Center Offers Open Source License Defense, Legal Services

By eweek  |  Posted 2005-02-01
The OSDL (Open Source Development Labs) has raised $4 million to seed a non-profit, independent legal center that will provide free services to eligible open source developers and projects. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) will offer asset stewardship, licensing, license defense and litigation support, legal support, and lawyer training.

The Center will be based in New York, and will be run by Board Chairman and Director-Counsel Eben Moglen, a Professor at Columbia Law School who has long served General Counselor for the Free Software Foundation (FSF, aka Moglen is regarded as one of the worlds leading experts on copyright law as applied to software.

The Center will be co-managed by Legal Director Daniel B. Ravicher, founder of the Public Patent Foundation.

The Center will open initially with two full-time intellectual property attorneys on staff, with two more expected to join later this year. Its initial clients will include the FSF, and the Samba Project.

Moglen says the Center will be "software license neutral," adding that it intends to be directly involved in a revision of the GPL currently being undertaken by the FSF. It will be dedicated to helping "non-profit" open source developers and projects who would not otherwise have access to needed legal services. Further eligibility details will be available online.

The Center will be funded initially by a newly established $4M IP (intellectual property) fund created with money raised by the OSDL. However, the Center will be "an independent organization not affiliated with OSDL," according to Moglen.

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