SYMBIOSIS LAW SCHOOL, NOIDA
USE OF LEGAL DATABASE INTERIM
Antara Rastogi, Rhea Matthai
BBA LLB Batch:2013-18
What it is ?
Why it is?
What it is not?
Where to go with it?
WHAT IS MEANT BY OPEN SOURCE?
Open source refers to a computer
program in which the source code
is available to the general public
and/or modification from its original design.
The license shall not restrict any party from
selling or giving away the software as a
component of an aggregate software
containing programs from
several different sources. The license shall
not require a royalty or other fee for such
In general, open source projects,
products, or initiatives are those that
exchange, collaborative participation, rapid
prototyping, transparency, and community
WHAT IS AN OPEN SOURCE
Open-source software (OSS) is a
computer software with its source
code made available and licensed with
a license in which the copyright holder
provides the rights to study, change
and distribute the software to anyone
and for any purpose. Open-source
software is very often developed in a
public, collaborative manner.
Must have “source code”
Intergrityof the Author‟s
No Discrimination Against
Person or Groups
No Discrimination of Fields
ADVANTAGES OF OSS
The license does not restrict the party from selling or
giving away the software. The license does not require
a royalty or other fee for such sale.
Lesser hardware costs:
The hardware power consumption is lesser for OSS
compared to other servers like windows. Hence a
cheaper and a older hardware could be used to get the
No vendor lock in:
open source software give its users more freedom and
we can affectively address some of the disadvantages
like lack of portability and expensive license fee vendor
OSS use high end technology like common information
model and web based enterprise management this
would result in efficient administration.
The support for OSS is freely available and can be
accesed though online communities.
Not totally free;
Though the software is free, we will incur
maintenance and installation charges in
addition to profession advise and support.
Not easy to install:
Not all open source soft wares is easy to
install and setup although its becoming
more useful all the time.
Not easy to use for end users:
Many people who activate the open source
community are developers not end users
of the software so it may not be helpful to
the advantage person looking for basic
OPEN SOURCE LICENSING
A license demarcates the rights and obligations that a licensor grants to a licensee. Open
source licenses grant licensees the right to copy, modify and redistribute source code or
content. These licenses may also impose obligations.
TYPES OF LICENSES AVAILABLE
CLOSED SOURCE: When source code is not open but kept a secret.
eg. Proprietary Software like Adobe Acrobat
Reader, MacAfee, Apple Software
OPEN SOURCE: a type of license for computer software and other
products that allows the source code, blueprint or design to be used,
and/or shared under defined terms and conditions
eg. Mozilla, Open Office.org, Wikimedia
Copyrights are used to protect computer
software but everyone is not using copyrights to
have rights in software. Some are using
copyrights so that no one else may have any
rights in that software; there is a new word for
it: they „copyleft‟ it. Before a software may be
copylefted, its source code must be disclosed. A
disclosed source software can be copylefted or
"Copyleft licenses" require licensee to license
specific developments (if they are not restricted
to internal use) to anyone under the original
license. This ensures that everyone who profits
from open-source software will offer their
developments to the developer community.
Inventions, discoveries and technologies widen scientific horizons
but also pose new challenges for the legal world. Information
Technology—brought about by Computers, Internet, and
Cyberspace—has also posed new problems in jurisprudence. These
problems have arisen in all areas of law. The law (statutory or
otherwise) providing answers to these problems or dealing with
Information Technology are sometimes loosely referred to as
'Computer Laws' or 'Information Technology Laws' or simply 'Cyber
Laws'. Intellectual property rights (IPR) are important aspect of
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
'What is worth copying is prima facie worth protecting' is the
genesis of intellectual property rights. These rights refer to the
property that is a creation of the mind: inventions, literary and
artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in
Industrial property . 15
SOURCES OF LEGITIMACY OF OSS
Licensing and each individual license may consist of a
valid, specialized application of contractual norms, either in a
stand-alone framework or representing the enforceable
allocation and re-distribution of property law entitlements in
Licensing as a system of information governance may be a
custom or norm that has been effectively adopted as law and
that should justify enforcement of any particular license
licensing as private governance may operate effectively as a
system of private ordering of social arrangements.
