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Friday, January 21, 2005

Government more open to open source

First: The Center for Digital Government is hosting a free live Internet Seminar on Open Source on January 25, 2005.

Second: register here for "Open Source Open Government" white paper.

Now, on to the story. Public CIO story "Government Moves Into the Open" highlights the National Government CIO Summit on Open Source. The summit was presented by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine and sponsored by Novell.

Excerpt regarding the "Legal Thorns" of Open Source:

[Linda] Hamel [general counsel for the Information Technology Division in Massachusetts] pointed out the common misconception that the general public license or GPL is the open source license. Not so. "The GPL is the most common license for all open source software, but it is not the most common license for the most commonly used open source software," she explained.

While the differences between GPL and other types of open source licenses are complex, she urged the audience to spend time familiarizing themselves with the issues and risks that can occur should a government enter the field as an open source software developer. As just one example, she pointed out that states, unlike commercial software firms, cannot give 3rd party intellectual property infringement indemnification. Bottom line: make sure your jurisdiction's general counsel is well grounded in the nuances of open source licensing and it's impact on proprietary software licenses.

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