Open source licensing is now a consideration for every software developer and for every software “buyer.” Despite the growing popularity of open source software, there are risks associated with its use. In many cases, the risks are similar to those associated with proprietary software and are simply a fact of business life. In other cases, risks may be avoided with awareness and prudent action. Risks that are unique to open source software and cannot be avoided must be balanced against the benefits to determine whether open source software is suitable in any specific application.

This paper describes legal risks of open source software use and licensing for embedded systems
developers. It provides background on open source, insight into how the legal system may deal with
questions posed by open source licensing, and possible ways to avoid some of the risks.