FOSS Legal Primer Lit Review


  • Richard Fontana
  • Bradley M. Kuhn
  • Eben Moglen
  • Matthew Norwood
  • Daniel B. Ravicher
  • Karen Sandler
  • James Vasile
  • Aaron Williamson


A Legal Issues Primer for Open Source and Free Software Projects - Chapters 1-3


[A Legal Issues Primer for Open Source and Free Software Projects](" target="_blank)


June 4, 2008

The Gist

A place to start learning about the different types of licenses and other important legal things for people just joining the FOSS community. It's also something that could be good to keep on hand for a refresher in some of the different licenses.

The Good

  1. The information is in-depth enough to give good detail, but it's also not in straight legalese, so it's readable.
  2. They are very clear that this information is just to help get you started and isn't legal advice up front.
  3. This document gives examples of some of the different types of licenses for you to look. It doesn't just explain how they work.

The Bad

  1. It's getting "old", in the technological sense, even though it's actually not that old.
  2. The list of licenses, and license families, covered is extremely small, while it seems like the list of licenses in existance is much bigger.
  3. After saying there was no legal advice in this document, the way the wording is in some portions sounds more like advice on how to handle situations by yourself.

The Questions

  1. How does working on a project for a class and then continuing on that project as a paid project affect the ownership of the project?
  2. With the AGPL in what form does your source code have to be offered? Does it have to be shipped with the software, or can it just be made available via the internet?
  3. Do non-compete clauses aversely affect the FOSS community?

The Review

The Foss Legal Primer has a lot of good information. It is very in-depth when it needs to be, but not so much as to make it unreadable for your average person.
Half a dozen red roses and a white rose

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