Subject: Re: EROS and liability
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 28 Jun 1999 22:00:13 -0400

   From: shapj@us.ibm.com
   Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 21:49:05 -0400

   The scenario I am trying to build goes as follows.

   I want to be able to go to a customer and say: "This here thingus works, and I'm
   willing to stand behind the fact that it works.  You can configure it in ways X,
   Y, and Z and I will stand behind it in any of those configurations.  You can
   mess with the source code, or alter it in ways OTHER than X, Y, and Z, but the
   minute you do that you assume all consequences for *anything* that goes wrong.

   Roughly: "No user servicable parts inside if you want support."

   The catch is that once the camel's nose is in the tent you have a problem when
   the whole thing gets in front of a humanly fallible jury.  You really need to be
   able to show via a clear-cut, inarguable way that the conditions of the contract
   end, because you need some way of defining where the responsibility ends.

   So this is where I'm trying to get to, and perhaps I'm going about it in
   entirely the wrong way.  Suggestions and discussion are welcome.

First of all, I'm sure we all understand that you should talk to a
lawyer.  We can discuss various free software ideas.  But I don't
recall ever seeing a lawyer post to this list.

Secondly, I still just don't see any particular free software aspect
to this.  I think vendors of proprietary RTOS's distributed in source
code form have exactly the same problem.  If you think they don't, can
you explain what is significantly different about your situation?
That's the point I've been trying to ask in various ways, and I still
haven't understood an answer to it.  Have I missed something?

I do more or less understand lawsuits, and I do understand that you
will get sued regardless.  We can't stop that.  But I still don't
understand why the fact that you have a free software license makes
any difference.  If we can understand that, perhaps we can help.

Ian