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Top: Licensing_and_Law



  • Abstraction, Filtration, Comparison - Key court decision (Computer Associates International, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., FN53: 982 F.2d 693, 23 USPQ2d 1241 2d Cir. 1992), in which the Second Circuit developed the now-standard abstraction, filtration, comparison test to determine if a software work is derivative of a prior one, i.e., shares copyrightable elements. This was later further detailed in Gates Rubber v. Bando Chemical, FN57: 9 F.3d 823, 28 USPQ2d 1503 10th Cir. 1993
  • Academic Free License - Larry Rosen's Academic Free Licence (AFL) is roughly similar to the MIT/X licence but adds patent-termination and excludes trademark rights, and promoting Rosen's view that open-source licences should be grounded in contract law (unlike most, including GPL)
  • All Rights Reserved - Why the phrase 'All Rights Reserved' no longer has meaning except in a few cases, and what those cases are
  • Australian Issues - Legal Issues Relating to Free and Open Source Software, by Brian Fitzgerald and Graham Bassett, describing open source and its licensing in considerable detail, and describing relevant legal issues and problems under Australian law
  • Affero GPL - Authorised variant of the GPL that attempts to impose a copyleft obligation on uses of the work that don't entail distribution (e.g., Web services)
  • Bootlegging Policy - Software bootlegging policy and its rationale at an unnamed Linux firm
  • Caldera Antitrust - Details of Caldera antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp.
  • Caldera/SCO 2003-07-21 - Caldera/SCO conference call transcript, 2003-07-21
  • Compilation Copyright - US Supreme Court 'Feist' decision, which put a lower bound on the minimal amount of creativity required to claim a compilation copyright, i.e., just arranging telephone white-pages entries alphabetically isn't enough
  • Contract Elements - Required elements of common-law contract
  • Copyleft Documentation - Michael Stutz's article on how and why the GNU GPL (nominally a software licence) can be suitable for non-software works such as writings)
  • Copyright Infringement - Detailed example and analysis of what really happens in the business world when software copyright infringement has occurred, debunking assertions of infringer being 'forced' by copyleft licensing to release infringing source code
  • Copyright Infringement - Good rundown of the law of copyright infringement/derivative works in software: covers literal vs. non-literal copying, literal vs. non-literal elements (and the abstraction, filtration, comparison test applied to copying of the latter, developed in Computer Associates v. Altai), and expressions embodying methods vs. creative expressions, with reference to leading cases Lotus v. Borland and Apple v. Microsoft
  • Creative Commons Licences - The Creative Commons group's spectrum of licences for non-software creative works
  • Crypto Export Regs - USA cryptography export laws/regulations explained
  • Derivative Works - Key legal decision (Micro Star v. FormGen, Inc., 154 F.3d 1107 9th Cir. 1998), illustrating that one computer program may be ruled derivative of another even if they have never had a single line of code in common; court found that the infringing work had incorporated audiovideo display data, a protected creative work, from the original, thereby incorporating the 'story' (not the story idea, but its various expressive elements) of the original game
  • Disclaimers - Why automatically-appended e-mail disclaimers are useless, in addition to making your firm look stupid in public
  • Cyberspace Law Course - EFF on-line course in computer and software law, with emphasis on the Internet
  • FAT Patents - Expiration dates of Microsoft Corp. patents affecting long filenames on File Allocation Table filesystems
  • DFSG FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions document about application of the Debian Free Software Guidelines (unofficial draft), by Barak A. Perlmutter
  • First Sale - Why the First Sale Doctrine doesn't apply to digital works
  • Fear of Forking - Essay on why forking of open-source projects is harmless and actually beneficial (with examples)
  • FSF Licence Analysis - FSF commentary on other groups' free-software licences
  • FSF Licence Taxonomy - FSF's clarification of licence categories, both free and proprietary
  • G4L - Case study of copyright infringement: Ghost for Linux GPLed utility by anonymous former maintainer 'nme' ('Andreas') appears to illegally copy Hubert Feyrer's old-BSD-licensed g4u ('Ghost for Unix'). (It's unclear whether the successor 'freeware' utility by successor maintainer 'Frank Stephen' frastep@users.sourceforge.net / fra_step@yahoo.com also infringes.)
  • G4L Licensing - Legal analysis of the G4L copyright infringement incident
  • GNU FDL Problems - Debian developers' analyses of problems in the GNU Free Documentation License (aka 'GFDL', and known in its earliest draft as the Document General Public License or 'DGPL')
  • GNU FDL Why Not - Article 'Why You Shouldn't Use the GNU FDL', by Nathanael Nerode
  • GPL FAQ Comments - Analysis of the FSF's GPL FAQ
  • GPL Not a Contract - Article: Enforcing the GPL by Prof. Eben Moglen, making the point (among others) that GPLv2 and similar licenses work through copyright law, not contract law
  • GPL Not a Contract - Additional copy of Prof. Moglen's piece, at his own site
  • GPL Not a Contract - Follow-up article seconding Eben Moglen's, written by Pamela Jones of Groklaw
  • GPLv1 - Text of the historic GNU General Public License v. 1
  • GPLv3 Plans - Probable direction of development for the unreleased GPLv3
  • GPL Violations - Site that tracks and documents instances of GPL-relavant copyright violations and their resolutions
  • Ius Mentis - Site operated by Dutch patent attorney Arnoud Engelfriet to explain patents, copyrights, and other 'intellectual property' law to techies
  • Just Like A Book - Prototype benevolent-proprietary 'Just Like a Book' licence, such as was famously used in early Borland products
  • LDP Copying License - LDP Copying License of 6 January 1997, an early version of the default licence for Linux Documentation Project submissions, written by Matt Welsh. Formerly posted at http://www.tldp.org/COPYRIGHT.html and equivalent URLs. This is a proprietary licence, permitting verbatim copying without modification.
