Legal soundness comes to open source distribution

Russell Nelson nelson at
Fri Aug 2 03:18:14 UTC 2002

At the July OSI board meeting last week, we approved the Academic Free
License (think MIT/BSD/X11/Apache with a patent grant) and we sent
four licenses back for reconsideration.  Here's the hitch: we were
asked to approve a license which includes a requirement for

The submittor had already been asked if that requirement was a
necessity.  She said yes, because of various legal precedents.  We
consulted a few people and yes, it looks like a license without
click-wrap is weaker at protecting your rights.  So, folks, the
lawyers are coming.

The time is coming when you won't be able to distribute software
unless you have presented the license to the user and their assent is
necessary to access the software.  Even free software.  Our industry
is maturing and we need to be more legally careful and rigorous.

The question here is whether we should amend the Open Source
Definition so that it is clear whether click-wrap licenses are
allowable or not.  We could go either way, but we want to hear from
you first.  Your opinions solicited, and engaged!

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