Thursday, March 15, 2007

Finally, I Can Say It!

Phew, at last I can say what's been going on, why I haven't been blogging much recently, etc etc - it's because we've been working so hard to close THIS: Trampoline Systems receives £3 million funding. YAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! We did it!!! Woo and Yay and quite possibly Hoopla aswell! It's going to make a huge difference to the business, and let us step up a level or two in scale and approach.

I can also reveal that Dante was wrong. There is an eighth circle of hell - it's called "Due Diligence" and is full of lawyers. Lots of lawyers asking lots of questions that make you feel like you're being gradually eaten away by a swarm of bees, and make you want to stick your face in a deep fat fryer just to be rid of them.

But you'd have to make sure you kept paper copies, in triplicate, of the license agreement from the fryer company that gave you explicit permission to use it for face-boiling purposes, and prove that you complied with every letter of the fryer license in distributing the bits of hot fat around the room...

So here's a bit of advice. If you think that there's even the slightest possibility of your company ever getting outside investment, or being taken over, or floated in an IPO, make DAMN SURE that you :

  • Keep a record of all open-source software you use, whether you redistribute it or not

  • keep copies of the license agreements for ANY open-source software that you use, whether you distribute it or not

  • keep proof that anything you re-distribute has been distributed in accordance with the terms of the license
    - i.e. if it's an MIT license, you have to provide a copy of the license and copyright notices along with any redistribution, so just keep a copy of what you provide to anyone else

  • read and understand the license terms before you redistribute!
    - this is important, really! For instance, if you provide anyone with a copy of, say, the Oracle OCI client driver, pay close attention to the documentation requirements that it puts on you, and the implicit permission that gives Oracle to audit you at any time.

It's quite straightforward to do this whenever you download some open-source stuff. Just keep a directory somewhere that you can dump license agreements and copyright notices, and keep, say, a Google doc spreadsheet that just records the name of the library, the URL to download it, and the type of license it is under.

If you keep these up to date as and when you download OSS, it only takes a few minutes each time. If, like us, and I'm sure, most people, you didn't think to do it as you went along and waited till you were asked for all the information on everything, right now - then you're in for an awfully long slog of awfully tedious work. A little bit of diligence now saves a massive amount of retro-diligence in future.

Now, where's those Trampoline-branded space hoppers, baths full of champagne, and toilet roll stock option dispensers ? 2.0, here we come.....


Peter Bell said...

Congrats on the funding! Good luck with the due diligence - it really does suck . . .

Alistair Davidson said...

Thanks Pete! The due diligence is now all complete, much to my - and Rebecca's huge relief, and now we just have to think up ever more imaginative ways to spend the wonga..... Trampoline-shaped swimming pool anyone? ;-)