Using third party open source materials

Some Open Source licences contain restrictions or obligations that may not be suitable for your research. Sydnovate is here to help you consider the implications of using software under the terms of an Open Source licence.

Before you use any software released under an Open Source licence, you should first carefully consider the terms of the licence, and ask:

  • Will I be using the software as part of a project that is funded or sponsored? If so, the funding agreement might prevent you from complying with the terms of the Open Source licence.
  • Am I happy to accept the terms of the Open Source licence (such as being obliged to release any modifications or derivatives you create to the public)?

In addition, you should also consider:

  • whether the project is part of a joint development (eg with other parts of the University or with an industry partner);
  • whether the material or software that will be created will be commercialised;
  • whether the material or software that will be created is intended to be used elsewhere or as a component or part of another development or software;
  • whether there is any trade secrets, legal or other regulatory limitations or other restrictions that may apply (eg for medical use purposes);
  • how the material or software will be released and distributed; and
  • the residual value of the material or software to the University.

You should also be aware that Open Source software or materials are generally provided "as is". This means that you use such software or materials at your own risk and the author is not liable if it does not work correctly or at all. This "protection" could likewise be afforded to you and the University if you release software or materials developed at the University under an Open Source licence. However, this exclusion may not work in all jurisdictions or at all. As a result, you and the University may still be liable if there are issues with your software or materials.

If you do not consider all of the implications, you and the University could end up breaching a term of your funding agreement (particularly, if the research is funded by industry) which may result in you losing existing and/or future funding or otherwise expose you and the University to liability that you may not otherwise have considered. It may also limit the University’s ability to licence your new software to an industry partner, or under a preferred Open Source licence.

Please talk to Commercial Development and Industry Partnerships representatives prior to using any software released under an Open Source licence.