Public domain software is not open-source?

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Thu Mar 6 11:16:03 UTC 2008

Matthew Flaschen [mailto:matthew.flaschen at] wrote:
> It is your responsibility to verify the license if you choose 
> to rely on it, not the other way around.

I have exactly the COMPLETE REVERSE opinion (and the law favors my opinion,
at least in my country, where it's up to the provider of any product or
solution to prove himself the inoccuity of his product, and not to the
consumer or licensee)!

It's up to the provider of ANY product to ASSERT (and assume the
responsability of this assertion) that he really owns the rights for the
livered product. When he will accept to make this asertion public, he will
be much more easily liable if he lies.

I refuse to take responsaibility about accepting the licence without having
someone in front of me tht accepts the resposaibility that the licence is
legitimate. Simply because I have NO othe way to verufy if he really owns
the necessary rights.

So yes I REQUIRE such strong assertion from the provider of this licence, in
which he is personally identifiable.

Consider the case of medical products: the average consumer has absolutely
NO way to verify the product, he can only trust what is explicitly written,
and several things MUST be written explicitly to allow the consumer to
decide if he trusts that product, or to help him asking for inspection by a
third-party to verify the claimed assertions. It' not up to the consumer to
take the responsability if what he is accepting proves later to be arsenic
that will have killed him!

Consider the case of tobacco industry products: they were not concomanded
initially simply because they refuse to show the reality, then they did not
want to disclose their manufacturing chemical processes even though they
knew that this had dramatical consequences on health. They have even claimed
that their products were safe, reliable, smart and fun... They have poisoned
billions of people worldwide just by hiding the truth, even if they did not
lie. And they did not want anyone to force them to say that their products
were nocive.

A licence is not an assertion of ownership, except in the (now rare) case
where the covered product is described with enough details in the licence
text itself to be peerfectly identifiable. As most licences are either very
short (no details given) or extremly long and complex (covering lots of
things in juridical terms regarding the condition of execution of the
licence or its conveying or use by other people), they often refer to the
product in a very weak way: "this software" or "this library" or "this
service". The product is almost always not even named in the licence. And
most often (for free and open source licences) the owner of rights on the
licenced product is not even the author of the licence itself, and is not
even named in it, but refered to with generic terms like "the licensor",
"the author"....

The licence, even if it is approved, must be completed with the explicit
claim of rights signed by the right owner himself. Otherwise the licence
remains unenforcable and is completely void, if not doubtful or illegal, or
not even linked to the product. Without this statement, the product still
lacks a licence and nothing links the product to the licence itself (they
appear as separate products with separate rights).

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