August 18, 2011
Software patents increasingly threaten both large technology firms and independent developers. Naturally, this has caused uncertainty in the free software community. To help free and open source software developers better understand patents, the real risks they pose, and the limits to their reach, the Software Freedom Law Center is publishing on its website the Community Distribution Patent Policy FAQ.
SFLC prepared the FAQ earlier this year in collaboration with the Debian project to address common questions from community developers concerning the effects of the patent system on their work for community distributions. The FAQ has been available on Debian’s site for some time; however, since its contents may be useful to other FLOSS projects, SFLC has added it to its resources for developers.
SFLC hopes that this FAQ will serve as an educational aid to the members of the community as they seek to better understand patents.
The FAQ is not a substitute for legal advice; developers with specific concerns should consult an attorney. (Volunteer FLOSS developers and nonprofit projects can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.)