BOSTON, Mass. — The Linux Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Linux, announced on Aug. 10 at LinuxCon the launch of the Open Compliance Program, a comprehensive initiative to help companies and developers comply with open-source licenses.
You may not know it, but getting businesses and developers to obey open-source licenses has become a much bigger problem over the years. I’m not talking about the differences between GPLv2 and GPLv3. I’m talking about companies using open-source code and not realizing that they can’t just use it any way they want.
This has become a problem because almost every major company is now using Linux and open-source software. That’s both the good and bad news. With so many companies using and, more important, incorporating free and open-source software (FOSS) in their products, there’s lots of room for businesses to make big mistakes.
That’s especially true in the mobile and consumer electronics space. All you have to do is look at the legal record and you can see that. Company after company builds some neat device and uses FOSS but then doesn’t bother to follow the rules on how the software should be used. Then, when they’re caught at it, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) or a private law firm comes down like a ton of bricks on the open-source license violators, and they have to pay for their sins.