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Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law [Paperback]

Lawrence Rosen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 28.99
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Book Description

22 July 2004 0131487876 978-0131487871 1
“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 LabsA 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

Frequently Bought Together

Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law + Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project + The Cathedral & the Bazaar
Price For All Three: 48.29

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (22 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131487876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131487871
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

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 LabsA 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

About the Author

Lawrence Rosen is an attorney specializing in technology and a computer professional who has taught programming and managed several computer departments at Stanford University. He is currently general counsel and secretary of Open Source Initiative (OSI), formerly served as its executive director, and has written several major open source licenses.




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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction 23 Sep 2004
By Marcus
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We are considering open sourcing some software frameworks that hitherto had been proprietary, closed products. This book provides a clear guide to the wide variety of existing licenses that we can use as a basis before investing serious effort in our legal department and finally taking the plunge and letting the genie out of the bottle...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful and surprisingly readable 8 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It explains very clearly the differences between the different open source licences. It is written from a US legal perspective, but there are a lot of similarities with the UK (at least in copyright law).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good material, but not for the stated audience... 7 Sep 2004
By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clarifies licensing issues 14 Aug 2004
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
At the core of the open source movement are licensing issues. These are still relatively new and potentially confusing to many. Here, Rosen offers a major clarification of the key ideas. He discusses the basic motivation underpinning the most common licenses, like GPL, CPL, OSL and MPL. These are compared with each other and with what might be considered the closest previous type of license - that used in academia. While the final choice is yours, he gives you a solid basis for determining that choice.

For many readers, there will be an interesting analysis of the SCO versus Open Source fracas. In essence, he suggests that after all the dust has settled, it will break no new ground in contract law. Nor will it stymie or halt the open source movement. A relief to many, if his assessment proves true.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for reference 23 Oct 2004
By Elizabeth Krumbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I recieved this book I was excited, finally I could read a book which would help my brain really understand all the licenses! I sat down to read it, and was impressed with how the author took the popular licenses and broke them down into more easily understandable. I mean, they *are* fairly straight forward, but the author gets into what they actually mean in legal terms, and that's interesting.

Unfortunately it turns out that reading about specifics of Open Source law is not terribly interesting to me (I guess I'll never be a lawer) After the few introduction chapters I had to stop reading straight through it and skip around and skim the parts that interested me.

In my case this is not such a good book for snuggling up with in front of the fire (some computer books are), but it is a fabulous reference book, written for us mere mortals.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Before you start a software initiative, read this book. 23 Mar 2008
By Individual Investor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Open Source/Free Software movement can be very confusing because it is a mixture of ideology, politics and business. To choose the proper license for your purposes you first have to understand the purpose of the various licenses. Some, specially GNU/GPL, are mostly political and ideological in nature in that they try to create a 'right to software.' Others are designed to further either academic or business interests through free software.

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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the "go-to" reference for OpenSource licensing 17 July 2007
By Dave Millman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book 18 months ago, along with two other references. Since that time, I have learned that when I have a question, this is the book to turn to first. In fact, I haven't read the others since first buying them.

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.
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