Sunday, 17 August 2008

Software with free licenses still has copyright

I'm highlighting this story because it might help to answer institutional issues with the use of open source and Creative Commons licenses. The emphasis below is mine, and it's an American case so local relevance will vary, but the understanding of the importance of recognition or attribution is a milestone.

BBC, Legal milestone for open source:

Advocates of open source software have hailed a court ruling protecting its use even though it is given away free.
...
The court has now said conditions of an agreement called the Artistic Licence were enforceable under copyright law.

"For non-lawgeeks, this won't seem important but this is huge," said Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig.

"In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licences set conditions on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the licence disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright infringer.
...
"Open source licensing has become a widely used method of creative collaboration that serves to advance the arts and sciences in a manner and at a pace few could have imagined just a few decades ago," Judge White said.
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The ruling has implications for the Creative Commons licence which offers ways for work to go into the public domain and still be protected.
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"This opinion demonstrates a strong understanding of a basic economic principle of the internet; that even though money doesn't change hands, attribution is a valuable economic right in the information economy."


The Age also has an article that might help you make sense of it, Even free software has copyrights: judge

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