Wildebeest Licensing

Frank Mitchell mitchell at wyatt672earp.force9.co.uk
Sun Jun 3 12:44:41 UTC 2012


As the author of the Wildebeest License, I can explain the inspiration behind 
it. I live in England, and Licenses formulated for US Law are kind of illegal 
here. The "No Warranty Express Or Implied" stuff is apparently intended to 
satisfy the Uniform Commercial Code covering sales of goods to US consumers. 
The version I got applies to the State Of Michigan, and there are variations 
between States which I wouldn't know about. But according to the informal 
Legal Advice which I got from the British Trading Standards people, this 
Warranty Disclaimer is totally invalid in England.

Actually I could put: "No Warranty Express Or Implied" because I'm giving my 
software away free of charge. This means no exchange of value, therefore no 
Contract between myself and the User, so I'm not cheating him if the Software 
doesn't work. However I understand this wouldn't be valid in France and 
Germany. And ultimately if some User wanted to sue, I'd have better defences 
than a Clause in a License, which wouldn't count so much under English Law 
anyway. I don't admire the way other Licenses tackle this issue. Put it this 
way: I'm a Serial Killer "To The Fullest Extent Of Applicable Law".

I was also motivated by Joerg Schilling's experience. He describes how 
"cdrecord" suffers from faulty development, and I conclude that the Warranty 
Disclaimer attracts such activity. It reminds me of the days when I worked in 
the British Nuclear Power Industry, where some people believed they could 
disclaim Liability for Death & Personal Injury because they worked for a 
Limited Liability Company. My "Spiegel" CD/DVD Writer is my personal project, 
and I tried to keep it simple and effective. I like to think it will help 
Linux Users record their data, but I don't need other people working on it.

Looking at some Legal eBooks, it's appropriate to specify which Legal System 
is intended to apply to your License. Some bits of the Wildebeest License are 
just a liberal interpretation of the British Copyright Designs & Patents Act 
1998. But it would be interesting if people in other countries wanted to adapt 
it for their Locale. If anybody can imagine an international version, or any 
other improvement, like making it simpler to understand, do let me know.

For reference, here's the Wildebeest License again. Obviously I wanted to 
parody the GNU License too:



PREAMBLE: The Licenses for most Software are designed to repudiate any legal
liability if it doesn't work. By contrast, the Wildebeest License tries to
ensure that it will work, and that you know about any problems beforehand.
No permission is needed to modify your Software to serve its intended
purpose, because United States and European Union Law both allow Lawful
Users to do this anyway. So when this License speaks of Free Software, we
mean that you don't need to pay money for it, not that you can modify it
until it stops working and nobody understands why. Open Source Users will be
aware of such problems when using Free Software, and check for reliability
before depending on it. So instead of including a Warranty Disclaimer which
could be invalid, the Wildebeest License seeks to ensure that reliability
issues are documented. Note that Software is not patentable under European
Law, though it can be covered by a patent for another invention which is.
Also, Multiple Licensing is possible, so you can contact the Original Author
if you believe the terms of the Wildebeest License need to be altered. 

1: This version of the Wildebeest License is intended to be governed by the
Legal System of England, which entitles Lawful Users to modify Software if
necessary for their own use. You can correct it or adapt it to serve its
intended purpose, study its operation and incorporate any underlying ideas
into completely different Software licensed under other terms, and make as
many Backup or Development Copies as you wish.

2: For Users this Software is intended as a Free Gift, available free of
charge apart from incidental expenses, and free from any other obligation
beyond the provisions of Copyright and other legal requirements.

3: If you distribute this Software or a modified version to other people,
you must do so under the terms of this License. You must ensure that the
relevant Documentation and Source Code are available. If you are aware of
problems, you must check the Documentation and ensure they are described.
This could mean adding Comment Statements to the Source Code as well as
editing plaintext documents.

4: If you distribute an adaptation of this Software or a modified version,
you must update the Documentation, identifying yourself and your changes.
The Wildebeest License does not contain a Warranty Disclaimer, so this
Documentation amounts to a Limited Warranty that within the resources
available, you have tested the modified Software and that in your experience
it functions as future Users are likely to expect.

On Saturday 02 June 2012 00:07:58 Jakub Lach wrote:
> I would add-
> "Some strange license? Ditch it, we
> are not going to take chances." - Voice of
> Responsible (TM) corporate management.
> Seriously, why they should pay for
> legal expertise and still would not be
> sure of (practical) consequences?
> Popular/known licenses are hard enough...
> And if stake is high enough some obvious
> things easily can become debatable.
> But interesting idea nonetheless, I would
> like to read it again after feeling somewhat
> comfortable (If this time comes at all) with
> EU IP law and seek for possible problems.
> But it has theoretical value at best.
> --
> View this message in context:
> http://freebsd.1045724.n5.nabble.com/BSD-license-tp5632493p5714091.html
> Sent from the freebsd-advocacy mailing list archive at Nabble.com.

More information about the freebsd-advocacy mailing list