Old 10-07-2019, 12:22 AM   #1
WernerB
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Default No disclaimers?

I am about to share some of my JSFX files. But having no formal education in (legal aspects of) software production, I am wondering:

Virtually nobody seems to care about legal disclaimers although people regularly exchange scripts, program code and the like in this forum.
So I wonder what would happen if there was a claim that their programs have harmed somebody else’s IT assets/rights?
What is the seemingly secret mechanism that indemnifies the REAPER community against such mishap?

What have I missed out? Please help because my future posts could be shorter and my world could be happier if I can do without disclaimers.

Many thanks
-Werner
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Old 10-07-2019, 01:35 AM   #2
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Many scripters use the GPL license which already includes such a disclaimer.
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WernerB View Post
What have I missed out?
Yes, you missed something.

In a fully monetizated and profit-driven world there are rare islands
of freedom (GPL, Creative Commons). Look here and here!
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Old 10-07-2019, 05:44 AM   #4
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I think OP may actually have a point.
I only know Reaper users and this forum as incredibly 'easy going' so I din't care about license or disclaimer in my scripts but what if at some point someone comes along claiming my script did some harm?

Last edited by nofish; 10-07-2019 at 05:50 AM.
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:49 AM   #5
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Maybe when creating a new script, the IDE should add some kind of license/disclaimer text at the beginning?
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:53 AM   #6
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Maybe a sticky indicating the "free love" nature of code on this forum would be good? Everything's copyleft and without guarantee unless explicitly stated otherwise by the author?
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:15 PM   #7
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Many thanks for your comments that shed light on different aspects of my question. I intend expanding on some of these aspects in more detail soon.
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Old 10-07-2019, 09:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WernerB View Post
What is the seemingly secret mechanism that indemnifies the REAPER community against such mishap?
The fact that it hasn't happened yet, and therefore nobody has had to care. That said, the open-source community at large

Quote:
So I wonder what would happen if there was a claim that their programs have harmed somebody else’s IT assets/rights?
Scripts are typically provided for free, with no obligations for support or guarantees of correctness/safety. Users have to specifically choose to install and use them.

So... I doubt there would be much of a legal case in the event of supposed damage unless you could show outright malicious intent (i.e. a script that intentionally tries to remove C:\Windows\System32).

As far as removing how much extra text you have to write, you could just specify in a comment that your code is released under the MIT or Gnu license with a URL to read it - no need to include the whole text these days.
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Old 10-07-2019, 11:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WernerB View Post
What is the seemingly secret mechanism that indemnifies the REAPER community against such mishap?
I don't know, but a few words at the beginning of your source code are likely not going to change that. Also, I can use a script without looking inside, so how would you know that I have read (let alone agree with) any disclaimer?
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Old 10-08-2019, 12:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nofish View Post
I think OP may actually have a point.
I only know Reaper users and this forum as incredibly 'easy going' so I din't care about license or disclaimer in my scripts but what if at some point someone comes along claiming my script did some harm?
Has someone ever seen any code which provides warranty/liability?
Also I do not know cases when someone really tried such claims against free software. In case something has no explicit license that is still copyrighted, but the user has no rights (not even implicit) since there was no explicit agreement.

From what I know, there is no special regulations for "found" software. I mean if you have found a gun or other dangerous materials (and they are not registered as stolen), or if you have found some forbidden material, or if you have found some suspicious baggage on a train station... the owner can be responsible for the consequences. That is explicitly mentioned in laws and rules.
But if you have found an umbrella, a pen, a CD or a piece of source code and you have used that to harm someone (or yourself), the owner (copyright holder in case of software) is from my knowledge can not be made responsible for the consequences.

In addition no disclaimers or licenses prevent claims the author has violated patents/copyrights/etc.

