Skip to content.

Join now
donate Patrons The GPL and Legal Aspects of Free Software Development

The GPL and Legal Aspects of Free Software Development

For more than a decade, FSF has urged projects to build a process whereby the legal assembly of the software is as sound as the software development itself.

- Bradley Kuhn, previous FSF Executive Director, May 2004

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is offering a one-day seminar on the General Public License (GPL) and Legal Aspects of Free Software Development, in partnership with Columbia Law School on Wednesday, September 28, 2005. The seminar will be led by Eben Moglen, General Counsel to the FSF; Daniel Ravicher, Senior Counsel to the FSF; and David Turner, GPL Compliance Engineer. It will be held on the Columbia Law School campus in New York City.

The course will comprise an exploration of the most widely used free software copyright license, the GNU GPL, and will give lawyers, software developers, managers and business people the knowledge necessary to use the GPL (and GPL'ed software) successfully, with safety and predictability, both in businesses new to free software and in existing enterprises. Read more about the topics that will be covered.

A continental breakfast and catered lunch will be served.

For travel and lodging information, please visit the Columbia University travel portal.


The seminar will be held at:

Columbia Law School
7th floor, Case Lounge
435 West 116th Street

It's on 116th Street between Amsterdam and Morningside Drive. There is a 116th Street / Columbia University stop on the Number 1 subway train.

Registration Information

Register via credit card using our on-line payment system, by mailing a check, or by contacting John Sullivan, FSF Program Administrator, at <> or 1+617-542-5942 to make other arrangements.

You can download a PDF version of the registration form, and FAX or mail that to us with your payment.

Checks can be mailed to:

Licensing Seminar
Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02110


  • The cost for the course is $500 for those who register on or before August 31, 2005, and $600 for those who register on or after September 1, 2005.
  • A CD holding the PDF versions of the printed material distributed at the seminar will be available separately, for $15. This should be paid at the same time as the registration fee. The CD will be mailed after the seminar.
  • FSF corporate patrons receive a 20% discount on the registration fee, so patrons registering on or before August 31 will pay $400. Patrons registering after that will pay $480. Patrons received two complimentary seminar passes when they made their contribution; please e-mail us if you would like to use those passes to attend this seminar.
  • If your company is not yet a patron, but would like to become one to take advantage of the seminar benefits, please contact us at <>.

The GPL and Legal Aspects of Free Software Development

September 28, 9 am to 6 pm

The course is of greatest interest to lawyers, software developers and managers who run (or have clients who run) software businesses that modify and/or redistribute software under terms of the GNU GPL or LGPL, or who wish to make use of existing GPL'ed and LGPL'ed software in their enterprise.

Read how to register.

The course will include the topics listed below, along with ample time for questions and discussions.

  • 1. The basics of how software is constructed [45 minutes] - source code and object code - libraries and applications - the Unix model and pipelines - packaging
  • 2. The free software ecosystem [1 hour] - patches, mailing lists and cvs - sourceforge and savannah - committers, dictators, and assignments - how to build hacker communities -- working source code -- public process -- easy extensibility -- hire from the community
  • 3. How copyright law applies to software [45 minutes] - works vs ideas - exclusive rights under copyright law - derivative works and libraries
  • Lunch - Eben Moglen to speak on preparations for GPLv3 [30 minutes]
  • 4. How the GPL works from a distributor perspective [2 hours] - verbatim distribution - modifications - binary distribution -- offers for source -- scripts - additional restrictions - derivative works and libraries - patents
  • 5. GPL Compliance [1.5 hours] - case studies in compliance, and best practice guidelines -- using fork/exec -- get exceptions -- learning to analyze licenses -- building a release process -- policing your user communities
  • 6. Future considerations - [45 minutes] - Network distributed applications and the Affero solution. - Patent defense and the opening of patent portfolios to free software developers

We will follow this schedule:

09:00 - 09:25 Registration / Check-in / Continental Breakfast                                                                  
09:25 - 09:30 Welcome                                                                                                          
09:30 - 10:30 The Basics of How Software is Constructed                                                                        
              David Turner                                                                                                     
10:30 - 11:15 The Free Software Ecosystem                                                                                      
              David Turner                                                                                                     
11:15 - 11:30 Break                                                                                                            
11:30 - 12:15 How Copyright Law Applies to Software                                                                            
              Daniel Ravicher                                                                                                  
12:15 - 13:30 Lunch with Lecture, "GPL, Version 3"                                                                             
              Prof. Eben Moglen                                                                                                
13:30 - 15:30 How the GPL Works from a Distributor Perspective                                                                
              Daniel Ravicher                                                                                                  
15:30 - 15:45 Break                                                                                                            
15:45 - 17:15 GPL Compliance                                                                                                   
              Daniel Ravicher                                                                                                  
17:15 - 18:00 Future Considerations                                                                                            
              Daniel Ravicher                                                                                                  


Last modified 2005-09-27 10:02 AM
Personal tools

Sign up today to receive the monthly newsletter, the Free Software Supporter

Enter your email address (ie.


Powered by Plone