Model Railroads, Creative Commons, Open Source Software, and the U.S. Court of Appeals

Not the US Court of Appeals, but close.

(Photo: BikePortland.org CC:by-nc-nd)

At long last, members of the Open Source Software movement, supporters of Creative Commons, and model railroad hobbyists the world over all have yet another great reason to put on party hats and celebrate together. Yesterday, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided on the Robert Jacobsen v. Matthew Katzer case, affirming “the ability of a copyright holder to dedicate certain work to free public use and yet enforce an ‘open source’ copyright license to control the future distribution and modification of that work” (From Jacobsen v. Katzer Ruling). And just because it’s great to see a Judge get it, I have to include this part of the ruling:

“The attribution and modification transparency requirements directly serve to drive traffic to the open source incubation page and to inform downstream users of the project, which is a significant economic goal of the copyright holder that the law will enforce. Through this controlled spread of information, the copyright holder gains creative collaborators to the open source project; by requiring that changes made by downstream users be visible to the copyright holder and others, the copyright holder learns about the uses for his software and gains others’ knowledge that can be used to advance future software releases” (From Jacobsen v. Katzer Ruling).

Read more about it in the New York Times, Fred Benenson’s Blog, Lawrence Lessig’s Blog, and on Gizmodo.

Also, notably, MIT OCW gets a nod in the ruling (via Anthony Falzone‘s amici curiae) for the use of Creative Commons licensing on its openly available 1800 OCW courses. Definitely good for the Open CourseWare and Open Educational Resources movement.

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