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'Infectious' Open Source Software?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the spreading-the-infection dept.

270

Gavo writes "Law firm Chapmann Tripp advises New Zealand State Services Commission that the New Zealand Government should be wary of using 'infectious' open source software. They claim 'While the use of open source software has many benefits, it brings with it a number of legal risks not posed by proprietary or commercial software.'"

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Not really (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825812)

The only legal risks are patent issues, which, I don't think they have in New Zealand. Otherwise, most FOSS software licenses don't kick in unless you redistribute the software. So long as the NZ authorities aren't modifying the code, they'll be fine.

Re:Not really (1)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825829)

So long as the NZ authorities aren't modifying the code, they'll be fine.

So long as they aren't modifying and (as you did mention) the code. They can can modify it as much as they want and not have to release their source code if they just use it internally.

Re:Not really (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825870)

AFAIU GPL3 might change this if they use it on a publically accessible web server.

Re:Not really (1)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825937)

Oops, had had my morning coffee yet. I typed:
modifying and <redistributing>
instead of:
modifying and redistributing

Re:Not really (1)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825950)

Oops, had had my morning coffee yet
OK, I should just stop until I've had some coffee.

Re:Not really (1)

dusik (239139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826095)

Jeez, go have some coffee already! :)

Re:Not really (1)

Brainfuck R00lz (946110) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825841)

I have to agree, the only legal risks associated with open source software can be associated with closed source software too. Patent/Copyright Infringment doesn't care how the software is made.

It looks like some people in the government don't like to support the firefox project *sigh*

Even more fun when you compare to proprietary (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825886)

Otherwise, most FOSS software licenses don't kick in unless you redistribute the software.


And it gets even more fun when you compare the F/OSS licenses with the common proprietary ones. When our company decided Legal needed to review any F/OSS license used here, I got them to agree to do the same level of review on the proprietary licenses. Not surprisingly, there were *way* more proprietary licenses (the original concern was too many licenses), and the proprietary ones had way more questionable terms that raised the eyebrows of legal.


I'm amused that license terms is the new argument of the proprietary industry - because I *really* think they don't want their customers sending their license terms through legal.


For example, it's not uncommon for proprietary licenses to have terms that effectively say ("we have the right to take over your computer and/or install random crap on it" - from anti-virus-company patches to Skype supernodes). Compared to clauses like that, the GPL's a plesant dream to our legal dept.

Re:Not really (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825925)

Actually, copyright would be a potential risk as well.

Ofcourse, commercial software is just as vulnerable to patent/copyright infringements as well, and so are it's users since most commercial software includes disclaimers.

The only way a commercial package may be better protected is by "obfuscation"; you can't check the source to see if they stole your code. As such an open source package might be better, since you atleast can verify it's code.

Re:Not really (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825954)

Ofcourse, commercial software is just as vulnerable to patent/copyright infringements as well, and so are it's users since most commercial software includes disclaimers.

The GPL also contains such disclaimers; it's extremely rare that a software licence doesn't.

Re:Not really (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826068)

I just mentioned it to say that commercial software doesn't indemnify it's users any more than open source software does.

Re:Not really (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825955)

Those aren't the only risks. The guy in New Zealand is being pretty alarmist in the way he puts things, but is right in at least one respect: If you use Open Source software as part of your own products, be aware of what the license says so you can make an informed decision on whether you're going to be able to use it in the way you want.

I have to say "infectious" is a bit over the top. He probably only did that to get people to talk about it....and well, here we are.

Re:Not really (2, Insightful)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825991)

If you use Open Source software as part of your own products

Whereas, of course, you can legally use closed source a part of your own products all you want.

No risks in commercial software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825814)

They should try reading the EULAs some time...

How about... (2, Funny)

fputs(shit, slashdot (645337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825817)

Lawyers are parasites, empowering them expose you to number of legal risks.

Much better.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826144)

Also from TFA:

"Law firm Chapmann Tripp advises New Zealand State Services Commission that the New Zealand Government should be wary of using 'infectious' open source software . They claim 'While the use of open source software has many benefits, it brings with it a number of legal risks not posed by proprietary or commercial software.':

You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean. You're probably thinking DRM. :)

From TFA: hmm, someone have an agenda? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825822)

From TFA: "Exposure to faults and intellectual property claims.
  Relevant to all open source use.

Disclosure of confidential code/ No rights to use.
  Relevant where software has been infected by an open source licence."

They talk about it like there aren't IP claims with proprietary source code. I would argue that these "legal issues" are in fact features of open source that are hampered generally in commercial closed-source software. Closed source tends to have more of the issues above by default, right? Sure looks that way to me!

The #1 reason why articles like this are BS... (3, Insightful)

frankie (91710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826019)

Yes, if you paste OSS code into your software project, you will need to follow their license. As opposed to copying proprietary source code ... which will merely LAND YOU IN COURT for piracy, hacking &/or theft of trade secrets. See, isn't that a much better option?

Re:From TFA: hmm, someone have an agenda? (1)

pigs,3different1s (949056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826173)

*cough* Blackberry *cough*

Between The Lines (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825828)

"We've noticed a substantial drop in the amount of EULA's being drafted, as well as an air of goodwill and cheer creeping into the normally sour and beligerent computer software industry, leading naturally to a decrease in important economy stimulating litigation.

Time to break out the FUD cakes!"

Whose economy are we stimulating, again? (1)

crc32 (133399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825990)

"... leading naturally to a decrease in important economy stimulating litigation."

Well, they are lawyers, and lawyers do generally want more litigation, but who knew they'd be so brazen...

Re:Between The Lines (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826203)

New Zealand: 4 million people, 60 million sheep. (Yes, real sheep.)

Open source is open (1)

cameronjdavis (946172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825834)

Because open source is open its safety measurement should be easily attainable. I say the more the better.

