Ever since Richard Stallman crafted the first GNU GPL, free software and law have been tightly linked. Indeed, it's striking just how much time hackers spend arguing about the finer points of legal as well as software code. Given that central importance, it's good to see the launch of new magazine that covers this area specifically:
Today sees the launch of a prestigious new legal Journal which aims to bring the highest standards to bear in analysis and comment on all aspects of Free and Open Source software.
The 'International Free and Open Source Software Law Review' (IFOSSLR) is a peer reviewed biannual journal for high-level analysis and debate about Free and Open Source Software legal issues and is published by an independent Editorial Committee.
Free and Open Source Software has increasingly come to challenge traditional concepts of intellectual property and collaboration by allowing every user to use, study, share and and improve code, facilitating the creation of elegant and effective software that now lies at the heart of the mainstream technology industry. IFOSSLR aims to foster increased understanding and promote best practice for all parties engaging with this approach to licensing.
In concord with the aims of the Free and Open Source Software movement, IFOSSLR will be available printed and on-line under a licence allowing it to be freely reproduced by individuals and organisations, commercial and non-commercial alike, provided that the content and authorship of the articles is respected.
As befits something tracking a global phenomenon, the editorial committee are a cosmopolitan bunch, and includes three Brits: Iain G Mitchell QC, Andrew Katz, currently at Moorcrofts, and Amanda Brock, General Counsel of Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu project. Other names that might be familiar are Mark Webbink, Lawrence Rosen and Carlo Piana.
Although maybe not beach reading, there are some really good articles in this launch issue. And for anyone who thinks all this dry legal stuff is largely irrelevant to the day-to-day business of open source, try this:
So the Jacobsen case presents a win for the FOSS community in that interim injunctive relief is, in principle, available to stop licensees from disregarding the terms of FOSS licences. However the sting in the tail – that the Artistic Licence is a contract and that the courts of the Ninth Circuit may be expected to treat the GPL and even relatively permissive open source licences the same way – could turn out to have a chilling effect on the FOSS movement in the longer term if, as discussed above, the result is that FOSS developers become exposed to claims brought by dissatisfied licensees.