n SA Mercantile Law Journal = SA Tydskrif vir Handelsreg - The enforceability of open source software licences : can copyright licences be granted non-contractually?




The birth of the Internet brought with it the ability to share information with anyone, quickly and easily, anywhere in the world. In the Internet's fledgling years, this ability was embraced, with computer programmers and scientists freely sharing information with one another in furtherance of their science. Inevitably, proprietary interests soon took hold, however, and the software that was once shared became the object of great wealth. Enter intellectual property law. Software was soon brought under the protection offered by copyrights, trademarks and patents, with the consequence that its underlying source code was closed off to the public. Ever since, however, there has been a virile backlash movement seeking a return to the open sharing of electronic information. This movement finds expression in the move towards open source software that is growing rapidly in the software industry, with great success in challenging traditional proprietary software houses.


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