Open Source Licensing

Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law

Lawrence Rosen

Publisher: Prentice Hall, 2004, 432 pages

ISBN: 0-13-148787-6

Keywords: Open Source

Last modified: April 23, 2010, 10:35 a.m.

A complete guide to the law of open source for developers, managers, and lawyers.

Now that open source software is blossoming around the world, it is crucial to understand how open source licenses work — and their solid legal foundations. Open Source Initiative general counsel Lawrence Rosen presents a plain-English guide to open source law for developers, managers, users, and lawyers. Rosen clearly explains the intellectual property laws that support open source licensing, carefully reviews today's leading licenses, and helps you make the best choices for your project or organization.

Coverage Includes:

  • Explanation of why the SCO litigation and other attacks won't derail open source
  • Dispelling the myths of open source licensing
  • Intellectual property law for nonlawyers: ownership and licensing of copyrights, patents and trademarks
  • Academic licenses: BSD, MIT, Apache, and beyond
  • The "reciprocal bargain" at the heart of the GPL
  • Alternative licenses: Mozilla, CPL, OSL and AFL
  • Benefits of open source, and the obligations and risks facing businesses that deploy open source software
  • Choosing the right license: considering business models, product architecture, IP ownership, license compatibility issues, relicensing, and more
  • Enforcing the terms and conditions of open source licenses
  • Shared source, eventual source, and other alternative models to open source
  • Protecting yourself against lawsuits
  • Foreword
  • Preamble
  1. Freedom and Open Source
    • The Language of Freedom
    • Defining Open Source
    • Open Source Principles
  2. Intellectual Property
    • Dominion Over Property
    • Right Brain and Left Brain
    • Acquiring Copyrights and Patents
    • Original Works of Authorship
    • Works Made for Hire
    • Exclusive Rights of Copyright and Patent Owners
    • Copies
    • Exceptions to the Exclusive Right to Make Copies
    • Collective and Derivative Works
    • The Chain of Title for Copyright
    • The Chain of Title for Patents
    • Joint Works
    • Assigning Ownership
    • Duration of Copyright and Patent
    • Trademarks
    • Exceptions to Intellectual Property Protection
  3. Distribution of Software
    • Contributors and Distributors
    • Distribution
    • Open Source Collaboration
    • Contributor Agreements
    • What About Users?
  4. Taxonomy of Licenses
    • What Is a License?
    • Bare Licenses
    • Licenses as Contracts
    • Patent Licenses
    • Template Licenses
    • Types of Open Source Licenses
  5. Academic Licenses
    • The BSD Gift of Freedom
    • BSD License as Template
    • The BSD License Grant
    • Source and Binary Forms of Code
    • Conditions under the BSD
    • Warranty and Liability Disclaimer
    • The MIT License
    • The Right to Sublicense
    • The Warranty of Noninfringement
    • The Apache License
    • Protecting Trademarks
    • The Apache Contributor License Agreement
    • The Artistic License
    • License Preambles
    • When Amateurs Write Licenses
    • Big Picture of Academic Licenses
    • Apache License Version 2.0
  6. Reciprocity and the GPL
    • The GPL Bargain
    • Copyleft and Reciprocity
    • Policy Objectives
    • The Preamble to the GPL
    • GPL as Template
    • The GPL Applies to Programs
    • Linking to GPL Software
    • Copyright Law and Linking
    • The LGPL Alternative
    • GPL Grant of License
    • Access to Source Code
    • At No Charge"
    • Other Obligations in the GPL
    • The GPL and Patents
    • Accepting the GPL
  7. The Mozilla Public License (MPL)
    • The Mozilla Story
    • The MPL Reciprocity Bargains
    • Contributors and Modifications
    • The MPL and Patents
    • Defending Against Patents
    • Other Important MPL License Provisions
    • Other Corporate Licenses
  8. The Common Public License (CPL)
    • CPL as a Template
    • A Digression about Well Written Licenses
    • Grant of Copyright and Patent Licenses
    • Reciprocity under the CPL
    • Exception to Reciprocity
    • Patent Defense
    • Defend and Indemnify
    • Ownership of the CPL License
  9. The OSL and the AFL
    • Academic or Reciprocal?
    • Initial Paragraph of OSL/AFL
    1. Grant of Copyright License
    2. Grant of Patent License
    3. Grant of Source Code License
    4. Exclusions from License Grant
    5. External Deployment
    6. Attribution Rights
    7. Warranty of Provenance and Disclaimer of Warranty
    8. Limitation of Liability
    9. Acceptance and Termination
    10. Termination for Patent Action
    11. Jurisdiction, Venue, and Governing Law
    12. Attorneys Fees
    13. Miscellaneous
    14. Definition of You" in This License
    15. Right to Use
    • Copyright and Licensing Notice
  10. Choosing an Open Source License
    • How Licenses Are Chosen
    • The Free-Rider Problem
    • Making Money from Open Source
    • In-Licensing
    • Out-Licensing
    • Contributions to Projects
    • License Compatibility for Collective Works
    • License Compatibility for Derivative Works
    • Relicensing
  11. Shared Source, Eventual Source, and Other Licensing Models
    • Alternatives to Open Source
    • Shared Source
    • Public Source
    • Dual and Multiple Licensing
    • Eventual Source and Scheduled Licensing
    • Combining Licensing Models
  12. Open Source Litigation
    • Owning a Cause of Action
    • Damages
    • Injunctions
    • Standing to Sue
    • Burden of Proof
    • Enforcing the Terms of a Contract
    • Disputes over Ownership of Intellectual Property
    • Disputes over Derivative Works
    • Patent Infringement Litigation
    • SCO vs. Open Source
  13. Open Standards
    • Defining Open Standards
    • Open Specifications
    • Enforcing the Standard by Copyright
    • Restrictions
    • Licensing the Test Suite: The Open Group License
    • Discouraging Forks: Sun's SISSL
    • Patents on Open Standards
    • Reasonable and Nondiscriminatory
    • Royalty Free
    • The W3C Patent License
    • Justifying Open Standards and Open Source
    • The Open Source Paradigm
    • Appendixes


Open Source Licensing

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Very Good ******** (8 out of 10)

Last modified: May 21, 2007, 3:16 a.m.

A very clearly written legal text written by a lawyer! Astounding!

Nevertheless, he manages to cover his subject very well and in detail (even if he only goes through the most popular licensees and some that he has written himself). He also manages to explain some of the problems with rank amateurs (aka developers and programmers) that tries to play lawyers and messes things up in extremis.

Clearly recommended reading if you're into OSS, even if the subject sometimes gets a bit dry.


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