back to article US judge decrees open source licenses valid

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 …


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  1. Chris


    This is brilliant news. Now all proprietary vendors need to look carefully at where their code has come from.

    The fact that copyright law has been breached by these infringements gives GPL et al much sharper teeth >-)

  2. Charles Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The First Big Test

    Looks like, barring a Supreme Court appeal, FOSS-type licenses have passed their first big test--they are *enforcible*.

  3. Seán
    Black Helicopters

    Oh yeah

    Well let's see what Snake Pliskin has to say on the matter.

  4. Peter Ramins
    Thumb Up


    And here we have copyright doing what it should do. Who knew it could do that?

  5. Andy

    Forgive me, but ...

    It's wonderful news, to be sure -- but it only sets a precedent in the US.

  6. Gareth
    Paris Hilton

    Please learn to spell!

    It's licences!

    "S" for the verb. We're not American.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Eben Moglen has been biting people for some time.

  8. kain preacher Silver badge

    By Gareth

    It's licences!

    "S" for the verb. We're not American

    US story US writer. If you dont like it tough, Dont read stories about America then I dont go around bitching about how brits spell.

    Christ there is more important things in life.

  9. Mark

    re: The First Big Test

    (and this is for Andy too), this isn't the first big test. At least one country (Germany) has had it tested and passed. Though this IS the first test for the AL. Not the first for free licenses (FSF).

    Oh, and why does it need to be tested in court anyway? There's been no test of the law saying that it is illegal to break out of prison, either. Doesn't mean people will break it or that that law has no legal teeth. If the GPL is not acceptable as a legal framework, the work reverts back to straight copyright.

    This does not bode well for someone relying on distributing the code whilst ignoring the GPL.

    Which is why the GPL hasn't really been tested.

    Lastly, when it comes to "use the code" (a la BSD trolls), when you're talking about a copyright license, "user of the code" really means "user of the copyrights on the code". I.e. "doing what the copyright holder is allowed to do". NOT "doing what copyright has no say over" or "running it".

  10. James Butler


    "licences" looks silly.

  11. Pooper Scooper

    "In non-technical terms"


  12. Wokstation
    Thumb Up

    Not just software...

    I release a fair bit of photography on CC licenses, this ruling will protect my copyright (in the US at least) as well.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So this is how FOSS makes money.... taking infringers to court.

    I like being directly paid for my work (IMHO).

  14. Graham Dawson

    @kain preacher

    "Christ there is more important things in life."

    I think you'll find that's "are".

    /annoying pedant

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @Graham Dawson @kain preacher


    "Christ there is more important things in life."

    I think you'll find that's "are".


    And you didn't mention that it should have a comma in there as well?

    It should be:

    "Christ, there are more important things in life"

    assuming you are talking to the (potentially fictional) Christ person.

    Of course, coming from a 'merkin, the suffix to that statement probably reads along the lines of ", like killing innocents for oil, eating til you stomach explodes and generally being crap"

    Not that I'm anti-merkin at all!

  16. Paul Donnelly

    Annoyed Englishman @Kain Preacher

    And please dont be patronising and ignorant and use the non-word 'Brit'. I am not a 'Brit', I am English, we invented the English language that you dimwits over the pond have massacred ever since. Also, if you are going to be patronising and ignorant, please, please, please could you at least learn enough grammar to capitalise a proper noun.

    As you're probably very very confused right now, calling someone a Brit without knowing where they're from is a bit like if I was to randomly call an Alaskan or a Hawaiian a Yank. Its not that likely really is it? I disagree with the idea that everyone from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales can be easily grouped as 'Brits'. Each of these places has different and varied cultures, and even language. If someone from Scotland wants to call himself British, thats up to him, but I am English, not British. No-one outside of Meryka uses the half a word 'Brit' anyhow, as they know its not a full word. Do you call the French 'Frens'? The Germans 'Germs'? The Chinese 'Chins'? I'm guessing no, so why are you so damn imbecilic when it comes to the UK?

