A few months back, I helped to review and edit a book for Van Lindberg and O'Reilly Media called Intellectual Property and Open Source: A Practical Guide to Protecting Code. Over the past 10 years, I've read every open-source legal book written. Lindberg's book is by far the best.
If you've wanted a book that helps to explain complex open-source legal questions in a readable, approachable style, this is it. If you've wanted to know how to write an open-source contract, or whether patents were going to be the undoing of your project, here's your book.
Lindberg is an exceptional writer. Take this opening to his chapter on the GPL:
Almost all of the difficult questions that open source lawyers worry about revolve around the GPL.
The GPL has a lot of things going for it: it is the single most common open source software license; it has brought together a large and vibrant community of developers; it is a brilliant hack.
At the same time, there is no single license that is more mistrusted or reviled than the GPL. Many open source developers refuse to accept or release code under the GPL because it imposes restrictions at the same time as it grants freedoms. I know from personal experience that the GPL gives most lawyers fits.… Read more