Legal soundness comes to open source distribution

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Sat Aug 3 08:20:54 UTC 2002

On Fri, 2 Aug 2002, Russell Nelson wrote:
> From what various legal scholars
> tell me, a non-contractual license (such as the GPL) cannot cause you
> to give up your warranty rights.

Is there a reference of some sort for this?  It's about the only solid
reason I see to need to go beyond copyright law.  Is there any court
precedent that suggests this?  A case where someone was given something
for free, with warranty disclaimed in a copyright license, and the court
decided that warranty disclaimer was invalid?  This is a pretty big delta
to current understanding, so if a change as large as expanding the OSD to
cover contracts is based upon this, we need more than hearsay.

Are there any other reasons to consider allowing the OSD to cover
contracts?  My sense is that keeping it limited to copyright licenses has
been key to its success to this point.

> Agreed.  That's why I think we need to amend the OSD so that it
> clearly states that a license must not restrict use, modification, or
> redistribution of the software.

The OSD, by applying to copyright licenses, already allows restrictions on
redistribution.  It'd be kinda toothless if it didn't...


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