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Re: why is graphviz package non-free?

On Wed, Jan 12, 2005 at 06:04:33PM +0000, Henning Makholm wrote:
> I have previously argued for this position in the context of other
> licenses, but I have become less convinced that it is actually as
> important as I used to think.

I don't feel strongly about this clause, though I'd like to understand its

> In particular, I am not sure that this clause effectively creates any
> liability for the commercial redistributor that goes beyond that usual
> negligence-based liability (does "common law" speak about "culpa"?) he
> would have independently of any licence language mentioning the
> situation - in any of the jurisdictions that we otherwise care about?
> I would not expect any earthly court to interpret the "caused by" in
> the quoted clause to include causation that could not (reasonably be
> expected to) be foreseen by the commercial distributor as a result of
> his acts or omissions. And if the commercial distributor *could*
> foresee that his acts would cause losses for the original author, then
> I would expect him to be liable to pay compensate irrespective of what
> the license says.

I have difficulty thinking of anything a commercial user of software
could do that would cause the upstream author to legitimately be sued
in the first place--if the problem is really caused by my action, then
the author being sued is frivilous almost by definition.

I suppose I could cause that through misrepresentation, but I'd expect
to be liable in that case anyway (once it found its way back to me).

> > (You might get the money back from a countersuit, of course, but you
> > might not--and if you have this option available, you might just
> > elect to make me pay for it all instead of going back to court.)
> Making the redistributor pay it would probably involve going to court
> too.

True, though going to court against the redistributor may be a more
appealing option than going back to court against, say, IBM--but that's

Glenn Maynard

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