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Re: Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 17:29:17 +0200

August 21, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For: How the Jacobsen v. Katzer Decision Could
Hurt the Free Software Movement

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in
Jacobsen v. Katzer, issued a very important decision in a case of first
impression relating to the enforcement of software licenses.   In
particular, it was the first federal appellate court decision to clarify
whether failure to follow obligations imposed by an open-source license
results in copyright infringement or breach of contract.  The
distinction is important, as it controls the remedies available for such
a failure, and can impact the question of whether lawsuits can be filed
in state or federal court.  As Larry Lessig says, “trust me, this is
huge.”  This may be true in ways that the free software movement did not
foresee – and ways that the movement may very well regret.  


Make no mistake – this decision strengthens the hand of copyright
holders, a large number of which are the types of commercial
organizations that insist on being paid for their hard work when their
products are successful in the marketplace.  By pressing for a
short-term victory, the free software movement may have sown the seeds
of its own defeat.


(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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