Of course .... (3, Interesting)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825837)

There's more risk of OSS being called on IP violations. YOU CAN SEE THE CODE!!!!!!!!
MS has been sued how many times now for IP violations? - and that's with people having to either "steal" the code or sue to see it.
Unfortunately, I do see more IP challenges to OSS in the future. On the up side I also see those challenges being handled by the OSS community with rapid patches to remove the problem - unless it's something like BT sueing over links.

Infectious! (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825840)

It's all true!! I set up one little Linux box, and the next morning my phone, toaster, and kitchen sink were all being freely updated and improved by thousands of collaborators all over the world! Insidious stuff, that open-source.

Re:Infectious! (1)

pneumatus (936254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826099)

From TFA, it's the license thats infectious, not the software itself... perhaps your linux box may have infected your BSDL toaster and kitchen sink and dual-licensed them with GPL :)

CommonSense-based (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825842)

Though the article (yes I have RTFA) uses flaming terms like "risks" and "infectious", it's actually a plain HowTo on opensource licenses in goverment environment. It includes guidelines like the following:

Managing open source software risks can be complicated. To help simplify matters, SSC makes the following general recommendations to cover most open source legal risks facing government agencies:

        * Using stand-alone, open source applications:

(a) Only use open source licences that have been legally reviewed, including the GPL, LGPL, CAL, MBSD, MIT, which have been reviewed and are recommended by SSC for use in accordance with this guide.

(b) Obtain performance and intellectual property warranties from the supplier of the open source software, where appropriate and available.

        * In-house modification or integration of open source software: In addition to the above recommendations:

(a) Choose one of the following distribution strategies for the resulting software:

(i) Closed distribution, i.e. only within the agency's legal entity.

(ii) Limited distribution, i.e. to other legal entities on non-open source terms.

(iii) Open distribution, i.e. on open source terms.

(b) Manage the chosen licence to match the chosen distribution strategy as follows:

Licence Open distribution Limited or closed distribution
GPL: May use Quarantine

LGPL: May use Quarantine or meet LGPL exception

CAL: May use Quarantine or meet CAL exception

MBSD: May use May use

MIT: May use May use

Re:CommonSense-based (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825875)

Even so, it's still amusing to see that the lawyers are asking to demand performance warranties for open source software when commercial licenses disclaim warranties as well.

Re:CommonSense-based (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826102)

And judging from my own experience of both proprietary and FLOSS development, I can say that I hit back doors of all kinds in proprietary software much more often. Normally they are disable for the releases, but it happens sometimes to release piece of software with backdoor enabled.

Story about "Netscape Engineers Are Weenies" backdoor of M$' FrontPage got quite much publicity.

As to add to FLOSS fame, the first computer worm ever used sendmail backdoor normally provisioned for debugging purposes solely.

IOW, lawyers can complain. Thanks to grow of FLOSS software, (re)licensing finally becomes something normal human being can understand. So lawyers start losing jobs. Bad for them. Good for us.

Re:CommonSense-based (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826121)

s/Open Source license/license/g and it's all still true. I'd like to see some big organizations do it and find out what they have let themselves in for. Imagine that someone at, say, General Motors sent the license terms for e.g. MS Office and OpenOffice to counsel for review, in the same envelope.

Of course, GPL _is_ a problem. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825844)

Of course GPL is a problem. It is a virus and we can see this feature of GPL harms good name of Open Source. BSD is not a problem.

BEWARE!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

mangus_angus (873781) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825848)

SCO has moved over seas and is believed to be setting up shop in another country....

Recommended Daily Allowance of FUD (2, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825849)

The entire slant of the document is incorrect. There are certainly concerns with the open source licenses, especially for someone unfamiliar with them who is used to using proprietary software, tweaking it, and reselling without every publishing the modifications to their clients or to the authors.

But the use of closed source and proprietary software has a generally greater risk due to risk of copyright violation and patent violation and user agreement violation. Simply reverse-engineering a proprietary protocol in order to get your work done or to fix a serious issue in closed source software can cause serious legal problems which are often far greater, even though they are more familiar. And the closed source tools are far more likely to contain backdoors or to have vital features discarded in new revisions, forcing a painful and expensive upgrade process for both software and its configurations to the new setups, or to simply be discarded and the data or tools permanently lost to users.

The shutdown of companies or their abandonment of products is a real problem in the closed source world.

Re:Recommended Daily Allowance of FUD (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825952)

The shutdown of companies or their abandonment of products is a real problem in the closed source world.

I hear this all of the time, but I've never heard of it actually happening. Does software suddenly stop working once the company that made it closes down? I have a few pieces of software that were made by now non-existent companies, but it still works fine (DVD Shrink, for one). Also, how about unsupported OSS? I'd be willing to bet that there are a LOT more OSS products out there with no company behind them any more (because most have shut down due to the whole "profit" problem), so the only option is to hire a team of engineers to fix/upgrade it anyway, if need be. I can't imagine this being feasible or practical, except for Fortune 500 companies.

Re:Recommended Daily Allowance of FUD (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826110)

I'd be willing to bet that there are a LOT more OSS products out there with no company behind them any more...so the only option is to hire a team of engineers to fix/upgrade it anyway, if need be. I can't imagine this being feasible or practical, except for Fortune 500 companies.

FUD or trolling?

Many Free Software projects never had any "company" behind them. They are developed by communities or by a single person.

Proprietary software gives you no options for maintenance if the original supplier goes belly-up.

The cost of hiring others to maintain the code depends on the size and complexity of the code and how much you want to change it; hiring one good hacker for a few days to make a fix to a small to medium sized codebase is within the budget of all but the tiniest companies. Even a large codebase can be handled by one coder if the desired changes are small.

