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Re: JMRI case -- Implementation of the Federal Circuit's Opinion

From: Hyman Rosen
Subject: Re: JMRI case -- Implementation of the Federal Circuit's Opinion
Date: Fri, 09 Jan 2009 10:07:00 -0500
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20081105)

amicus_curious wrote:
Why would anyone really care unless there were some benefit to be obtained by the author due to the right to control the distribution?

These enforcement lawsuits demonstrate that some authors do care.

It is silly to suppose that the the purpose of a copyright is to lock up the author's work and deny the public access.

Nevertheless, the constitution grants exclusive rights to authors,
and without saying anything about financial compensation. The law
is written from the normal point of view, where creators do want
just money for their work, but in light of the increasing use of
public license, going back to original construction is important.

That exclusive grant is for a limited time, so eventually the
public does gain access.

It would seem obvious that no license at all would fit even more
> nicely into the notion of widely disseminating some work.

Some authors, hewing to the FSF philosophy, would find that to be
a disincentive - other people taking their work and denying users
the four freedoms. Fortunately, the constitution recognizes that
offering authors control of their work encourages them to produce

these silly suits.

If the copiers of the software do not wish to obey the terms of its
license, then they may not make and distribute copies. Regardless
of whether they think the terms are silly.

> the only opportunity for determining any value.

The constitution gives authors exclusive right to their work, be it
genius or drivel. Value is not material.

It is hard to see how such republication has any meaning
> for the public as well.

Meaning is not material either. But in any case, the GPL explains
its meaning in its preamble, and it has great significance for the
public. One does not need to be a programmer to see how the four
freedoms are being actively withheld - region-coded DVD players,
encrypted connections between cable boxes and TV sets, cell phones
which can run only approved programs and communicate with approved
service providers. Free software works against the conspiracy to
deny users access to and knowledge of devices they own.

A different recent example is the worldwide crash of Zune 30 players
that occurred on December 31. Had its software been free, a fix
would have been available in minutes, or even more likely, would
have been available before the problem occurred.

Republication is important so that users can get exactly the source
that is used to build the software they receive. Without this, users
who need the source must hunt for it, with no assurance that what they
find exactly matches what they have.

The vast majority of people ... is never going to bother

But they benefit anyway, in the same way that they benefit when they
can receive service for their cars or appliances or buy replacement
parts from someone who is not beholden to the original manufacturer.

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