Intellectual Property and Open Source by Van Lindberg

Summary: get knowledge regarding various Open Source Licenses

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.

Product page:

O’Reilly (e-book): Intellectual Property and Open Source
O’Reilly (print): Intellectual Property and Open Source
Amazon (in Books): Intellectual Property and Open Source: A Practical Guide to Protecting Code
Amazon (Kindle): Intellectual Property and Open Source: A Practical Guide to Protecting Code
Safari Books Online: Intellectual Property and Open Source