Open-Source Software Licenses Present Quagmire

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According to the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to managing and promoting open-source software, there are four "classic" open-source licenses. These are the GNU (Gnu's Not Unix) Public License, the Limited GNU Public License, the Berkeley System Distribution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology license. Since the open-source release of the Netscape Web browser in 1998, the Mozilla Public License has also become widely used.

Many other open-source licenses have been created. Currently, there are 58 open-source licenses approved by OSI, and new open-source licenses can be approved by the OSI by submitting the text of the proposed license along with comments by an attorney making reference to OSI's 10-part definition of open source.

This article will address the legal and practical risks that users of open-source software might face.

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