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LinuxProgramming: Looking at the General Public License and Open-Source Licenses

Jul 10, 2000, 13:35 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tony Stanco)

[ Thanks to Kevin Reichard for this link. ]

"As Eric Raymond described, reputation is the currency of Open Source development. Therefore, it is extremely important that the author(s) of code be identified and acknowledged. This can be satisfied by retaining the author's copyright notice on the software as it is distributed or modified. However, to protect their reputations from inferior modifications by different authors, an Open-Source license may require that it be distributed as pristine base sources plus separate patches. Similarly, to protect the author's reputation, the license may require derivative works to carry a different name or version number from the original software. Also some developers, in an effort to protect the use of their reputation by others, prohibit the use of their name as an endorsement or to promote derivative products built on the code they wrote."

"The major intent here is to protect the use of open source software in commercial distributions, because as the Rationale for the Open Source Definition states, "We want commercial users to join our community, not feel excluded from it." Also, Open Source wants to keep the software neutral in controversial or political areas like genetic research, so that the license cannot restrict areas of use or groups."

"The Open Source Definition does not address warranty provisions, so Open-Source licensing can provide warranties or provide disclaimers. For most Open-Source licenses, the software is provided "as is," usually disclaiming both warranties of product performance and that the software is noninfringing of the copyright, patent, or trademark rights of others. Since developers are not compensated for the production of Open-Source software, if developers needed to warranty their creations and be subject to potential legal liability, the willingness of most developers to participate would be greatly reduced."

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