | 
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | All extremists should
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