Atlanta Attorney writes the Open Source Law Blog - what's up in NEO?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 01/06/2005 - 21:27.

From Newsforge is a review of a site that may be useful for folks interested in the legal issues related to Open Source development - this site is from an attorney in Atlanta and it makes me wonder if many lawyers here in NEO are up to speed on these issues, and using leading edge information technology like blogging? If you know of such tech-savvy lawyers in NEO, post related information here - otherwise, I guess we can always go to Atlanta for our legal services...

Open Source - Site review: Open Source Law Blog - Thursday January 06, 2005 (06:00 PM GMT) - By: Tina Gasperson

Attorney Paul Arne writes the
Open Source Law Blog,
designed to make visitors aware of developments in the law and business of open
source software. Arne is a rare bird: an attorney who can actually string
together a few sentences that don't induce sound sleep in the reader. In fact,
Arne has taken some issues regarding the GPL, copyright, and software patents,
and made these sometimes complex topics engaging, fun, and easier to
understand, all while bringing out important nuances.

For example, the current discussion topic is
"Copyright Misuse and the GPL." Arne produces a concise but
compelling word picture to describe the concept of patent misuse, which leads
into U.S. copyright misuse doctrine. What GPL fans might not like is that Arne
hints at the conclusion that the GPL is misusing its copyright
"rights" in order to force licensees to adhere to certain conditions,
an action that seems to point to copyright misuse under prior rulings in the
United States.

Another interesting topic is "What does
'any third party' mean in the GPL?" The GPL states that if you distribute
modified GPLed software, you must license that software as a whole and at no
charge to all third parties. The debate centers on the precise target of that
phrase: does "any third party" mean the entire world, or does it mean
only those parties who are direct or indirect licensees of the GPLed software?
Many businesses interpret the GPL in their favor by maintaining that the second
definition is the intended meaning.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking commentary
currently posted is "More Microsoft and Patents," posted on November
22. In it, Arne gives readers a glimpse into the mind of corporate lawyers as
he lays out a "here's what I would do if I were a Microsoft attorney"
with regard to MS's ongoing campaign to discredit Linux and other open source
software. Arne says Microsoft might try to influence a third-party technology
company to sue an end user for patent infringement, keeping its own hands clean
but providing usable grist for the Redmond FUD mill.

Linux and open source zealots and purists
will take offense at Arne's approach to the topic. He looks at both sides of
the issues and isn't afraid to point out perceived problems and inconsistencies
in the GPL and the open source philosophy. It's a refreshing attitude, compared
to that of free software fans with blinders on who refuse to honestly debate
the merits of their ideologies who see anything that is balanced as biased. It
is interesting to note that no full-blown flame wars have erupted, just sparks
here and there as Arne skillfully touches nerves.

Arne is a partner in the law firm of Morris, Manning & Martin
in Atlanta. He was the managing editor of the Computer
Law Association Bulletin
and has written many articles on the subject of
technology law. Arne also runs the Atlanta Open Source Forum, a live version of
the blog, where participants discuss the latest developments in business and
legal issues surrounding the use of open source software.