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Big legal win for free licenses
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 19:23:16 -0400
Begin forwarded message:
From: Joichi Ito <jito () neoteny com>
Date: August 13, 2008 7:07:33 PM EDT
To: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Subject: Big legal win for free licenses
Big legal win for free licenses »
"huge and important news: free licenses upheld
So for non-lawgeeks, this won't seem important. But trust me,
this is huge.
I am very proud to report today that the Court of Appeals for the
Federal Circuit (THE "IP" court in the US) has upheld a free (ok,
they call them "open source") copyright license, explicitly pointing
to the work of Creative Commons and others. (The specific license at
issue was the Artistic License.) This is a very important victory,
and I am very very happy that the Stanford Center for Internet and
Society played a key role in securing it. Congratulations especially
to Chris Ridder and Anthony Falzone at the Center.
In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licenses
such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on
the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the
license disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright infringer.
This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely,
whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses
which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.
Important clarity and certainty by a critically important US
The brief that was filed is here.
When we talk to organizations that want to use Creative Commons
licenses, we inevitably end up in the legal department. In many
cases, these legal departments are, understandably, conservative and
they throw a lot of reasons why "it can't work" into the discussion.
They often create an impenetrable wall of legal mumbo jumbo that
often causes the management or the teams inside of these
organizations to give up trying to use Creative Commons licenses.
This notion of whether CC licenses are just contracts which require
things like click-wrapped acknowledgment from the user or not hinge
on this distinction that has been made clear with this ruling.
Clarity on this point should make it significantly easier to clear
conservative legal departments and will hopefully make adoption that
Big thanks to the Stanford team and everyone involved. This is a
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- Big legal win for free licenses David Farber (Aug 13)