If there's a large project you want to significantly change, you can get together with other companies that depend on it to hire a code maintenance crew.

(If there's a large project that you depend on and no one else cares about, you made a bad business decision - similar to if you bought off-brand proprietary software and the maker went belly-up. Sorry.)

Re:Recommended Daily Allowance of FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826119)

at least you have the option to hire somebody to fix your problem, with closed source you don't (one concrete example is the chip-design software HP was using pre-Y2K, which had a serious Y2K bug), they were unable to get it fixed and had to switch (to programs that were less cabable).

Re:Recommended Daily Allowance of FUD (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826202)

No, not if you remain on exactly the same hardware. And exactly the same software.

Of course, if you don't upgrade anything, every piece of old software will keep working, but have fun expanding in any way, have fun when a piece of hardware dies, and have lots of fun trying to get support on the old software you have where the makers still are in business. (This software requires DOS 3.3, but I can't seem to get MS to listen to me...)

Whereas not only does most open source have an upgrade path, even if created by non-original programmers, but often someone creates an open source upgrade path for closed source programs, e.g., MSDOS and FreeDOS.

You can argue there's no reason for this, and logically there isn't much of one beyond 'With open source I don't have to start over, so I'll write myself an upgrade path and publish it', but there being no good reason for something doesn't make it not true. There are very few dead-ends of seriously-used OSS, which demonstrates you need do your research and not use some fancy new web server that two people are writing and fifty using, but Apache instead, and so on.

Whereas there are lots of dead-ends of seriously used close technology. Visual Basic, anyone? Visual J++? Those are just two I thought of while typing.

so the only option is to hire a team of engineers to fix/upgrade it anyway

See, I love that. It's exactly akin to 'If you want to include GPL code in your product, you have to make it GPL', and that's presented as some sort of advantage over closed code. Both of those statements are literally true, but not an advantage.

It's the difference between jumping out of an airplane clutching a parachute, and jumping out without one. Yes, if you did have one in your hands, you must go through the long and complicated process of putting it on while falling, whereas, if you didn't bring one at all, you don't have to bother with all that nonsense, or even bother with the ripcode or trying to land safely.

Good point there, talking about how 'hard' it is to do something with OSS, when it is literally impossible, both legally without the copyright and technologically without the original source, to do it with closed programs.

Incidentally, you don't have to do it. Someone has to do it. That's only sometimes just 'you'. Often it is other people who use the program. (Which is, as I said, a reason you need to pick popular OSS programs if you're putting anything critical on them, not obscure ones.)

Re:Recommended Daily Allowance of FUD (1)

qray (805206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826176)

If commercial software comes under fire from a patent violation the company that owns the commercial software takes on that liability and deals with the issue. It's likely to be different for open source created by many individuals. It's easier for the patent predators to go after the users which have more money for the patent violations.

--
Q

Nothing but the usual FUD (2, Interesting)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825850)

an increased risk of exposure to faults
More public review, code that tends to be of higher quality, and the ability to fix problems yourself

intellectual property claims
And since when proprietary software was free from litigation?

the risk of forced disclosure of confidential code
"confidential code" -- whose? If yours, you wouldn't even be able to put it there otherwise. And someone has to reread the GPL again -- no one says the gov agency in question has to distribute any source of things they use internally. If the agency in question releases some software itself -- that "confidential code" will be disclosed anyway, just in a form that is harder to read. Back in the days, I learned how to program a particular SVGA chipset by debugging through BIOS code, and my asm skills are low -- are you going to tell me that if the "confidential code" has any real value, no one will get to it anyway?

Re:Nothing but the usual FUD (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825921)

And someone has to reread the GPL again -- no one says the gov agency in question has to distribute any source of things they use internally.

Well, as I read the GPL, if said government agency creates a GPLed tool and distributes it internally, then they must also make the source available internally; I see no exceptions allowing you to not provide source to employees on demand. I also see no exceptions allowing you to require that said receiving employees do not distribute the code outside of the agency.

So no, I don't think the GPL says that any code you right you have to give to the whole world - but equally, I don't think you can prevent internally-developed code from leaking if an employee decides to leak it. That's true of all code, of course, but at least with proprietary code you can sue.

Now I'm not saying that I'm right (IANAL, etc) or that it's a reason to not use the GPL. Just pointing out a potential risk of using the GPL internally within an organisation.

Re:Nothing but the usual FUD (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826003)

Within an organization != distribution. The GPL FAQ [gnu.org] is quite clear on that.

Re:Nothing but the usual FUD (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826123)

Interesting. I can't say that I necessarily agree with it - it gives me an uncomfortable feeling that I could be considered to be merely part of my company, rather than an individual in my own right no matter the context, but fair enough.

Incidentally, congratulations on being the first person to actually answer this point, which I've made a couple of times before...

Re:Nothing but the usual FUD (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826138)

In normal legal understanding, distributing software to your employees is essentially distributing the code to yourself as a company, since its the company as an entity that accepts the license terms, not any individual within the company (same as any license or contract, the contract remains valid if the signature signed or accepted on behalf of the company and then left).

Thats why you can argue that you dont have to distribute the sourcecode to employees, because they are part of the company entity and thus it would be distribution to yourself.

If you try to argue that the individual distributor (the IT department support desk member?) is still liable for the terms of the license, then that liability will follow them if they quit from the company and cease to have access to the sourcecode (under certain clauses within the GPL). This is a huge implication.

Re:Nothing but the usual FUD (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826170)

Well, as I read the GPL, if said government agency creates a GPLed tool and distributes it internally, then they must also make the source available internally; I see no exceptions allowing you to not provide source to employees on demand.

Making and using multiple copies within one organization is not "distribution". [gnu.org] The agency counts as a single entity.

