[License-discuss] Boilerplate license text for permissive licenses?
gerv at mozilla.org
Tue Nov 27 10:21:49 UTC 2012
On 27/11/12 04:57, Lawrence Rosen wrote:
> Consider the hapless corporate attorney who is forced to review hundreds of
> proprietary software licenses when authorizing the distribution or
> sale/purchase of his company's software products. Each of those proprietary
> licenses may contain restrictions on transfer; unique indemnity and warranty
> provisions; attribution requirements or prohibitions; etc.
My sympathy for such hapless individuals is real, albeit tempered by the
fact that as a reward for taking on such onerous work they probably earn
at least triple what I do ;-P
> But once you've done your variant-gathering, will you recommend that
> everyone else do the same for their own open source software as Mozilla will
> do for Firefox OS? That's a lot of work to recommend for others to do.
Fortunately, I have a script which can analyse a source tree and produce
the necessary output for inclusion with software.
> would seem to be a waste of time considering the infinitesimally tiny risk
> that one of those "variant" licensors would sue you for breach for taking
> the easy way out -- such as:
> "This software includes contributions under one or more variants of the
> official BSD and MIT license versions published at
> Mozilla has chosen not to publish those individual variant licenses
> with this distribution, although we are disclosing its source code as
> those licenses require."
That's an interesting recommendation, although one that (as far as I
know) has never been taken up by any distributor of aggregated software.
I am certainly not competent to judge whether, for example, the addition
of an extra word to the disclaimer has legal effect or not, and if by
instead referencing a license with slightly different wording we might
upset someone who included that word for a reason.
Also, these licenses don't require disclosure of source code.
> software. Those licensors can't sue you anyway unless they register their
> copyrights, which is unlikely to have happened for such works. Damages in
> such a lawsuit would be minimal at worst. For a company that can afford to
> swat away any such nuisance lawsuits, taking this easy way out may be worth
> the risk, unless your lawyer tells you that no risk is ever worth taking.
"Mozilla ignores clear provisions of open source licenses; says 'well,
we probably won't get sued, so who cares?'". A great headline for Slashdot.
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