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The Absolute Minimum an Open Source Developer Needs to Know About Intellectual Property

Van Lindberg, Haynes and Boone, LLP

Track: Business
Date: Thursday, July 26
Time: 4:30pm - 5:15pm
Location: F150

Open source software is more than code; it is code with a particular and sometimes complicated relationship to intellectual property law. However, it is difficult to talk about the intellectual property aspects of open source because
1) so many people have such strong feelings about IP laws, and
2) so few people have a correct and relatively complete understanding of what those laws do and do not say.
The purpose of this talk is not to argue for or against any particular laws, but to promote a common understanding and address specific situations that a developer may encounter.

With a broad understanding of the law, it is possible to talk about the specific issues that arise when doing software development with open source -- a problem/solution approach, as opposed to an argumentative approach. For example:

  • A brief glossary: patents, copyrights, and trademarks defined
  • What to do when you have an idea you want to develop, but you are working for somebody else
  • What it means to incorporate GPL'd modules into your own code
  • Ways to avoid, work around, or mitigate the effect of software patents
  • The new provisions of the GPL Version 3
  • Licensing, using, and distributing software under various licenses