Re:Nothing but the usual FUD (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826034)

I think the intellectual property concern is that users of proprietary software aren't (generally) going to be sued if the maker of that proprietary software gets in trouble for IP, whereas users of OSS are less likely to have the software provider as a shield.

Re:Nothing but the usual FUD (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826174)

Under what theory would the mere user (A) of software procured in good faith from another (B) be liable for B's infringement of C's intellectual property rights, whether the software is OSS or closed-source?

Sigh. Another one. (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825854)

It's not FUD, it is simply "OSS for the uninitiated - be warned that if you're developing software, you might want to actually read the license of anything else you or your contractors plan to use rather than just ignoring it like you usually do". The general tone is "You can use OSS, but be careful".

It's not terribly well written, mainly because it seems to add a load of guff to licenses which are by and large pretty easy to read. And it uses some contentious terminology which is likely to cause concern. ("Infectious", anyone?)

Doubtless a whole boatload of slashbots who didn't RTFA will be a long in a moment to say "yeah but no but it's microsoft FUD ignore it don't give it publicity etc etc" - I'm not going to debate that one. I actually think it's more likely to be an attempt on the part of the law firm to drum up a bit of business. Something along the lines of "Now you've read this article, contact us for further advice!"

Re:Sigh. Another one. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825929)

slashbots who didn't RTFA will be a long in a moment to say "yeah but no but it's microsoft FUD ignore it don't give it publicity etc etc" - I'm not going to debate that one. I actually think it's more likely to be an attempt on the part of the law firm to drum up a bit of business. Something along the lines of "Now you've read this article, contact us for further advice!"

So in other words, it's FUD but not from Microsoft? It really shouldn't be rocket science to figure it out if only someone reads it - or even the first FAQ they can find on google. Sure, some might use the code without paying attention to the license at all, but I presume that's the same kind of business that pass around the one Windows CD.

Re:Sigh. Another one. (1)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825939)

I actually think it's more likely to be an attempt on the part of the law firm to drum up a bit of business.

It was prepared by the State Services Commission [ssc.govt.nz] and therefore presumably carries a stronger imprimatur than if it were just some private law firm making this analysis.

Then again, IANAK (I Am Not A Kiwi [wikipedia.org] ), so I may be giving this agency more credit than it is due...

Re:Sigh. Another one. (1)

follower-fillet (140975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826187)

> It was prepared by the State Services Commission
Actually from TFA: "this guide was prepared for the State Services Commission (SSC) by Chapmann Tripp" (my emphasis).

Re:Sigh. Another one. (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826006)

It's not FUD, it is simply "OSS for the uninitiated - be warned that if you're developing software, you might want to actually read the license of anything else you or your contractors plan to use rather than just ignoring it like you usually do". The general tone is "You can use OSS, but be careful".

Yes, the actual content is reasonable and sensible. It even specifically identifies the GPL as an appropriate license that has been approved for use in the case where software will either only be distributed internally, or can be distributed in compliance with the license. Which is exactly the advice anyone considering using GPL software needs to hear.

But the use of "infected" is FUD. The deliberately emotive language does create fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the reader's mind: it leaves you in no doubt whatsoever that the authors considered such licenses to be negative. And describing it in terms of "software that has been infected by an open source license", as though the software was just minding its own business when a nasty license crept up and attacked it, when in fact it's "software that the developers have chosen to offer you under an open source license", all out in the open and carefully thought out, is utterly ludicrous.

Great content, horrible language. I only hope the NZ government agencies that read this document employ people who are smart enough to filter out the FUD and benefit from the facts.

Reading on, there IS a lot of FUD here. (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826108)

Replying to myself, but the content really isn't as great as I thought it would be from the executive summary section.

For example, they assert that the output of GPL programs will be covered by the GPL - a point of view expressedly disavowed by most legal experts and by the authors of the GPL itself! I quote:

The GPL expressly provides that software compiled with the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is not infected by the GPL. Presumably the Free Software Foundation considers other GPL compilers will infect the compiled software.

Which is utter BS. The FSF's opinion on the matter is clearly stated here [gnu.org] : that not only is program output not covered by the GPL, but that it would probably impossible to arrange for it to be even if you wanted it to be.

Then on the subject of writing GUIs, network clients, and the like, which interact with GPL'd programs without actually deriving any code from them or linking directly to the GPL'd code, the authors of this report say:

It has been argued that if these programs are written with specific open source software in mind, they will be infected by the relevant open source licence . . . The legal position is unsettled.

It "has been argued" by whom, we wonder? No answer is forthcoming. This is classic weaselling. Again, the FSF explicitly state here [gnu.org] that the intent of the license is that if two programs are separate executables, the license of the one does not affect the other. So if even the very creators of the GPL do not argue that such programs are "infected", where IS this alleged controversy coming from?

Seriously, either New Zealand law is very different from US law and the GPL has a very different meaning in New Zealand, or this is FUD, or it's merely poorly researched. But my opinion of this report is falling fast the more of it I read.

Re:Sigh. Another one. (1)

AnonymousPrick (956548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826013)

...be warned that if you're developing software, you might want to actually read the license of anything else you or your contractors plan to use rather than just ignoring it like you usually do".

I agree with you. Lesser GPL [gnu.org]

Here's parts of Section (bold mine):5. A program that contains no derivative of any portion of the Library, but is designed to work with the Library by being compiled or linked with it, is called a "work that uses the Library". Such a work, in isolation, is not a derivative work of the Library, and therefore falls outside the scope of this License.

However, linking a "work that uses the Library" with the Library creates an executable that is a derivative of the Library (because it contains portions of the Library), rather than a "work that uses the library". The executable is therefore covered by this License. Section 6 states terms for distribution of such executables. When a "work that uses the Library" uses material from a header file that is part of the Library, the object code for the work may be a derivative work of the Library even though the source code is not. Whether this is true is especially significant if the work can be linked without the Library, or if the work is itself a library. The threshold for this to be true is not precisely defined by law.