    Also, for a 'Preacher', you take Christ's name in vain a little bit quickly don't you? Maybe its because deep inside you know that there is no god (no capital letter as god is NOT a proper noun), and this is all there is..... so why bother learning spelling, grammar, how to construct a coherent argument.

    Tux cause even penguins arent as stupid as merkins.

  17. Edwin


    ...just to ensure the comments don't focus on the story...

    I believe Kelly is based in the UK.

    UK author, UK spelling

    back on-topic: this is indeed great news. But I agree with Mark that this shouldn't have to be tested: surely if I own the copyright, I can set the terms of the license (or - more specifically: set the conditions for license violation)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @kain preacher

    It's an English website.

    I sympathise with your lack of education and wonder what the "more important things" you've done with your life are.

  19. Mark

    Re: Ah...

    And you apparently like to steal copyrighted works.

  20. Sean Baggaley

    @Paul Donnelly

    "And please dont be patronising and ignorant and use the non-word 'Brit'. I am not a 'Brit', I am English, we invented the English language that you dimwits over the pond have massacred ever since."

    British English and US English have diverged mainly because the original founders of what is now the United States of America left the UK some time ago, with a peak during the 17th Century. Many of the differences are therefore due to changes on *both* sides of the Atlantic. "Autumn" is one example:

    We English originally used the word "harvest" to refer to the season of autumn. This lasted until the 16th Century as urban living grew, gradually switching to "fall", then, later, "autumn". The latter was initially rare and only gained popularity later; both were in use during the time of peak English emigration to the colonies, with "fall" still being the more common usage.

    Many new words were coined independently during the 19th and 20th Centuries, resulting in an increased divergence between the two languages. This coincides with the birth and rise of the Industrial and Information Revolutions, so many neologisms appeared over this period. However, there are also many differences resulting from the US sticking to a usage now considered archaic in the UK, with US grammar rules tending to stick to older rules.

    Neither is "right" or "wrong". The English language herself is a natural whore amongst languages and will survive, with or without us pedants!

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    Reviews: "Very hard to follow in parts..."

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    English for Dummies

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    Interactive lessons on CD-ROM

  22. Simon Ward
    Dead Vulture

    RE: Forgive me, but ...

    "It's wonderful news, to be sure -- but it only sets a precedent in the US."

    Dearie, dearie me ... it's common knowledge that the Septics now feel free to apply their laws wherever they damn well feel like, except in this case it might actually do some good.

    National boundaries? Pfft. Who needs 'em.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I for one welcome

    the licence, license disambiguation that the original spelling nazi highlighted.

    But, of course I am not a Yank, just a Brit who has only just got the English spelling version in FF :)

    Brilliant news, yes let's complicate the OpenSource scene, it is for the developers not the user :)

    Now it takes some finesse to get the right code in place, and I can give back where appropriate, not being forced to hand over all my code because some bozo got some LGPL library code wrong :).

    GPL and LGPL is for the enthusiasts, that's cool, and it is for working on projects together for the greater good. But, commercial work it is not safe, and that's cool, there is other stuff.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: I for one welcome

    "GPL and LGPL is for the enthusiasts, that's cool, and it is for working on projects together for the greater good. But, commercial work it is not safe, and that's cool, there is other stuff."

    Whatever your interpretation of "not safe" may be, it would seem you don't understand the LGPL. Any code licensed under the LGPL can be used in commercial closed source software, no problem whatsoever. All you have to do is leave the LGPLed code unmodified, or if you do modify it you have to publish the modifications of _that_ code, but you never have to share any other code.

  25. Graham


    To those who say, "Open Source, get real", I say "HA!"


    Now, where is that M$ OS development disc, hmmm lets see if there is any source code I recognise.

    O and @Anonymous Coward is that the best you can do?


  26. Graham

    As an lifelong resident of England...

    I can with authority say...

    There is no such thing as "US English".

    English is -by definition- English.

    As in "from or of England" not the US.

    "US English" is a stupid way of describing "American"

    Does the average American tell you they are speaking "US English"?!

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