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Open Source Software

This section of the SLW Institute discusses the guidelines for any proposed use of open source code in or with a product

Open source software (OSS) is computer software in source code form that is licensed to the general public at no charge under a copyright license that conforms to a set of standard criteria (known as the Open Source Definition). The criteria was developed by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) industry group, a nonprofit organization formed to promote and educate on the commercial use of OSS.

OSS almost always is used subject to special requirements imposed by the publisher. These requirements may be difficult, if not impossible, for a company to comply with and still maintain control and exclusivity in its products. Accordingly, neither company employees, outside contractors or licensed-in software should implement any open source code into, or for use with a product, without first obtaining the advice of legal counsel.

OSS policies can be structured in many different ways depending on how a company intends to use OSS in consideration of its overall business objectives. Some types of policies are designed solely to manage a company’s use of OSS in its internal business, while others are structured to also accommodate the incorporation of OSS in customer-facing products. A company should carefully consider how best to design the OSS policy to meet its risk management objectives without compromising operational flexibility or overly burdening personnel.