Legal soundness comes to open source distribution

David Johnson david at
Sun Aug 4 17:34:37 UTC 2002

On Sunday 04 August 2002 12:18 am, Mahesh T Pai wrote:

> What is really necessary is a campaign to take Open Source Software
> outside the scope of (compulsory) statutory product liability.

I would hesitate to limit liability on the basis of Open Sourcedness. Rather, 
I would base it on the commercial nature of software. Non-commercial software 
should be outside the scope of product liability, but software obtained 
commercially, Open Source or otherwise, would not.

My rationale is that an insurance burden upon non-commercial developers is so 
great that it would stop Open Source development outright, since 99% of Open 
Source software is non-commercial at the point of its creation. One should 
not be liable for good deeds, gifts or helping out the community. Commercial 
distributors, on the other hand, are at the minimum making the implicit claim 
that the software is merchantable, suitable as a product, and safe, unless 
otherwise stated.

Of course, the real solution is to fix the mess that liability has become.

David Johnson
pgp public key on website
license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list