All Publications


Automotive Software Governance and Copyleft

Our purpose in writing this paper is to show how new capabilities in the free and open source software stack enable highly regulated and sensitive industrial concerns to take advantage of the full spectrum of modern copyleft software, including code under the GNU General Public License, version 3 (“GPLv3”), and to manage their obligations under those licenses in ways that are commercially sound.

Few products encapsulate both the challenges and the possibilities in this area like the automobile. This whitepaper explains how a specific, existing form of FOSS software distribution, Ubuntu Core and “snap” technology, can achieve the goals of software governance, security and liability in modern cars.

  • PDF

Free Software Distributions and Ancillary Rights

Distributions of free software involve sharing of computer program, which is mostly governed by copyright law. Other legal rights, involving trademark, patent, trade dress protection, protection against unfair competition, and other legal doctrines are potentially involved as well. When hundreds or thousands of programs and associated files containing documentation or configuration data combined into “packages” are then aggregated into “distributions” such as Debian, Fedora, RHEL or Ubuntu, the significance of these related rights increases, and the complexity of their interaction does as well.

Our practice at SFLC involves advising clients on the interaction of these rights and the difficulties that arise from their overlapping nature especially as they travel between non-commercial and commercial parties.

We publish this document explaining the interaction of these peripheral rights for the benefit of the larger community in furtherance of our mission of spreading awareness about Free and Open Source Software.


SFLC's Guide to GPL Compliance
2nd Edition

How to read, understand, and comply with the provisions of the GNU GPL family of free software licenses, including a discussion of the relation of governance to compliance, and practical advice about responding to inquiries or compliance complaints from copyright holders.

Community Distribution Patent Policy FAQ

This document presents information about patents and patent liability useful for developers working on community distributions of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

  • HTML

SFLC's Legal Issues Primer

The Software Freedom Law Center publishes a primer for free, libre, and open source software developers seeking to understand the legal implications of community development and distribution of software.

Oracle/Sun EC Opinion

Eben Moglen’s opinion to the European Commission on the competitive effects of the Oracle’s acquisition of Sun.

  • PDF

OpenDocument Opinion Letter

The OASIS ODF standard is free of legal encumbrances that would prevent its use in free and open source software.


Amicus Briefs

Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc.

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court in Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc. arguing (1) that the Federal Circuit erred in reversing the District Court’s determination that a reasonable jury could find Google’s use of Java in Android was a fair use; (2) that the Supreme Court should ensure the Federal Circuit’s decision that APIs are copyrightable does not establish precedent; and (3) that the Federal Circuit is bound to follow the precedent of the regional courts of appeals on questions of copyright law.

  • PDF

Samsung Electronics v. Apple Inc.

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court in Samsung Electronics v. Apple Inc. arguing that design patents are unconstitutional and that the total profits damages rule is therefore constitutionally infirm.

  • PDF

Google, Inc. v. Oracle America

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court in Google, Inc. v. Oracle America. SFLC and FSF take the position that the decision below is wrong, but that certiorari should not be granted for three reasons: (1) the decision of the Federal Circuit merely mispredicts what the Ninth Circuit would do if it had been the Court resolving Oracle’s appeal from the District Court’s finding that the application program interface declarations at issue are non-copyrightable; (2) the decision rests on narrow factual grounds; and (3) there is no public interest in continuing to adjudicate this dispute because Google can now and could have used all material at issue under the terms of the GNU GPL v2.

Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank arguing that the “machine or transformation” inquiry employed by the Court in Bilski v. Kappos is the correct, and exclusive, bright line test for patent eligibility of computer-implemented inventions.

Global-Tech v. SEB

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court arguing against the Federal Circuit’s expansion of secondary liability for patent infringement.

  • PDF PostScript

Bilski v. Kappos

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court arguing against extending patent coverage to abstract ideas embedded in software.

  • HTML PDF PostScript

Jacobsen v. Katzer

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Federal Circuit arguing that FOSS developers should be able to enjoin infringing distributions of their software.

  • HTML PDF PostScript

Microsoft v. AT&T

SFLC’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court arguing that software can not be a component of a patented invention because software is not patentable subject matter.

  • PDF