It looks to me that if I link to any library, my code is now a derivative. I'm sorry but the Q&A up on GNU is not a license so it doesn't matter what is said. The license will be what a judge will rule on.

My point is I will need a lawyer to understand this stuff and make sure I don't violate it. I'm not knocking it or anything, I'm just saying that a PRUDENT organization will understand the license completely - including getting legal advice.

I'm trying to find the article about Stallman's suit against NeXT regarding the Objective-C compiler. That is an example of what happens when you think you understand the GNU licenses.

Re:Sigh. Another one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826194)

That, however, isn't a GPL infection. It is an infection brought on by the copyright laws. Linking in this way creates a derivative work. If you want that infection excised, you'll have to talk to congress/the berne treaty commission to ask them to modify it.

Re:Sigh. Another one. (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826060)

I read it. The FUD is both explicit and implicit. The failure to compare the copyright or patent violation risks of open source software to those of closed source software, where the intellectual property you may be duplicating accidentally is invisible to you, is an implicit FUD. And the indemnification clause is an explicit FUD, since the resolution to most open source copyright violations is simply to publish your modifications to your clients.

The person who wrote this has clearly never examined the history of intellectual property lawsuits in the closed source world, where code theft is harder to discover but tends to be more destructive to the original author's property rights.

Another Flaming Troll, Complete with Sigh. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826089)

Repeat after me, Jimicus:
  1. FOSS licenses are less restrictive than non free licenses in every way.
  2. FOSS is easier to acquire, own, and develop than non free.
  3. The only unique legal issue regarding the use of free software is one dead lawsuit from SCO that was funded by Microsoft.
  4. All software has problems with faults but Microsoft is by far the worst.
  5. All software is threatened by bogus "IP" claims as anyone with a Blackberry can tell you.

That six chapters of nonsense is not worth reading. It's full of the same "get the facts" nonsense you've seen 100 times since Microsoft decided free software was the only remaining threat to market domination. You could read the original licenses or talk to a real lawyer in less time than it takes to read M$ BS. I can only hope the people of New Zealand did not pay for it.

Re:Sigh. Another one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826189)

it brings with it a number of legal risks not posed by proprietary or commercial software.

Oh really the advice-writer... has obviously never read some of the EULA associated with proprietary software (including dev kits), have they? Shit... a few years ago Hotmail (after being bought by Microsoft) even tried to claim ownership of anything sent via their shitty webmail service.

Legal risks indeed. The legal risk of FOSS is much lower than any proprietary software. The only legal traps in FOSS are those from companies like Trolltech and MySql, who do deliberately have nasty little GPL gotchas in their libraries... but even so, it's minor compared to the howlers in propreitary software.

Baloney (1)

countach (534280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825863)

What a bunch of baloney. What's this about "risk of forced disclosure of confidential code"? Risk makes it sound like it is some kind of roll of the dice thing where if you're unlucky, and you get busted, you have to disclose the code.

How about "agencies should read the licence agreement and abide by it whether open source or not"?

And what about "include an increased risk of exposure to faults". Is that supposed to mean open source has a higher "risk" (there's that word again) of faults, because it is bad quality? Or does it mean you have to make sure you pay for support if you can't support it yourself? Why don't they call a spade a spade?

And what of intellectual property claims? Paying somebody for your software, frankly doesn't guarantee anything. It may give you someone to sue, but when did you last see a goverment department sueing a software house? Uh, it aint going to happen.

Re:Baloney (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825918)

No-ones ever, AFAIK, forced a company to disclose its own code. They've all been given the choice of rewriting without the GPLed code or disclosing.

"First think we do, let's kill all the lawyers" especially ones who can't read, don't understand, and use FUD to get business.

Justin.

Simpson Grierson tried this nonsense too in NZ (1)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825864)

It's not as though Chapman Tripp could have been unapprised of how utterly stupid their claims are -- Simpson Grierson tried this FUD on a year or so ago, as well: (see The Fud Buster pages of the New Zealand Open Source Society. )

I hope the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office goes after Chapman Tripp's spreading such lies which bring tangible monetary injury to the New Zealand Open Source community, measurable every time we hear a prospect repeat the utter and unadulterated and deliberate bullshit that these pathetic excuses for "IP Lawyers" are putting out.

Re:Simpson Grierson tried this nonsense too in NZ (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826205)

Don't hope; visit them and present your evidence. Ask them to do something about it.

Communication about OS licencing needs improvement (2, Interesting)

zaphod31 (798541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825873)

It seems that after recent press coverage, that legal staff around the world are trying to cover business risks. Obviously the marketing machines of the software industry are zooming in on some of the mistakes bussiness have made when using f.i. GPL software.

Re:Communication about OS licencing needs improvem (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825947)

the marketing machines of the software industry are zooming in on some of the mistakes bussiness have made when using f.i. GPL software


Any smart software consumer should "zoom in on" the fact that Monoposoft Office (a.k.a. The Enterprise Ready Virus-Development Environment) has cost the entire PLANET billions of dollars in downtime and that over 99% of all viruses are M-Windows viruses.

There is no mistake so dear as using Monoposoft products.

Who says time travel is impossible? (-1, Redundant)

amelith (920455) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825879)

Someone obviously just sent this FUD forward from about 1998. I suggest we send them a copy of Firefox back in return, so they can see how the future went. Ame

Yes, because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825882)

While the use of open source software has many benefits, it brings with it a number of legal risks not posed by proprietary or commercial software. These include an increased risk of exposure to faults and intellectual property claims, and the risk of forced disclosure of confidential code.

