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Richmond Times-Dispatch: Is it Safe Legally for Firms to Use Linux Software?

Mar 23, 2004, 10:00 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Farmer)

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"Perhaps you've noticed in the news litigation concerning ownership of the intellectual property rights to Linux, the open-source software operating system. This litigation highlights a legal risk that users of open-source software should understand.

"Speaking broadly, open-source software is software in which the source code (code humans can read) is distributed, free of charge, along with the object code (code that be read only by a computer). Generally, open-source software is shared freely for others to copy and improve, with the stipulation that whoever makes further improvements will make their source code available to all.

"Linux is the household-name example. It has achieved significant usage on corporate servers, and IBM is conducting an expensive advertising campaign to promote it (to run on hardware it sells, implemented using its consulting services)..."

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