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Major (US) Court Victory for Open Licenses

As reported on Ars Technica, a recent United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision has given some legal teeth to open licenses:

The lower court had found that redistributing software in violation of the terms of a free software license could constitute a breach of contract, but was not copyright infringement. The difference matters because copyright law affords much stronger remedies against infringement than does contract law. If allowed to stand, the decision could have neutered popular copyleft licenses such as the GPL and Creative Commons licenses. The district court decision was overturned on Wednesday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Maybe this will finally quiet the “confused” people out there who think that those of us who support open licenses are anti-copyright. As pointed out by this case, open licenses depend heavily on copyright law to provide “incentives” for users to comply with the license and (as a last resort) enforcement mechanisms.

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