As we all know, when proprietary software breaks, it's always fixed. And proprietary software doesn't ever infringe on other organisations' "intellectual property". And of course, you should take the advice of an organisation so unfamiliar with open-source software that they think it's non-commercial. And of course, the law allows people whose copyrights you have infringed to publish your proprietary software.

...oh hang on a sec, that's all complete bollocks! This is clueless on every level. Somebody should be fired. Even Slashdot trolls are more knowledgable than these guys.

There is no reason why agencies should not consider open source software on the same basis as commercial software.

...so we'd better make stuff up so they do have a reason!

Oh, and by the way (-1, Redundant)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825893)

The '90s called. They want their FUD back.

Looks like a fault: (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825901)

From TFA:
* "Infectious" nature: Many open source licences are "infectious", meaning that the original open source licence may apply to:
(a) the original software if re-distributed
(b) any modification of the original software if redistributed
(c) software containing or integrated with the original software, if redistributed
(d) software used in conjunction with the original software to provide a web based service.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know any OSI licenses that enforce (d). Seems like they forgot to add "if redistributed" here too.

Re:Looks like a fault: (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825985)

I believe D refers to GPL3, but I haven't checked it out in full. What I started to read scared me, and I've moved what little of my own code exists to BSD / Apache licences.

Re:Looks like a fault: (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826059)

Why didn't you just keep it with GPL2 without upgrade clause, just like most of the Linux kernel?

This is a result of a NZ goverment funded study (-1, Offtopic)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825902)

I remember back in high school. There was this cute girl from the wrong part of town. She lived alone with her alcoholic dad because her mom just couldn't take it anymore and left them both. She didn't get to graduate, unfortunately. She ended up staying at home to take care of him as he slowly drank himself away. It's funny, I never thought we'd end up together, but she had these huge aspirations to move to the city and live like kings.

So she went and got a job at the Circle K while I tried to stay in school and graduate. Build a better future together and all that. After graduation, we got in my car and drove across the border to the city. A small place we found downtown worked out great, but I wasn't having any luck finding a job. Eventually the money ran out and we were forced to move to a shelter (which was worse than I had imagined). She worked late at the supermarket as the checkout girl, but I didn't seem to be going anywhere. The more I thought about it, the worse my drinking got.

It got to the point where I wasn't even spending much time at home. I was always at the bar drinking with my buddies. Never got to see my kids. But that girl had dreams. Unfortunately they didn't include me.

It's like how OSS works great for some things, but you can't just settle into a routine or you're bound to get complacent and lose all the great benefits of the technology.

Re:This is a result of a NZ goverment funded study (0)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826021)

Wow...that is a BAD analogy..

What kind of a person would come up with a.... oh...

nevermind.

Odd use of language but quite sensible (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825906)

I've given it a quick read through and it's actually a pretty sensible document in most places, with some useful advice. You need to bear in mind that the target audience is other NZ government agencies, so the information presented is specifically written with them in mind. I'll argue that the choice of language could be considered negative or inflamitory, but the actual content of the document is decent enough. For example the table in section 9 and the text in sections 15-17 put the legal requirements for various licences in pretty clear terms. They even define terms such as "library" and "device driver" and how the licences relate to those types of components.

However, section 25 is pretty stupid:

"25 There is a risk that open source software contains functional defects, or breaches a third party's intellectual property rights (e.g. where it contains code misappropriated from proprietary software or functionality in breach of a patent). The absence of warranties and indemnities in most open source licences means the licensee bears this risk. This can be contrasted with the protection usually available under commercial software licences."

I'm not sure what EULAs they've read, but commercial software agreements generally contain similiar indemnification. So whats all this about "protection usually available under commercial software licences."?

If it wern't for that nonsense, it'd be a good document.

Infectious Software? (1)

pneumatus (936254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825910)

Perhaps there is some kind of license Anti-Virus app that will stop these 'infectious' licenses from spreading even further!

In reality, proprietary software is more dangerous (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825912)

How many people and/or companies have been sued for just using F/OSS? I don't know of any. BTW: all the scox-scam lawsuits are over bogus contract violation. Scox has not sued anybody for just using Linux.

Innocent parties have been sued for using proprietary software. The msft/time-line case is one example. How many people have been harassed, or fined, by the BSA, because they couldn't find their certificate of ownership?

These articles always assert that F/OSS is a legal minefield, whereas proprietary is completely. But all logic, and evidence, say otherwise.

Many have been fined by BSA (1)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825997)

Earnie Ball [com.com] , for one.

RTF Document (4, Informative)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825923)

Read the actual document [e.govt.nz] , not just the summary. The actual document isn't that bad.

The stuff inside isn't that big a secret to most folks. It mainly boils down to, "Using open source software under licenses we've reviewed is okay, but be careful if you're developing code using open source software that we don't want released to the masses, because under some licenses, we may be obligated to."

In fact, this document is probably a good thing, in spite of a somewhat badly written summary. Check out Chapter 2 [e.govt.nz] :

(a) Only use open source licences that have been legally reviewed, including the GPL, LGPL, CAL, MBSD, MIT, which have been reviewed and are recommended by SSC for use in accordance with this guide.
(b) Obtain performance and intellectual property warranties from the supplier of the open source software, where appropriate and available.

This only makes sense. I can't imagine anyone disagreeing, saying that you should use software with a license we're not familiar with, or to disregard the IP of open source authors.

Also, look just below it. It says that for software development that is for open distribution, it's okay to use open source software. For software that is for limited or closed distribution, don't. Is this new? Am I missing something? If anything, people who are interested in open source software can look at this document as permission to go forward, not as a hinderance!