I can imagine only one way to avoid problems: publish code anonymously, from an open WiFi hotspot, using modified MAC address of WiFi adapter
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tale View Post
Also, I can use a script without looking inside, so how would you know that I have read (let alone agree with) any disclaimer?
Tale, you are one of my favourite (software) contributors indeed, there is so much to learn and copy from your JSFX Pack!
On this occasion I should like to confess that I will draw heavily (!!!) on code from your mono_synth in my upcoming project(s). Therefore I have looked inside this program and know that you have actually bothered earmarking it with an LGPL licence. But I am convinced that the validity of the licence terms is not affected by anyone reading them or not. (If we bother reading) we read phrases as the following all over the place: “Downloading or using the xyz software constitutes acceptance of the terms of this license.” So not reading is at our own risk.
After all legal considerations (and I still have to digest the other replies to my thread), I dearly hope to meet you again in matters of program development.
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WernerB View Post
On this occasion I should like to confess that I will draw heavily (!!!) on code from your mono_synth in my upcoming project(s).
Cool!

Quote:
Originally Posted by WernerB View Post
Therefore I have looked inside this program and know that you have actually bothered earmarking it with an LGPL licence.
Yeah, I did... However, my JSFX libraries are now WTFPL.
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Old 10-20-2019, 01:29 PM   #13
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Default Extended Scope of Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by swiiscompos View Post
GPL license which already includes such a disclaimer.
First answer to my thread: So short but so good!
The licence idea extends the scope of discussion beyond staying save as a contributor (referred to as “Limitation of Liability” in the GPL) to warning/protecting the user and labelling the software as “free”. – Only my preferred pick from the GPL, but WOW!
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Old 10-20-2019, 01:37 PM   #14
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Default Thriving on Island of Freedom

Quote:
Originally Posted by enroe View Post
In a [...] profit-driven world there are rare islands of freedom (GPL, Creative Commons).
Enroe, I am still indulging in your picture of rare islands of freedom! Most likely, we have chosen REAPER, inter alia, because it supports this freedom better than all the “profit-driven” DAWs out there.
The tedious thing about freedom is that it doesn’t come for free and has its terms and conditions. And these are, as you named it, codified in the GPL (and other licences).
Please stay free AND safe!
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Old 10-20-2019, 01:49 PM   #15
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Default Contributors collated Safety Strategies

Quote:
Originally Posted by nofish View Post
I think OP may actually have a point.
I only know Reaper users and this forum as incredibly 'easy going' [...]
I highly appreciate your support!!! At the same time I notice that the contributors although incredibly “easy going” have already collated a wide range of effective strategies to stay safe.
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:07 PM   #16
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Default IDE or We?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenakios View Post
[...] the IDE should add some kind of license/disclaimer text at the beginning?
Good proposal with regard to ingraining and simplifying our license/disclaimer routines! BTW, my current IDE for JSFX is MS Editor … not really up to this task.
With regard to the content: Maybe working well in some but probably not best in all instances as different programs/situations may call for different licenses/disclaimers.
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:36 PM   #17
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Default A Sticky Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by snooks View Post
Maybe a sticky indicating the "free love" nature of code on this forum would be good? [...]
Honestly, I have to confess that I have seen stickies in the distinct REAPER forums, but I don’t really understand how they are different from normal threads. Could you enlighten me, please?

Hahaha , “free love” is a dangerous thing. I trust that swingers in this forum know how to protect themselves, respect each other (as human beings with feelings ) and accept that this forum can only prosper as a symbiotic community.
But since code/programs can spread and leave the boundaries of this forum easily (don't we want them to go viral?), my guts tell me that important notices should be attached as “package leaflets” to the code/programs. When adopting this procedure, the initial responsibility, but also the choice of attaching sensible terms and conditions would remain with the authors. I hope that this entire thread encourages us becoming sufficiently educated to find the right words for our package leaflets.
PS: Just thinking if our code/programs actually don’t leave this circle because they are useless outside the REAPER community ... But of course, we can also find them in places like GitHub, etc.
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Old 10-21-2019, 12:54 PM   #18
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One note. Nothing from Cockos has GPL license. And that is good.
F.e.: https://www.cockos.com/wdl/ (license section)

It is not allowed to build anything on top of GPL, except GPL. Till some degree, it is not even allowed to build something in parallel with GPL. F.e. if a part of some script is GPL and another is "GPL compatible", that is fine. But adding anything not GPL compatible is strictly speaking not allowed. Even if that something is free, that does not force GPL compatibility. Some script "without license" is not GPL compatible: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license...atibleLicenses
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Old 10-21-2019, 02:15 PM   #19
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Default A Statistical Approach

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
The fact that it hasn't happened yet, and therefore nobody has had to care. [...]

