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I'm curious about a hypothetical case. Let's say I were to develop custom software for a closed system on a car, and released it under a standard open source license that had all the typical disclaimers about liability and such. This software replaces the infotainment system giving the user custom apps like a GPS app using open street maps.

Now, obviously you're not supposed to be messing with the software on your car and the end user could void warranty, but that's not my concern. Imagine somehow, some way, this custom software causes the vehicle to fail resulting in an accident. Could the developer of the custom software be held liable, even though the license says all the usual about liability?

Region is Canada but answers covering other regions would be of interest.

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Yes

In the first instance, what you are doing is probably illegal which would make the license void: you cannot contract outside the law. In addition, consumer law in many jurisdictions requires non excludable warranties as to merchantability and fitness for purpose, even for goods and services provided for free.

Notwithstanding, the license would only limit your liability to the licensee; they are the only one who agreed to it. Anyone else who was damaged could sue you for negligence.

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  • Ah, indeed I never thought about the other vehicle. Makes sense, thanks! – user900 Jan 11 '16 at 21:37
  • Not just the other vehicles; passengers and subsequent owners – Dale M Jan 11 '16 at 23:39

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