I mean, I realize that the words "infectious" has negative connotations, but I just don't see this document in and of itself as a bad thing. And even though I'm a strong FOSS advocate, the stuff that's in there is stuff that I would recommend to any company, government or organization to consider in their decision whether to use closed- or open source software.

and GPL v3 makes this problem worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825927)

I can see what they're talking about - the viral nature of the GNU license could end up forcing a company to expose all their source code to their competitors, and the problem only worsens with GPLv3. This, of course, was RMS' goal all along.

For companies that do not want their source code plastered all over the internet, avoiding GPL'd software just makes good sense.

Some people just prefer the old business model, y'know?

Oh, and I AM a lawyer.

Re:and GPL v3 makes this problem worse (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825973)

For companies that do not want their source code plastered all over the internet, avoiding GPL'd software just makes good sense.

Ehh... sort of. You can still use open-source software: you can develop in emacs on GNU/Linux and write up all the documentation using LyX or OpenOffice or whatever. As long as your product is all your own work that's fine. It's when you start shipping, say... an Integrated Firewall Solution that happens to run on a modified Linux kernel that you might run into GPL issues.

That's the quarrel we generally have with this kind of article: it can confuse the issue between use of GPL software - which you can do freely, even if you don't accept the terms of the GPL itself - and redistribution of GPL software or derived works, which is just plain illegal under standard copyright law unless you do so under the terms of the GPL.

Of course they do (1)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825977)

Some people just prefer the old business model, y'know?

Yes, of course they do. It's called Stockholm Syndrome [wikipedia.org] .

The GPL does not expose a company's source code to competitors unless they choose to incorporate GPL code into their own. This is a choice, a conscious decision. It's a decision you don't even have with proprietary closed-source software.

To claim GPL'd code is somehow inferior to closed-source commercial software because of this is laughable. Simply laughable.

You can make all kinds of flame arguments about GPL vs. BSD vs. MPL vs. . . . well, any of the other open / free licenses. Go on, I dare you.

Why so much out of New Zealand and Australia? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825932)

No offense, but these countries are not exactly international economic power-houses.

It has often surprised me how much of the F/OSS v proprietary battle goes on over there.

Re:Why so much out of New Zealand and Australia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826045)

None taken. We're just massive US suck-ups who take on board such crap as the DMCA (at least in Australia).

Re:Why so much out of New Zealand and Australia? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826134)

You may be suck ups but kiwis are not just ask the US NAVY

Examples, we need examples! (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825941)

it brings with it a number of legal risks not posed by proprietary or commercial software
I wonder if that funny guy can provide any example fitting his cases!

Rerun from the 90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825949)

Nice to see lawyers are good at dragging up the same old arguments decade after decade.

What will be next? claims that OSS is more insecure because of it's Openness?

I cant wait!

REmember you can tell when lawyers are lying... their lips are moving.

Re:Rerun from the 90's (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826026)

Of course it's also more likely to fail from schroedingbugs [catb.org] , because it's more likely that someone actually reads the code and thus finds the bug. :-)

Good Point (2, Interesting)

4of12 (97621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14825975)

Legal risks with using software are a real issue in our world.

That's why it would be in the best interests of all computer users and IT decision makers to explore the issue fully, to look closely at what kinds of risks exist, what kinds of risks tend to occur most often in the real world and what their consequences are.

My experience has been that folks using proprietary software are frequently in the position of bending over backwards (particularly in a large corporate or government environment) to make sure that they have licenses for every piece of software that their employees are running on the their PCs. The IT folks spend some serious time auditing to avoid the even larger risk of a BSA audit.

As for legal risks associated with open source software I have yet to encounter any. All I've seen are press reports of legal actions that show no outcome but to prove they were based on frivolous premises and some PR statements talking about legal indemnification which are excellent marketing strategies for certain vendors of proprietary software keenly afraid of their revenue stream becoming commoditised by free and open source software. About the only genuine risk I've seen with FOSS is for developers that disobey the "Share and share alike" GPL by releasing modified binaries without releasing modified source.

Perhaps I'm missing a serious issue and these folks could show some evidence of real people and real companies that have experienced harm due to lack of vigilance concerning the legal risks of FOSS. And they could explain why my personal experience doesn't reflect reality of serious legal risks with hard statistics concerning how much time and money are lost to risk mitigation and handling legal mishaps with users of FOSS compared to users of proprietary software.

Those people are lawyers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14825981)

and the risk of forced disclosure of confidential code.
Okay, this alone is a reason why you should NEVER EVER hire anyone from that law firm. This is just blatant ignorance.
You are under no circumstances forced to disclose your source code. You may decide to do so and maybe that's smart but no court will force you to disclose your own source code against your will.
For example, if you modify a program which is licensed under the GPL and you distribute it, in violation of the license, in binary-only form with no written offer to obtain the source code, you are in violation of copyright law and the author(s) of the GPLed program may get injunctions prohibiting you to distribute the modified program and they may seek damages, however, you are NOT forced to disclose the source code. It may be a smart move to do so because then the author(s) of the original GPLed program won't sue you and they may even restore your terminated (due to the violation) license to the program but you CAN decide against it and just duke it out. You may have to pay substantial damages but you won't be forced to reveal your source code.

Really, one would think at least lawyers would know about the law...

Yeah, Tell that to the Crackberry users (1)

Loquax (921849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826011)

The crackberry crowd was using "proprietary software" and still are about to get hung out to dry over patent and IP issues. There almost needs to be a "starre decisis" for technology, an idea of "settled technology" that happens when and IP claim is brought against a company using software that has been marketed for a number of years without complaint. Is there such a thing? I'm thinking an IP holder should have 3 months from the time a technology is widely marketed (a fuzzy term, I know) where they have to crap or get off the pot as far as preventing another entity from continuing to use the technology. This might help eliminate the practice of buying up a patent long after a product possibly using that IP has been used widely and then suing. The attitude at that time should be "Hey, buddy, if you cared so much about this patent, you'd have contacted us years ago." Most of these software patents after mass usage are nothing more than parasitic attempts to benifit from other's work.

free software (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826050)

part of the problem is that people just talk about Free software and open source software as if they are all under the same licence. I think the guy is right in saying that you need to becareful. Consider the fate of a person who thinks he is using a BSD licenced app as a base for his own stuff only to reliaze it is GPL. Sure they are both open source and financially free, but you are not as free to do what you want with it under the GPL as you are with the BSD licence. It gets even more complicated when you have Mozilla licence, Apache licence, php licence , mysql licence and so on.

