Change the future

Saturday 11:30 a.m.–noon

Copyright and You

Frank Siler

Audience level:


The basics of copyright law mainly as applies to the United States but also covering the fundamental tenets that govern international law. I include quite a bit of overview material as well as talk about specific licensing schemes, including open source schemes, and some recent trends including open hardware.


This presentation is about the basics of copyright law as applied to software. Because Python and many Python-based projects are open source, I'm going to do a broad overview of the laws and then spend a lot of time on the open source licensing and the community around them, and briefly mention some trends such as open hardware.

Who cares about copyright? You should care because your decisions influence such factors as:

  • How others can legally use your software
  • If your own projects become “infected” by a license you didn’t choose
  • Whether you must distribute source code if you distribute or even use software to serve up content
  • How others can use your photos on Flickr and other sources
  • Understanding how Wikipedia and other open references work
  • Whether you get sued for a LOT of money.

Join me for a fast-paced introduction to this area of the law, which is probably more interesting than you might have guessed.

  1. What is a copyright?
  2. What you need for copyright to apply
  3. What is licensing, and how does it work?
  4. Who owns copyrights?
  5. The default is closed licensing
  6. How to be safe about pulling code from internet repositories
  7. How the history of UNIX and open source are interwoven with licensing
  8. Why it matters what license you choose for your open source project
  9. How you can be trapped using a license you didn't choose
  10. What is open hardware and what's cool about it?
  11. The basics of choosing a license