The Pressetext news agency reports that the Confederation of information management, telecommunications and new media (BITKOM) published a guide on the utilization and application of open source software (⇒ Wikipedia) in business activities. According to the confederation this kind of software is often used in a thoughtless and legally doubtful manner. The guide is aimed at providing companies with advice on legal issues as well as informing them about possible judicial consequences in case of disregard of relevant rules.
“The right to use open source software does not imply the exemption from any duties” says Mr. Heinz Paul Bonn on the occasion of the guide’s publication. The guide explains how companies define clear rules on how to use open source software, how to check existing agreements and how to train staff in the correct application of this kind of software, adds Mr. Bonn. If companies integrate open source software in their own products for sale, this will normally mean that the source code as well as the license agreement for the new software also have to be disclosed.
Recently there has been an increasing number of disputes between open source software programmers and small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) which used open source code in their own products without observing the relevant open source software conditions. Such a non-observance may well lead to a legal argument in court. Given that there are different license models such as the General Public License (GPL ⇒Wikipedia), which is the one most known, the license agreement has to be checked individually for each case.