Re: [unrev-II] Knowledge Space

From: Paul Fernhout (
Date: Tue Nov 07 2000 - 17:27:02 PST

  • Next message: Jack Park: "[unrev-II] Scholastic Ontology"

    Eric Armstrong wrote:
    > Hmmm. Interesting points.
    > Is pointing to a web site where useful code might be
    > found the same as "contributing" the code?

    I would argue myself that a pointer to a web site is not a contribution.
    How others might interpret that is of course always an issue.
    I personally also would make disclaimers about some piece of code not
    being a contribution (and have).

    Should it really matter if you are the author as opposed to an
    interested third party?

    It might be different if you posted it to the list or even said 'here is
    a code as a contribution to the Bootstrap effort under "permission to

    The disturbing thing is that we as open source developers even have to
    think about such a worry for a contribution -- i.e.m the first step for
    the colloquium as far as seeing OHS code developed with "permission to
    use" by Bootstrap/Stanford was IMHO straight onto a land mine.

    I understand there is talk of another license (but that is for
    distribution, stuill not a statement of what contributors contribute).
    And it is sort of for another list, so unrev-II is still not effected.

    > It strikes
    > that using the code would then require an action on
    > the part of the users.


    > That action would take place
    > outside of any specific "permission to use" agreement.

    Sounds reasonable, but interpretations of legal agreements often hinge
    on turns of phrases or other "facts and circumstance" interpretations.
    > What happens in that case, anyway? (Since I plan on
    > publishing an entire node library at some point, I
    > ask out of concern for who *else* in the world might
    > sue my ass into oblivion for being foolish enough to
    > simply make code available without a 10 page legal
    > agreement to protect me against people who rely on it
    > being bug free, and who count on it to do the accounting
    > for their fly-by-night operation...

    Good question. Sounds like you may wish to consult a lawyer.
    > I wonder, too, how someone can possibly be held liable
    > for any represenation of performance in the absence of
    > reciprocal performance by the second party? If there is
    > no reciprocation, there is no contract. If there is no
    > contract, there is no obligation.

    Well, it depends what one calls reciprocation. Obviously
    Bootstrap/Stanford might argue one received value out of participation
    on the list or on-site for example.

    > So if I put it out
    > there for free, there is no liablity on my part, no matter
    > who uses it. Right? Right?????

    I am not a lawyer. Might be worth talking to one about any of your

    I definitely think disclaimers of warranty would not cover malicious
    code (i.e. a comouter worm) for which you might always be liable. For
    something more typical developed as a positive thing, I think it
    probably depends some on the license, and also the jurisdiction it is
    interpreted in (some states may not allow certain disclaimers). Also, I
    think there may be a difference between public domain code and licensed
    code in terms of liability.

    My major concern is not so much malfunctions as inadvertent software
    patent infringement.
    -Paul Fernhout
    Kurtz-Fernhout Software
    Developers of custom software and educational simulations
    Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator

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