Feeds

US judge decrees open source licenses valid

Free software lovers' train pulls into station

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Openistas are celebrating a major court victory over a legal spat involving model railroad hobbyists that will have big implications for the Creative Commons license.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington ruled that just because a software programmer freely gave his work away, it didn’t follow that it could not be protected.

According to details outlined in the ruling (pdf), Robert Jacobsen had written and then released code under an Artistic License (an open source or public license) that requires other people who use it to attribute the author, flag up the original source of the files and explain how the code has been modified.

Jacobsen, who manages open source software group Java Model Railroad Interface, accused commercial software developers for the model train industry – Matthew Katzer and Kamind Associates Inc – of a breach of copyright.

He claimed they ignored the terms of the Artistic License by copying certain materials from his website and incorporating the code into a software package that programs the chips that control model trains, without giving appropriate credit.

The appeals court agreed that Katzer and Kamind had violated those terms and, in turn, infringed the software’s copyright.

Jacobsen had originally sought an injuction to prevent Katzer and Kamind using the software, but the US District Court for the Northern District of California threw out his allegations. Yesterday, that decision was overturned by federal judge, Jeffery S. White in a move that free software advocates view has a landmark ruling.

Andy Updegrove, an attorney with Gesmer Updegrove LLP in Boston and regular commentator on software licensing issues, described it as a “big day in court for the FOSS Community”.

Larry Lessig, who is Professor of Law at Stanford university said it was a “very important victory”.

“In non-technical terms," he said. "The Court has held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL [General Public License] and all CC licenses.

“Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.” ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really
Windows NEIN skipped, tech preview due out on Wednesday
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.