Most helpful positive review
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Good material, but not for the stated audience...
on September 6, 2004
If you're looking to get an in-depth understanding of open source licensing and all the issues surrounding it, you should read Open Source Licensing by Lawrence Rosen (Prentice Hall).
Chapter list: Freedom and Open Source; Intellectual Property; Distribution of Software; Taxonomy of Licenses; Academic Licenses; Reciprocity and the GPL; The Mozilla Public License (MPL); The Common Public License (CPL); The OSL and the AFL; Choosing an Open Source License; Shared Source, Eventual Source, and Other Licensing Models; Open Source Litigation; Open Standards; The Open Source Paradigm; Appendices; Index
On the positive side, this book will teach you more about licensing than you thought existed. This book deals with all the legal issues that either have arisen or could become a problem as open source continues to make inroads against commercial software. The analysis is detailed as only a lawyer can do it. Another positive aspect of the book is that the author covers how different open source licenses mesh with each other. You may be forced into choosing a certain type of license if you've incorporated software that already uses a license that you're expected to apply to your software. All good stuff.
On the negative side, I don't think the book delivers on its promise to present "a plain-English guide to open source law for developers, managers, users, and lawyers". I see this as a book by a lawyer for lawyers needing to understand software licensing and how open source licensing fits into that. Companies that are building a business model around open source will need this material, but the typical developer and nearly all users will be bored to death as individual words are pulled out and dissected as for potential legal interpretations that could be applied.
I'm inclined to rank this a little higher than I'd like just because there's not a lot of material about this subject, and the author *does* cover it in great detail. But if you think you're going to get an easy-to-digest explanation of open source licensing, you will probably be disappointed.