Post-print of: Adrian, A & Kierkegaard, P 2010, 'Wikitopia: balancing intellectual property rights within open source research databases', Computer Law & Security Review, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 502-519.
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Wiki “communities” based on the open access ideology allow any visitor to easily add, remove or edit content. However, there are a slew of ethics and policy challenges inherent in their use. Open source software developers are faced with the dilemma of openly sharing their intellectual property and prevent others from claiming proprietary rights from the code they freely shared to the public? Intellectual Property rights licensing, ironically, is the route by which open software developers have chosen to regulate their free code in cyberspace. Open source code is generally free on the surface; but in reality, it comes with obligations which are enforceable by law. Aside from the potential liability for intellectual property infringement, the use of open software raises competition law and tort liability issues. The European Union has developed the European Public License which is written in conformity with the copyright, product liability and consumer protection laws of the 27 member states. The EU Commission has also proposed a new Directive which will extend the principles of consumer protection rules to cover licensing agreements of products like software. This paper will address the various legal issues that may arise in open source community sharing.