Managing Open Source Risk and Keeping It Legal

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 30, 2010

From potential issues with licenses to evaluating the future development of a particular project, there are risks to consider before adopting open source software. As open source grows, so do the legal wrangles surrounding projects, licenses, and more. In the spirit of free, open source sotware, though, there are also many resources for keeping open source projects legally protected, and under appropriate licenses. Here is an updated collection of essential risk protection tools and services to know about.

OStatic has done a number of posts on legal issues and licenses pertaining to open source. These in particular, are worth reading:

First, Know They Licenses

The Unlicense: A License For No License

FSFE and on Reporting (and Avoiding) Licensing Issues

Thwarting Threats: Free OSS Legal Primer Boasts Big Authors

SOS Open Source is a service designed for evaluating the risk of open source projects, especially any possible legal risks. According to Savio Rodgrigues, it uses 24 metrics and information collected from forges and online communities to assign risk levels. SOS Open Source also estimates the likelihood that any given project will go through an effective evolution in the future.

As we covered recently, the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review is a relatively new journal dedicated to FOSS legal issues. It's edited by a lawyer for Mozilla, and already houses lots of interesting content

As always, the Software Freedom Law Center's free guide on FOSS legal issues and licenses is an excellent place to start if you are wrestling with open source licensing issues. It clearly and simply explains the GPL and many other types of licenses. 

Image courtesy of Flickr user Walknboston.