Open Source Boom Prompts Legal Practice Expansions

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The growth of open source in the enterprise has triggered growth in another area, according to vnunet.com. Writer Tom Sanders points out that law firms are beefing up their open source practice groups to deal with the legal issues surrounding open source licensing and use.


Though no cumulative data is available right now, Sanders points to two firms as examples of the expansion that seems to be occurring on a wider scale. The first is San Francisco-based Townsend and Townsend and Crew, which has grown their open source practice from two attorneys to six attorneys. According to vnunet.com, the firm's Philip Albert says:

It is really ramping up. We started our practice with software companies... and we have been expanding into medical device makers and large industrial equipment makers, and they all have open source issues.

The second, international firm DLA Piper, has added five attorneys to its open source practice group since 2005. The 12-member group is headed by Marc Radcliffe, who advises the Open Source Initiative and has also worked with those drafting open source licenses, such as Sun Microsystems' Common Development and Distribution License.


In other open source legal news, the Software Freedom Law Center announced Wednesday that former Red Hat legal counsel Mark Webbink has joined the pro bono legal services provider's board of directors. Webbink, who is a Duke University School of Law Senior Lecturing Fellow, retired from his position at Red Hat in August.