open source licensing lesson

I’m far behind others in blogging on the US court decision yesterday on the applicability of open source ( creative commons ) licenses, as reported by the BBC.

However, it may be obvious once you think about it, but I didnt actually recognise that if you breech the exact terms of an open source license, then you are in fact breeching copyright.  In extreme cases, this could be pretty serious.

The article also made it onto the BBC new homepage which I was pleased to see – yet another flag waving exercise for the FOSS community!

  • Matthew Flaschen

    It is true that when you breach either a proprietary or an open source license, you’re breaching copyright. With a proprietary license like the Microsoft EULA, often the first you hear of a problem is when the Business Software Alliance storms your office.

    Open source developers tend to be a little more patient. They generally sue only if badly provoked. For instance, Harald Welte at GPL Violations only takes legal action if behind the scenes discussions go nowhere.

    In this case, the JMRI developers sued for copyright infringement only after Matthew Katzer infringed their trademark, sued JMRI for patent infringement, AND breached JMRI’s copyrights. It wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction by any means.

  • Hi Adrian,

    Slightly OT but I thought you might find this interesting.

    Our wonderful Government, so fond of protecting copyright, have just screwed up big time: http://www.theopensourcerer.com/2008/08/18/number-10-and-the-creative-commons/

    Basically, their new website at Number 10 is based on a ripped-off free wordpress theme that is licensed using the Creative Commons. The site builders, (who apparently charges £100k for the site!) have removed all attribution and changed the the license to Crown Copyright. lol

  • I’ll excuse the OT post Alan, as its such a good one!

    Cheeky b*******s!