Understanding Legal Best Practices for Android

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Android is a complicated program with nineteen licenses and over 150 components. In addition, many developers swap components and such changes may have significant legal consequences. For example, the change of the Android Toolbox for BusyBox will impose significantly different obligations on the developer because the Android Toolbox is under permissive licenses such as BSD and Apache, but BusyBox is under GPLv2, a copyleft license. GPLv2 imposes significantly different obligations.

The adoption of best legal practices require that a developer or development organization understands which licenses, components, copyrights, and files are in their code and what obligations result from that mix of third-party software. For example, the Android-based Samsung Vibrant (SGH-t959) phone has a legal acknowledgment section for all open source in the phone which is over 8,000 lines long, specifically acknowledging hundreds of copyright holders.

Developers must understand the the basics of copyright and licenses to effectively develop apps. The panel will describe the basic legal issues and how to most effectively manage these legal obligations both for Android and apps. The panelists are leading attorneys in open source. Karen Copenhaver is a partner at Choate Hall and counsel to the Linux Foundation. Mark Radcliffe is a partner tt DLA Piper and pro bono general counsel to the Open Source Initiative.

Mark Radcliffe

DLA Piper

Mr. Radcliffe has been practicing law in Silicon Valley for over 25 years and is now a senior partner at DLA Piper. DLA Piper is a new global law firm formed in 2005 from the merger of three law firms. The firm now has 4200 lawyers in more than 30 countries and more than 70 cities.

His practice is a mix of corporate securities and intellectual property. He works with many startups as well as large global companies. He has had the opportunity to work with companies in many industries, ranging from semiconductor to digital media to open source. He is the General Counsel, pro bono, of the Open Source Initiative and ran the “Users” committee reviewing the GPLv3 draft. For the last three years, Intellectual Asset Management magazine named him one of the IAM 250: World’s Leading IP Strategists. His blog is found at: www.lawandlifesiliconvalley.com/blog.

Karen Copenhaver

Choate Hall & Stewart

Karen Copenhaver is listed in The International Who’s Who of Internet & e-Commerce Lawyers, Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America and as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer. She was also named in The Legal 500 for technology transactions. Ms. Copenhaver is only the 5th lawyer ever to receive Mass High Tech’s prestigious “Mass High Tech All-Stars Award,” which honors the thought leaders and innovators throughout the New England technology sector. She has been chosen by Intellectual Asset Management magazine as one of the world’s top IP strategists in their feature “IAM 250 — A Guide to the World’s Leading IP Strategists.”

Ms. Copenhaver is also director of intellectual property strategy for the Linux Foundation.

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Chris Hubbard
10/11/2011 2:16am PDT

Good info, but scary.

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