(OT) - Major Blow to Copyleft Theory

Chris Travers chris at metatrontech.com
Mon Aug 27 21:08:45 UTC 2007

Ok, this is going from slightly off-topic into a very obscure legal 
discussion among mostly non-Lawyers (IANAL).

The Artistic License is clearly distinguishable from the De Forest Radio 
Telephone vs. United States case for the following reason important 
reason: in De Forest, a contract existed which included an exchange of 
$1 for certain patent rights.

 From the actual ruling:
"This contract was set out in the petition. In consideration of $1 and 
other good and valuable considerations it granted a license to make, 
use, install, operate, and lease, and to sell or otherwise dispose of to 
others for sale, installation, and operation, apparatus and systems 
embodying or made or operating in accordance with the invention. It 
purported to give this license for the full terms of the patents and for 
all transferable rights of the De Forest Company in the inventions, 
except such as were expressly reserved by that company. The reservations 
included nonassignable rights for the purpose of making the articles in 
question for, and selling them to, the United States government for its 
use. The instrument further provided that the Western Company and the De 
Forest Company might respectively institute and conduct suits against 
others for any of the patents within the fields in which each 
respectively possessed rights, but that all such suits should be 
conducted at the expense of the party bringing them, that party to 
retain any judgment recovered in any such suits."

Personally though IANAL, I see no reason to apply this in any case where 
there is absolutely no consideration, for example in the BSDL.  Granted 
$1 looks like a symbolic amount, but it does make the De Forest case 
distinguishable as a contract one.

Thus, if I were a lawyer, I would argue that the court mis-applied De 
Forest by overlooking the fact that in De Forest a bilateral contract 
existed while in this case, it does not.

Best Wishes
Chris Travers

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