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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8
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1answer
731 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 ...
8
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1answer
166 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 ...
1
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1answer
73 views

Open Source licenses in the Dominican Republic

I live in the Dominican Republic where there Open Source isn't contemplated in the Constitution. I want to make Open Source hardware. How should I go about this? Should I get a patent and license it ...
3
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2answers
334 views

Why Google’s court victory might kill the GPL?

On the article: Op-ed: Oracle attorney says Google’s court victory might kill the GPL They say: It is hard to see how GPL can survive such a result. In fact, it is hard to see how ownership of a ...
4
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1answer
4k views

Is using MIT-licensed code in non-open source code considered stealing?

What if we use MIT-licensed code in our propietary software? Is it considered stealing? I saw some software that was packaged with MIT licensed code in the installation directory. Some people think ...
0
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1answer
30 views

Can the US Government require registration to obtain government-developed code?

I've heard that it is against US Government policy to require registration in order to download US Government-developed Open Source code. But I couldn't find definitive answer via 15 minutes of ...
25
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10answers
5k views

Are open source developers at risk of being scammed?

Suppose your client asks you to build open source software for them. You begin doing the work and publishing updates on GitHub, but when you finish they tell you they don't like it and won't pay for ...
3
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1answer
107 views

Open source project from an idea at my job

I've recently used https://github.com/ARCANEDEV/SEO-Helper to build a SEO Bundle for Symfony 2.8 at my company. It was a bit painful as the Symfony standards weren't followed by ARCANEDEV (it's a ...
8
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1answer
721 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 ...
1
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2answers
677 views

Can you commercialize a GNU General Public License product?

So from what I understand a product under GNU General Public License needs to stay under GNU General Public License (with references to the previous copyright owner). So if you sell it then the full ...
2
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1answer
167 views

symfony-standard is an app skeleton, can I change/remove LICENSE?

I am wondering about copyright matters on projects built using an MIT-licensed project skeleton. The symfony-standard contains a MIT license but obviously, at the end of a proprietary project, this ...
3
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1answer
800 views

Using ffmpeg in comercial application?

Is it OK, patent-wise, to use FFMPEG (for transcoding and video trimming) in a commercial application, be it free of charge or pay per install, on Android and iOS considering that both Google and ...
2
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1answer
47 views

What must I consider when accepting outside contributions to an Open Source project that has a salaried core team?

If I start an open source project today and volunteers start to contribute, what do I need to consider tomorrow when the project makes money? If we establish a core team that receives a salary, are we ...
3
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3answers
567 views

GPL - is it distribution to use libraries in an appliance loaned to customers?

Let's say there is a hardware appliance which a company would like to rent out to customers for use e.g. during trade fairs. The appliance is fed image data, analyses it and displays the results on-...
5
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2answers
96 views

Can I open source a piece of software that I am already licensing to someone?

I have written a piece of software, which I am licensing to a company, moreover the license is exclusive in some specific fields of use. I am currently thinking about publishing the said piece of ...
3
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2answers
193 views

Can I open source a closed source project by transcoding/transcompiling its source-code, so it's completely different?

How far I can go in order to open source the project which is based on closed/commercial project where the whole source code (assuming the access is there) has been converted into different state or ...
19
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2answers
489 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?...
6
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2answers
176 views

Ethical Open Source Protection

I saw this post concerning the ethical use of software and it brought another question to mind. If I were to release software with an open source license, and someone were to use it in a manner that ...
2
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1answer
715 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 ...
19
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2answers
2k 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 ...
5
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1answer
102 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 ...
4
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1answer
65 views

Example of open source project that has had legal problems with contributors claiming any kind of right over their contribution?

I'm doing some research about Contributor Licensing Agreements (CLAs) and I was wondering if they are not an overkill. I will probably end up using them in the project I work with because I prefer to ...
5
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3answers
153 views

Would this scenario be considered “propagation without conveying” according to the GPLv3 terminology?

I have a fancy software "foo" that may be considered the derivative work of a GPLv3 library. "foo" is GPLv3 itself. Example 1: I install the foo binary on my company's laptop, go to a customer's ...
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2answers
102 views

What truly defines open source? Can someone call something open source and charge?

I have recently been looking for open source dating software to build upon and I keep seeing things like this: www.skadate.com/open-source.php www.a-dater.com www.abk-soft.com ph7cms.com Which ...
38
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3answers
3k 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 ...
23
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2answers
2k views

What happens if very common code is released under GPL?

