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Landmark Ruling Backs Key Software Copyright

Publication Date: 
August 28, 2008
The National Law Journal
Pamela A. MacLean

Lecturer in Law and Executive Director of the Fair Use Project Anthony Falzone is quoted in a National Law Journal article about a recent ruling on open-source software licensing:

The Federal Circuit ruled on Aug. 13, "Copyright holders who engage in open source licensing have the right to control the modification and distribution of copyrighted material." Jacobsen v. Katzer, 2008-1001, 2008 WL 3395772.


"This gives teeth to open-source licenses," said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School, who filed an amicus brief in support of open-source protections for Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that provides free online tools for authors, scientists, artists and educators to mark their online works as copyright protected.

The opinion cites Creative Commons as noting that as many as 100 million works licensed under various Creative Commons licenses are open source. The court noted that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Perl programming language, the Linux operating system and Web browsers, such as Firefox, employ open-source structures.