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Questions tagged [law]

For questions about the legal aspects of open source. Questions asking for legal advice are off-topic. You should consider mentioning the relevant legal jurisdiction in your question.

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128 votes
5 answers
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How can a "crayon" license be a problem?

Bruce Perens (co-founder of OSI) has coined the term "crayon license": I've been calling these "crayon licenses", taking a line from an old Monty Python sketch about a dog license ...
Free Radical's user avatar
  • 9,105
24 votes
2 answers
1k views

Theseus' Paradox applied to code copyright

Assuming a copyright license (I'll reference Apache 2.0, but that's an example only) that allows derivations, at what point are those derivations so extensive that the Apache license no longer applies?...
Azuaron's user avatar
  • 343
26 votes
4 answers
2k views

What are the implications of the Google vs. Oracle case on the state of public APIs?

There is a case between Google and Oracle over the use of Java and it's standard library on the Google Android operating system. From this article: To recap: Oracle accused Google of copying some of ...
CinchBlue's user avatar
  • 363
40 votes
3 answers
2k views

Can I change the caps to lowercase in licenses?

The well-known MIT (or "X11/MIT" license reads): Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "...
user avatar
49 votes
4 answers
8k views

What can/should I do when I see a violation to GPL restrictions?

Some years ago, I was working on a software company that used some copyrighted JAR dependencies that they had bought from a medium-size obscure private company for a very expensive price. After some ...
Victor Stafusa - BozoNaCadeia's user avatar
27 votes
1 answer
7k views

How much is "substantial portion" in MIT licence?

MIT license says: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. How much is that substantial portion? For ...
Marqin's user avatar
  • 455
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

How do I detect an AGPL violation?

For client side code, even if it is obfuscated or is just a binary, I can imagine there might be ways of doing this, but if I have some server-side AGPL licensed code, how am I supposed to know that ...
pulsejet's user avatar
  • 635
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Are all GPL Licensed projects free to use for commercial use? [duplicate]

I having a few issues understanding how sites like gpldl.com can call themselves legal. This is basically a site where they purchase themes/plugins from developers such as: WooThemes iThemes Gravity ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 121
48 votes
9 answers
5k views

Does open source qualify as being part of the public domain?

According to Google, Open Source is... denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. It seems to be that the product seems to ...
Zizouz212's user avatar
  • 6,469
33 votes
5 answers
8k views

Is illegally obtained GPLv2 software still subject to the terms and conditions of the GPL?

Let's say some company is developing a software component licensed under GPLv2. The company never intends to release the software to the public because they are only installing it on their internal ...
airfishey's user avatar
  • 1,924
27 votes
4 answers
1k views

What happens if I share code online without any licence declaration?

What will the licence of the code be? If this is jurisdiction / country based what is relevant in this case? The place of origin of the poster, the host where the code lives, or the one who tries to ...
SztupY's user avatar
  • 765
27 votes
2 answers
6k views

Why doesn't this GPL loophole work?

Suppose Alice makes some proprietary software. The source is available, but under a proprietary license which prohibits derivative works and sublicensing. Bob writes some GPLv3 code. Carol prepares ...
Kevin's user avatar
  • 5,552
26 votes
2 answers
4k views

How is Oracle suing Google for copyright infringement when Java is Open Source?

There is a case between Google and Oracle over the use of Java and it's standard library on the Google Android operating system. From [this article]: To recap: Oracle accused Google of ...
xenoterracide's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
4k views

Can I develop closed source software with an open source development environment? [closed]

Are there any legal consequences that I could encounter with? If it's possible, what should I keep a close attention to while I'm doing it?
r3bl's user avatar
  • 1,397
8 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is there a good license for a libertarian programmer who's against intellectual property?

I know, I know, you're probably thinking CC0 or WTFPL or something along those lines. But the thing is, the way I see it, people have a right to redistribute anything, even if the author doesn't want ...
Sparkette's user avatar
  • 207
7 votes
2 answers
536 views

Interference of Software Patents with Free & Open Source Software

While visiting wikipedia page on Free and open-source software, I noticed the challenges from the template at bottom: In which Digital rights management and Software patents seems considerable to me....
Pandya's user avatar
  • 2,092
5 votes
1 answer
201 views

Legality of publishing code for a stackoverflow answer as an example implementation

Consider this scenario: I was trying to implement my own version of some awkward functionality. The same functionality is implemented in at least one open source library (which allows copying). My ...
Bruce Adams's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is it legal to use/run open source software for any purpose?

I am planning to be a Udemy instructor to make money. As you predict, I need softwares such as OS, Hypervisor, IDE, web browser, screen video recorder, etc. That's why, I'll use/run open source ...
arastirma hesap's user avatar
28 votes
7 answers
5k views

Embedding GPL code in proprietary software

Here's a tricky situation that I didn't encounter before: My company embeds a piece of slightly modified GPLv3 code into their otherwise proprietary application. They don't link a library or ...
Rody Oldenhuis's user avatar
22 votes
2 answers
2k views

Borrowing ideas rather than code from open source projects

I work in a field where people (competitors?) reverse engineer things, and for this reason, there are many implementations around, all of which are open source. Sometimes in order to save time, I look ...
rr-'s user avatar
  • 331
15 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is it OK to remove the license terms for a code snippet?

