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(Updated: As it turns out, based on the comments below CC-SA-NC is not considered an Open Source license. The moderators are free to close this. That being said, whether my software is CC-SA-NC or GPL or any other Open Source license does NOT change the relevance of my question. The same situation applies. I still believe its an important question that would benefit open source developers. So I am not going to delete it, but like I said, folks are free to close it)

I've developed a mobile app with the following setup:

  • The app can be purchased for a fee from Play/App store
  • I've open sourced the app on GitHub under CC-SA-NC (Creative Commons, Share Alike, Non Commercial) usage
  • I also have a desktop version for the same app, that I offer for free on my GitHub site. It is free for personal use.

I want to make sure that I am protected in the event the app fails/doesn't work.

So far, I've only found this thread that discusses the considerations of EULA for open source, but it doesn't cover my more detailed scenario (at least in my mind). I am primarily interested in protecting myself from folks who decide to sue me because my app did not work for their needs (if that were to happen).

As I understand it,

  • Releasing the source code under CC-SA-NC doesn't cover the usage of the app for folks who purchase it from the app/play store, or don't compile my source code at all. For example, CC-SA-NC license has a Section 5 – Disclaimer of Warranties and Limitation of Liability. While my source code is under CC-SA-NC, I don't think this applies to people who use my app binary, without having compiled it, correct?

  • Apple Store has its own EULA for all apps downloaded. - see section e and f for limitation of liability and disclaimer of warranty. So I would assume if someone purchases my app from the Apple store, I am protected if the app doesn't function properly? (We are not talking about violation of T&Cs of the store, like say, my app secretly accessing user data etc. we are simply talking about the app not functioning in certain situations, if that were to occur)

  • I don't see a similar protection in Android Play Store EULA - does this imply I should add an EULA for my app that is uploaded to play store?

  • Finally, what remains is protection for me for folks who choose to use my desktop binary. I assume I need to add a EULA or statement just for that which would basically be the "Disclaimer of Warranty" and "Indemnification" sections?

Thanks

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about legal issues regarding the sale of proprietary software, even though that software might be source-available. – amon Aug 10 at 11:01
  • Okay, fair enough. That being said, isn't the question legitimate for valid Open Source licenses? CC-NA-NC or GPL would make no difference here, for example. – user1361529 Aug 10 at 13:55
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An alternative thought: use an open-source license instead.

Creative Commons licenses are intended for more "traditional" creative works, and are not intended for software. While they can certainly be applied to software, they weren't designed with it in mind, which raises a few domain-specific issues - and this is one of them.

Most open-source licenses are written with a disclaimer of liability and warranty, which is exactly the clause you want for your own protection here. The Choose A License website has a list of the most popular licenses, from strong copyleft to highly permissive, and lists what each license allows, disallows, and limits. Each license on that list has a disclaimer of liability and warranty.

An open-source license will not give you the non-commercial restriction, as that's not in keeping with the principles of free/open source software. However - if you're aware of the problems of creating a crayon license, you may want to tack a non-commercial restriction on the end of one of the licenses listed above.

Whichever license you choose to use, bear in mind that you can apply the MIT/whatever else you choose to the entire product - binaries as well, not just source. You'll also want to look at the Play Store's terms of use regarding licensing of apps, so you know how you're allowed to license your products.

  • Thank you. This is exactly my confusion, and why I feel CC-SA-NC vs GPL/MIT/BSD is not relevant here. So what you are then saying is, suppose I have a MIT published code, and I upload the app to the Google Play Store, I am protected by the source license of the app, even though the user downloaded a binary from the store? If so, that answers my question completely. – user1361529 Aug 11 at 21:48
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    @user1361529 You can apply the MIT/whatever else you choose to the entire product - binaries as well, not just source. You'll also want to look at the Play Store's terms of use regarding licensing of apps. – ArtOfCode Aug 11 at 21:57
  • Okay, thank you @ArtOfCode. If I may conclude: The answer then is not to select an open source license, but simply to make sure that the entire app is covered under a license that covers the disclaimers for limitation of liability and warranty (which CC-SA-NC also covers). Would you agree? (I do get that this forum only deals with Open Source licenses, which is a different issue) – user1361529 Aug 12 at 14:18
  • @user1361529 Generally yes, that's right. I'd advise you to consider using something other than a CC license, though, because of their unsuitability for software. I can't say I've really looked, but I expect there are software licenses out there that provide what you're looking for. – ArtOfCode Aug 12 at 19:37
  • Thank you. I've accepted the answer as the last paragraph answers my question. Note that for the record there is one, possibly incorrect assumption in the answer. This is not one of the domain specific issues of CC-SA-NC - that license, too, has an explicit Disclaimer of Warranty and Indemnity. Thank you. – user1361529 Aug 13 at 20:39
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I've open sourced the app on GitHub under CC-SA-NC (Creative Commons, Share Alike, Non Commercial) usage

The Creative Commons - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license is not an Open Source license.

All Open Source software can be used for commercial purpose; the Open Source Definition guarantees this. You can even sell Open Source software. --https://opensource.org/faq#commercial

Therefore, your application cannot be considered open source.

Many open source licenses contain a clause regarding warranties, however, even though the source is licensed under those terms, any app uploaded to a proprietary store is subject to the licensing of said store.

  • Thank you. Though: a) I used the term "open source" not "Open Source" b) I'm not sure this answers my question - how do I protect myself from being sued due to the app not working/meeting needs? – user1361529 Aug 9 at 17:51
  • This site is dedicated to free/libre and open source software. Since your application does not fall into that category, this question is off-topic here. – Lucas Ramage Aug 9 at 17:53
  • Ah I see. I did not realize that. – user1361529 Aug 9 at 17:54

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