Commons Law

 

  • Open Source Law

    I’m hoping in the next few months (possibly weeks) to practise what I preach: I’m working with a client, Emerge Open, to release a suite of legal documents under a creative commons licence, provisionally BY-SA (attribution-share...

  • Open source: The evildoer's choice

    If you're an evil dictator with designs on world domination, and want the best database software to build your SDPMS (Superhero Death Plot Management Software), and if you also have an irrational (for an evil dictator) desire to remain compliant...

  • Open source hardware: Announcing a new licence

    Open hardware is coming of age. I'm currently working on projects as diverse as open source cars, open source boats, open source wind turbines and open source electronics. A problem is that there are only two open licences designed for hardware:...

  • Helpful judgment from the Advocate General

    Is it possible to claim that an API is covered by copyright, so that it can't be reverse engineered and a competing product built using a compatible API? Likewise, can a programming language be protected by copyright, so it's not possible to make...

  • Avoiding patent liability by making things at home

    Section 60(5)(a) of the Patents Act 1977 provides that you can’t infringe any patents by doing an act in private and for non-commercial purposes. Patent holders have presumably been reasonably unconcerned about the odd lone tinkerer making...

  • Open hardware, or open source hardware?

    Bruce Perens (co-founder of the Open Source Initiative) has been opining about the difference between open source hardware and open hardware. People have compared the debate to the difference between open source software and free software, and...

  • Important GPL violation case to hit courts

    For GPL watchers, a crucial case is due to be heard in Germany tomorrow. AVM produces DSL routers using firmware based on the Linux kernel. Cybits AG, produces web filtering software aimed at protecting children. It seems that one of the...

  • Google, connections and a real - virtual mix

    It's been a busy couple of weeks. I've just come back from the US East Coast to catch up with open source related goings-on in Boston and New York. Boston (Wednesday) kicked off with a cup of tea with Kat McCabe from Optaros. I've worked with...

  • Music on Ubuntu

    It's a dirty secret that as a lawyer who specialises in (and loves) free and open source software, one of my favourite pieces of software is Reason (and its snappily-named stablemate "Record") from Propellerheads in Sweden. It's professional...

  • Registering "App Store" as a trade mark

    It's always nice to be able to report that Microsoft is doing the right thing, and in this case, everyone's favourite abuser-of-a-dominant-position seems to be. It's been reported that Microsoft is objecting to Apple's attempts to register "App...

  • What is copyright for?

    There’s a great piece by Cory Doctorow here. In a nutshell: decide what copyright is for, and then make sure it does what it’s supposed to. I’m a big fan of Bill Patry, copyright scholar, and one of the senior lawyers at...

  • Is a driving licence enforceable?

    I'm always getting asked "is the GPL enforceable"?. The question is meaningless.If I ask "Is a contract enforceable", it means "can one party to the contract sue someone else under it?". The GPL is not a contract . It's a bare licence: it grants...

  • Interfaces, specifications and DNA

    Modularity and open source go hand in hand. There are several reasons for this: coding relatively small sub-assemblies to strict interface parameters works well for small teams of programmers. Published interfaces are the sine-qua-non of...

  • Here comes the patentpocolypse

    The patentpocalypse is here. Or, to be more accurate, it’s (mostly) in the US. Take a look at this great little graphic from the WSJ Law blog: People often forget that patents by their nature are limited to individual jurisdictions. A...

  • Scratch and code for kids

    My son has given his verdict “Scratch is great, Dad, and you can do all sorts of stuff with it, not just games. Kodu’s just a way of making games. It’s not as fun.” Digging around a bit, it seems that MS is making the...

  • ACS:Law, porn and Scientology: No comment

    Fellow solicitor David Allen Green, aka Jack of Kent took up the cause of Councillor John Dixon, and has been covering story on his blog. Jack of Kent explains the background much better than I could. In brief, John Dixon sent a tweet saying...

  • MIT, Microsoft and kids programming

    My 10 year old son’s having great fun with MIT’s Scratch: a programming language for kids. Download it and play here. The Scratch motto is “imagine, program, share”, and the Scratch web page is dominated by projects...

  • What's in an analogy?

    The US constitution grants Congress the power: to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors ... the exclusive Right to their ... Writings Although he wasn't in the US at the time the...

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