Scripts [...] Users have to specifically choose to install and use them.

So... I doubt there would be much of a legal case in the event of supposed damage unless you could show outright malicious intent [...].

[...] you could just specify in a comment that your code is released under the MIT or Gnu license with a URL to read it - no need to include the whole text these days.
Thank you very much for your very considerate comments: There seems to be statistical evidence that limitation of liability is actually not a hot topic (for several putative reasons). Nonetheless, associating our scripts/programs with a licence is the weapon of choice against getting drawn into potential legal disputes.

Having in mind an optimum balance between useful code and other text (“payload vs. ballast”) in our releases, I’d like to add some more thoughts (I beg your pardon if this is getting long now, but maybe the shortcut will do):

The shortcut: I have seen the described practice of a release being merely specified under a licence and coming together with a URL many times. No offence, can someone actually point to a source where they explain how this practice is sufficient?

The long version: The introductory sentence of the GPL 3.0 licence that permits “to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document”, but doesn’t allow changing it actually fooled me to believe for a while that I had to include the complete licence text. This would be 28,600 characters of ballast compared to 2,000 characters of my first program code.
Encouraged by your comments and 26,500 characters down the GPL 3.0, I luckily found the section “How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs”: The Free Software Foundation recommends attaching the following 600 characters notice to the start of each source file:

“<one line to give the program's name and a brief idea of what it does.>
Copyright (C) <year> <name of author>
This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License […]
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; […].
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <https://www.gnu.org/licenses/>."
[Accentuation added]

Notably, the MIT licence manages – in addition – to limit liability within its 900 characters and copes without URL-ing another document.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azslow3 View Post
One note. Nothing from Cockos has GPL license. And that is good.
Well, actually a lot of Cockos JSFX are LGPL.
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Old 10-23-2019, 03:09 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tale View Post
Well, actually a lot of Cockos JSFX are LGPL.
L in LGPL is important
LGPL for a script means you have to make new version public (and LGPL) in case you modify it. It does not restrict you in use of this script, as long as it stay verbatim.

LGPL for binary program source is more problematic, it restrict you in linking with non GPL compatible parts. Restrict does not mean forbid, SWELL on Linux is GDK based, while REAPER is not (L)GPL program.
Still, it is good that EEL2 itself is not LGPL. It can be integrated into whatever project you want, without thinking about license compatibility.

Good GPL examples are VST3 SDK and JUCE. Try to use them for/with anything else then GPL, and you need signed agreement (VST3 SDK) or pay a lot of money (JUCE).
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:15 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azslow3 View Post
[...]
F.e.: https://www.cockos.com/wdl/ (license section)
Thank you for your repeated thought-provoking impulses! It becomes quite clear that each application calls for its most suitable license (template).

By the way, the license used by Cockos for the WDL library is the Zlib license.

As I feel that having a look at the big picture would be beneficial, I am currently working on a survey of the licenses typically used in the REAPER environment.
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:07 PM   #23
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Default Relevant licenses in the REAPER environment

After I had started this thread without even mentioning the construct of licenses, this has nearly evolved to be the most legit topic of this thread. Therefore I wanted to establish which licence types are most relevant in the REAPER environment and have surveyed many JSFX files and a portion of other programs/scripts collated from REAPER itself, ReaPack, the REAPER Stash and public repositories like GitHub.

Here are the results:



The unidentified license was regularly used by loser who, to my knowledge, has left the community of REAPER developers. Later, liteon picked up on this license which contains (in excerpts) the following elements:

NO WARRANTY IS GRANTED. […] NO LIABILITY IS GRANTED […] THE USE OF THE SOURCE CODE […] IS ONLY GRANTED, IF […] USED WITH ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE AUTHOR. FURTHERMORE IS THIS PLUG-IN A THIRD PARTY CONTRIBUTION […] BY USING THIS PLUG-IN YOU RELINQUISH YOUR CLAIM TO SUE IT'S AUTHOR […]
Does anybody have intelligence which license template this could be, how it has evolved, or how to contact loser?
Maybe this is a genuine example of a custom-made license.




