Open source systems provider OpenLogic has announced it will provide legal protection for more than 160 projects in its open source library.

The indemnification program is designed to make small open-source projects more business-friendly by providing coverage for intellectual property infringement, and so lifting the threat of possible legal action. Customers using OpenLogic Enterprise will be covered for the broadest set of open source products in the industry, the company boasted.

"Although the benefits of using open source software are many, there can sometimes be lingering legal concerns about around using open source software in the enterprise," said Andrew Aitken, managing partner of open source strategic consultancy Olliance Group. "OpenLogic’s indemnification for such a broad set of open source products goes a long way in giving enterprises peace of mind."

Jono Bacon manages the Linux-based Ubuntu community for open source vendor Canonical was also broadly in favour of the move, pointing out that Novell had made a similar move during its long-running intellectual property battle with SCO. "Indemnification is as important to open-source projects as commercial software ones," said Bacon. "There are certain situations in the business world that need this kind of policy to move forward."

But equally he said there are cases where indemnification may not be needed, and what was necessary was a thorough, accurate approach to all legality issues surrounding software. "It can also be all to easy to claim the indemnification card where it’s not required if you’re making sensible decisions elsewhere. Everybody needs to look at the legality of their software and preserve its accuracy."

The service is available to all customers who have purchased support from OpenLogic. The company will provide indemnification for intellectual property infringements, including defence of claims, repair and replacement of infringing software, and up to four times the value of the contract for damage awards. This announcement builds on its platform product portfolio, aimed at increasing customisation, automation and audit capabilities, for managing enterprise-scale open source deployments.