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Open Source Licensing Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law

In February 1989, Richard Stallman first released his GNU
project software for UNIX under version 1.0 of the GNU General
Public License (GPL). In June of that same year, Bill Joy
first released a free version of UNIX software under the University
of California's Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license.
These relatively quiet events signaled a new era in
software licensing. Almost imperceptibly at first, but with increasing
speed and energy, this licensing revolution, now widely
referred to as open source, spread around the world.
By the first year of this century, approximately 17,000 open
source projects were active on the SourceForge servers
(
www.sourceforge.org
). Four years later there are over 74,000
such projects and more than 775,000 registered SourceForge
users. The majority of that open source software is currently licensed
under the GPL or BSD licenses; the rest use one of
about fifty other licenses based on the same open source
principles.
Open source is now dominating many of the market conversations
in the software industry. While software companies continue
to release valuable and high-quality products under

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 No. 275
 Posted on 8 June, 2006
 
 
 
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