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Open source license ruled enforceable, hippies rejoice

Nilay Patel

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Good news, open source fans -- copyleft licenses just got a big boost from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled last week that the open source Artistic License is valid and enforceable, and that violating the terms of the license constitutes copyright infringement. (You might be familiar with the Artistic License -- it's what governs Perl.) That's a big deal, as it's the first open source license to get put to the test -- while traditional EULAs have been upheld for years, open licenses hadn't been directly litigated like this yet, and it means that similar licenses like the GPL and Creative Commons now stand on firmer ground. As you'd expect, OSS advocates like Lawrence Lessig and the Open Source Initiative are all pretty pumped about the ruling, with Lessig calling it "huge and important news." We'd agree wholeheartedly, but here's some food for thought while you celebrate in the comments: if you're okay with FOSS software developers enforcing open-source license agreements, are you also okay with commercial software developers enforcing their own EULA restrictions? We can think of one in particular that seems to have people pretty ticked off.

Read - InformationWeek article
Read - Lessig blog post

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