Add-on Modules under the GPL: “Derivative Works” despite separated distribution

If your add-on modules are dynamically loaded into GPL-licensed software at runtime, you’ll have to license the add-on modules under the GPL’s terms when distributing them along with the GPL-licensed software; it is a clear-cut case of a “derivative work” under the License. The case is less clear, however, if the add-on module is distributed separately from the GPL-licensed software, as may, for example, happen where the recipient has already installed the GPL-licensed software from a different source. Continue reading

Open Source Software, License Compliance and the OpenChain Working Group

So you set up an open source license compliance program in your company. You educate your employees and you make sure you know how they handle open source software. But what about the software, which is supplied to you? Do you know how your supplier handles open source software? Can you trust that they know what they are doing when it comes to open source license compliance? Continue reading

Today Parliament Hearing on Interoperability, Standards and Open Source

As we reported in July, the German parliament has recently set up a project group on “Interoperability, Standards, Open Source” as part of its Commission of Enquiry (“Enquete-Kommission”) on “Internet and Digital Society”.

Today, the first expert talks are taking place – and our colleague Till Jaeger has the honor of being invited to comment on legal problems of Free and Open Source Software. More information on the hearing can be found here (unfortunately only in German). Till’s preparatory written statement is available here (again only in German). And if you are interested to follow the discussion live, you can find a live stream here.

Copyright Protection for Websites Using Typo3

Every now and then the question arises in court if websites are protected under copyright law. Website technology is progressing and so time and again new aspects have to be considered by the courts. Recently, the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg ruled on a case of alleged plagiarism of a website that was based on the Open Source Content Management System “Typo 3” (OLG Hamburg, decision of February 29, 2012, ref. 5 U 10/10). Continue reading

My day at FrOSCon: Interesting stuff from DTAG and my talk on “GPLv2 and embedded systems”

A couple of months ago, the organizers of the FrOSCon, one of Germany’s big Open Source developer conferences, asked me if I could present a talk at this year’s edition of the conference. I gladly accepted, and so I spent last Saturday in (West) Germany’s former capital Bonn. I had a tremendous day, even though I could attend just a few of the almost a hundred talks, workshops and seminars. Continue reading

German Parliament Considering the Future of Open Source Software

In 2010, the German Parliament set up a commission of enquiry (“Enquete-Kommission”) on “Internet and Digital Society” that looks at future strategies in this field of policy (http://www.bundestag.de/internetenquete/Hintergrund_Enquete/). The idea behind such commissions, which have existed and exist in a number of other fields as well, is to collect and evaluate information about the impact of technical, economic and social developments in the relevant fields to provide the Parliament with recommendations for its further political decisions.

The Internet and Digital Society commission just recently turned to a topic of the highest importance for the use and development of digital technologies when it decided to form – among several others – a project group called “Interoperability, Standards, Open Source”. Continue reading

License Termination: Thoughts on Scorpio v. Willis and a Pirates Proposal

Recently, the news broke that Village People songwriter Victor Willis (for those who don’t know who he is just one word: YMCA!) had won an important case (see here and here) on the issue of US copyright termination rights (sec. 203 of the Copyright Act). I’ve wanted to write about this topic ever since, but well, there was so much going on in the IP/IT world lately, and, whoops, four weeks have passed like nothing. Anyway, I just came across a proposal of the German Pirates involving the introduction of a license termination mechanism similar to the US approach and thought I’d just shoot out a few observations and thoughts. Continue reading

ifrOSS Suggests Legislation on OSS Licenses and Bankruptcy

A few days ago, our colleagues at the ifrOSS (Institute for Legal Questions on Free and Open Source Software) published a proposal for an amendment to the German Insolvency Act that would better protect the open source licensing model in case the licensor goes bankrupt. Continue reading

Düsseldorf Court on the Use of Trade Marks for Open Source Software

For a while now, lawyers have been struggling with the relationship between (trade mark) protection of software names and Open Source licensing. Last month, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf) handed down an important decision that may shed some light on the intriguing issues linked to trademarking Open Source software. We publish this decision (the German original and an English translation) and explain what it is about. Continue reading