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My understanding is that the releasing statement assigns "ownership" of the work to the public at large. But obviously one could not sue "the public" if (say) PD software crashed due to a defect and cost one's business a day's salary of a software engineer to clean it up.

So does releasing a work into the public domain disclaim any liability? And if not, why not?

  • Do you specifically mean "merchantability" as opposed to "liability"? – user6726 Jul 7 '17 at 14:59
  • I guess I did mean liability in a broad sense; or perhaps, web-searching it now, "fitness for a particular purpose" might be closest? Basically, should someone have a reasonable expectation of a work performing a certain function? – Arlo James Barnes Jul 7 '17 at 20:10
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"Merchantability" is only a concept that has meaning if you sell something. If you give something away you make no warranty as to its quality.

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  • Thanks, I realise I had a misunderstanding about the word "merchantability". My question was orthogonal to whether it was being sold (PD works can be sold, see freepd.com for instance; it is basically selling convenience since the actual market of the product cannot be defended by copyright law. But that does raise the question of whether actual merchantability would come into play in such cases... ). I really was curious about whether someone should have a reasonable expectation of a work performing a certain function. Perhaps "fitness for a particular purpose" might be closer? – Arlo James Barnes Jul 7 '17 at 20:15
  • Again "fitness for purpose" requires a contractural arrangement – Dale M Jul 7 '17 at 23:14
  • Ah, okay. I see. – Arlo James Barnes Jul 8 '17 at 23:31

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