Welcome to the pilot of an 8-session course on Open Source Software, context, licensing and compliance. The course was developed by Andrew Katz and is aimed primarily at lawyers with a solid grounding in copyright law and commercial licensing and negotiation, but who wish to increase their knowledge about the development, deployment and use of open source software, and the relevant legal and licensing structures, as well as an overview of related fields, to provide overall context. 

Course Materials

We are using Open Source, Law Policy and Practice published by the Oxford University Press as our main reference. You can buy a physical copy from Oxford University Press:  or you can download an electronic copy (either in one go, or chapter by chapter) from Oxford Academic.

The course will take place throughout 2024, and each session will be around 90 minutes long, and conducted remotely. 

A brief outline of the sessions is as follows, but please note that this is subject to change at any time. 

Session 1: Introduction

 What is open source

            Where are we now?

            Some history

            BOOK CHAPTER: Foreword

                        1: Open source as Philosophy, methodology and commerce: using law with attitude

                        24: Open Everything (Sections Intro, 24.1 to 24.9 (Pages 512 to 523)

Other materials: Bruce Perens: The Emerging Economic Paradigm of Open Source: up to and including “Enabling Technology and Business Differentiation”

Session 2: Introduction to Open Source licensing

Copyright and licences. Contribution agreements


                        3. Copyright, contract and licensing in Open Source

                        4. Contributor agreements

Additional reading:
  1. Apache 2.0 licence: Apache License, Version 2.0
  2. Apache 2.0 Contributor License Agreements (CLA) – individual and corporate
  3. Developer Certificate of Origin: Developer Certificate of Origin

Session 3: Philosophy, contribution, economics and community

The business case for open source


                        2. Evolving Perspectives on Community and Governance

                        15: Economics of Open Source

                        16: Business models and commercial agreements

                      Other materials: the Cathedral and the Bazaar (the summary on Wikipedia is good here but although the essay has been expanded into a book, it is quite an easy and short read). Most of it is available on Eric S. Raymond’s website, but the full version is only available commercially, for example from Amazon.

Session 4: A deeper dive into licensing

Reading materials


  1. Apache 2.0
  2. GPLv2
  3. MPLv2. 
  4. LGPL v2 and v3
  5. MIT
  6. BSD
  7. JSON
  8. Eclipse Public license 2.0
  9. The Unlicense

Licences with exceptions:

  1. GPL v2 with classpath exception
  2. Oracle foss exception

Session 5: Compliance and tooling

Development of compliance over the years

An introduction to development processes and tooling

Compliance in context


                        6: Transforming the Supply Chain with Openchain ISO 5230

                        7: SPDX and Software Bill of Materials ISO/EIC 5962L 2021

Session 6: Implementing a compliance programme

Implementing a compliance programme


                        8: Corporate Concerns: Audit, valuations and deals from Oxford Academic

            Read: the OpenChain Open Source Policy Template 

Session 7: Compliance tooling demo, and patents, trade marks standards and open source

Compliance tooling session


                        9: Trademarks

                                    The Arduino Trade Mark Policy

                                    The Canonical Trade Mark Policy

                        10: Patents and the defensive response

                        11: Open Source Software in Standard Setting: The Role of Intellectual Property Rights Regimes’

            Read: On Implementation of Open Standards in Software: To What Extent Can ISO Standards be Implemented in Open Source Software? 

Video on Open source and standards here

Session 8: Other open source

Open technologies cover more than open source software. Even software contains material other than code, such as data and content (sound, text, video, images). These will also need to be licensed, and there is an open movement connected with each of these. 

This session introduces Open Hardware, with examination of the spectrum of “softwareness and hardwareness” and their impact on the development model. Open data, such as the mapping data on OpenStreetMap, and open content, addressed by the Creative Commons. 

Please read the two book chapters below, and also consider the following additonal material.

            BOOK CHAPTER:

                        23: Open Hardware

                        24: Open Everything

            Read:  Creative Commons, CERN OHL FAQ