I am responding to this to support your suggestion that the JRuby team
should consider the legal issues associated with commercial companies
I suppose there must be an assumption in the mind of some Open Source
developers that all code should be open-source and it would be a good
thing if open-source licences cause that to happen. There’s no answer
to this - it’s just a matter of different opinions.
On the other hand, I assume that many Open Source developers also work
on non-Open Source projects to earn their living, are likely to
recognize the realities of commerce and would probably be anxious to
ensure that Open Source licences only apply to the open-source code and
not to proprietary code added on top of an open-source system like
Whichever camp one sits in there is another legal issue - the liability
of a product vendor for its product.
The simple case is where a customer suffers a loss because the product
fails to perform and expects the vendor to compensate. If the vendor is
using an open-source product as the base for its commercial product and
the failure is due to a problem in the open-source part the vendor
can’t, in turn, expect compensation from the open-source developers.
This means the vendor must actually carry the product quality risk for
the open-source code as well as for his own code.
The more difficult issue (and potentially the most expensive) would be
if the vendor was challenged for infringing someone’s rights and the
infringement arose in the open-source code. It’s easy to see that an
aggrieved party might not bother suing an open-source team but would
jump at the first chance to sue a solid commercial business.
And, to pick up on Jeffrey’s comment, I don’t think it would make any
difference with either of my scenarios whether it was a distributed or
an online app.
Perhaps the legal answer is to encapsulate the product in its own
limited liability subsidiary so that legal action can’t bring the whole
This, at least, would allow the choice of development tools to be
decided on an economic basis rather than a legal one. Would it be more
productive to use JRuby or Groovy or Java? - how do you tell?. A lot
must depend on what skills the programmers already have and that,
surely, depends on corporate policy.
Mark McCraw wrote in post #1095040: