Open Source Licensing

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Contents

Review of Open Source - Generally

  • Free Redistribution, including Source Code
  • Integrity of the Author’s Code
  • No discrimination against persons or groups

BSD License

  • Significance of BSD License
    • No effective restriction on a user incorporating into proprietary work
  • Contrast to Public Domain

Other comments on the BSD License

  • No patent or trademark rights granted
  • No trade secret rights granted (but is this relevant?)
  • No warranty granted; express requirement for a disclaimer
  • No ability to stop usage upon patent infringement

GNU GPL

  • GNU Generally
  • Significance of GNU GPL
    • GNU GPL widely used for Linux
    • Keeps software free by preventing a user from making work proprietary
    • Breadth of “Program” definition tends to discourage commercial developments, so result may lead to less widespread use of code

GNU GPL Rights

  • User may copy and distribute object and source code
  • User may modify program and copy and distribute modifications/new work together with source code
  • User may copy and distribute program in object form so long as source code is made available

GNU GPL Obligations

  • Rights contingent on passing rights to other users:
    • Appropriate copyright notice
    • Disclaimer of warranty
    • Give recipients of distributed Program a copy of GNU GPL
    • Source code must be made available

GNU GPL Definition of Program

  • Applies to
    • Original Program
    • Derivative works
    • “Product” containing GNU GPL code

GNU GPL Issues for Commercial Products

  • Includes otherwise independent and separate works if distributed “as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program”
  • Intent of GNU GPL “is to exercise right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program” (Section 2)

What can you with GNU GPL Software

  • You can:
    • Modify it to use internally and keep modified program secret
    • Charge for maintenance and support
  • We also think you can:
    • Distribute it on same disk with other proprietary products, although clearer not to
    • Give it to a third party for evaluation, but refuse to give it to your competitor
    • But you can’t stop the third party from giving it to the competitor
    • Restrict DEVELOPER from doing the same modifications for others

Other comments on the GNU GPL

  • No patent or trademark rights granted
  • No trade secret rights granted (but is this relevant?)
  • No warranty granted; express requirement for a disclaimer
  • No ability to stop usage upon patent infringement

Mozilla Public License

  • Similar in some ways to GNU GPL
  • Protects open source products from being completely incorporated into proprietary software; but allows co-existence
  • Protects proprietary libraries from GNU GPL “Virus”
  • Explicit patent protection

Comparison of Different Licenses

Open Source License Comparison

Other Issues with Open Source Licensing Generally

Incompatible Licenses

Unknown Provenance

  • No license gives any assurance as to whether or not the underlying materials are in fact not proprietary

Interaction with Patent Strategy

  • Problematic combined with patents

Updates of Licenses

  • GPL and other license may be modified by their "sponsor"; in fact this is happening with the GPL
  • What does this mean about your contributions, or your use of materials?

Redistribution of Open Source Software

Extension of Open Source concept to non-software

Creative Commons

"Mithril" - design of wearable computerand the MIThril Hardware Design GPL Interpretation, v 1.0

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