Free 'law for Linux developers' class opens its virtual doors

The Linux Foundation is offering a free class to help open-source developers stay on the right side of intellectual property law.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - No one becomes a programmer to become an intellectual property (IP) expert. But, in today's lawsuit-happy world, with patent trolls ready to attack and licensing becoming increasingly complicated, developers needs to know some IP law.

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So, at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation's executive director announced the availability of Open Source Compliance Basics for Developers (LFC291), This free course is designed to provide software developers with the basic knowledge about legal and licensing issues they need for building and using open-source software.

The new course complements the Linux Foundation's Open Compliance Program. This program includes tools, training and business and technology consulting to help both developers and companies jump through the IP law hoops.

"The easier it is to understand, comply with and manage open-source software and licensing, the more code that gets shared for everyone and the more innovation that takes place," said Zemlin in his keynote. "By lowering the cost and complexity of compliance we hope we can increase the ability for everyone to share."

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As IP matters go, complying with open-source licenses isn't that difficult, but it does require training. LFC291 teaches developers about the central role of copyright in open-source licensing, as well as important details on copyright law and patents as they apply to open source.

The course is offered under a CC BY-SA 4.0 (Creative Commons) license, allowing anyone to share the course material free of charge with the option to contribute feedback and suggest improvements to it, similar to any open source software project. It consists of five modules, each containing lessons and exercises intended to efficiently and effectively relay the required information. A final exam is required in order to pass the course.

You can register now for Open Source Compliance Basics for Developers. You won't be an IP attorney after you complete the course. But you will know enough to avoid the major pitfalls and when it's time to call in a real IP lawyer.

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