Recently Laurie Wurster of Gartner wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review which confirms that the free and open source software (“FOSS”) has reached a “tipping point” in adoption by companies which confirms a trend she noted in her 2008 report (Accenture and IDG have reached similar conclusions). http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/open_source_software_hits_a_st.html
Yet she notes that this increase in adoption has not been matched by implementing processes to manage such use. She raised the same issue in her 2008 report. http://lawandlifesiliconvalley.com/blog/?p=107. In the Harvard Business Review in March 2011, she states:
Even as our survey painted a rosy picture of the future of enterprise use of open source software, it also surfaced a concern. Most organizations, it revealed, have not established a policy framework to guide decision-making on the use of open source software. A proper framework would outline types of licenses acceptable to the organization, guidelines pertaining to intellectual property, regulations governing contributions to external projects, and an approved vendor/project list. Just a third of respondents claimed their organizations have anything like this kind of policy structure; the rest rely on ad hoc or informal processes
In fact, this problem is sufficiently important that we are having a specific breakout session on FOSS management at the Open Source Think Tank this week. http://lawandlifesiliconvalley.com/blog/?p=600.
On February 10, 2010, the Linux Foundation and the Open Source Initiative co sponsored their first Legal Strategic Planning Session. I am glad to declare it a success. We had a very diverse group both professionally and geographically, with participants from Europe, Japan and the US.
We started the day with a discussion by Damien Eastwood (formerly of Sun Microsystems, Inc.) about his experience, both legal and practical, in moving Java and Solaris to open source models. We then had a series of presentations on license due diligence from FSF Europe and Hewlett Packard. We also discussed the increasing problem of license compliance through a constantly changing tool chain and the potential to have a consistent industry wide approach to this “Bill of Materials” problem. Heather Meeker provided an overview of the trademark issues arising in open source licensing.
Simon Crosby from Xen provided an overview of cloud technology which is the latest challenge for the FOSS community. Our luncheon speaker was Marten Mickos, who provided a business perspective on the open source model. Rob Tiller provided an overview of opensource.com. We also had a panel discussion of how best to respond to patent claims in a way which will not create problems during the litigation. Karen Copenhaver and I provided an overview of the status of the ALI Principles of the Law of Software Contracts. We finished up with a wine tasting from Pine Ridge arranged by Andrew Aitken of Olliance Group.
Karen Copenhaver deserves special thanks for conceiving of the opportunity and then organizing the first one (always, the toughest!). Given the number of legal issues for the FOSS community, I am sure that we will need to continue this tradition. if you want to learn more about the discussion, Karen Copenhaver and I will be summarizing it in our Black Duck webinar on Tuesday, February 23 http://www.blackducksoftware.com/files/legal-webinar-series.html.