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The Legal Side of Open Source

The Legal Side of Open Source

Copyright and Licensing for Open Source Projects.

Jogendra Kumar

August 02, 2019

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  1. About Me • Final year student at Indian Institute of

    Technology Varanasi • Open Source Contributor and Maintainer at FOSSASIA • iOS / Web Developer • Google Summer of Code (2018) student developer for FOSSASIA • GitHub Campus Expert! • Mentored several Open Source Programs including Google Code-In and mentoring Google Summer of Code 2019 students jogendra jogendrafx https://jogendra.github.io jogendrasingh24
  2. What is Open Source? ➔ Source code is available for

    anyone to view, use, change, and then share ➔ Allows others to build on and learn from it ➔ Enabling broad collaboration from people around the world
  3. Copyright ➔ Copyright reserves the right to copy, modify, and

    distribute a creative work exclusively to the copyright holder. ➔ It exists to protect the rights of authors, artists, and other creators, allowing them to control if and how their work is used by others. ➔ In most countries, it automatically applies the moment the work is created.
  4. Just because you can see or access a copyrighted work,

    it doesn't necessarily mean you can use or copy it.
  5. When you make a creative work (such as writing, graphics,

    or code), that work is under exclusive copyright by default. That is, the law assumes that as the author of your work, you have a say in what others can do with it. In general, that means nobody else can use, copy, distribute, or modify your work without being at risk of take-downs, shake-downs, or litigation.
  6. What if I don’t apply an Open Source License? Everybody

    who contributes to your project also becomes an exclusive copyright holder of their work. That means nobody can use, copy, distribute, or modify their contributions – and that “nobody” includes you.
  7. When you create a new project on GitHub, you have

    the option to make the repository private or public.
  8. If you want others to use, distribute, modify, or contribute

    back to your project, you need to include an open source license.
  9. What are different types of licenses available? Some of most

    popular are - ➔ MIT ➔ GPLv3 ➔ Apache 2.0 ➔ Mozilla Public License 2.0 ➔ BSD 3-Clause "New" or "Revised" license ➔ BSD 2-Clause "Simplified" or "FreeBSD" license ➔ Common Development and Distribution License ➔ Eclipse Public License version 2.0 ➔ GNU Library or "Lesser" General Public License (LGPL)
  10. Licenses for things that aren't code? Such as documentation or

    artwork, Creative Commons (CC) provides a useful suite of licenses.
  11. Just give me the TL;DR on what I need to

    protect my project. Open source licenses are standardized and easy to use. You can copy-paste an existing license directly into your project.
  12. I need to work in a community! Use the license

    preferred by the community you’re contributing to or depending on. Your project will fit right in. ➔ Apache requires Apache License 2.0 ➔ Cloud Native Computing Foundation dictates Apache License 2.0 by default ➔ GNU recommends GNU GPLv3 for most programs ➔ NPM packages overwhelmingly use the MIT or the very similar ISC licenses ➔ OpenBSD prefers the ISC License ➔ Rust crates are overwhelmingly licensed under both MIT and Apache License 2.0 ➔ WordPress plugins and themes must be GNU GPLv2 (or later)
  13. I want it simple and permissive! Choose MIT License! The

    MIT License is short and to the point. It lets people do almost anything they want with your project, including to make and distribute closed source versions. Babel, .NET Core, and Rails use the MIT License.
  14. I care about sharing improvements! The GNU GPLv3 also lets

    people do almost anything they want with your project, except to distribute closed source versions. Ansible, Bash, and GIMP use the GNU GPLv3.
  15. How to apply a license to your project? Create a

    text file in the root of your source code, typically named COPYING (a GNU convention), LICENSE or LICENSE.txt. Then copy the text of the license into that file.
  16. The Unlicense A license with no conditions whatsoever which dedicates

    works to the public domain. Unlicensed works, modifications, and larger works may be distributed under different terms and without source code.
  17. Non-Software Licenses Data, media, etc. CC0-1.0, CC-BY-4.0, and CC-BY-SA-4.0 are

    open licenses used for non-software material ranging from datasets to videos. Note that CC-BY-4.0 and CC-BY-SA-4.0 should not be used for software. Documentation Any open source software license or open license for media (see above) is applicable to software documentation.
  18. Fonts The SIL Open Font License 1.1 keeps fonts open

    but allows them to be freely used in other works. Mixed Projects If your project contains a mix of software and other material, you can include multiple licenses, as long as you are explicit about which license applies to what parts of the project.
  19. If you are user You have options: ➔ Ask the

    maintainers nicely to add a license. ➔ Don’t use the software. ➔ Negotiate a private license.
  20. What if I want to change the license of my

    project? Fundamental things to consider: ➔ It’s complicated. ➔ Your project’s existing license. ➔ Your project’s existing copyright holders.
  21. Can I restrict how people use an Open Source licensed

    program? NO! Can I stop "evil people" from using my program? NO!
  22. What is "copyleft"? "Copyleft" refers to licenses that allow derivative

    works but require them to use the same license as the original work.
  23. Most copyleft licenses are Open Source, but not all Open

    Source licenses are copyleft. When an Open Source license is not copyleft, that means software released under that license can be used as part of programs distributed under other licenses, including proprietary (non-open-source) licenses.
  24. When we call a program Open Source? Only if it

    uses one of the approved licenses, and releases appropriate software.
  25. Can I call my program "Open Source" even if I

    don't use an approved license? NO. Please don’t do that.
  26. Can I change a few words of a license and

    call it Open Source License?
  27. What if I don’t distribute my program source code but

    it’s binary. Should I call it Open Source? No. Open Source licenses are always applied to the source code. The binaries alone cannot be Open Source, because you're not making any source code available to be open.
  28. Contributor Agreements! How they are different from Open Source Licenses?

    Contributor agreements are not open source licenses — rather, they are a way for the contributor to tell the project that it has the right to distribute the new contributions under the project's existing open source license.
  29. Someone is violating a copyleft license, What can I do?

    One of the organizations below may be able to help: ➔ The Software Freedom Law Center. ➔ The GPL Violations Project. ➔ If the violation includes software that is one of Software Freedom Conservancy's Member Projects, you can contact the Conservancy at <[email protected]> and they will help you help that project enforce the GPL.