Network Computing: The Law and Open-Source Software
Oct 29, 2001, 14:06 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Sean Doherty)
"...Open-source licenses rely on copyright law, which
is enforceable by the holder. Although the copyright law provides a
solid foundation for copyright owners, transferring those rights to
other parties under license often becomes a matter for courts under
state commercial laws and perhaps UCITA (Uniform Commercial
Information Transactions Act).
Individual licenses negotiated at arm's length between parties
often include the requisite offer and acceptance to form a
contract. Licenses that are mass-produced for the open-source
community, however, may not fare well under state commercial codes.
For example, the GPL grants a direct license from the copyright
holder to each developer or user with each software transfer. As
software passes through the hands of users, offer and acceptance
becomes diluted, and courts may find this unenforceable. Also, any
license amended by one party without agreement on the terms of sale
by the other party amounts to a nonbinding "shrink-wrap"
Open-source licensing benefits from a strong community of
developers who are more committed to writing good code than to
litigation. Vituperation from the community against open-source
offenders is enough to bring most license challenges to a halt.
This benefit, however, is also a burden where the courts have not
been able to interpret the licenses. This may change as more and
more enterprises become involved with open-source development."
- Slashdot: GPL Violation, Microtest's DiskZerver(Sep 21, 2001)
- Eben Moglen: Enforcing the GNU GPL(Sep 18, 2001)
- osOpinion: Fair Use and the Fallacy of GNU(Sep 10, 2001)
- LinuxPlanet: .comment: A Moderate Approach to Intellectual Property(Jul 11, 2001)
- Tony Stanco: "We Are The Guardians Of The World"(May 23, 2001)
- Ganesh Prasad: The Capitalist View of Open Source (Revised)(May 18, 2001)
- Ganesh Prasad: How Does the Capitalist View Open Source?(May 16, 2001)
- freshmeat: Use of Open Source Software Should Be Restricted(May 12, 2001)
- Richard Stallman: The Problems of the Apple License
(Feb 22, 2001)
- Wired: In Defense of Copyleft(Feb 07, 2001)
- EarthWeb: There's an open source license that's right for everybody; a closer look at the LGPL(Dec 23, 2000)
- Richard Stallman -- The Problems of the Plan Nine License(Jul 02, 2000)
- osOpinion: Abolished Copyright will Kill Open Source(May 10, 2000)
- osOpinion: My take on the low points of UCITA(Feb 23, 2000)