Strong Court Ruling Upholds the Artistic License (fwd)

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Wed Aug 13 23:09:54 UTC 2008



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 13 Aug 2008 22:26:07 -0000
Subject: Strong Court Ruling Upholds the Artistic License

Posted by: timothy, on 2008-08-13 19:41:00

    dilute writes "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (an
    authoritative court that normally deals with patent law), has issued a
    [1]strong ruling (PDF) upholding the [2]Artistic License in a
    copyright dispute between the developers of the [3]Java Model Railroad
    Interface (JMRI), and Kamind, a company that used portions of
    DecoderPro to develop [4]a competing product. The product at issue was
    DecoderPro, an open source project released on SourceForge under the
    Artistic License, for interfacing with model railroad control chips.
    Kamind used a number of DecoderPro files in developing its product,
    Decoder Commander. However, Kamind did not comply with the Artistic
    License in a number of respects, including attribution, copyright
    notices, tracked changes or availability of the underlying standard
    version." Read on for more, below.

    Dilute continues: "The lower court denied relief, saying that the
    Artistic License merely imposed "contractual" promises, and that a
    violation did not constitute copyright infringement (any
    contract-based relief would probably have been meaningless). In a
    strong ruling, the Federal Circuit found that the Artistic License is
    legally enforceable, that its terms constituted "conditions" for
    reliance on the license, and consequently that a violation of those
    conditions would put the violating product outside the license and
    thus make the violator a copyright infringer, potentially liable for
    an injunction. The case lays out a clear and compelling description of
    the rationale for open source, and reflects a complete willingness by
    the court to lend the force of law to these licenses." Reader ruphus13
    point to [5]Lawrence Lessig's commentary on the ruling; Lessig calls
    it "huge and important news," and notes that the reasoning is
    generalizable to the GPL and other Free software licenses, as well.



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