Open Source Software and the Myth of Viral Licensing

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OSS

Proprietary software vendors sow fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about free and open source software licenses because those licenses are new and different. More notably, open source software licenses threaten their business modes-and they want their customers to believe that those licenses will somehow "infect" their organizations. The truth is that open source software licenses will almost always be more beneficial for consumers than proprietary licenses. Furthermore, open source licenses rarely (if ever) impose more terms on software users that are any more onerous than those imposed by proprietary licenses.

This article is about software licenses, which spell out the rules by which you must play to use the software. Agreeing to an End User License Agreement (EULA) by opening a shrink-wrap package, clicking "OK" for an installer or downloading software from a website means you agree to abide by the terms the software owner sets. If you have questions about the terms of those agreements, you can contact your attorney for definitive answers.

In part one, I will introduce the concept of copyright protection and how it relates to software sales.

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