Open Source Law

The US Legal System

  • Criminal vs. Civil law

  • Trials and settlements

  • The appeals process

IP: A collection of bits

  • Copyright
  • Patent
  • Trademark
  • Trade Secret

Copyright

  • Covers an expression of a creative work

  • Everything since about 1930

  • Currently obtained by...creating

  • Gives right to

    • Reproduce
    • Prepare derivative works
    • Distribute copies
    • Perform, Display

Enforced by civil suit (mostly)

(Utility) Patents

  • Covers a novel, useful idea

  • Last 20 years

  • Application process through USPTO

  • Right to “practice” idea

  • Enforced by civil suit

Trademarks

  • Covers a distinguishing mark

  • Last as long as in trade use

  • Application through USPTO

  • Right to use mark (c.f. Lanham Act)

  • Enforced by civil suit

Trade Secrets

  • Covers a “secret" (probably even if otherwise not protectable)

  • Created by not disclosing

  • Last as long as the secret stays secret

  • Right to prevent employees etc from disclosing the secret

  • Enforced by civil suit (mostly)

Protecting your IP

  • Send "cease and desist" (C&D) letter
  • Sue! But then you lose

"Open" IP

  • Movement for collective creation

  • Typically focused around copyright, source code

  • Idea: License away individual rights

  • Two flavors:

    • Vanilla ala Creative Commons, Open Source
    • "Viral" ala GPL
  • Licenses at http://opensource.org

Adding Your Marks

  • My README.md:

    ## License
    
    This program is released under the "random license".
    Please see the file `LICENSE` in this distribution for
    license terms.
    
  • Every file in my program:

    /* This program is released under the "random license".
       Please see the file LICENSE in this distribution for
       license terms. */
    
  • My LICENSE file

    Copyright © 2013 Bart Massey
    
    This program is released under the "random license".
    
    Random License text yadda yadda
    
Last modified: Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 12:13 AM