A while ago, I encountered an edit suggestion on Stack Overflow. The OP had posted a snippet that was under the GPL, and included the GPL in the snippet. The editor tried to remove the GPL as it was ...
S.L. Barth is on codidact.com's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the purpose of "or (at your option) any later version"? What if I don't want this?

Firstly, what is the exact purpose of the phrase "or (at your option) any later version" that usually accompanies GPL-licensed software? I get that it's supposed to be to allow future freedoms to be ...
micheal65536's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
706 views

Is it legal to remove a dependency with a copyleft license from a proprietary project?

Imagine you have a proprietary project (non open source), and by mistake you added a dependency to a library with a strong copyleft license. You have already distributed your code. And you realize ...
Jean-Michael's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Excluding open-source contributions from work-for-hire

I'm doing contract work. I'm being asked to sign a standard (AFAICT) agreement that assigns all intellectual property I create to the employer. The context of this work is typical Python and Go ...
jmerc's user avatar
  • 101
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why does the GPL not specify a jurisdiction or choice of law clause?

tl;dr version Unlike most software licenses, the GPL (at least version 3.0) does not contain a choice of law provision. Why is this, and what provisions are in place to adjudicate disputes in the ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
700 views

Does contributing to software project make it joint authorship or a collective work?

From the legal point of view there are two types of work done by multiple authors: Joint authorship - when the authors create inseparable work, and the contributions of the authors are interdependent....
anton_rh's user avatar
  • 315
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

Telemetry in open source software?

Is it OK to embed some telemetry functions in an open source project or is it considered spying or privacy violating? I would like to connect my open source app to Microsoft Application Insights to ...
romanoza's user avatar
  • 225
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Who owns the copyright to code which the author was paid to write?

For example, the repository owner owns the app, publishes the partial source code, and creates few tasks supported by some bounty to write some new components (such as new functions, classes, etc.). ...
kenorb's user avatar
  • 1,091
9 votes
1 answer
467 views

Copyright assignments in Germany

When contributing to some of their projects, the FSF requires you to assign the copyright to your work to the FSF. As I'm German, I'm interested in whether this is compatible with German law. German ...
UTF-8's user avatar
  • 193
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Including untouched LGPL library in a MIT-licenced project

Can I include a library licenced under LGPL 2.1 in an MIT-licenced project without any legal problems? Since it's not a compiled language, I would provide the full untouched source code of the ...
Vinícius's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
286 views

Can I apply an open source license if I referenced copyright documentation during development?

I am working on python library that wraps a non-free C library. In order to develop this, I referenced the C library's copyrighted documentation. Because of that my function and variable names are the ...
David DeGraw's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
564 views

What issue does the Mozilla Public License have with the European Legal System?

I was quite surprised to see the following in an answer: (emphasis mine) For new projects, you should avoid the MPL as it has issues with the European law system. For this reason, the CDDL can be ...
Zizouz212's user avatar
  • 6,469
7 votes
2 answers
302 views

Offering exceptions to the GNU GPL as an employee

I find myself in the following situation; I have a software project under GPL license, which is a good fit for usage in the company I am currently employed at. Now I am happy to dual license it to ...
Eelco Hoogendoorn's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
242 views

Interference of DRM with free & open source software

While visiting the Wikipedia page on Free and open-source software, I noticed the Challenges section from template at the bottom: In which Digital rights management and Software patents seems ...
Pandya's user avatar
  • 2,092
5 votes
1 answer
152 views

Is a binary compatible interface to a proprietary spec proprietary

I am putting together some code that will use the Steinbergs VST3 specification and it has occurred to me that it would make a nice open source project. Most that exist are a bit old and are based on ...
Brenton Thomas's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
142 views

Dual-licensing standard verbiage for “sublicensable OR”?

Background I want to distribute my code simultaneously under multiple open-source licenses, so that consumers who have problems with one license might rest easy in the terms of another. I've currently ...
JamesTheAwesomeDude's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
263 views

GNU General Public License version 2 on a game image resource

I am creating a commercial game, with most resources using CC-BY-xx licences for graphics, sound etc. I have found some graphics that i want to add to my game. However, these graphics are licensed as "...
vlzvl's user avatar
  • 133
2 votes
1 answer
135 views

Does sending a link to software constitute "conveying" according to GPL?

Assume the following scenario: Alice obtains a GPL-licensed code and make modifications to it. However, she does not release the modifications to public, but instead uploads the modified code to ...
Petr's user avatar
  • 289
2 votes
1 answer
659 views

Copyright of modifications and derivative works of Python License 2 licensed software

I am writing a Python package in which I plan to vendorize a modified copy of part of another package that was released under Python License 2 (it is not part of the PSL and not subject to any other ...
ipetrik's user avatar
  • 123