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Re: License DSFG-free?

On Tue, Dec 03, 2002 at 04:29:49AM +0000, Brian M. Carlson wrote:
> However, because a program that is in the public domain has no copyright
> (and can therefore have no license), you cannot technically disclaim
> warranty.

I'm not sure I can agree with this assertion.  There is nothing, to my
knowledge, in copyright law that specifically empowers or forbids the
copyright holder with regards to warranty issues.  That is a completely
different area of law, and generally one handled at the state level, not

> Well, you can, but you do not have the option of saying, "If
> you do not accept the fact there is no warranty, you cannot use the
> program", as in the GPL, MIT, BSD, Apache, or other licenses.

I am not certain that a disclaimer of warranty would fail to attach if a
person refused to accept the license, just as the same disclaimer of
warranty doesn't attach under the power of copyright.

In other words, there are certain laws that may regulate the functional
aspects of a copyrighted work ("you may have different rights from state
to state"), and I think they're going to attach, or not, based on
criteria that are pretty much divorced from whether or not the thing
being distributed has a copyright on it.

Warranty disclaimers are rolled into copyright license statements for

One might argue, though, that one shouldn't have to accept liability for
something in the public domain that one didn't originate.  In other
words, while I might be held liable for my incendiary broadsheet which I
published into the public domain and which poisoned the minds of our
children[1], I should not be held liable for disseminating the works of
Jefferson or Paine, because they already existed in the public domain
and anyone could have found them.

In sum, while there are reasons one may not want to place one's work in
the public domain and use a liberal copyright license instead, I am not
convinced that warranty disclaimers are actually material to such a
decision.  A person might believe they are, but that doesn't make it so.

[1] though in such a case one can and should mount one hell of a 1st
Amendment defense

G. Branden Robinson                |    Somewhere, there is a .sig so funny
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    that reading it will cause an
branden@debian.org                 |    aneurysm.  This is not that .sig.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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