[conspire] (forw) Strong Court Ruling Upholds the Artistic License (fwd)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Aug 13 16:57:03 PDT 2008

(I was intending to mail this to Linux Weekly News, but they posted the
story before I could do so.)

This panel decision by the Federal Circuit (Court of Appeals) in
Washington vacates the unfortunate April 10, 2008 ruling by Judge
Jeffrey S.  White, of US District Court for the Northern District of
California, in "Robert Jacobsen v. Matthew Katzer and Kamind Associates,
Inc." (commonly known as JRMI v. Katzer) that had (erroneously)
eviscerated the (badly written, deprecated) version 1.0 of the Artistic
License.  White believed Artistic License 1.0's provisions to be merely
covenants and not conditions, and therefore fall solely under contract

As expected, the panel has overturned Justice White's dismissal of
Jacobsen's complaint, and remanded the case back to the District Court
for further trial of Jacobsen's claims for equible relief (injunction),
which would be unavailable under contract law.  Among other reasons, it
found that Artistic License 1.0, even as badly drafted as it is, "uses
the traditional language of conditions", and therefore qualifies for
interpretation under copyright law.

----- Forwarded message from Brian Behlendorf <brian at hyperreal.org> -----

Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 16:09:54 -0700 (PDT)
From: Brian Behlendorf <brian at hyperreal.org>
To: license-discuss at opensource.org
Subject: Strong Court Ruling Upholds the Artistic License (fwd)



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

Link: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/13/1857241
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.


   1. http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/08-1001.pdf
   2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artistic_License
   3. http://jmri.sourceforge.net/
   4. http://www.trainpriority.com/
   5. http://lessig.org/blog/2008/08/huge_and_important_news_free_l.html

----- End forwarded message -----

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