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Sarbanes-Oxley and the GPL: No Special Risk (PDF)

Sarbanes-Oxley and the GPL: No Special Risk (PDF)

by Rick Turoczy on March 7, 2006

The Software Freedom Law Center has released a white paper on Sarbanes-Oxley and GPL. This piece strives to quell erroneous information currently being purported by some media sources as fact.

To wit: “Some have recently argued that corporate executives face increased risk of criminal liability under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) if their companies develop and distribute code licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The argument, as it has been made, raises significant concerns about SOX compliance, but it fails to clarify the scope and context of these points. We have reviewed these issues and, as discussed more fully below, there is in fact no special risk for developing GPL’d code under SOX. Under most circumstances, the risk posed to a company by SOX is not affected by whether they use GPL’d or any other type of software. Arguments to the contrary are pure anti-GPL FUD.

“Companies subject to SOX should take their reporting and certification requirements very seriously. It is important that such companies understand their obligations and ensure that they are not in violation of any licenses or any other restrictions related to intellectual property. While GPL compliance can be an important part of this analysis and compliance with SOX, risks associated with the use of GPL software should be considered in the full context of securities law compliance. In the end, contrary to what others may argue, there is in fact no additional SOX liability or risk for using GPL software.”

Sarbanes-Oxley and the GPL: No Special Risk (PDF)

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