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Open Source Software

What Can a Lawyer Do For Open Source? 162

Posted by timothy
from the is-there-a-juris-doctor-in-the-house? dept.
zolltron writes "I have a friend who went to law school. He really enjoyed intellectual property law, and he seems to genuinely regret that he didn't end up as an IP lawyer. But, what's done is done, and he's not going to radically change career trajectories now. But, I think he might be interested in volunteering a little of his time if there was an interesting project he could get behind. Computer folks are always trying to figure out how to get involved in open source even if it won't be their full time job. So, now I ask you Slashdot, how can my friend use his expertise to help an open source project?"
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What Can a Lawyer Do For Open Source?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 30, 2010 @04:53PM (#34714496)

    The project which advocates open source governance [metagovernment.org] has been trying over the years to coalesce into a formal organization, but desperately needs a lawyer to figure out how. A normal non-profit can just put together a board of directors and organize in their home country. But Metagovernment has two huge problems with this: first, they cannot/will-not be controlled by a small group of empowered individuals (completely goes against their core principles), and second they are explicitly not aligned with any nation or national interest. See their page on the issue: http://www.metagovernment.org/wiki/Startup/Organization [metagovernment.org]

    No, it is not open source software, but seeing as open source governance is derived from the principles of free and open source software, I thought it may be of interest. Especially since the need for a lawyer here is really profound.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @06:24PM (#34715526)

    As a programmer/developer, I'm used to libraries of code and snippets, and cross-integrating and documentation. But when it comes time for me to write contracts for projects with clients and such, I get to start from scratch, every time. GPL and the like exist for code use, but that's not business related.

    I've always wanted the equivalent of GPL for business. Where I can have a contract between my business and my client that also has a 3 to 5 character letterism common enough to be familiar to non-computer-oriented clients. It would really solve the whole negotiating a contract challenge of any large project.

    I imagine a set for each industry (software, grocery, marketing, etc), a subset for each type of project (software, service, product, etc), a subset for each bias (favouring the client, favouring the provider, mutually neutral, etc), a few peripheral features (royalties, bonuses, minimums, etc), et cetera.

    It's not open-source-computer-code, it's open-source-legal-contracts.

    The big advantage being that parties using such contracts don't need to read everything thoroughly for eight weeks with their lawyers, because those lawyers would quickly become familiar with these things, and these things would be backed by the international association for open legal contracts -- or perhaps one with a more legible letterism.

  • by ZekeV (1968214) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @09:41PM (#34717562)
    Sounds a lot like a project I'm currently developing with a group of lawyers -- a curated contract forms library based on open source principles. https://sites.google.com/site/opensourcelawproject/ [google.com] We could definitely use additional input from people with a hacker's perspective.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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