OSCON: Legal Basics for Free Software Developers

Where: Oregon Convention Center, PDT Room E146

When: Thursday, July 28th, 2:30pm-3:10pm

Who: Karen M. Sandler, Aaron Williamson

As a free/open source software project grows from idea to running code to stable release, its developers will inevitably be confronted with a number of legal issues. Some of these issues, like copyright licensing, are widely understood. Others, like the trademark implications of selecting a project name, are commonly overlooked. In this session, two lawyers for the Software Freedom Law Center will explain the basic legal concepts that confront a project over its lifecycle.

Topics will include:

  • Copyrights: choosing and applying a license, understanding contributor policies, and dealing with license interactions and compatibility issues.
  • Trademarks: selecting a project name, drafting an acceptable use policy, and minding the rights of others.
  • Patents: understanding patents and protecting your project from aggressive patent holders.
  • Incorporation: limiting developers’ liability, understanding fiscal sponsorship, and deciding whether to form a nonprofit.

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