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"Clear, correct, and deep, this is a welcome addition to discussions of law and computing for anyone -- even lawyers!" -- Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society

If you work in information technology, intellectual property is central to your job -- but dealing with the complexities of the legal system can be mind-boggling. This book is for anyone who wants to understand how the legal system deals with intellectual property rights for code and other content. You'll get a clear look at intellectual property issues from a developer's point of view, including practical advice about situations you're likely to encounter.

Written by an intellectual property attorney who is also a programmer, Intellectual Property and Open Source helps you understand patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and licenses, with special focus on the issues surrounding open source development and the GPL. This book answers questions such as:

  • How do open source and intellectual property work together?

  • What are the most important intellectual property-related issues when starting a business or open source project?

  • How should you handle copyright, licensing and other issues when accepting a patch from another developer?

  • How can you pursue your own ideas while working for someone else?

  • What parts of a patent should be reviewed to see if it applies to your work?

  • When is your idea a trade secret?

  • How can you reverse engineer a product without getting into trouble?

  • What should you think about when choosing an open source license for your project?

Most legal sources are too scattered, too arcane, and too hard to read. Intellectual Property and Open Source is a friendly, easy-to-follow overview of the law that programmers, system administrators, graphic designers, and many others will find essential.

Subscriber Reviews

Average Rating: 3.5 out of 5 rating Based on 2 Ratings

"get knowledge regarding various Open Source Licens" - by Michal Konrad Owsiak on 06-AUG-2011
Reviewer Rating: 1 star rating2 star rating3 star rating4 star rating5 star rating
Recently I was faced a problem to determine which code can be used within the software when different licenses are mixed. Which was not a pleasant task. Studying legal related topics usually doesn’t count into ‘ten most interesting’ things software engineers like to do.
However, sometimes you have to face the problem. Van Lindberg deconstructs the legal related issue in very structured way. First of all he defines all the legal related terms and provides examples for each case. After the background is settled he goes into details – how to deal with particular, license related issues when you start to develop something. What I have found most interesting was explanation of GPL license – which is widely used and very often miss understood. Another issue that is raised within the book, and worth thinking about, is your employment – does it inflict your thinking outside company? Are you aware of that it can?

What I can see at a first glance are the differences between USA law and European one. This makes it difficult to suggest this book as source of legal knowledge for anyone who lives outside USA. On the other hand, Van describes most common licenses that are available on the global ‘market’ – which can help you some way. What I have missed, however was detailed description of BSD license. I think that BSD can be treated as competitor for GPL – some way, and it would be nice to see its detailed explanation – unless it is so simple that it doesn’t require it. Would I recommend this book? It depends. If you live in USA I think it is good source of knowledge served in very clear way. If you live outside USA – I think you will only benefit from few chapters like GPL, Reverse Engineering, Choosing a license ones. If you need explanation of basing legal terms – I think you can go for it – regardless of your living place.

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