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Aug 15, 2008

Historic Intellectual Property Ruling Could Validate Open Licenses

Innovation: Historic Intellectual Property Ruling Could Validate Open Licenses

If I apply some wacky new type of license to my creative work, is it going to hold up in court if a conflict comes down to that?

According to some participants, a key US court yesterday made a decision in favor of free, open intellectual property licenses like Creative Commons, though the details of the decision are complicated.

We're not big fans of intellectual property law, but some innovations in the field are facilitating a wave of tech and cultural creativity around the world. Authoritative validation of these legal innovations is important in that context. We may not feel great about copyright, but we do want people to feel comfortable using new types of legal licenses. This week's legal decision may be very helpful in that.

The Case

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday ruled (see court document below) that a license called Artistic License, similar to Creative Commons, was violated in a dust up between model engineer software developers. One developer created software that could be used to program the tiny trains, put it under Artistic License, and then alleged that another developer took parts of his work, incorporated it into commercial software and didn't give any credit to the original author.

At this point there appears to be no question that this did happen, the only question was whether it matters - whether the Artistic License is legally valid. The court appears to have ruled that it is...

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