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Software Government The Courts News

Tasks of a Free Software Legal Department 24

H4x0r Jim Duggan writes "For anyone curious about what the legal department in a free software organisation does, I spent some time with my co-worker in FSFE and have put a summary online with the status of the main projects: developing a legal network, producing documentation, GPL enforcement, copyright consolidation, and training courses."
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Tasks of a Free Software Legal Department

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  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Friday October 31, 2008 @02:27PM (#25587903) Journal

    lawyers always use a spell checker

  • GPL enforcement: This is the quietest part of FTF's work. We don't go to court, and we don't go to Slashdot.

    Don't worry. Slashdot will still find you :-)

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by LingNoi ( 1066278 )

      However I am sure they only do GPL enforcement if you sign over your rights to the FSF.

      Don't assume they do this for poor Joe up against the big man, they want something in return, which happens to be your rights on the work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gnud ( 934243 )
        Well, you don't lose anything by handing it over, unless you were planning to dual-license.
  • meh. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 31, 2008 @02:29PM (#25587929)

    IAAL and most of the time i'm doing contracts with vendors, NDAs, drafting letters, articles of incorp amendments , etc etc. thats what most legal departments do irrespective of whether it is a free software or closed source. the work is the same and its all corporate legal work.
    we dont do training courses or setting up networks. wtf does that have to do with legal work ?
     

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drfireman ( 101623 )

      we dont do training courses or setting up networks. wtf does that have to do with legal work ?

      As an organization devoted to promoting free software, they quite reasonably wanted to offer training courses on legal matters. Who would you have teaching courses on legal matters if not lawyers?

      • by eln ( 21727 )

        Who would you have teaching courses on legal matters if not lawyers?

        Armchair lawyers, obviously. They're cheaper and in abundant supply, especially on sites like this one.

    • by btarval ( 874919 )

      "we dont do training courses or setting up networks. wtf does that have to do with legal work ?"

      One trend I've seen recently is the move to Linux by big companies for their products. And if you're reading Slashdot, you've heard of these companies. The main reason for this move is primarily due to driver and chipset support. Previously they might have used BSD due to "protecting" their Imaginary Property, but no longer. Now they use Linux to stay competitive and decrease the time to market.

      The GPL is a compl

    • The point of the article is that FSFE's legal department, with its goal of fostering free software, doesn't spend its time doing what the average business legal department does.

      To reduce GPL violations, it's much more efficient to educate lawyers and create a forum in which they can exchange best practices, than to wait until they happen and then threaten a court case.

      That's training and network building, which FSFE does while you're drafting NDAs.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday October 31, 2008 @02:35PM (#25588023) Homepage Journal

    I thought all they did was verify that those Linux ISOs we see on PirateBay has the source code tree included.
  • Cash for lawyers? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by mbstone ( 457308 )

    OK, tell me how I As A Lawyer can make money off of GPL violators.

  • by ruin20 ( 1242396 ) on Friday October 31, 2008 @02:44PM (#25588155)
    like the FLA-Fiduciary License Agreement

    I didn't know that you could do that... A developer can legally supply another entity enforcement rights of their license agreement, as well as the right to modify it. I could see this being useful for a small developers supplying FLA's to the EFF for example.

  • H4x0r Jim Duggan is an awesome username.

  • Eclipse Lawyers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aniefer ( 910494 )
    At the Eclipse Foundation [eclipse.org], I believe the lawyer types spend most of their time doing due-diligence on contributions coming into the project.

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