Tuesday, March 6, 2007

IP Issues - Mixing Commercial and Open Source Software at EclipseCon 2007

Panel of Palamida, OpenLogic, Black Duck Software, IBM, and BEA Open Source licensing experts at EclipseCon 2007.

Some takeaways:

  • Lots of organizations have no idea how to make the risk/reward analysis of when they should use Open Source Software and when they should not.

  • Some companies go so far as to have policies that forbid the use of Open Source Software within their products, or even block access to sourceforge.net from the office. None of these tactics work to stop the developer from bringing the code in anyway.

  • Most organizations really have no idea how much Open Source Software they are using in their product, or which licenses those products are using.

  • TiVo, Linksys, and Progress Software/MySQL case identified as some big/well-know cases of companies using Open Source with some kind of legal action taken against them with respect to their use of Open Source Software, Check out gplviolations.org for more information (at least within Germany).

  • Companies should have Open Source areas of expertise. An individual or group that understands these IP and licensing issues and can communicate with executive management, engineering,and the legal department effectively. Or, companies should use an Open Source consulting firm, like the Olliance Group.

  • The major Open Source communities have gotten really good at certifying the originality of the work that is contributed. Buyer must still beware, however. There is risk associated with any software that is developed through an open, community process.

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