- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (August 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0131487876
- ISBN-13: 978-0131487871
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
A complete guide to the law of open source for developers, managers, and lawyers
Now that open source software is blossoming around the world, it is crucial to understand how open source licenses workand their solid legal foundations. Open Source Initiative general counsel Lawrence Rosen presents a plain-English guide to open source law for developers, managers, users, and lawyers. Rosen clearly explains the intellectual property laws that support open source licensing, carefully reviews todays leading licenses, and helps you make the best choices for your project or organization. Coverage includes:
Explanation of why the SCO litigation and other attacks wont derail open source
Dispelling the myths of open source licensing
Intellectual property law for nonlawyers: ownership and licensing of copyrights, patents, and trademarks
"Academic licenses": BSD, MIT, Apache, and beyond
The "reciprocal bargain" at the heart of the GPL
Alternative licenses: Mozilla, CPL, OSL and AFL
Benefits of open source, and the obligations and risks facing businesses that deploy open source software
Choosing the right license: considering business models, product architecture, IP ownership, license compatibility issues, relicensing, and more
Enforcing the terms and conditions of open source licenses
Shared source, eventual source, and other alternative models to open source
Protecting yourself against lawsuits
From the Back Cover
“I have studied Rosen’s book in detail and am impressed with its scope and content. I strongly recommend it to anybody interested in the current controversies surrounding open source licensing.”
—John Terpstra, Samba.org; cofounder, Samba-Team
“Linux and open source software have forever altered the computing landscape. The important conversations no longer revolve around the technology but rather the business and legal issues. Rosen’s book is must reading for anyone using or providing open source solutions.”
—Stuart Open Source Development Labs
A Complete Guide to the Law of Open Source for Developers, Managers, and Lawyers
Now that open source software is blossoming around the world, it is crucial to understand how open source licenses work—and their solid legal foundations. Open Source Initiative general counsel Lawrence Rosen presents a plain-English guide to open source law for developers, managers, users, and lawyers. Rosen clearly explains the intellectual property laws that support open source licensing, carefully reviews today’s leading licenses, and helps you make the best choices for your project or organization. Coverage includes:
- Explanation of why the SCO litigation and other attacks won’t derail open source
- Dispelling the myths of open source licensing
- Intellectual property law for nonlawyers: ownership and licensing of copyrights, patents, and trademarks
- “Academic licenses”: BSD, MIT, Apache, and beyond
- The “reciprocal bargain” at the heart of the GPL
- Alternative licenses: Mozilla, CPL, OSL and AFL
- Benefits of open source, and the obligations and risks facing businesses that deploy open source software
- Choosing the right license: considering business models, product architecture, IP ownership, license compatibility issues, relicensing, and more
- Enforcing the terms and conditions of open source licenses
- Shared source, eventual source, and other alternative models to open source
- Protecting yourself against lawsuits
Top customer reviews
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The editor really let the author down. It's the editor's job to make sure the information is edited to be clear and logical.
If you need to learn about open source licensing, watch the FREE training videos from Black Duck Software. Just Google "black duck webinars". I believe the author of this book is involved in those as well.
I've found other open source licensing books that get high ratings on Amazon, but none of those are very good either. Well written books on open source licensing seem to be hard to find.
This week we had a request to license some code under the CPL. Not only does this book cover that license, but it has a chapter interpreting each of the clever sections, and its repercussions.
As both a licensee and licensor, I have yet to come across an issue which this book did not address. It is the single volume you need.
Except for Chapter 10, I found the book to be eminently readable. Unfortunately, Chapter 10: Choosing an Open Source License, which can be considered the core of the book, turned my brain to mush and was no help at all choosing a license. The author states:
"If you expect a checklist method to select a license, don't bother reading this chapter; it cannot be so easy."
While from an attorney's point of view this might be correct, from a developer's point of view you don't really have an alternative to creating your own checklist to pick a license. An attorney will give you the attorney's standard solution: "consult your attorney." When you do, your attorney will not pick a license for you, he'll rehash everything in the book and you still have the burden to pick a license. So why not nip in the bud this Catch-22 situation?
My own checklist, created mostly from what I learned from this book, is as follows:
1.- Ideological intent? What is your prime intent, to make a political statement or is it something else like promoting academe or running a business?
2.- Reciprocal licensing? What is more beneficial for your project, reciprocal licensing which limits contributor's choices or non-reciprocal which allows alternative licensing modes for derivative works?
3.- Can you afford an attorney? If not, pick a license template used by a very popular and successful open source project that meets your first two requirements.
Remember that you can always relicense and if your initial choice is not perfect, it can be perfected in time provided you don't chain yourself to some irreversible license.
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.