A Medical Open-Source Legal Hell Hole

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


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Medsphere's open-source efforts have become mired in a lawsuit over the issue of whether the company's founders had the right to release some of its code under the GPL. (Linux-Watch)

To open-source or not to open-source was never in question as far as Steve Shreeve, founding CEO and largest shareholder of Medsphere Systems Corp., was concerned. So, this summer, Steve, self-proclaimed open-source software leader, and his twin-brother Scott, released the company's matured code on SourceForge under the GPL.

Their reward? They were then sued for $50 million by their company.

To be exact, they were hit by a $50 million, 12-count lawsuit charging them with misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, breach of duty of loyalty, violations of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act, commission of computer crimes, intentional interference with contract relations, unfair competition, and still more complaints by their company.

The core of the dispute is software that has been built on "VistA" (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture), the US Veterans Administration's public domain HER (Electronic Health Record) system. VistA has become the foundation for several proprietary and open-source medical record software suites.

One of these suites is Medsphere's OpenVista. This program has no relationship to Microsoft's Vista.

An OpenVista stack is made up of a minimum of Linux, GT.M (an open-source implementation of the MUMPS (Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System) language, EsiObjects (a MUMPs objects extension), and VistA. The base OpenVista code, under the name WorldVista, is on SourceForge.

Read the full story on Linux-Watch: A Medical Open-Source Legal Hell Hole.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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