Software Freedom Law Center Clears OpenDocument Format for Free Software Use

File Format Software Can Be Used With Impunity

Jul 12, 2006, 01:00 ET from Software Freedom Law Center

    NEW YORK, July 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Software Freedom Law Center
 (SFLC), provider of pro-bono legal services to protect and advance Free and
 Open Source Software (FOSS), today released an opinion assuring developers
 that they can legally implement OpenDocument Format (ODF) in free and open
 source software. OpenDocument Format is a free file format for saving and
 exchanging editable documents, spreadsheets, databases and presentations.
     In the current climate of uncertainty surrounding patents, FOSS
 developers have been reluctant to implement programs if compatibility with
 GPL is in question. These concerns about ODF recently prompted a number of
 the Law Center's clients to seek a legal opinion before implementing the
 format in free and open source programs. The Center researched the issue
 and has now published an opinion assuring developers that there are no
 legal barriers to using ODF.
     "A number of our clients asked us to determine whether ODF is truly
 free of patent, copyright and trademark encumbrances. We looked into the
 issue, and are confident that developers can use ODF in free software,"
 said James Vasile, SFLC Legal Counsel. "ODF is GPL-compatible."
     OpenDocument Format is a truly open standard that can be implemented by
 free and proprietary software alike. It is quickly becoming the standard
 file format for people that want to avoid becoming dependent on any
 particular software vendor.
     "I'm pleased that the SFLC has definitively spoken on ODF," said Chris
 DiBona, Open Source Program Manager at Google, Inc. "Free software
 developers need to be able to use ODF without worrying about litigation or
 licensing fees, and it's great to hear the SFLC say they can do just that."
     "I am excited to hear that integration of OpenDocument Format into
 Plone is a technical challenge, not a legal one," said Joel Burton, Chair
 of the Plone Foundation, which supports development of Plone, an open
 source content management system. "The SFLC opinion provides a novel
 opportunity for our users and developers -- an opportunity that would not
 be possible without the Law Center's legal advice."
     The SFLC opinion is available online at
     About The Software Freedom Law Center
     The Software Freedom Law Center -- chaired by Eben Moglen, one of the
 world's leading experts on copyright law as applied to software -- provides
 legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance
 Free and Open Source Software. The Law Center is dedicated to assisting
 non- profit open source developers and projects. For criteria on
 eligibility and to apply for assistance, please contact the Law Center
 directly or visit the Web at

SOURCE Software Freedom Law Center