Software Freedom Law Center to offer legal support to nonprofit open source projects

This just announced:

Eben Moglen, chief legal counsel of the Free Software Foundation and law professor at Columbia, will head a newly established law center to provide legal counsel to nonprofit open source projects.

From the press release of the Software Freedom Law Center:

"February 1, 2005 – Columbia University Law Professor Eben Moglen today announced the formation of the Software Freedom Law Center, whose mission is to provide pro-bono legal services globally to eligible non-profit open source software projects and developers.

“As the popularity and use of free and open source software increases and proprietary software development models are threatened, providing necessary legal services to open source developers is becoming increasingly important to prevent liability and other legal issues from interfering with its success,” Moglen said. “The Law Center is being established to provide legal services to protect the legitimate rights and interests of free and open source software projects and developers, who often do not have the means to secure the legal services they need.”

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Overseeing the Law Center will be a distinguished board of directors comprised of Moglen; Diane Peters, General Counsel at OSDL; Daniel Weitzner, Principal Research Scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and World Wide Web Consortium Technology & Society Domain Leader; and Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law Professor and author.

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Moglen, regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on copyright law as applied to software, will run the new Law Center from its headquarters in New York City. The Law Center will initially have two full-time intellectual property attorneys on staff and expects to expand to four attorneys later this year. Initial clients for the Law Center include the Free Software Foundation and the Samba Project.

“Free software projects often face legal issues that need expert advice, but it can sometimes be difficult or prohibitively costly to obtain that advice through traditional legal channels.” said Andrew Tridgell, head of the Samba project. “We are delighted that the Free Software Law Center is being setup under Eben Mogeln’s excellent guidance. I think this is an important milestone in the maturity of the free software community.”

Legal services provided to eligible individuals and projects include asset stewardship, licensing, license defense and litigation support, and legal consulting and lawyer training. The Law Center will be software license neutral and intends to participate directly in work currently underway around revisions to the GNU General Public License (GPL) with the Free Software Foundation. The Law Center will also work on issues around the proliferation of open source licenses.

The Law Center is dedicated to assisting non-profit open source developers and projects who do not otherwise have access to necessary legal services. For criteria on eligibility and to apply for assistance, please contact the Law Center directly or visit it on the Web at www.softwarefreedom.org.