Finally, the ReaPack dll is licensed under LGPL. The WDL c++ library of Cockos is licensed under Zlib. Colour Themes and Language Packs don’t come with licenses. Maybe they are so specific to REAPER that a conflict of interests seems too remote to warrant licensing.

Recapping the humble beginnings of this thread, I had wondered why so much software was published without express licenses or legal disclaimers. With this survey, we have the names and numbers for the (non)occurrence of express licenses. But please don't take any numbers too serious as they don't reflect the qualitative characteristics of licenses which will be left for another post.
Although I feel that no case of best-practice should be built on the high numbers of non-occurrence, I am left to mention that I was informed in a private conversation about the doctrine of implied license which may (partially) replace an (intentionally missing) express license.

I am looking forward to learn your thoughts.

Last edited by WernerB; 11-18-2019 at 12:12 AM. Reason: Adding URL-link to "implied license"
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:39 AM   #24
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Interesting... If I post some code here, then I (almost?) never add any license. However, because this is a public forum, I would consider everything I post here publc domain (unless otherwise noted).
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Old 11-18-2019, 06:56 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tale View Post
Interesting... If I post some code here, then I (almost?) never add any license. However, because this is a public forum, I would consider everything I post here publc domain (unless otherwise noted).
This comment made me realise that I think about inline code and linked files very differently.

Code:
If I post some code on the forum like this,
then I'd fully expect someone to copy/paste
code from a comment like this, without
attribution or anything else.

Often I've posted it to explain something,
or as a favour, so that's kind of the point.
However, code that I post/link from the Stash or GitHub is different in my head. For example, if someone reached into my GitHub and copy-pasted half of one of my effects (not just copy the concepts), then I'd feel... yeah, that's not really polite to do without asking.

I don't have a legal basis for this, although intuitively I feel that the "intended use" of such code is different.

Geraint

Last edited by geraintluff; 11-18-2019 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 11-25-2019, 01:43 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tale View Post
Interesting... If I post some code here, then I (almost?) never add any license. However, because this is a public forum, I would consider everything I post here publc domain (unless otherwise noted).
Interesting… you’re not alone! Having no intentions to do another quantitative survey, I’d say, virtually nobody adds an express license when posting to the forum. Admittedly, I have completely blinkered out licenses for forum posts in my recent survey which focused on complete programs (coded in JSFX, LUA, EEL, PY), collated from different repositories (ReaPack, the Stash, GitHub, but not the forum) and consequently used in REAPER itself (\REAPER\Effects, \REAPER\Scripts).

With regard to forum posts, I should like to add: We probably don’t need to be too nit-picky about licenses of text posts and nearly decontextualized snippets of code in the forum when using licenses deliberately and carefully in our complete programmes.

Although we don’t have express provisions for the case of no license in this forum (as e.g. GitHub has them), your posts (including snippets of code) most likely cannot be subsumed to be public domain. ([C]ode that doesn’t have a license is NOT automatically in the public domain.) I believe that all newly fashioned thoughts (also in discussion stages before the final product/programme) are automatically attributable to their respective contributors without the requirement to even put a “copyright” in front of every thought posted here. In addition, the timestamp of the forum could possibly serve as a proof of original inventorship.

In contradistinction, if dedication to the public domain (i.e. the relinquishment of some of your personal rights) is actually intended, this has to be stated specifically because its legal implications cannot be simply implied, e.g. “dedication for the benefit of the public at large and to the detriment of [your] heirs and successors”. In return for the generous act of public dedication and as you would expect from a worthy license, this "public domain (un)license" even disclaims warranty and limits liability.

Finally I feel that we have to clarify the following points in order to bring this discussion to the next level:
  • What are the legal consequences when simply trusting in implied licenses or when unlicensing our software (= entrusting it to the public domain)?
  • What are the reasons for using licenses?
  • What are our expectations/benefits when using them?
Werner
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