The Faces of Open Source: Harald Welte


Harald Welte is featured in this, the seventh episode of "The Faces of Open Source Law," by Shane Martin Coughlan. Over the past six interviews, we hope you've come to not only recognize the faces of those working on legal matters with the open source community, but also come to appreciate the importance of such issues for promoting and fostering a healthy open source software ecosystem.

As with previous episodes, Shane again provides "production notes" (presented below), offering his own insights from the interviews. Enjoy!


Harald is the original GPL enforcer. He reached out to companies and brought the GPL to court for the first time, way back in the early 2000s. His activities, initially seen as controversial, ultimately led to much greater and improved dialogue between companies and the community-at-large, not least because it cast the GPL as a solid, simple legal document, with terms that a court could rule on.

One of Harald's most noticeable characteristics is his calm, measured, and carefully considered approach to matters. His passion for free software is genuine, but he is not driven by passion alone. He has clear, thoughtful arguments for issues that he engages with, and he often provides insight in an accessible manner. While he is far too modest to use the term, Harald is a thought-leader in open source, and this is one of the interviews I was most excited to shoot.


Other episodes:


"Harald Welte - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 7" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license.

To promote and protect open source software and communities...

For over 20 years the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has worked to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, and build bridges between open source communities of practice. As a global non-profit, the OSI champions software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

Open source software is made by many people and distributed under an OSD-compliant license which grants all the rights to use, study, change, and share the software in modified and unmodified form. Software freedom is essential to enabling community development of open source software.