Open Source Software (OSS) Practice

Open Source Software

Open Source Software (OSS) is computer software in source code form that is licensed to the general public for no charge under a set of standard criteria. The use of Open Source Software (OSS) has become ubiquitous and convenient these days. From freelance developers to large corporations, all make use of this vast resource pool on a regular basis. Open-source software (OSS) typically includes a license that grants programmers the freedom to modify the software according to their specific requirements and gives them control over how the software can be distributed to others.

They could sometimes be referred to as CopyLeft licenses owing to the standard criteria to use, copy, modify, and redistribute the OSS, subject to complying with the disclosure, use, distribution, and other relevant obligations and restrictions. The criteria were developed by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) industry group, a non-profit organization formed to promote and educate on the commercial use of OSS. Open source code is commonly stored in a publicly accessible repository, allowing anyone to access and utilize the code independently or contribute improvements to the design and functionality of the overall project. This collaborative nature of open source development fosters a community-driven approach where individuals can freely access, use, and contribute to the shared codebase.

Some of the popular OSS Licenses are:

  • GNU General Public License (GPL)
  • Apache License 2.0
  • MIT License
  • 3-Clause BSD License (BSD-3-Clause)
  • Mozilla Public License 2.0
  • Creative Commons “share alike” licenses

While OSS is usually available at no charge, it is highly inaccurate to think that it is free for usage without any legal implications and risks. Common legal risks associated with the use of Open Source Software could include liability for copyright infringement if license terms are not complied with. It is therefore essential for all business entities dealing with software and software-based products to identify the OSS being used in their products, identify the risks and obligations and accordingly manage such risks and obligations by having a well-structured compliance mechanism in place.

Some examples of OSS are:

  • GNU/Linux
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • VLC media player
  • SugarCRM
  • GIMP
  • VNC
  • Apache web server
  • LibreOffice
  • jQuery

We at Khurana and Khurana recognize the growing importance of managing the legalities of Open Source Software in a comprehensive manner. Our specialized team of open-source lawyers and software engineers with a keen understanding of technical and legal aspects would be able to cater to all requirements pertaining to Open Source Software.

Broadly, our OSS Practice includes:

Audit of OSS

  • Audit of Open Source Software at any stage of a product development cycle
  • Identifying Risks and Vulnerabilities
  • Assessment of Source code to identify OS Components and associated License Compliances

License Management and Compliance

  • License Management
  • Software/ Product Integrity Checks
  • Monthly/ Quarterly/ Yearly Compliance Support
  • Minimize Open Source Liability

Drafting and Vetting Software License Agreement

  • Drafting and Vetting Software License Agreement
  • End-User License Agreement (EULA)
  • Software Composition Analysis (SCA)
  • Support during The purchase/ sale of a product, including during M&A

Software Review and Analysis

  • Opinion and Advisory on Software Agreement(s)
  • Software Infringement Opinion
  • Software/ License Clearance

Dispute Resolution

  • Arbitration/ Mediation of disputes
  • Handling Commercial Litigation

Training and Policy

  • Enterprise Training and Awareness
  • Developing Enterprise Policy on the acquisition and usage of third-party software, including OSS

K&K’s OSS Practice regularly engages in open source license conflict checks for clearance and infringement analysis which is helpful to clients in situations such as managing vendor/ supplier contracts, providing warranties, litigation/ infringement risk and insurance, product development, and enhancement, mergers, and acquisitions.