Open source software has gained immense popularity in recent years, offering numerous benefits over traditional proprietary software. However, it is crucial for businesses to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements to avoid legal and financial consequences. This article will explore the importance of open source compliance and discuss the necessary steps to achieve it.

What is Open Source Software?

Open source software refers to computer software whose source code is freely available, allowing anyone to view, modify, and distribute it. This collaborative development approach has revolutionized the technology landscape, offering accessibility, customization, faster updates, and enhanced security features.


Non-compliance with open source software regulations holds several risks for businesses. Violating associated licenses can lead to severe legal and financial consequences, impacting both the company and its employees. Therefore, it is essential to develop adequate FOSS management policies and processes. 

FOSS Management and SBOM

FOSS management begins with full transparency over the open source usage in products. Creating and maintaining a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) is crucial. SBOM consists of comprehensive information about the open-source components used, their versions, and associated licenses.

However, manually creating and updating an SBOM is impractical due to the high number of components and silent introductions of open-source code. Therefore, scanning the entire codebase using a specialized tool is recommended. This process enables the identification of open-source libraries and snippets. Based on the scan results, a manual analysis is conducted to determine the FOSS artifacts and address any issues such as license conflicts.

Performing Technical and Legal Assessments

Once the SBOM is available, conducting technical and legal assessments of license compatibility and associated obligations is necessary. This analysis must consider different usage types and link both legal and technological knowledge. Identifying permissions and exclusions related to individual components ensures compliance with open source regulations.

Additional FOSS Management Elements

Maintaining an accurate SBOM is only one aspect of effective FOSS management. Companies must establish an open-source policy, define supporting processes, and provide training to developers and stakeholders. These measures ensure policy compliance and mitigate risks associated with open-source software usage.

How to comply with free and open source software

Given the complexity and time required for FOSS management, many companies opt to outsource operational tasks to specialized service providers. This approach allows internal teams to focus on innovation and value creation. Scalability, up or down, is also a big plus of this approach. The demand for FOSS management typically varies during the year, with heavy peaks during release periods. An internal organization typically has very limited resources and can quickly become a bottleneck in times when fast results are needed the most.

Protecting Your Business from Compliance Risks

Free and open-source software has become an increasingly significant part of most businesses. Companies that use open-source software can drastically reduce license and development expenses in infrastructure and software development. With reliance on FOSS, companies might overlook the liabilities that must be recognized and mitigated: license obligations and security and compliance issues are just a few examples that may be costly if ignored.

Open source management is an integral part of every business that engages with FOSS. It allows developers to use FOSS components seamlessly by standardizing open-source software through open source policies and practices. Consequently, the companies can avoid unintentional violations of the license agreements or IP-related risks.

By implementing the following four steps, companies can protect themselves from license obligations and security concerns:

☑️ Scan the Code Base: Use effective tools to scan the codebase and compile a comprehensive list of deployed FOSS components.

☑️ Identify and Analyze Issues: Identify licenses and security concerns based on the inventory, and generate a mitigations report.

☑️ Configure License Obligations: Understand open source licenses and fulfill licensing requirements with help of a technical analysis.

☑️ Generate License Documentation: Include all license texts and copyright disclaimers in the licensing documentation at the file level.

An accurate inventory of deployed FOSS components is indeed essential for managing security vulnerabilities. Many businesses were impacted by significant security flaws in FOSS components, such as the Log4j Problem in some newer versions of a widely used Java library. A fix was provided instantly by the project community, but only those users who readily understood which version of Log4j was being used in which products were able to respond swiftly and protect data from such risks. Therefore, open source management is a complex skill that requires professional expertise. It is especially tough for organizations whose core business is not software development. Outsourcing FOSS Management to a service provider is an option here.

FOSS is extensively utilized in every technology, and it gives significant benefits to the development process. However, it must be handled cautiously in order to gain tremendous value and prevent any legal or security concerns.

Open source software brings immense benefits to businesses, but compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is crucial. By implementing robust FOSS management policies, maintaining accurate SBOMs, and outsourcing where necessary, companies can leverage the advantages of open-source software while mitigating potential risks. Developing a thorough understanding of licensing agreements and following best practices throughout the software development process is vital for successful integration of open source software.

Ensure your Compliance when using Open Source Software

Ensure your Compliance when using Open Source Software

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