As Sean Michael Kerner mentioned in a recent article over on InternetNews to which I contributed, the BusyBox lawsuits are one example of the increased scrutiny being applied to open source license compliance (and open source in general). For those of you following open source legal issues, this scrutiny should not come as much of a surprise. In a way it is almost a measure of how far open source has come in the commercial marketplace. As companies have continued to put open source to work in an ever-widening variety of uses, and as the scope and profile of those uses has increased, the level of scrutiny applied to those uses was also naturally bound to increase.
I view this evolution not so much as cause for concern, but as cause for understanding and compliance. Companies that do not take note and move to implement open source compliance measures on their own terms will increasingly find themselves being required to comply on terms imposed by others (including not only SFLC, FSF and GPL-Violations.org, but likely other groups as well). However, those that do, will find that open source compliance practices are evolving and that a growing number of tools exist to help make the use of open source no more risk prone than the use of proprietary software.
This topic of open source compliance on your own terms is one that I see a number of companies dealing with today. I will be covering it in my session at the 2008 Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) on March 25-26 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
More details are available on the OSBC web site. While you are there, check out some of the other great sessions at OSBC this year. This is the 5th year for OSBC, and I think the best year yet in terms of content. I hope to see you there.