Readers might wonder why a book about open source resources is necessary. This book arises in the context of the GNU/Linux project, and “builds a framework within which the family of free and open source licenses can be understood.” The author is general counsel for the Open Source Initiative, and this book contains a number of model documents that will be valuable to anyone engaged in open source projects.
It would be nice if the forms were available on a CD, but otherwise, the book is well written. It is written in language that is easy for a non-attorney to understand, with clear explanations. Clearly, an ounce of prevention is very worthwhile; the author states that “for major battles between big companies, attorney’s fees of more than $300,000 per month are now commonplace in the United States.” This book will help prevent problems, with chapters covering: freedom and open source; intellectual property; distribution of software; taxonomy of licenses; academic licenses; reciprocity; the Mozilla public license; the common public license; the open software license (OSL) and the academic free license (AFL); choosing an open source license; shared source, eventual source, and other licensing models; open source litigation; and open standards.
One interesting aspect of this book is the absence of case and statutory legal citations. This is good if the reader perceives that material as unnecessary clutter, and bad if the reader is searching for this type of legal authority. Nevertheless, at almost 300 pages, and with a detailed index, I recommend this book to professionals seeking guidance in this complex and developing area of intellectual property law.