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SCALE 8x: Free software legal issues

Mar 05, 2010, 20:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nathan Willis)

"The casual view of open source software is that the code always comes first: releases are made when the code is ready, new contributors prove their chops by the quality of their code, and so forth. But in reality the FLOSS ecosystem relies on a complex legal framework in order to run smoothly and to stand up to proprietary software competition: the various software licenses, contribution agreements, copyright and other "intellectual property" law. Every once in a while, a good status check on the legal dimension is healthy for the typical developer, and

"SCALE 8x offered just that in a series of talks. Red Hat's licensing and patent attorney Richard Fontana spoke about improving the intra-community open source legal system, Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Conservancy and Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) spoke about the nuts-and-bolts of bringing GPL violators into compliance, and SFLC counsel Karen Sandler presented a primer on the often misunderstood realm of trademark law.

"Brave New World

"Fontana's talk "Improving the Open Source Legal System" began by exploring how the real-world practices of the open source software community diverge from the legal realities on which the community depends. He then questioned what the differences reveal about the structure of the community, and suggested steps that major players like Linux distributions and large software projects could take to shore up some of the common misunderstandings and loopholes."

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