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Homer's picture

GPL JMRI Beats Patent Troll Matt Katzer in Court

From the criminal-thug-gets-just-deserts dept.

Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software -

Published: August 13, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — A legal dispute involving model railroad hobbyists has resulted in a major courtroom victory for the free software movement also known as open-source software.

In a ruling Wednesday, the federal appeals court in Washington said that just because a software programmer gave his work away did not mean it could not be protected.

The decision legitimizes the use of commercial contracts for the distribution of computer software and digital artistic works for the public good. The court ruling also bolsters the open-source movement by easing the concerns of large organizations about relying on free software from hobbyists and hackers who have freely contributed time and energy without pay.

It also has implications for the Creative Commons license, a framework for modifying and sharing creative works that was developed in 2002 by Larry Lessig, a law professor at Stanford.

Homer's picture

The "Right" to Own Knowledge

The Thinker

Two people on opposite sides of the world have exactly the same idea at the same time. Which one of those two people would be most morally justified in claiming to own the exclusive rights to that idea?

Should it be the first to dash through the doors of the USPTO office, with a big wad of cash in his hand?

Isn't that just further rewarding someone for already being affluent (or quick, or both), rather than rewarding him for having an original thought?

And how original are anyone's thoughts anyway?

Surely our knowledge is merely the sum of what we have been taught, and not some divine gift handed down from God, entitling the bearer to exclusive privileges. How can anyone claim exclusive rights to that which has been collected from others, such as authors; teachers; parents and peers? Are those contributors not equally entitled to attribution and rights to that knowledge? Are such contributors not also entitled to benefit from those ideas? Given the scope of where one acquires knowledge, shouldn't those beneficiaries encompass all mankind?

This is the essence of Free Software.

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