Open source companies have done a good job cutting marketing budgets.
How have they done in cutting back on lawyers?
Some might argue they have only transferred risk, from the makers of software to the buyers. Enterprises often complain of legal costs, whether in the form of audits, contract compliance, or lawsuits that go on forever.
The blog Groklaw continues to find new potential risks (and there's no risk a lawyer likes more than a potential one). Is the BSD license as permissive as we think? Might the freedom to use a program as you see fit be limited? How about sneaking publicity requirements into a license?
Most of these controversies hit enterprises, because enterprises are always anxious to be law-abiding (or at least appear that way). As a user of open source products I don't have a lawyer, and won't get one until I'm sued. But I do share a trait with those enterprises. I've got CDs covering everything on my iPod.
We all want to cut our risks, real or imagined, and some lawyers are pretty imaginative. So how can we, as programmers or marketers or users of open source products, reduce our legal bills still further?