THE U.S. COURT of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that deemed open source copyrights unenforceable if licensed under “internationally broad” terms. The court also ruled that open source publishers have the right to sue copyright violators for damages.
The new ruling supported plaintiff Robert Jacobsen, who sued Mathew Katzer and Kamind Associates in 2006 for allegedly violating the licensing terms of his Decoder Pro utility.
The software, which allows users to program chips for model trains, was made available under the open source Artistic Licence.
According to the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Artistic Licence “creates conditions to protect the economic rights at issue in the granting of a public license”. In addition, the licence unequivocally “governs the rights” to modify and distribute computer programs and files.
Katzer and Kamind Associates apparently violated the software licensing agreement by integrating Decoder Pro into their Decoder Commander Software without crediting Jacobsen as the original creator of the program. µ
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