Thursday, 14 July 2011

Debian on Patents

Debian has a nice write up on all things patents. It's a good overview of the patent system especially as applied to software in general and FOSS (like Debian) in particular. Definitely worth reading.

Here's a blurb from the page[1]:

Community Distribution Patent Policy FAQ


For whom is this document intended?

This document presents information about patents and patent liability useful for developers working on community distributions of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). By community distributions, we mean collections of free software packages maintained and distributed by organizations composed of volunteers, where neither the organization nor the volunteers seek to make a profit from the activity. Such community-based distributions may sell as well as give away their work product, possibly on CDs or USB storage media or by paid-for downloads as well as by gratis distribution.

This document has been prepared by lawyers at the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) at the request of the Debian project, and may be helpful to similar community FOSS distributions. Its statements about legal matters are accurate as of the date of composition regarding US law, and may be applicable to other legal systems. But this document does not constitute legal advice. It has not been based on analysis of any particular factual situation, and any lawyer providing an opinion on the questions presented below would need to ascertain the particular facts and circumstances that might vary this information in a particular setting. You should not rely upon this document to make decisions affecting your project’s legal rights or responsibilities in a real-life situation without consulting SFLC or other lawyers.


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