Not as infectious as, say, using MS code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826054)

OSS is by no means as infectious a proprietary code.

If you use OSS code in your in-house project, no problem - you are welcome to do so. But if you copy and use some Microsoft code in you in-house project, big problem unless you negotiate to pay them per copy first, probably repeatedly, every few years.

If you wish to copy and use OSS code in a product you distribute, you must do so according to the license requirements - which generally involves applying the same OSS licence to the derivative work. This restriction will prevent you from keeping your code secret or proprietary.

But if you wish to copy and use Microsoft code in a product you distribute, you must do so according to the license requirements (if Microsoft choose too allow it at all), generally involving handing them lots of money for every copy distributed, and every copy of those copies etc. This restriction will prevent you from freely giving your code to others or allowing them to use it freely.

I use Microsoft as an example here, but all proprietary code is similarly infectious. Generally, every copy of a derivative work, whether sold, given away or just used in-house is infected with an obligatiion to pay the "intellectual property" owner.

Intellectual Property (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826055)

Can someone actually post a law and prove this whole concept of Intellectual Property. Everything I have seen; when it comes to court; people (companies) are tried on the following suits:

1) Copyright
2) Trademark
3) Patent

As it stands; the people that actually spout off IP either:
a) Don't know what the F* their talking about
b) Are intentionally confusing the issue.

Either way (a or b) it is plain old BS.

So what? (0, Offtopic)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826058)

The statement is true. It's also OLD NEWS.

Why was this posted? It's just flame bait...

Just Don't Ask (1)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826066)

My understanding of the GPL was that basically you couldn't plan to distribute just an executable binary. That the person who the software is distributed too can also get the source.

Now if the government is producing code based on GPL products, then typically they will be the only customer. The only one the code would be distributed to would be the NZ goverment itself. So the government would be the only customer that could ask for the source code.

Its going to worry about asking itself?

Just don't ask. Take the position that the product is an in-house development, and is never distributed outside of 'in-house'. No outside distribution, no GPL problem.

About the only thing I can think of that might propose a problem would be if the government produced standard programs for third parties. Like standardized tax preperation programs in lieu of distributing paper forms.

But as that would make sense, I don't think we have to worry much about a government doing it. :)

Joking aside, if the government doesn't go into the business of distributing software outside itself, this issue is a no-starter.

Faultless Proprietory Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826071)

FTFA "These include an increased risk of exposure to faults"

Thank goodness my employer has always insisted on proprietory Microsoft software, right from Windows v3.1. It has never had any faults. Nearly never. Only occasionally in fact; sometimes several hours could pass between "Unrecoverable Application Errors" or BSOD's.

Even those faults don't really matter when, as we all know, Microsoft insists on paying us for every penny of the value of the hours (professional engineer's rate) we waste rebooting, fault finding, struggling with Word formatting, and trying to open old data files with later versions of their own apps.

Where could we find such dependability in the Open Source world?

Amazing, isn't it? (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826088)

Let me guess... (peers into crystal ball)... Oh yeah, that law firm represented Microsoft in New Zealand [chapmantripp.co.nz] . They even cite Intellectual Property as one of their area of expertise.

Case closed. Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

Actually, it's the other way round (2, Interesting)

eturro (804858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826093)

Regardless of risks of actual litigation and those idiotic software patents (doesn't even apply in NZ), the likelihood that there is copyrighted code in a proprietary application is higher than in an open source one.

Copyrighted code in a closed source app will be far less conspicuous than in an open source app, and therefore the programmer is more likely to think "well, no one will notice, anyway." In open source apps, the risk of being caught is so much higher, and therefore it's more likely to be free of copyrighted code.

Social problem, not legal (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826094)

> While the use of open source software has many benefits, it brings with it a number of legal risks not posed by proprietary or commercial software.

[F]OSS operates under the same laws as commercial software, and with the possible rare exception gives you more usage rights than commercial software. There shouldn't be any legal problem per se.

However, there is the social problem of people thinking that free(beer) means they can do whatever they want with it, which often isn't the case.

Teach your employees to use [F]OSS just like they would commercial software that they had a license to view, and you won't get in trouble. If your employees want to make use of the additional options made possible by a [F]OSS license, make them get a permit from someone in the company who understands the issues.

(In principle that would be the lawyers, but lawyers have a habit of saying 'no' as a knee-jerk response.)

Help, I'm a liar, I mean - a lawyer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14826122)

What is wrong with you nerds? You make my head spin with all this technobable! An open source is a useful fool, not software - whatever that is. I'll get you yet for making me look stupid and incompetent about things I know nothing about! I know the LAW, so there! You can't just let people be free, let alone give them stuff at no cost, see 1 of British Trading Standard if you don't believe me.

What they're worried about is legit... (1)

borgheron (172546) | more than 8 years ago | (#14826133)

It's a legitimate concern. At many companies where I've worked, they do use open source and free software, but they are careful when it comes to the license as they don't want to inadvertantly make all of thier work go under the GPL if it's distributed.

All the document is saying is to evaluate each piece of software by it's merits on an individual basis. Further, it says that there is "no reason why open source should not be considered on the same basis as commercial software" but that there could be some licensing concerns.

All in all, it's a sound and reasonable policy.

GJC
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