Boost logo

Boost :

From: Dave Abrahams (dave_at_[hidden])
Date: 2004-09-17 18:42:35

Christoph Ludwig <cludwig <at>> writes:

> On Fri, Jul 30, 2004 at 07:31:10PM +0200, Alexander Terekhov wrote:
> > Falk Hueffner wrote:
> > > the boost license ( does not
> > > allow redistributing modified versions. Is that intentional or an
> > > oversight?
> >
> > I also thought that this is a bug. Boost's lawyer(s) got it right.
> >
> > No "redistribution" permission needed. It's all in the 17 USC 109.
> ^^^^^^^^^^
> After I figured out that USC stands for "United States Code" I looked
> it up at <URL:>, only to find that US
> lawmakers don't produce more comprehensible language than their German
> counterparts. I didn't see where this particular law covers Falk's
> question, but if the lawyers who drafted the Boost license say so, I
> won't argue...
> However, that brought another question to my mind: USC can only apply
> if at least one party of the license agreement is living or based
> in the US. (That's my layman's understanding, at least - IANAL) But is
> Boost a legal entity that can be party to a contract? Or do I in fact
> accept license agreements with the individual Boost contributors?
> If the latter holds and I use a Boost library contributed by someone
> living in Germany, then only German law applies, doesn't it? And if
> the library I use was contributed by someone living in Russia does
> then only Russian and / or German laws apply?
> Does anyone know whether this does or does not constitute a real
> problem? (A far fetched example: As I read the Boost license it
> denies _any_ liability, even in cases of gross negligence. I could
> imagine that a German court voids the disclaimer on the grounds that
> it is too broad. But then, I don't have any in depth knowledge about
> German liability laws.)

Here's what the Boost lawyer said. Hope it helps:

From: "Smith, Devin" <DSMITH_at_[hidden]>
Subject: FW: Re: Boost license
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 18:08:02 -0400

Christoph asks a good question about the applicability of national laws
on Boost libraries and the Boost license.

First, the individual contributor or contributors are the licensors of
their libraries. Boost is not a party to the Boost licenses.

Second, if a contributor is a national of any country that has signed an
international treaty called the "Berne Convention" (most of the
countries of the world have - see for a list),
then that contributor's libraries are automatically protected by the
copyright laws of all of the nations that have signed the treaty. This
means, in practice, that a contributor has copyright protection for its
libraries in most countries of the world. And the copyright protection
laws are very similar in each of these nations.

The Boost license, then, grants the user the right to use the library
without violating the copyright laws of the nation in which the user
uses the library.

And the laws of the nation in which the user is located will be applied
in enforcing and interpreting the Boost license.

(The Boost license could have contained a so-called "governing law
clause" requiring that it be interpreted according to the laws of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States, but one goal of
drafting the license was to keep it short, and foreign courts may not
feel bound by or be able to follow that clause anyway.)

IANAGermanL, so I can't say for sure what the effect of German law would
be in interpreting the Boost license. It may well be the case that the
disclaimer of warranty is not effective for public policy reasons. But
I think that is very unlikely, and, in any case, there's really not much
that can be done about it from a practical perspective.

So it's not an issue with which contributors should be concerned.

Boost list run by bdawes at, gregod at, cpdaniel at, john at