When you use open source software you are not entitled to anything!
Published on 2022-11-10.
Some people who use open source software think or feel that they somehow have a right upon the developers of such software to provide support or service of some kind. Some are even so deluded that they think threating the developers with promises of not using the software will somehow force the developers into compliance.
When you use free and open source software, you need to take a look at the license before you begin using the software. Just because it's free and open source, doesn't mean that you are entitled to "free" services in the shape of..
- development of feature requests
- up to date documentation
- a 24/7 online support service that is always on and ready to respond to requests
Free and open source licenses come in many shapes and sizes. Let's take a quick look at a few.
The BSD License, regardless of clause, all have similar wording written out, all in capital letters because of the emphasis on that part:
THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE.
The MIT License has a similar statement:
THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
The GPL License (regardless of version) has a similar statement, yet not in capital letters:
For the developers' and authors' protection, the GPL clearly explains that there is no warranty for this free software. For both users' and authors' sake, the GPL requires that modified versions be marked as changed, so that their problems will not be attributed erroneously to authors of previous versions.
The Apache License also has a similar statement:
7. Disclaimer of Warranty. Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, Licensor provides the Work (and each Contributor provides its Contributions) on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied, including, without limitation, any warranties or conditions of TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. You are solely responsible for determining the appropriateness of using or redistributing the Work and assume any risks associated with Your exercise of permissions under this License.
No matter what kind of free and open source license you look at, no warranties are given.
A warranty is a type of guarantee that the manufacturer or provider makes regarding the condition and service of their product and some products are bound by law (different from country to country) to include a certain warranty.
Typically a representation is made in writing by the seller or company to a purchaser of a product or service that a refund, repair, or replacement will be made if the product or service proves defective or unsatisfactory, especially within a given time period.
An open source developer may choose to provide additional services, e.g. by providing paid support or other services, and in that regard you may enter into some kind of contract, but when that is not the case, the developer has no responsibility to provide you with anything.
The developer does not have to:
- Answer your email, forum post, or something else
- Reply to your bug report
- Write documentation
- Keep the software updated
- Or anything else
Now, you may find that some developers, despite the clear statement of NO WARRANTY in the license, take pride in the work they do, and as such provide services that may even surpass services from companies that you normally pay to provide you with a warranty. However, just because some people are extra nice, doesn't mean that it is your right.
When you use free and open source software, respect the people who make the product and remember that they often do this in their spare time without any pay of any kind.
Even if you choose to freely support the project financially, that still doesn't give you the right to demand anything.
You are NOT entitled to help of any kind when you use open source software!
I think that it's good to keep this in mind.
However, I must also point out, that I personally dislike projects that first use a license with no warranties, and then at the same time make a ton of promises to their users on their websites. Like promises about "security", or "timely updates", or "long term support", etc., and then utterly fail in that regard. Sure, there is no warranty, the license says so, but let's at least try to be honest and not be like those companies who promises all kinds of things, but then when you read the writing in small, ugh!