Friday, December 5, 2008

OSDC liveblogging: Legal Issues in OS

Brendan Scott, OS lawyer based in Sydney. (
[n.b. this is particular to Australian law]

* Some analogy about driving to a location with a bit of suboptimal route planning. Many decisions along the way.

* When engaging a lawyer, this is like reading a map before setting out
* Not always necessary / justified, this depends on a bunch of things
- familiar territory?
- time and cost?

Hypothetical business growth path:
- start
- build it up
- sell it

Setting up an incorporated vehicle makes things (significantly) easier
The word "partnership" has a specific legal meaning, including:
- you are personally liable for your partners actions in the business
- best to avoid unless want to be in this specific relationship

How would you react to someone taking code from a project you are working on?
- If you have good record-keeping, can sort out rights relatively easily, even if you don't have a copyright record. Just need records of activity and can bootstrap copyright attribution

Contracts take effect at the time of signing

The conduct of a negotiation limit the things you can say in the future to try and vary the contract -- i.e. major points have been ventilated. Difficult to bring lawyer in at this stage to make nontrivial changes.

What else might a lawyer do for you?
- Dispute Resolution. Often a case of identifying what the problem is and identifying win-win or least-loss outcomes
- Sometimes knowledge of the law is extremely relevant