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I’m writing a closed source program with a small group of people. We will be distributing it without the code, but I’m worried about two things:

  1. If my program deletes the user’s files or causes any damage of any type, my team and I don’t want to be in legal trouble. Since it includes a web server we don’t want to get in trouble if the server breaks or goes down, causing business problems or anything else.
  2. If the source code is leaked in any way, I want to not permit anyone who comes across it to distribute it. If that’s not possible, I don’t want anyone to distribute it modified.

Are there any rock-solid licenses that will solve these problems? I’m in the United States, but hopefully it would be applicable elsewhere. Sorry if this the wrong site, please transfer it if it is.

  • Your best bet is to find a similar software service and download its license, modify and mark it up then pay a lawyer a couple hundred bucks to draft it. Since you are talking about closed-source licenses, there isn't a repository of licenses like there is with OSS to choose from, each company has their own. – Ron Beyer Dec 2 '18 at 4:42
  • @RonBeyer Thanks... the problems are that 1) The two similar apps (Apache and NGINX) are both open source, and 2) We have no money to spend. – Kognise Dec 2 '18 at 4:43
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  1. If my program deletes the user’s files or causes any damage of any type, my team and I don’t want to be in legal trouble. Since it includes a web server we don’t want to get in trouble if the server breaks or goes down, causing business problems or anything else.

In your Terms and Conditions (T&C) or End User License Agreement (EULA), be sure to clearly address items in the sense that:

  • use (and perhaps installation?) of the application is at the user's risk;
  • by using the application the user agrees to release you from any liability for any harm or losses the application might cause to users' files & systems or to any third-party files & systems;
  • the user is entirely responsible for thoroughly testing whether the application is suitable for Production, or you can outright state that the software is not for use in Production.

By reading other software licenses, you surely will have noticed that some of this types of clauses in T&C/EULA are commonplace. The key is to be upfront to users on what to expect and/or what not to expect, preferably without the extensive legalese and fine print that is present in many "agreements".

Searching for certain keywords, such as End User License Agreement or this other query, will surely be illustrative of these and other matters/concepts you need to know.

  1. If the source code is leaked in any way, I want to not permit anyone who comes across it to distribute it. If that’s not possible, I don’t want anyone to distribute it modified.

You can include clauses to the effect of copyright protection, although I think that enforcing it is pretty much impossible or impractical.

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