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30 July 2012, 15:25

FSFE working on better legal protection for free software

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The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has voiced concerns about what could happen to source code distributed under free software licences if the company providing the software goes bankrupt and enters insolvency proceedings. Especially in Germany, the current rules in this area of law are not well explored. Speaking to The H's associates at heise open, Matthias Kirschner, who coordinates German matters for the foundation, explained that a bankruptcy court in Germany could currently rescind the free software licence and all rights granted by it after the fact.

To solve this problem, the FSFE has collaborated with the German Institut für Rechtsfragen der Freien und Open Source SoftwareGerman language link (ifrOSS) to create a clause that they propose be inserted into the German law which deals with insolvency proceedings. The clause is designed to ensure that licences that were in effect before the bankruptcy happened will stay in effect throughout and beyond the insolvency proceedings. The proposal was inspired by an initiative of the German Justice Ministry which is aimed at improving policy concerning insolvency actions.

The FSFE is asking the German Ministry of Justice to "consider this proposal favourably as it can greatly contribute to the legal certainty of the Free Software based industries". The organisation is also looking to address similar issues in other European jurisdictions should they arise and invites interested parties to contact it.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the clause could be attached to licences, rather than inserted into insolvency law.


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