Distribution in Open source

ITECHLAW Asia 2010

ITECHLAW Asia 2010

Yesterday I gave a presentation at the 2010 annual ITECHLAW Asia conference in Bangalore titled Distribution in Open Source. The presentation is available in long and short versions at Slideshare.

It seems to me that most legal issues regarding open source licenses only arise when the user (the licensee) has actually distributed the original open source licensed code or her modification hereof. If the user only runs the code (including modifications hereof) internally then all those obligations or restrictions imposed on the licensee under all open source licenses are not applicable.

If you only use the open source code internally you (probably) do not have to preserve the copyright notice or the license terms in the source files, your patents (if you have such) will not be affected and – maybe most importantly – copyleft will not be triggered.

Thus, distribution is important. The questions that I try to give answers to in my presentation is why is distribution important? (see above for starters) and how is distribution defined in copyright law and open source licenses? And what about the border cases such employees, freelancers/contractors, outsourcing and M&A?

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