  • LDP Copying License - LDP Copying License of 16 September 1999, reachable at http://www.tldp.org/copyright.html and http://www.tldp.org/LDP-COPYRIGHT.html. It is presently unknown whether any LDP documents use or used it. This is a proprietary licence, permitting verbatim copying without modification.
  • LDP License v2.0 - LDP License v2.0 of 12 January 1998, the default licence for Linux Documentation Project submissions, written by Greg Hankins and others, and redacted by Guylhem Aznar. Used by many HOWTOs and FAQs, and in general nature a liberal copyleft licence. Posted at http://www.tldp.org/COPYRIGHT.html and equivalent URLs.
  • LDP Licence post-2.0 draft - Suggested modest revision to LDP License 2.0
  • Libranet Licensing - Libranet founders clarify that Libranet ISOs are lawfully redistributable
  • Licence Quick Reference - Bryce 'Zooko' Wilcox's Quick Reference For Choosing a Free Software License
  • Licensing Discussion - Article about a panel discussion on licensing during LinuxWorld Conference and Exposition, by Rick Moen
  • Licensing HOWTO - Legal analysis of open-source licensing by Eric S. Raymond and Cathy Raymond (copyright attorney)
  • LSA Clearinghouse - Mirror of Piotr F. Mitros's 1998 FAQ about the Linux Standards Association trademark controversy
  • LZW Patents - Status of Unisys's remaining LZW compression algorithm patents, internationally
  • Microsoft EULAs - Archive of Microsoft End User Licence Agreements
  • MPL Usage - Guidelines for applying the Mozilla Public License to software
  • MPL/GPL Incompatibilities - Concise analysis of the points on which MPL and GPL clash in derivative works using both licences (although the author uses some misleading terms such as 'relicensing').
  • NDA Addendum - Rick Moen's suggested addendum to add to any NDA suddenly sprung on you. (Feel free to adapt to suit.)
  • Open Content - David Wiley's 1998 documentation licences: OpenContent License 1.0 ('OPL' -- short for its initial name 'OpenContent Principles and License'), which was a simplified version of FSF's DGPL, and its successor Open Publication License 1.0. Wiley now deprecates both of these, and recommends instead that people use Creative Commons licences (having joined that project in 2003 as Director of Educational Licenses, and shut down Open Content).
  • Open Software License 2.0 - Larry Rosen's Open Software License 2.0 (OSL) is an open-source licence with patent-termination provisions and an attempt to impose a copyleft provision on uses that don't entail software distribution, and promoting Rosen's view that open-source licences should be grounded in contract law (unlike most, including GPL)
  • Open Software License 1.0 - Earlier draft of OSL, now replaced with the 2.0 text.
  • Open Source License Law Resource Center - Dennis Kennedy's resources on legal issues affecting open source
  • OSS: Opportunity or Threat? - Open source licenses from a (patent) lawyer's viewpoint. Many links to general copyright / licensing information
  • OSI Administrative Criteria - OSI's administrative criteria for licences proposed for OSD-compliance certification. (Must not be duplicative, must be clear, must be reusable.) Criteria are applied along with the OSD yardstick, itself. (Slightly revised text as approved by the OSI Board is pending.)
  • Patent Terms - Patent attorney explains for Groklaw readers the complex rules for duration of USA patents
  • Public Domain - Why 'public domain' is a doubtful and problematic licence category
  • RHEL ISOs - Duplication of Red Hat Enterprise Linux ISOs and contract, trademark, and copyright concerns
  • SCO v. IBM info - The zIweThey SCO v. IBM info wiki, for information about the SCO lawsuit
  • SUSE Product Strategy - Taxonomy of SUSE Linux AG's numerous product bundles, and their copyright encumbrances
  • TeX Licensing - Post that attempts to clarify the much-debated question of whether Donald Knuth's TeX is open source
  • Trademark Law - Explanation of trademark law for open-source software users
  • Trademark Threat Response - Excellent Fenwick and West-drafted letter debunking a trademark threat, that covers all common points with great clarity
  • Trademark Patent Letter - Beautiful example of a response to a trademark/patent threat letter, by Kurt Denke in response to a threat by Monster Cable, Inc.
  • Unauthorised Practice of Law - Summary of an Ohio administrative legal case that clarifies the factor that distinguishes illegal legal advice from lawful general information on legal matters: tailoring of advice to the needs of a specific person
  • USL v. BSD and UC Regents - US District Court judge's 1993 preliminary ruling denying preliminary injunction to AT&T against BSD on grounds that AT&T had probably destroyed its own copyright under the Publication Doctrine, and that the binary interfaces in question cannot be trade secrets because they're purely functional and required for compatibility (mirror of cm.bell-labs.com)
  • Windows Look-Alikes - Legal analysis of claims that Windows-resembling environments such as xpde might violate Microsoft Corp. copyrights: Useful for understanding other look-and-feel issues, as well
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