[SATLUG] Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software

Sean Crandall sean.crandall at ieee.org
Thu Aug 14 11:01:16 CDT 2008

Borries Demeler wrote:
> This came out in this morning's NYTimes, I hope it won't be appealed:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/technology/14commons.html?th&emc=th
> -b.
I don't post a lot (mostly just lurk), but this is up my alley, so I'll 
chime in.  For those who don't want to read the article, this was an 
appellate decision from the Federal Circuit (the court that normally 
hears patent case) that upheld the Artistic License.  The tricky thing 
is, the Fed. Cir. is not a regional circuit, so it was trying to apply 
9th Circuit law (Fed. Cir. only has precedential authority over 
patents).  So this isn't controlling law anywhere (not even in the 9th 
Circuit), but it's very good persuasive authority everywhere.  The 5th 
Circuit would most likely do the same if any case went up to them.  They 
tend to be strong on freedom to contract.

Interestingly, I just finished writing a layman's guide to the GPL 
because I've had several clients who want to use GPL software, but are a 
little scared by its reputation (if anybody would like to see it, e-mail 
me off list; I'd welcome your feedback).  One of the issues I addressed 
is that there are still no U.S. rulings construing the GPL (the best we 
have is a district court saying it doesn't see any reason it wouldn't be 
enforceable).  It's good to see another open source license getting a 
thumbs up from a federal appellate court.

Sean Crandall---Registered Patent Attorney No. 57,776.  This e-mail does 
not constitute legal advice on any matter and is not endorsed by Jackson 
Walker LLP or its partners.  Any comments are the sole non-legal opinion 
of the author.  Do not rely on this e-mail for any reason.  Yes, my firm 
really does require me to say all this because lawyers are about the 
only people you can still sue in Texas.

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