Open Source Software

Enforcing the License

(IA) If a company distributes open source in binary format as part of its software, how can anyone detect whether it includes open source code?

(AK) Who has standing to enforce an open source license and intellectual property developed under it?

(IA) How do you enforce any open source licenses across international boundaries?

(IA) Most open source licenses require that all the source code of a software needs to be made public if open source code is distributed as part of it. On violation, what would be the remedy? Specific performance? Who all will have standing to bring the suit? Any member of community as a 3rd party beneficiary?

(IA) If a company distributes open source software in violation of its license, what damages can the owner of the license claim? Realistically, will it be worth it for the owners to pursue the case in a system where each side is responsible for its own costs?


(AK) Who is responsible if an open source program created with input and contributions from many people (i.e. Linux) violates a third party's intellectual property rights?

(PYS) Imagine open source software ends up damaging your computer. Who should be liable for that damage? The person who released the first version of the software the person who made the actual change to the software that resulted in the damage? Nobody?

(IA) Does acceptance of code by the owner written by someone else also means that the owner is vicariously liable for any damages? Also, while the license may disclaim damages flowing from the agreement, can the owner disclaim torts claims as well?

(CP) If a decentralized approach is effective in identifying/combating open source crime, what implication does that have on professional liability? For example, if a police officer did not follow protocol or broke the law, he/she would be subject to reprimand and censure. What about for people that resort to "private entrapment"?

(DF) Does the involvement of amateurs in various sort of research affect the application of tort law to injuries resulting from errors in such research?

Virtual Firms et. al.

(CP) Because a virtual firm does not technically have a permanent physical location and attorneys can be spread out, does this have any implication on where people can practice? Can this be solved by association with other attorneys in the area? What implications does this have on incorporation?

(DF) If a firm  puts out a call to the world to solve problems—for instance, to find ways of synthesizing particular compounds—it may get answers from disloyal employees of other firms peddling their employers' trade secrets. How can it protect against that risk, and what are its legal liabilities if it fails to do so?


(AK) How are rights determined for a product or software that integrates both open source and proprietary components?  What should be done when it is difficult or impossible to determine which portion of a product is open source and which is proprietary?

(AK) Could open source software be created with a truly decentralized structure and no leadership?  Could a relatively complex project like Linux be created without someone to accept the proposed solutions to problems?  Would a Wiki type environment work in creation of open source software?

AK: Alex KorzhIA: 

CP: Coleman Peng

DF: David Friedman

IA: Ikhlas Ahmed

Legal Research from a previous year 1.

Legal Research  from a previous year 2

Legal Research from a  previous year 3.

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