More Cash to Protect Open Sourcers from Lawsuits

By | February 1, 2005

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) has raised more than $4 million to establish a non-profit legal center to provide free services to open source developers and projects.

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) will offer asset stewardship, licensing, license defense litigation support as well as legal support and lawyer training.

Based in New York, the Center will be run by Board Chairman and Director-Consel Eben Moglen. Moglen is a Professor at Columbia Law School and has been the General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation for many years. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on copyright law, open source software and the challenges of distributing – while still protecting – the intellectual property inherent in any large software project.

The Center will be co-managed by Daniel B. Ravicher, founder of the Public Patent Foundation.

The Center will open initially with two full-time intellectual property attorneys on staff, with two more expected to join later this year. Its initial clients will include the FSF, and the Samba Project.

Moglen says the Center will be “software license neutral,” adding that it intends to be directly involved in a revision of the GPL currently being undertaken by the FSF. It will be dedicated to helping “non-profit” open source developers and projects who would not otherwise have access to needed legal services. Further eligibility details will be available online.

The Center will be funded initially by a newly established $4M IP (intellectual property) fund created with money raised by the OSDL. However, the Center will be “an independent organization not affiliated with OSDL,” according to Moglen.

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