In the first article, “An Introduction to U.S. Intellectual Property Law,” Robert Vienneau and Milton Johns, both of ITT Corporation, overview how intellectual property in software may be protected under United States law. The authors describe trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents, which are all currently applicable to software.
In his article “Software and Intellectual Property Rights,” Robert Dewar, co-founder, President, and CEO of AdaCore, describes his company’s approach to the commercial distribution and use of their software products. AdaCore produces Ada development tools and environments. They distribute their products under a FLOSS license. Dr. Dewar explains why this makes business sense, including how it encourages the provision of quality products and services.
In her article, titled “Preparing for Open Source,” Emma McGrattan, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Ingres, provides a case study of the decision to transition Ingres, an enterprise relational Data Base Management System (DBMS), to open source. Ingres faced issues arising from closed source and competition-sensitive code included in Ingres, from choosing a FLOSS license, in encouraging the FLOSS community to contribute to Ingres, and in convincing some customers that providing a FLOSS license was a positive development. This article discusses how Ingres addressed these issues in an ultimately successful effort.
In the last article, titled “Software Freedom and Web Applications,” the Internet activist, Aaron Swartz, provides a brief history of Richard Stallman’s development of the idea of free software. He also discusses the history of the World Wide Web and the growing importance of Web applications, such as those used on social networking sites. He suggests these developments inhibit the realization of Stallman’s principles. The user of a Web application cannot typically modify serverside code and is more likely to be interested in data and networking effects. Mr. Swartz considers the implementation of social networking capabilities in peer-to-peer applications to provide software freedom, in Stallman’s sense.