REVIEW: "Intellectual Property and Open Source", Van Lindberg

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BKIPOPSO.RVW   20081128

"Intellectual Property and Open Source", Van Lindberg, 2008,
978-0-596-51796-0, U$34.99/C$34.99
%A   Van Lindberg
%C   103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA   95472
%D   2008
%G   978-0-596-51796-0 0-596-51796-3
%I   O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O   U$34.99/C$34.99 800-998-9938 707-829-0515
%O  ( product link shortened)
  ( product link shortened)
%O   Audience i Tech 2 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P   371 p.
%T   "Intellectual Property and Open Source"

The preface states that this book provides documentation for the legal
system, obviously intending that it be addressed to a technical
audience, explaining to them what the legal operations are (as related
to intellectual property, or IP).

Chapter one outlines the legal categories of IP (patent, copyright,
trademark, and trade secret), as well as reviewing general economic
theory, and the philosophy of knowledge as a type of material "good."
Patent documents are explained, in chapter two, in terms of file
formats.  The important concepts of invention (as claim) versus
embodiment, conception versus reduction to practice, and first to file
as opposed to first to invent are also defined.  What is, and isn't,
patentable is covered in chapter three.  The details, requirements,
and limits of copyright are in chapter four.  Chapter five points out
that trademark has value not only for the company, but also for the
customer.  The discussion of trade secret, in chapter six, notes the
factors involved in the utility of a trade secret.  This chapter also
examines some issues of open source software for the first time, since
the preceding material is fairly generic.

Chapter seven looks at contracts and licences, a number of issues of
which are important to open source.  Using an interesting (and useful)
analogy of the difference between banks and credit unions, chapter
eight notes the economic and legal basis for open source software, and
why (and where) it works.  (The licencing discussion is also extended
here.)  The factors involved in ownership of intellectual property
(whether on the part of the individual, company, or work-for-hire) are
examined in chapter nine.  Chapter ten notes terms, and provides
examples, of open source licences.  Some very interesting implications
of accepting code patches are noted in chapter eleven.  Chapter twelve
extends chapter ten's content, specific to the General Public License
(GPL).  Chapter thirteen briefly looks at the process of reverse
engineering, but is primarily concerned with the legality of the
operation.  The establishment of non-profit organizations, and
particularly in relation to the benefit for open source projects, is
outlined in chapter fourteen.

Appendices provide various samples of legal documents.

The writing is articulate, and the material reasonably comprehensive.
The organization leaves a little bit to be desired.  The book is
almost two books; one on IP and one on open source; and it's not clear
why chapters seven, ten, and twelve are distinct (and separated).
However, this is a valuable guide for anyone in the technical world
who wishes to know about legal issues of intellectual property, and
particularly for anyone in, or contemplating, an open source project.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008   BKIPOPSO.RVW   20081128

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