dilute writes "The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (an authoritative court that normally deals with patent law), has issued a strong ruling (PDF) upholding the Artistic License in a copyright dispute between the developers of the Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI), and Kamind, a company that used portions of DecoderPro to develop 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 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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