May 17, 2013

How Four Open Source Usage Models Impact Compliance

Before I jump into my topic, here is some background for those new to open source licenses.

Open source licenses, like any license, grant the licensee certain rights that are usually reserved by and for the copyright holder (the author of the open source software (OSS) code), and spell out conditions that must be met by the licensee. You may use the OSS according to the grants given, so long as you comply with the requirements of the license.

The first question to ask regarding potential copyright infringement: Is there an act involved that is restricted by copyright law? If there is, you need permission from the copyright holder to proceed with that act.  If the copyright holder has granted a license, you must comply with the conditions of that license. In the case of open source licenses, the operative question ends up being: Is there a distribution? Distribution is the key act that triggers the license requirements of most open source licenses. If there is a distribution, there must be compliance by the person or entity making the distribution.1 


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