Artifex v. Hancom: Open Source is Now an Enforceable Contract

Today, as much as 50 percent of the code used in all software (including Internet of Things devices) is comprised of open source software. While open source provides a convenient short cut for software developers to be more agile and efficient – there’s also a hidden risk:  The law. While open source components are by definition free and available for anyone to use – there are limitations and most open source components have licensing obligations that developers must comply with.

Recently, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Artifex, the developer of Ghostscript, an open source PDF interpreter, and against Hancom Office, a South Korean developer of productivity apps.  The Northern District of California said that General Public Licenses (GPLs) can be treated like legal contracts, and developers can sue when those contracts are breached. It’s an important win for the open source community.

In order for Hancom to incorporate Ghostscript into its word processing software for free, it needed to open source its software, or pay Artifex a licensing fee. Because Hancom didn’t do either, Artifex sued them at the end of 2016. As a result, the enforceability of open source licenses is no longer an open legal question. On April 25th, the Federal Court said the GPL requires that Ghostscript users agree to its terms if the users do not obtain a commercial license.

With the increase of open source use and the recent court rulings holding organizations and their distributors accountable for open source licensing compliance, it is crucial that organizations are not only aware of the open source they’re using, but are proactively managing these components. Learn more about open source licensing risks and what you can do to prevent them.

Join Andrew Hall, Attorney at Hall Law, during the webinar, “An Introduction to Open Source Licensing – A Legal Perspective,” as he shares his experience and guidance for using open source, and best practices for managing security and legal risks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017  – 12:00 pm CT
Wednesday, May 31, 2017  – 10:00 am UK
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 – 2:00 pm AUS

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