The biggest legal danger for open source? Patents or copyright?


Not a particularly deep or wide river, but due to the geographic history of the Midwest, a river with a bottom full of massive pits and dips, dug out by glaciers and the debris they shoved around this part of the world 15,000 years ago. Because of these formations, this particular river is rather dangerous to be in for swimmers–at any point, an undercurrent can drag you under the surface, to be trapped in whatever pit or dead tree lies beneath.

It looks calm on the surface, placid even. But it is not.

There is an undercurrent of legal issues troubling the open source world these days. While things are going great in some aspects–cloud, mobile, server–there is a definite potential for trouble from litigious attacks on any of the successful technologies open source has helped create.

If this sounds like fear, uncertainty, and doubt, it is assuredly not. But if there’s a bear in your house, you can’t just ignore it and hope it will go away. You call animal control.

FUD is the obvious intention of those who have instigated the various legal troubles on open source practitioners. Fear specifically: ramp it up to intimidation, and you’ve got a potential licensing revenue channel on your hands.

Such troubles, from the scores of software patents that are used to “protect” intellectual property, are obvious.

But no less troublesome, I believe, is the issue of copyright and copyright assignments.

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