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Bloomberg Technology Law: Ragusa Outlines Struggles to Apply Existing Law to Software Innovations

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NEW YORK, December 3, 2009 -- In the December 1, 2009, issue of Bloomberg’s Technology Law Report, Baker Botts lawyer Paul Ragusa discusses how software developers, their end users, and legal practitioners continue to struggle to apply existing law to software-related innovations. Although software has long been protectable by patent and/or copyright, Ragusa writes in the article, “there are those who continue to be critical of such intellectual property protection and look for ways to restrict or curtail its use. These critics may be loosely referred to as the “Open Source Software” (“OSS”) movement.

“OSS is software whose author dedicates it to the public, for free use and adaptation or enhancement. But it is not that simple. OSS originators are free to set forth certain contractual limitations on this free use and adaptation by including or invoking a license that is made effective by the end user’s choice to use or modify the code,” he states.

According to Ragusa, at the center of the OSS movement is the Free Software Foundation (“FSF”), which was founded by Richard Stallman, a computer programmer. “The FSF is a sponsor of the GNU General Public License (“GPL”), a popular OSS license that governs use of the Linux operating system,” Ragusa writes. “The American Law Institute (“ALI”) recently weighed in on OSS by approving the final draft of its Principles of the Law of Software Contracts (“Principles”).

“Limitations in OSS-related agreements have led to disputes, litigation, and proposed changes in the law. This article discusses some of these concerns, including new concerns raised by the Principles, and suggests some best practices for those evaluating possible risks and rewards from the use or improvement of OSS software content.”

The complete article is available here.



About Baker Botts L.L.P.
Baker Botts L.L.P., dating from 1840, is a leading international law firm with offices in Abu Dhabi, Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Moscow, New York, Palo Alto (California), Riyadh and Washington. With approximately 800 lawyers, Baker Botts provides a full range of legal services to international, national and regional clients. For more information, please visit www.bakerbotts.com.

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