Cisco wants it both ways with open source

The networking heavyweight seems to want to adopt open source without taking on the potential costs of doing so.

I've written before that Cisco has aggressively been adopting open source for its hardware products, in addition to its push to promote Linux at Microsoft's expense.

What's particularly interesting (and frustrating) in Cisco's adoption of open source, however, is its apparent efforts to benefit from open source without taking any responsibility for the included open source.

For example, Cisco's Wireless Control System includes this lengthy list of open-source components in its EULA...

Dojo
Apache Struts
Java FTP Server
Apache HTTP Server
Apache Commons
Apache Log4J
Apache Taglib
Apache Tomcat
Poor Man's Imaging Wrapper (PMIW)
SNMP4J
Java Web Services Development Pack
Laszlo
Hibernate
Jasper Reports
Java TFTP Server
PagerTagLib,
Walterzorn Javascript Libraries
OpenSSL
Java Service Wrapper
jQuery
Interface Elements for jQuery
Display Tag Library
Streaming API for XML (JSR-173) Specification
The Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI)

But introduces it with this caveat:

(b) in no event are the Suppliers liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, punitive or consequential damages, including, but not limited to lost data, lost savings and lost profits, with respect to the Excluded Components. Despite anything to the contrary in the EULA or this supplement, the Excluded Components are governed by the terms and conditions of the applicable Supplier license and/or notice.

Granted, Cisco learned to its detriment that violation of open-source licensing can be an expensive proposition, but this seems like Cisco wants to have its cake (open source) and eat it, too (disclaim all responsibility for using that software).

This is Cisco's attempt to pass through open-source licensing's own disclaimers of liability, but it doesn't sit right with me, given that Cisco is including these components within its own proprietary products, products for which it gets paid and products for which it provides some level of indemnification.

Given the benefits it derives from open source, shouldn't it stand behind the open-source software it chooses to distribute as part of its products?


Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.

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