Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Use of Open Source Software Within Law Firms

Recently, there was an article within Technolawyer which discussed the potential use of Linux within law firms (stability, support, availability of software to run on the operating system, etc.).

Open source as a term itself is often not entirely understood. While open source software indeed is generally available at no charge, there is indeed a license associated with open source software and provisions which must be complied with. One common provision is that one might need to include a comment such as "based on the program xxxxx". Another is a requirement to display a copyright notice in a prescribed manner if the open source package is used in a particular way. Another common provision is a warranty disclaimer if an open source package is used in a certain way (of course, the entire concept of a warranty for something you are not paying for is I suppose a topic one could discuss independently).

I am no expert on the topic, but it is worthy to mention that when one accepts any software license, including that for "free" open-source software, be sure it is thoroughly reviewed, understood and complied with.