Open-source software (OSS) has become ubiquitous as corporations recognize its cost and efficiency advantages. According to analyst firm International Data Corp. (IDC), OSS makes up 30 percent or more of the computer code at Global 2000 organizations, and the percentage is expected to grow.
But in many companies, legal protections haven’t kept pace. A major concern for in-house counsel is understanding how to properly license OSS so the terms selected provide their companies with necessary use and distribution rights while also protecting their intellectual property assets. A 2011 Gartner survey revealed that more than half of the 500 companies polled have failed to adopt effective policies for evaluating and governing OSS.
Another consideration for companies using OSS is the potential impact its use may have on the value of the company if it is being acquired.