Legal soundness comes to open source distribution

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Fri Aug 2 16:44:23 UTC 2002

On 2 Aug 2002, Russell Nelson wrote:
> 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!

I see a practical issue - if I install Debian from CD and fire up Mozilla,
I don't want to have to go through ten dozen different dialog boxes with
nearly inscrutable license terms listed in a small scrolling textbox I
then am asked whether I accept or not before I can continue.  Why so many?
In going from bare hardware to loading the OS to browsing a web site, I'm
likely to need to run applications and libraries written by many different
groups of developers, each potentially with their own agreement, and each
agreement potentially having some OSI-conformant-but-really-silly clauses,
like "you may not utter the word 'pancreas' while using our software".
Even the BSD advertising clause is less of a potential annoyance than this
could be.

Maybe I'm taking this into reductio ad absurdum, but it's awful nice to
know right now that there are no conditions on use with open source
software, only conditions upon redistribution.  Philosophically, I don't
like the idea of someone being restricted in what they can do once they
have the software in their hands.  But then again, I have a bias towards
minimalism anyways.


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