December 2007

As 2007 draws to a close, three emerging trends are gaining momentum. The first is that companies are releasing formerly proprietary code under an open source license. The second is that open source companies are being acquired or are issuing public offerings. The third trend is that very large number of citizens increasingly uses the Internet to oppose politicians and law makers who threaten, sometimes unwittingly, the fundamental principles of open source development.

These three trends tie into this month's editorial theme: Clean intellectual property or clean IP. In a nutshell, clean IP is about reducing license incompatibilities and non-compliance with licensing terms. Clean IP significantly affects the value of the code released as open source and the value of a company that develops and markets software.

One takeaway from this issue is that those companies with clean intellectual property (IP) stand to gain significant competitive advantages. In the first article, Doug Levin, the CEO of Black Duck Software, identifies the best practices for managing IP in development environments that use open source components, commercial off-the-shelf components, and proprietary components. Then, in the second article, Mahshad Koohgoli and Richard Mayer, Protecode's CEO and Vice President of Marketing respectively, examine the various methods of ensuring software IP cleanliness.

In the third article, Andy Kaplan-Myrth from the University of Ottawa discusses the importance of consultation process for the upcoming legislation on Canadian copyright. He is followed by two academics, G.R. Gangadharan (University of Trento) and Michael Weiss (Carleton University), introduce rights expression languages. These languages express rights, fees and conditions as machine actionable functions.

Eric Smith, a lawyer with the firm Fraser Milner Casgrain, explains the changes introduced in version 3 of the GPL. In the last article of this issue, Russell McOrmond, an Internet and F/LOSS consultant, provides a perspective on the copyright bill expected to be introduced in early 2008. Many Canadians have expressed concerns about this bill.

In addition to the six articles, this OSBR issue includes a call for proposals from the Talent First Network and a letter from David Fewer inviting our readers to join the Canadian Software Innovation Association, a coalition concerned about the negative consequences of importing US-style digital copyright legislation to Canada.

2008 will see some exciting changes for the OSBR. The first will be a move to a new open source publishing system. OSBR readers, authors and reviewers will benefit from the functionality of the new system.

Happy holidays.

As always, we look forward to reading and publishing reader feedback.

Dru Lavigne,


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