Monday, October 6, 2008

Jacobsen v. Katzer

Bruce Perens, author of the open source definition, recently discussed the outcome of a court case between a model train hobbyist who had developed the GPL licensed Java Model Railroad Interface and a company who patented several features provided by the interface.

According to the article: "An appeals court has erased most of the doubt around Open Source licensing...For a decade there'd been questions: Are Open Source licenses enforceable at all? Are their terms, calling for a patent detente or disclosure of source code, legal? Are they contracts, which require agreement by all parties to be valid, or licenses, which are binding even if you don't agree to then? What legal penalties can a Free Software developer employ: only token damages, or much more?" Bruce provides a very readable summary of a complex court case.

This court case was briefly discussed by Kamal Hassin in the Licensing issue of the OSBR back in October 2007. You can also learn more about the creation of the open source definition in Russ Nelson's article.

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