With the risks of inadvertently using copyright code being sharply brought to open source software users’ attention, at least one company in the field has stepped forward with an assurance of protection.
JBoss Group, which provides solutions around the open source JBoss application server, has said it will indemnify its customers against any claims relating to copyright or patent issues.
Bob Bickel, a strategy and corporate development executive for the US company, has said that the company is "trying to make open source safe for commercial use".
"It's a normal thing in commercial licences and just not done in the open source world," Bickel says. But "at the end of the day [JBoss] is a commercial company. Our natural competitor is BEA [with Weblogic], and we want to be able to deliver similar licensing."
JBoss founder Marc Fleury adds IBM’s WebSphere to the list of close commercial rivals. "Indemnification in general is a pretty standard clause for software, and customers who buy from proprietary vendors have come to expect indemnification," Fleury says.
"We have an open source product but we are of the school of thought that open source should be the safe choice for enterprises. Part of making it the safe choice is minimising the risk for the decision-makers and offering indemnification."
The problem of possible lawsuits for inadvertent use of other companies’ IP in open source software has been highlighted by the SCO action against IBM and warnings to Linux users.