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Developers starting a new project just want to code. They are programmers, not lawyers—they aren’t interested in getting stuck in the legal bog of intellectual property law.
When an open source project makes it big, though, intellectual property issues become very important. Just ask the leaders of Gaim, who had to rename their project “Pidgin” because of trademark concerns . . . or the leaders of Medsphere, who were sued for misappropriation of trade secrets.
There aren’t any legal vaccines that will help open source projects avoid all future legal trouble. There are, however, some easy and simple practices that will help any open source project avoid the massive legal headaches that can come from ignoring intellectual property issues.
This session will present a checklist of ten items that will help any new (or existing) project stay away from legal trouble:
Van Lindberg is a former software engineer (and still a closet techie) who has remade himself as a lawyer. What he does most, though, is translate – from “lawyer” to “engineer” and back. He likes working with both computer code and legal code to get things done.
Van’s current work touches both traditional intellectual property and the emerging field of open source law, where he spends time helping businesses with IP concerns and advising the Python Software Foundation on IP issues. Van is the author of an upcoming O’Reilly book on Intellectual Property for Developers.