The Legal Side of the POSS World

Richard Fontana (Red Hat, Inc.)
Business
Location: D137/138
Average rating: ****.
(4.57, 7 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

During the past year, some commentators have raised concerns that we are living in a “post-open source software” (POSS) world, in which a new generation of open source developers deliberately or carelessly place code in github repositories without any indication of licensing or any regard to project governance. Others have suggested that behavior may actually be a reaction against the “permission culture” implied by traditional approaches to open source.

This talk will explore the legal implications of the purported “POSS” phenomenon. In particular, the following questions will be addressed: or is this merely an illusory side-effect of the popularity of github?

  • Is there really more “unlicensed” code out there than in the past,
  • May we reasonably regard such code as actually implicitly licensed under very permissive terms?
  • Are developers really engaging in a critique of the old order of open source licensing and formal open source governance systems, and are critics of POSS merely threatened supporters of a dying legal and political order?
  • If there is anything wrong with POSS, how can we reform the legal side of open source to encourage improvement in the legal practices of today’s developers?
Photo of Richard Fontana

Richard Fontana

Red Hat, Inc.

Richard Fontana is Red Hat’s Open Source Licensing Counsel. At Red Hat he spends his time advising developers about open source licensing, copyright and patent issues, educating non-developers about open source culture, and promoting open standards and intellectual property legal reform.

Before joining Red Hat, Fontana was an attorney at the Software Freedom Law Center, where his principal client was the Free Software Foundation. He was co-author, with Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen, of the GNU GPL, version 3.

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