Subsisting in a World of Property: How Law Makes and Breaks Free Software

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - 17:30
TH 331
Lawrence Rosen

Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's sources. Some consider it as a philosophy, and others consider it as a pragmatic methodology. Before open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; the term open source gained popularity with the rise of the Internet and its enabling of diverse production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. The open source model can allow for the concurrent use of different agendas and approaches in production, in contrast with more centralized models of development such as those typically used in commercial software companies. This presentation will discuss the fundamental principles of copyright and patent law and explain how those legal principles are sometimes ill-suited for promoting the commons of free and open source software.


Lawrence Rosen is both an attorney and a computer specialist. He is founding partner of Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm with offices in Los Altos Hills and Ukiah, California, that specializes in intellectual property protection, licensing and business transactions for technology companies. In addition to this law practice, Larry also served for many years as general counsel and secretary of the non-profit Open Source Initiative (OSI). He currently advises many open source companies and non-profit open source projects including Apache Software Foundation and the Python Software Foundation. He is currently a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School.