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Intellectual Property and Open Source: A Practical Guide to Protecting Code Paperback – July 22, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0596517960 ISBN-10: 0596517963 Edition: 1st

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Intellectual Property and Open Source: A Practical Guide to Protecting Code + Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law + The Tech Contracts Handbook: Software Licenses and Technology Services Agreements for Lawyers and Businesspeople
Price for all three: $88.49

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596517963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596517960
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 7.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The title that best describes Van Lindberg's job is "translator" - translating from "lawyer" to "engineer" and back. He enjoys working with both computer code and legal code to get things done.

As an attorney, Van helps people build businesses around ideas. His experience allows him to analyze and evaluate intellectual property in a sale, license or litigation context. Van also participates in the Open Source community. He helps businesses work with and develop Open Source software and helps developers navigate the legal system to achieve project goals. He has direct experience in digital circuit design; operating system design; application programming; networked and distributed systems; virtualization; wireless networking; high-availability systems and programming languages.

Outside of the traditional IP areas, Van is particularly interested in the Open Source licensing model. He has been involved (mostly as a user, but with occasional contributions) in the Open Source community since 1994. Van's favorite computer language is Python.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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If that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere.
M. Helmke
I also liked the explanations of the strengths and weaknesses of the various open source licensing options.
Anthony Lawrence
You don't have to be a legal expert to grasp the principles laid out in the book.
Matthew Asay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Asay on July 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've been involved in open source and the software world for over 10 years now, and have read every book on open source and legal issues that has been written. This is by far the best.

Why? Because it lays out in clear, easy-to-understand language what open source means for the developer. You don't have to be a legal expert to grasp the principles laid out in the book. In fact, Lindberg walks the reader through commonly obtuse principles by analogizing to software principles that the reader will easily understand.

In addition, it's very well-written. Lindberg has an outstanding style that makes this readable. I won't say it's like reading Charles Dickens, but at times it really is that enjoyable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James Grimmelmann on July 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was lucky enough to see this book in draft form, and even before the final spit-and-polish touches, it was a pleasure to read. The author has a real gift for metaphor; almost every chapter is organized around a vivid, memorable concept. He compares the format of a patent document to the ELF file format; he uses the secret recipe for the Flaming Moe to talk about trade secrets. The result is an introduction to IP law that's unusually fun to read.

But the clarity and verve of the writing doesn't detract from the book's main goal: showing the reader how the IP system works and affects open source software. The author has exercised very good judgment in paring down an immensely complicated body of law into an approachable set of important principles. The reader gets the big picture overview, a clear understanding of the truly important details, and a good sense of what else is out there and how to find out more. This book doesn't try to be a definitive reference or a dumbed-down sketch. Instead, it hits the sweet spot in between: informative and readable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a software developer, it's almost a certainty that you either participate in or use open source software somewhere in your computing environment. But even though you may have the source code sitting in front of you, it doesn't mean you can anything you darn well please with it. Van Lindberg's book Intellectual Property and Open Source: A Practical Guide to Protecting Code does a very good job in presenting the intricacies of open source licensing in a way that won't automatically put a developer to sleep. Granted, there's still a lot of legal concepts to wade through, but in my opinion he hit the right mix between legalities and practicalities.

Contents: The Economic and Legal Foundations of Intellectual Property; The Patent Document; The Patent System; Copyright; Trademarks; Trade Secrets; Contracts and Licenses; The Economic and Legal Foundations of Open Source Software; So I Have An Idea...; Choosing A License; Accepting Patches and Contributions; Working With The GPL; Reverse Engineering; Incorporating As A Non-Profit
Appendices: Sample Proprietary Information Agreement (PIA); Open Source License List; Free Software License List; Fedora License List and GPL Compatibility; Public Domain Declaration; The Simplified BSD License; The Apache License, Version 2.0; The Mozilla Public License, Version 1.1; The GNU Lesser General Public License, Version 2.1; The GNU Lesser General Public License, Version 3; The GNU General Public License, Version 2, June 1991; The GNU General Public License, Version 3, June 2007; The Open Software License, Version 3.0
Index

Lindberg accomplishes a couple of purposes in this book. The first few chapters trace the history and general concepts of intellectual property law, such as patents and trade secrets.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mko on July 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Recently I was faced a problem to determine which code can be used within the software when different licenses are mixed. Which was not a pleasant task. Studying legal related topics usually doesn't count into `ten most interesting' things software engineers like to do.
However, sometimes you have to face the problem. Van Lindberg deconstructs the legal related issue in very structured way. First of all he defines all the legal related terms and provides examples for each case. After the background is settled he goes into details - how to deal with particular, license related issues when you start to develop something. What I have found most interesting was explanation of GPL license - which is widely used and very often miss understood. Another issue that is raised within the book, and worth thinking about, is your employment - does it inflict your thinking outside company? Are you aware of that it can?

What I can see at a first glance are the differences between USA law and European one. This makes it difficult to suggest this book as source of legal knowledge for anyone who lives outside USA. On the other hand, Van describes most common licenses that are available on the global `market' - which can help you some way. What I have missed, however was detailed description of BSD license. I think that BSD can be treated as competitor for GPL - some way, and it would be nice to see its detailed explanation - unless it is so simple that it doesn't require it. Would I recommend this book? It depends. If you live in USA I think it is good source of knowledge served in very clear way. If you live outside USA - I think you will only benefit from few chapters like GPL, Reverse Engineering, Choosing a license ones. If you need explanation of basing legal terms - I think you can go for it - regardless of your living place.
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