Subject: prohibiting use that would result in death or personal injury
From: Justin Wells <jread@semiotek.com>
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2000 12:33:55 -0400

Can an opensource license include this phrase:

   You must not use our software where there is any risk of death or 
   personal injury. 

Lots of licenses say that, and the reason is that in many jurisdictions it
is not possible to disclaim liability for something that might kill or 
seriously inujure someone.

So what software licenses do instead is prohibit any use that might result 
in death or personal injury.

I think this contradicts the "fields of endeavor" portion of the OSD. However,
I also think it's an entirely reasonable thing to put in an open source 
license.

This restriction would prevent you from using the software to fly an aircraft,
or as part of a military weapons system, or as part of the safey system keeping
trains from colliding. Those are definately fields of endeavor.

I'm interested in hearing what others think. 

If it's not allowed in an open source license then the author of any 
opensource software package is open to almost unlimited liability in the 
event that someone uses their software in a critical system and, as the
result of some bug, someone dies. 

Though it doesn't seem fair, I can imagine the victim's side arguing
that since the opensource author allowed their software to be used
in any field of endeavour (including critical systems) they were
negligent in not ensuring that the software was suitable for use
under those conditions.

Justin