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Open Source vs. the corporate laywers

Christopher Judd
author
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 24, 2004
Posts: 27
Is anybody else finding the lawyers preventing the use of open source again? I seemed like we got over some hurtles preventing us from using open source a couple of years ago. Several of my clients even categorically added open source to the company´┐Żs strategic direction. However, with the SCO and Kodak lawsuits that seems to have changed.

Which open source license and/or products are you being prevented from using?

Are the lawyers taking into consideration whether the open source effects run time or not?

What particular criteria are you using to make the lawyers happy?


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Lasse Koskela
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 11962
    
    5
Originally posted by Christopher Judd:
Is anybody else finding the lawyers preventing the use of open source again? I seemed like we got over some hurtles preventing us from using open source a couple of years ago.
The local big shops in Finland do indeed have certain blanket policies against open source. Basically, if you have big enough revenue to afford your own legal department, they'll eventually write a bunch of policies to prevent all sorts of legally risky stuff from happening. That's their job, in the end, so there's no need to blame them for doing so. It's the top management who should be held responsible for maintaining a healthy balance between playing safe and playing economically.

Originally posted by Christopher Judd:
Which open source license and/or products are you being prevented from using?
Recently, I heard that a client had a policy saying that anything from Apache can be trusted to be "safe" but anything else should be decided case by case and, I assume, with the project somehow taking the responsibility for legal consequences in case of dispute.

Originally posted by Christopher Judd:
Are the lawyers taking into consideration whether the open source effects run time or not?
Personally, I haven't met any resistance on development-time use of open source. If someone does the SCO on the open source project you're using, just stop using it and you're ok. If it's your production system that's dependent on the open source project, you may be looking at huge costs through shutting down those systems immediately and figuring out how to get them up and running again without the disputed open source project.

Originally posted by Christopher Judd:
What particular criteria are you using to make the lawyers happy?
Dead presidents. If the business says they won't pay multi-million dollar licenses for Oracle servers, the legal department has little power to make them pay those licenses...


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Mike Farnham
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 25, 2001
Posts: 76
I am in a university setting. At this time, our IT department is embracing many open source technologies.

Three years ago, I was working within a corporate environment. There was a group within the IT Department that was "experimenting/researching" open source projects or using them to host websites/etc. The existing culture wasn't exactly "friendly" to such "advances". They were tolerated as a group specific application.

One example was the use of a Wiki-Wiki for tracking project information. This was quite a departure from the tried-and-true documents in a heirarchical directory structure.

I believe the Wiki-Wiki has now been accepted, as a good tool for tracking project issues/information.

This organization had grown out of State organization. So, it didn't exactly "move real fast".

I wouldn't doubt if the lawyers, at the company didn't scrutinize things very carefully. Especially, since, the CEO is a lawyer.

Cheers,
Mike
Scott Duncan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 01, 2002
Posts: 363
Dead presidents


So true. My organization at first was very favorable of open source, then it became an issue and use of open source needed to be approved by the higher ups. Not surprisingly, any open source tool or API we've proposed has been approved. Why pay for WebSphere when Tomcat will do the job?


No more rhymes! I mean it!<br /> <br />Does anybody want a peanut?
Christopher Judd
author
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 24, 2004
Posts: 27

Wiki-Wiki for tracking project information


A client of mine won't let us use Wiki because of the lack of security and traceablity. So now we are trying to convince them to evaluate commercial Wiki's like Confluence
Christopher Judd
author
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 24, 2004
Posts: 27
The issue that started my rant was lawyers telling us we might not be able to use JUnit because they are concerned its license agreement does not provide any indemnity. Even though it does not effect the runtime and we could easily remove it without any effects to the application. By the way, its license is the CPL which is the same license agreement as Eclipse so it is questionable to. However, we can use both Eclipse and JUnit if we purchase WSAD because IBM will provide indemnity.
 
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