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What legal questions should I answer before migrating to open source software?

What are the legal questions that my company should answer before migrating to open source software?

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Here's my top 10 list of open source licensing and legal questions:

10. Is your company currently an open source enterprise? If not, is it planning a complete or partial migration to open source?

9. Have you inventoried all of your existing proprietary and open source licenses?

8. Which proprietary applications will the enterprise continue to use and what limitations are imposed by the licenses for those applications?

7. Which open source licensing structure is best for your needs?

6. How will open source code modifications be handled within your enterprise?

5. What rules have been adopted to manage those changes? And what provisions have been considered or made for assuring that only approved modifications are inserted in the code?

4. Will your enterprise be distributing code changes outside of the organization? If so, what provisions have been made for open source licensing compliance?

3. What are the terms and conditions of your support agreements for the proprietary applications that the enterprise will continue to use? How are those agreements impacted and implicated by the migration to open source?

2. Will the migration to open source impact interfaces with existing customers or vendors? If so, are there agreements that should be modified to accommodate these changes?

1. Why have you waited this long to consider open source?

This was first published in May 2003

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