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Open Source Licensing Suits Settle in Short Order

May 28, 2008, 19:00 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eric Boehm)

"Many open source licences are only two or three paragraphs long and read more like a manifesto than a traditional software licence. The simple but unorthodox nature of open source licences, along with the fact that the software is provided 'free,' has lulled many into a false sense that these licences must surely be unenforceable and that the use and redistribution of open source software will have no consequences.

"This attitude belies the fact that despite a superficial and non-legalistic veneer, open source licences rely on traditional copyright principles and contract law--albeit in a non-traditional way--and therefore are prima facie enforceable. However, despite widespread adoption and significant use of open source software over the past 20 years, little jurisprudence has developed to determine exactly to what extent open source licences will be enforced..."

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