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Nicholas Wells Archive

Email and Litigation
Hardly ephemeral, email is often the “smoking gun” a plaintiff needs to extract a settlement. But email, like other electronic documentation, need not be retained forever, if you follow a document retention policy. Creating such a policy typically helps an organization streamline and improve its internal communications, archiving procedures, and other business processes.
IBM Pledges 500 Patents to Open Source
After promising last year not to harass Linux users with patent lawsuits, IBM has officially pledged 500 specific patents to the entire Open Source community. What does it really mean for Open Source developers and the future legal status of Linux?
Canceling Software Copyrights?
Attorney and consultant Greg Aharonian has sued the U.S. Attorney General in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, claiming that software should not be copyrighted. Does he have a case?
Data Privacy Laws
Data privacy laws in different countries can cause a lot of headaches.
Digital Rights Management
Software Patents Redux
It's a coincidence that last month's "On the Docket" discussed the dangers of software patents just as a troubling headline appeared: according to an exhaustive study by the Public Patent Foundation (http://www.pubpat.org), the Linux kernel infringes 283 patents.
The Scourge of Software Patents
Software patents -- more than copyright laws, commercial software companies, and uninformed legislators -- are the biggest threat to the future of free software. While software patents have only been issued regularly in the United States since about 1982 (after Diamond v. Diehr), and guidelines for granting software patents weren't established by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) until 1996, software patents are now granted by the USPTO at the rate of nearly 30,000 per year, or over 15 percent of all patents issued.
SCO v. IBM: Hurry Up and Wait
In case you don't have your map of Linux-related litigation handy, the docket for the SCO Group looks something like this:
Role of Risk Management
Recently, a company named Open Source Risk Management (OSRM, located at http://www.osriskmanagement.com) conducted an extensive review of the Linux 2.4 and 2.6 kernels and concluded that the kernels contain no copyrighted code. With their review complete, the company is now offering indemnification for legal costs associated with open source software, at a rate of $30,000 for $1 million of coverage.
Copyright and the GPL: Friends or Foes?
If recent events are any indication, open source advocates may be the best informed people in the country about software copyright law (outside of the legal profession). But as a foundation for future discussions, let's take some time this month to review the basics of United States copyright law, discuss the GNU General Public License (GPL), explore how various legal attacks on the GPL might play out, and see how those attacks might be thwarted.
Indemnification and SCO’s Demands
In May 2003, in the midst of its lawsuit with IBM, SCO sent letters to 1,500 Linux users, warning them that Linux contained unlicensed intellectual property. Each of those users received a follow-up letter last December, and SCO recently filed lawsuits against DaimlerChrysler and Auto Zone.