Have you ever wondered how the law treats open source software? In this presentation, we try to cover some of the major legal issues developers should know about OSS. (Originally from 12/7/12 meeting @ Hack Pittsburgh!)
OSS & the LawMegan Costello, J.D.Elliott & Davis, PC
MEET MEG:Tech Enthusiast • Freelance Web Designer • BS in IST/SRA• Lawschool Grad with JD in IP & High-Tech Law• Works @ Elliott & Davis, PC• Goal?Make Law More Accessible toFellow Technologists!!!
MY FIRMNot Your Typical Law Firm!! Mid-Sized,Multi-Practice Firm Technologist Friendly Pittsburgh Cyberlaw Forward-Thinking First B-Corp in Pgh! Competitively Priced Fun, Inviting Atmosphere
DISCLAIMER(You Saw this Coming…)THIS PRESENTATION IS NOT MEANTTO BE USED AS LEGAL ADVICE…SO BEFORE YOU DOANYTHING, TALK TO A LAWYER ONE-ON-ONE…
DISCLAIMER(You Saw this Coming…)THIS PRESENTATION IS NOT MEANTTO BE USED AS LEGAL ADVICE…SO BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING,TALK TO A LAWYER ONE-ON-ONE…….PRETTY PLEASE?
Open Source Software(OSS) IS: Softwarereleased with source code for the purpose of free and open development Generally collaborative effort Promotes free access to information for the advancement of technology. Similar ideas: Crowd-Sourced Data, OSHW, Creative Commons, etc
COPYRIGHT BASICS: Covers Original Artistic Expression in a “Fixed, Tangible Medium”FOR CODE?Extends to both source code AND object code Attaches Immediately // Life of Author +70 Years. Federal Enforcement Requires Registration ($35!)
Derivative Works Captures Major Elements of an Already Copyrighted Work Needs to be “Original” to Register NO RIGHT to Original Copyrighted MaterialSOFTWARE CONCERN:Who Owns a Derivative Work?
Works Made for Hire Commissioned work for another person or company Commissioning person/company generally owns copyrightSOFTWARE CONCERN:Does my employer own thecopyright when I makesoftware on my own time?
WHAT IS:Copyleft? Not an IP Type… LICENSING STRUCTURE! Requires Others to Grant: SAME BUNDLE OF RIGHTS Keeps Source Free!(“as in speech, not as in free beer”)
Famous Copyleft License: GNU GPLv3 Unlimited Copies Unlimited Distribution Charging for Software is OK! But be up-front with the GPL! Unlimited Modifications But anything that uses this code must also be released under the GPL
Choosing the Right LicenseMany Pre-Made Licenses Approved by OSI Varying Degrees of Permissions Varying Degrees of Communities Cheaper/Safer Legally Promotes CompatibilityList of Licenses HERE:http://opensource.org/licenses
A Word of Caution!Not all LicensesPlay Well Together! Combining Licenses could be potentially LETHAL to IP! Be sure to READ ALL LICENSES… Consult a lawyer to make sure things don’t go bad
MYTH #3:YOU WILL NEVER MAKEMONEY WITH OPENSOURCE SOFTWARE!!!!!
Remember This? PROPRIETARY NOT OSS TRADITIONAL OSS SOFTWARE Weakly Strongly ClosedPublic Domain Permissive Protective Protective Source
Truth:“Free” Code ≠ No Revenue All Licenses let you sell the software you make Some Licenses let you turn it into proprietary software!(Permissive, some Weakly Protective) There are other ways to make money with OSS
Solution?:THINK OUTSIDE THE BOXChange Your Business Model! Let the software be secondaryOffer Support & Warranties Red Hat, Novell, MozillaCreate Premium Add-Ons Wordpress
TAKEAWAYS!Do: Talk to a Lawyer Familiar With IP & OSS Licensing! Account for All Code! Read All Licenses! Think Outside the Box! Always Place Licenses on Your Work!
TAKEAWAYS!DON’T: Use Code You Can’t Account For! Combine Licenses Carelessly! Tryto Pass Off OSS as Proprietary Software Get Discouraged!!!!!