Rights Clearance Risks
The licensor cannot grant you the right to use a work where the licensor does not actually own the copyright in the work. However,
sometimes a licensor may accidentally attempt do so by mistake; for example, an open source software application might incidentally include
third-party graphical icons which do not come under the same licence. In this case, by using or redistributing this open
source software application, you also end up infringing copyright in the icons. The copyright owner could hold you responsible
and take legal action against you. Because copyright is "strict liability", you will likely be found liable even if you were unaware of the
Although a few open licences provide a warranty that all copyright in the work has been properly cleared (a "warranty of
noninfringement"), this licence does not. This means that you are responsible for verifying that the licensor
actually owns copyright in the works which the licence purports to grant you. This is a difficult task for larger works --
in many cases you may simply need to accept some risk that you could accidentally infringe copyright when a work is
not properly licensed.
Liability for Defects and Inaccuracies
If a licensor is "negligent" in releasing works that are defective or contain inaccurate information, the law generally
holds the licensor responsible for any harm done as a result of this negligence. However, given that openly
licensed works are given away for free and often to a vast number of people, nearly all open licences attempt to disclaim
this default responsibility.
This licence is no exception. It contains a general disclaimer of liability, which, in most cases, will release
the licensor of legal responsibility for any defects, inaccuracies, or errors. By using the licensed material, you are agreeing
to do so entirely at your own risk.
Licence Change Risks
When you first retrieve and start using a work under an open licence, you agree to the licence terms as they are set out at that initial time.
Even if the licensor changes the terms, they normally do not apply to you.
This is the case with this licence. However, although you can continue to use any works already retrieved under the
previous terms, there is still a risk that you may need to agree to newly introduced terms if you retrieve updates
to the work, as these will come under the new licence.
Licence Termination Risks
If you violate the terms of a licence, the ordinary legal remedy available to a licensor is to hold you responsible for any harm
that this breach causes. However, because it can be difficult to identify any actual harm caused by
the violation of an open licence's terms (there is often no financial loss), many open licences add an additional remedy
that the licence automatically terminates, as soon as you violate any term. This revokes your rights to use the
This licence takes this approach. Therefore, there is a risk that you could lose all rights to use the work
even through an inadvertent or minor breach (such as even an error in attribution). If your project or business depends on the
licensed material, this could be a problematic risk. Take extra precautions to ensure that you comply with the letter of the licence.
Jurisdictional Legal Risks
If a lawsuit arises between you and the licensor, it is more expensive to conduct the legal action in another country.
A "choice of forum" clause in a licence indicates the jurisdiction in which any related lawsuit should be held. Depending
on the location specified, this can increase or decrease the potential cost of a lawsuit.
In this case, the licence simply does not specify a forum. This means that the courts will decide the appropriate and
most convenient forum for any lawsuits.
As well, even if a lawsuit is heard by a court in your own jurisdiction, the court may apply a different law when a licence
contains a "choice of law" clause. It is usually more expensive to litigate under foreign laws with which you and your lawyers
may not be familiar. You may need to hire foreign legal experts.
This licence does not contain a choice of law clause, which means that the court will decide which law should
apply based on where the activities in dispute occurred.
Although "copyleft" or "share-alike" licences help keep works free and help build collaborative communities, they
also pose risks to businesses who base their business models on non-free works. For example, a commercial closed-source software
vendor might accidentally end up including a copyleft software library in its own application. This can occur where a company loses track of licences
amongst the hundreds of software libraries that might be included in an application, or where a piece of "in-house" code using copyleft
libraries later makes its way into a commercial product. In these cases, the copyleft clause demands that the whole of the closed-source
software application be made open source. The developer has to choose between releasing the application as open source
(which could likely adversely impact the current business model) or potentially being found liable of copyright infringement.
The copyleft clause in this licence applies to all derivatives works, with the exception of linking to software libraries.
You should conduct careful due diligence assessments, only integrating copyleft works in your own where
you plan to release everything as open source, or where you are certain that the copyleft clause does not apply.
Patent Infringement Risks
If your use of a work implicates patent rights, you need a patent licence in addition to the normal copyright licence.
Unfortunately, this licence does not explicitly cover patents. Although a grant of patent rights may be implicit, this
uncertainty still creates risk, especially as to the exact scope of any such patent licence. Additionally, the licence at most only grants
rights for the patents held by the licensor; you always need to ensure that you do not infringe any patents held by other parties.
The licence contains no patent retaliation clause to try to deter patent lawsuits from other parties (a patent retaliation
clause would revoke the licence for anyone who institutes patent litigation).