links for 2009-04-19

  • Although the open source movement has been active for more than a decade, it is only in recent months that such a copyright license actually has received the imprimatur of enforceability — from an unlikely court (the Federal Circuit) construing a perhaps unlikely license (the Java Model Railroad Interface for model train software). Open source licensing, of course, is the innovative (if controversial) tool that makes source code available to the general public on conditions (of varying severity) to guarantee continued public access to works derived from the original. Such licenses can require licensees to disclose source code and distribute derivative works royalty-free. Well-known open source licenses include the Creative Commons License, Apache License and Sun Community Source License. Perhaps best-known is the General Public License, now in its third version, which governs Linux, MySQL, and other major software products.
  • The riddle is this: if our property can be infinitely reproduced and instantaneously distributed all over the planet without cost, without our knowledge, without its even leaving our possession, how can we protect it? How are we going to get paid for the work we do with our minds? And, if we can't get paid, what will assure the continued creation and distribution of such work?
  • A few hours ago I stopped by attorney Ray Beckerman's blog and found there the prepared statement of musician John Perry Barlow. The statement offers a glimpse of testimony he is prepared to offer in the case of Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, a theatrical production whose last act promises to teach us something about the constitutionality of tough statutory damages for copyright infringement.
    (tags: copyright)
  • U.S. copyright law gives successful plaintiffs who promptly registered their works the ability to elect to receive an award of statutory damages, which can be granted in any amount between $750 and $150,000 per infringed work. This provision gives scant guidance about where in that range awards should be made, other than to say that the award should be in amount the court "considers just," and that the upper end of the spectrum, from $30,000 to $150,000 per infringed work, is reserved for awards against "willful" infringers. Courts have largely failed to develop a jurisprudence to guide decision-making about compensatory statutory damage awards in ordinary infringement cases or about strong deterrent or punitive damage awards in willful infringement cases. As a result, awards of statutory damages are frequently arbitrary, inconsistent, unprincipled, and sometimes grossly excessive.
    (tags: copyright)
  • The Clinton administration, through its white paper on intellectual property, is proposing a wholesale giveaway to its supporters in the copyright industry – at your expense
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