The Legal Side of the POSS World

Richard Fontana (Red Hat)
Location: D137/138 Level: Novice
Average rating: ****.
(4.57, 7 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

During the past year, some commentators have raised concerns that we
are living in a “post-open source software” (POSS) world, in which a
new generation of open source developers deliberately or carelessly
place code in github repositories without any indication of licensing
or any regard to project governance. Others have suggested that
behavior may actually be a reaction against the “permission culture”
implied by traditional approaches to open source.

This talk will explore the legal implications of the purported “POSS
phenomenon. In particular, the following questions will be addressed:

  • Is there really more “unlicensed” code out there than in the past,
    or is this merely an illusory side-effect of the popularity of github?
  • May we reasonably regard such code as actually implicitly licensed
    under very permissive terms?
  • Are developers really engaging in a critique of the old order of
    open source licensing and formal open source governance systems, and
    are critics of POSS merely threatened supporters of a dying legal and
    political order?
  • If there is anything wrong with POSS, how can we reform the legal
    side of open source to encourage improvement in the legal practices
    of today’s developers?
Photo of Richard Fontana

Richard Fontana

Red Hat

Richard Fontana is Red Hat’s Open Source Licensing Counsel. At Red Hat he spends his time advising developers about open source licensing, copyright and patent issues, educating non-developers about open source culture, and promoting open standards and intellectual property legal reform.

Before joining Red Hat, Fontana was an attorney at the Software Freedom Law Center, where his principal client was the Free Software Foundation. He was co-author, with Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen, of the GNU GPL, version 3.


Sponsorship Opportunities

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Sharon Cordesse at (707) 827-7065 or

Contact Us

View a complete list of OSCON contacts