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From: Peter Dimov (pdimov_at_[hidden])
Date: 2003-06-30 06:23:53

Beman Dawes wrote:
> Let's see what the lawyers say before worrying too much about what
> may be a non-issue.

I'd like to add some of my concerns to the list.

First of all let me say that I fully realize that we just got a ton of free
legal advice and that I do appreciate the efforts of everyone involved. And
of course I am not a lawyer, not even able to impersonate one in front of
laymen. But I do have some questions.

Let's put the disclaimer aside for a moment; I'll return to it later. Here
is the old Boost "standard" license (minus the disclaimer):

// Permission to copy, use, modify, sell and distribute this software
// is granted provided this copyright notice appears in all copies.

I'll repeat here the new license (minus the disclaimer) for completeness:

[start new license--

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person or organization
obtaining a copy of the software covered by this license (the "Software")
to use, reproduce, display, distribute, execute, and transmit the Software,
and to prepare derivative works of the Software, and to permit others
to do so, all subject to the following:

The copyright notice in the Software and this entire statement, including
the above license grant, this restriction and the following disclaimer,
must be included in all copies of the Software, in whole or in part, and
all derivative works of the Software, unless such copies or derivative
works are solely in the form of machine-executable object code generated by
a source language processor.

-- end new license]

My questions are failry obvious.

* Why is the new license better?

* Isn't there a conflict of interest between Boost contributors and the
legal departments of some Boost users? Which license of the two provides the
better balance between the interests of these two groups? What is more
important, encouraging contribution or encouraging use by large corporate

* It is recognizable that the new license has been prepared with the help of
a lawyer. Is this a good thing from a legal perspective?

I'd like also to point out that it seems to me that the old "in all copies"
form is better than the new one; the legal system is sufficiently flexible
to reliably recognize a "copy" (i.e. a password protected RAR archive of an
mp3 encoded song). The new wording seems to allow self-extracting archives
of "the Software" to not carry the license.

Now the disclaimer. I am not sure to what extent we are even supposed to
discuss such legal matters here; the public archives of the mailing list can
be used as evidence in a hypothetical future lawsuit (SCO showed the way).
So I won't go into details.

* Does free (beer) software need a disclaimer of any kind? Does it carry any
implied warranties that need to be disclaimed?

* Does the disclaimer provide any legal protection?

* Worse, if the disclaimer isn't strictly necessary and doesn't provide much
legal protection, doesn't it _weaken_ our postition in a hypothetical
lawsuit? Doesn't it present a convenient legal target that can be exploited?

In short, why not just drop the disclaimer?

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