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Lloyd's ready to cover open source legal risks

Antony Savvas
Lloyd's of London syndicates are poised to underwrite the use of open source software by users who are worried about being sued by proprietary software makers claiming their intellectual property rights have been violated.

Unix supplier SCO two years ago launched high profile legal action against user companies including DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone, as well as against open source software suppliers Novell and IBM, after claiming its code was used wrongly in the development of Linux.

Microsoft has also warned users that using open source software could leave them open to being sued, although it has not brought about any of its own actions.

US-based insurance provider Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) is arranging insurance for Linux users via brokers. The risk will be underwritten by several Lloyd's syndicates, said the provider.

OSRM said the soon-to-be-available insurance will cover the use of the Linux operating system, the Apache Web server, the MySQL database and scripting languages Perl, PHP and Python. Other open source products may be added in the future.

The cover will apply to all versions of Linux. At the moment Novell and Red Hat offer Linux indemnification for their own Linux distributions.

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