copyleft

Should I use a permissive license? Copyleft? Or something in the middle?

copyleft

The open source license you choose for your project, or for the projects you choose to contribute to, can have significant effects on how what you contribute is used. One question that has garnered quite a bit of interest recently is the fall in popularity of copyleft licenses in favor of permissive licenses. An article last year looked at the issue of large number of projects on GitHub that have no explicit license and posited the question about whether we live in a 'post open source software' world, where seemingly open source software has no license. After some time, GitHub agreed that licensing is important and worked to improve the situation with a license chooser. » Read more

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New report: What the Government Accountability Office has to say about Non-Practicing Entities

patent reform

During the August Congressional recess, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its long-awaited study on Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs), required under the America Invents Act (AIA).

The report paints a rather grim picture of the current patent system. It reinforces the call by key leaders in Congress for legislative reforms that address abusive patent litigation as well as action by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the courts, and the US PTO.

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What motivates free software developers to choose between copyleft and permissive licences?

open source licensing

Free software licenses can be divided into two broad categories: copyleft licenses (like the GPL), which require derivatives of the software to be licensed under the same terms; and permissive licenses (like the MIT/X11 license), which allow the software to be reused in any project, even closed-source projects. There are variations, of course—the LGPL, for example, is a 'weak copyleft', allowing licensed works to be used in closed-source works, but requiring improvements to the work itself to be released under a copyleft license.

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Does your code need a license?

licensing intellectual property

Copyright, copyleft, or copy none?

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is concerned that some open source software developers are not choosing a license for their work, so they want to educate software developers and anyone else working on open source projects that simply not choosing a license is not enough. » Read more

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The EFF covers Google's open patent non-assertion pledge

patents for open innovation

The flood of software patents has created an environment where companies are afraid that innovation leads to being hit by patent lawsuits. Every dollar spent fighting patent trolls and or waging patent wars is a dollar not spent researching, developing, and creating jobs. The situation is so bad that, in 2011, Apple and Google spent more on patent litigation and buying patents than they did on research. So it’s no surprise that some companies are looking for new ways to navigate the patent system while promoting openness and innovation.

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Younger developers reject licensing, risk chance for reform

copyright in the dark

Modern copyright law grants copyright automatically to any creative work, including simple things like blog posts – and small pieces of code on github. This default copyright creates an assumption that for someone to do anything further with someone else's creative work requires permission from the author—what Lawrence Lessig calls "the permission culture." The open license ecosystem often takes this permission culture for granted, rather than fighting back—and that may be contributing to the proliferation of unlicensed code.

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Which open source software license should I use?

MPL GPL APACHE

I’ve recently been involved in several discussions that are variations on, "Which open source or free software license should I choose for my project?" Here is my way of looking at the large and growing collection of licenses in the wild. First, let's make sure we all understand that I Am Not A Lawyer. This is not legal advice. Depending upon your needs and your comfort with risk around your software, you'll want to confirm your legal choices with counsel in your jurisdiction.

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Abolishing patents: Too soon or too late?

patent stop sign

"Patents are here to stay." This is the sort of statement that makes me uneasy. I guess in the 17th century the common wisdom was "slavery is here to stay." In the 18th century giving voting rights to women seemed absurd and foreseeing open borders between France and German was crazy talk in 1945. At a certain point, fortunately, those things changed for the better. Is it time to change the common wisdom on patents as well? Is the time ripe—will it ever be?—to utter the frightening word abolition? I do not have the privilege to know the answer, but I regard the question as a legitimate one. According to some patent experts, however, questioning the very existence of patents seems blasphemous. » Read more

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Software patents: The talk of 2012

Open law year in review

Looking back over the law channel posts of 2012, I was not surprised to see that software patents were a major concern. The high volume of significant patent lawsuits of competitors and rising levels of NPE (aka patent trolls or patent assertion entities) suits has been the subject of both open source community and mainstream media interest.

There were new ideas on patent reform, and an increasing recognition by the public at large that software patents can hinder innovation. We also saw interesting developments in the areas of internet privacy and freedom and copyright law. I'll go out on a limb and make a prediction: » Read more

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Open source hardware relies on Creative Commons and crowdfunding

open hardware

When talking about open source, many people's first thought is the GNU General Public License (GPL). While the software world has been revolutionised by GPL, the hardware world has seen little change. 

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