Top Ten Open Source Legal Developments: 2009

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As the use of free and open source software (“FOSS”) has become more ubiquitous, legal issues relating to FOSS have become more common and important. This year has seen a mix of new and old issues. Even more so than 2008, this year has seen an increase in the importance of the top ten legal issues. My list of the top ten FOSS legal developments for 2009 follow:

1. MySQL Delays Sun/Oracle Merger. The European Commission (“EC”) delayed the closing of the Sun/Oracle merger because of concerns about the future of the MySQL database software. MySQL software is the most widely used open source database. The use of FOSS in the European Union is much higher than in the United States and the EC is very concerned about a potential reduction in competition in the database market. The EC concerns seem to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of FOSS and the ability of the community to continue the development of the software even without ownership of the copyright in the particular software. This approach has been widely criticized http://www.economist.com/businessfinance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14861553. In mid December, Oracle offered ten commitments with respect to MySQL software. http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Oracle-Corporation-NASDAQ-ORCL-1090000.html. The EC will make its decision next year.

2. First Lawsuit by a Commercial FOSS Vendor.

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