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Legal concerns in open source code

Why am I seeing more and more lawyers at the LinuxWorld and open source conferences? What are some of the differences, legally, in the way a company must approach proprietary deployments versus OSS ones?

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There has definitely been an uptick in lawyer participation at the major open source conferences. Because there are several licenses in common use, each with different requirements, lawyers are trying to catch up on the differences.

One of the biggest concerns is in the area of compliance. Companies are working to establish policies in the use of open source to prevent the accidental (mostly through a lack of developer education) inclusion of open source code in proprietary code, thereby exposing the company to the risk of litigation. Another area of concern is related to how companies can release proprietary code into the open source world as a business decision.

This was first published in November 2005

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