THE OPEN SOURCE LICENSE AS A
SPECIALIZED SOFTWARE LICENSE
The open source model is ultimately a specialized application of the general
purpose conventional software license.
First, both “open source” and “closed source” licenses derive their legal
legitimacy from the copyright owners‟ claims to own and control all aspects
of computer program codes that are used by individual end users or
developers. Second, both forms of license assert comprehensive
statements of the scope of the users‟ rights and obligations with respect
both to the code and to the copyright in the code and limit the users‟ rights
only to those granted in the license itself, rather than to any rights supplied
by the Copyright Act or other law. A software license, whether open or
closed source, is a soup-to-nuts statement of the scope of legitimate
behavior by a user or consumer of that software with respect to both the
artifact itself, the information contained in that artifact, and the
copyright, if any, that applies to that information
DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act provides civil remedies and
the possibility of criminal penalties for two related acts. First, the
act of “overcoming” a “technological measure” that “effectively
controls access” to a copyrighted work is prohibited under
Sec1201(a)(1)(A).21 of „circumvent a technological measure‟
means to unscramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted
work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair
a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright
owner.” 22 “A technological measure „effectively controls access to
a work‟ if the measure, in the ordinary course of its
operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a
treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain
access to the work.”
FREE SOFTWARE, GNU AND GPL
Richard Stallman of MIT propounded with the help of lawyers, drafted
the General public licence (GPL). It contains a condition that copylefts
software. Most of the software under the GNU Project are under GPL.
Software, under a GPL licence, is also known as GPLed software.
GPLed software can be integrated with similar GPLed software but not
with any proprietary programmes. However an LGPL (earlier known as
Library and now Lesser General Public License) can be integrated with
almost any kind of software including proprietary software. The GPL
does not require you to release modified version. You are free to make
modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them.
This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an
organization can make a modified version and use it internally without
ever releasing it outside the organization. But if you release the
modified version to the public in some way,
then the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available
to the programme's users. Thus, the GPL gives permission to release
the modified programme in certain ways and not in other ways; but
the decision, whether to
release it or not, is up to you.
LEGITIMACY OF OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE
Open‐source software development is a production model that exploits the
distributed intelligence of participants in Internet communities. This model
is efficient because of two related reasons: it avoids the inefficiencies of a
strong intellectual property regime and it implements concurrently design
and testing of software modules. The hazard of open source is that projects
can ‘fork’ into competing versions. However, open‐source communities
consist of governance structures that constitutionally minimize this danger.
Because open source works in a distributed environment, it presents an
opportunity for developing countries to participate in frontier innovation.
Linus Torwald wrote in a autobiographical book ‘Just for Fun: the Story of an Accidental
‘The GPL and open source model allows for the creation of the best technology. … It also
prevents the hoarding of technology and ensures that anyone with interest won’t be excluded
from its development.’
So open source would rather use the legal weapon of copyright as an invitation to join in the
fun, rather than as a weapon against others. It’s still the same old mantra: Make Love, Not
War, except on a slightly more abstract level.
So many people still believe that the only good software available is that which is found on a
shelf in a store. Everything you do in one way, shape, or form is being influenced by open
mechanisms. One day soon, as far as software is concerned, it will be open.
Open source software offers various advantages like the ability to
reduce costs and development time, or to avoid being dependent on
a single vendor. It is therefore to be expected that more and more
companies and institutions will start using open source software.
There is however some risks associated with doing so.
It's important to mention that an immediate switch from proprietary
software development to Open Source development would not be a
wise decision. The changes in concept are massive, and
prematurely adopting this model would likely impact negatively on
the economy in the short term. Rather, gradual adoption to Open
Source development is recommended. It is therefore recommended
to carefully study the license agreement and to make an
assessment of the risks associated with these conditions.
One should always check whether the own application is clearly
separated from software under the GPL. And of course compliance
with the license conditions need to be checked. With a careful
application of the license conditions, it is possible to benefit most
from using open source software while minimizing the risk.
Madison, M. J. (2005). The legitimacy of open source and other
software licenses. University of Pittsburgh School of Law Working Paper
Von Hippel, E., & Von Krogh, G. (2003). Open source software and the
“private-collective” innovation model: Issues for organization
science. Organization science, 14(2), 209-223.