I know GPL can be used as an open-source license for source code etc. But what if the source code released has very few lines and has a lot of probability that it might also have been written already ...
8
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1answer
178 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 ...
7
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4answers
558 views

Distribution of open source software between different legal entities

At the company I work for we are developing an app for use within the company. The company consists of numerous branches across the world, all other legal entities. For testing we would like to send a ...
12
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1answer
602 views

What exactly is the issue in Microsoft-Novell agreement?

I'm trying to understand what constitutes the issue in Microsoft-Novell agreement, and why is it so important that GPLv3 has a special clause to address such agreements in the future. So far I ...
7
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1answer
591 views

Commercial software using open source library: legal notice

Is there any legal constraint saying that a commercial software must quote the open source libraries and public domain libraries regardless of the open source license type? For example, let's say I ...
4
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1answer
101 views

How do Open Source projects audit code? [closed]

How do Open Source projects audit code to ensure it comes from ethical sources. For example, if a hacker hacks into IBM, steals some code and contributes it to the kernel, how does the kernel team ...
8
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2answers
202 views

Does an employee have the right to use a CTA?

Most people who work in software development have signed an Intellectual Property Rights Assignment notice whenever they start a new job. The purpose of these assignments is to ensure the employer ...
9
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2answers
359 views

Can Heartbleed have legal implications?

The Heartbleed-bug of the software OpenSSL was a security-nightmare for IT around the world. We already know the bug was caused by a patch from a german programmer named Robin Seggelmann. While he ...
18
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2answers
1k 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 ...
3
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0answers
79 views

Open source firmware (e.g. OpenWRT) supporting manufacturers? [closed]

According to recent news the US FCC has targeted the network devices enforcing manufacturers to lock down firmwares to prevent installation custom firmwares like OpenWRT. You can read the whole ...
4
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2answers
119 views

Could I run my own websites about projects I do not own?

I've found a few open-source software projects and I'd like to run my own websites regarding them, but not claiming to own them; just make a place where information and such can be found. I believe I ...
10
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2answers
176 views

Am I free to distribute a software for a file format that was reverse engineered?

The scenario is the following: a proprietary software can save files in its own file format. I want to build a free/open-source software capable of decoding those files for further processing. Given ...
18
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1answer
886 views

Why are you obliged to comply with the license of an anonymous project?

Is there any point in complying with the licence which comes with a project published anonymously (like the initial Bitcoin source code)? If so, in case of breaking the rules of your license, who has ...
2
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3answers
266 views

Can you open source a virus/exploit?

Is it fine to open source a virus, exploit or any other potential dangerous software (if used in the wrong way)? If so, are there any limitations/circumstances when you can't? Does it depends on the ...
0
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1answer
76 views

What are the limits of Libre when publishing open access controversial books? [closed]

We're living in freedom of speech community. However when writing controversial books, are there any topics which are not allowed to write about in First World countries (even for educational purposes)...
8
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2answers
185 views

Can I serve open cola in proprietary glasses?

I've just acquired the Hypothetical Cafe (come and visit, we serve great hypothetical food and drinks), and some fancy posh glasses*. They're so posh that an international designer did a special ...
2
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1answer
1k views

When is making a subtitle file for a commercial movie legal? [closed]

For example, on OpenSubtitles, a website which offers 3.5mln subtitles we can read Disclaimer: These files are NOT illegal warez downloads, we only offer files that we believe we are free to ...
11
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3answers
2k views

Can you open source firmware for closed hardware?

Can you publish open source firmware for closed/commercial hardware (such as routers, motherboards or basically any device) without asking the manufacturer? A few examples which seem to indicate that ...
12
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3answers
1k views

Am I in danger if a project component is relicensed?

I am currently managing a project, which includes a library that is licensed under the MIT license. My current project is licensed under the Apache 2.0 license. The maintainers of the library that I ...
8
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3answers
2k 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?
7
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1answer
552 views

Examples of companies undercutting smaller companies using FOSS?

When speaking to my friends about FOSS, a common concern comes up that if they release their code under a free and open source license, this might encourage companies to 'steal' their hard work ...
9
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1answer
254 views

GPL interpretation - What is our legal exposure if we include another project's code?

I am a contributor to a very old project presently licensed under the GPL. Our project is a plugin for a closed-source program, but the GPL does not permit this kind of linking. The GPL FAQ states: ...
7
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1answer
458 views

GPL Violation - What is our legal exposure to third parties (not our contributors)?

I am a contributor to a very old project presently in violation of the GPL. Our project is a plugin for a closed-source program, but the GPL does not permit this kind of linking. The project should ...
14
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3answers
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 ...
5
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1answer
469 views

Have open source licenses been shut down in court?

There was a lawsuit between Mattell regarding CPHack. As I remember, Mattell bought a company who made a product under the GPL, rescinded the license and sued all those who redistributed original or ...