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US Federal Court uphelds 'open source license'

"Copyright holders who engage in open source licensing have the right to control the modification and distribution of copyrighted material."

In Jacobson v. Katzer, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that violation of the open source conditions are remedied through a contract claim rather than copyright. Jacobson's open source license at issue here allowed anyone to use his software so long as his conditions are met (such as making any modified code freely available).

The clear language of the Artistic License creates conditions to protect the economic rights at issue in the granting of a public license. Through this controlled spread of information, the copyright holder gains creative collaborators to the open source project; by requiring that changes made by downstream users be visible to the copyright holder and others, the copyright holder learns about the uses for his software and gains others' knowledge that can be used to advance future software releases.

This decision is based on the court's interpretation of 9th Circuit law. However, its impact on patent law may be a reminder that the court will allow patent infringement actions even when the infringement is based on violation of an intricate or exotic licensing contract.

More details on the Patent Law Blog.

Full decision text (pdf).

Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation

The US Library of Congress and other EU bodies issued a joint report on digital preservation and copyright.

The International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation found that, although copyright and related laws are not the only obstacle to digital preservation, there is no question that those laws present significant challenges.

Among its several recommendations, the report underlines that copyright exceptions for digital preservation should not be conditioned on the category (such as literature or music) or format (such as compact disc or website) of the work.

The report co-partners include the Open Access to Knowledge Law Project– Queensland University of Technology Law Faculty, Australia; SURFfoundation, Netherlands; and the Joint Information Systems Committee, United Kingdom.

The full report is available in pdf format.

Digital Copyright Slider

Great tool to get quick information about copyright status of any work published in the USA.

Provided by the Copyright Advisory Network, the Digital Slider is an effective tool aimed at providing quick information about the copyright status of any work published in the USA.

By simply setting an arrow on the correct date of publication, users can find out if a permission is needed, if that work is in the public domain, and so on. For instance, if a work has been published between 1923 and 1963, with a copyright notice but not renewed after 28 years, it will be... you guessed it, in the Public Domain! Same thing if the author died more than 70 years ago.

Released under a CC license, the Digital Slider is part of a variety of useful resources provided by the American Library Association's Advisory Network about copyright-related issues, from blogs to articles and books to legal cases affecting libraries - although limited to the US only.

FCC supporting open & neutral Net?

In the US, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's "moderate view" got some attention about network openness and user rights.

A few days ago, in interview for the Technology Blog of the New York Times, Kevin Martin detailed his strategy aimed at creating a "standard of openness that should apply to cable, telephone and wireless networks." A position reflected in the FCC decision, yesterday, to sanction Comcast for interfering with some customers’ use of file-sharing software - although that is "hardly an absolutist defense of what some call network neutrality", pointed out Mr. Martin.

European Film Treasures

For a century, amateurs, collectors, and archives have gathered films that entered the public domain but exist today only by miracle...

Thanks to this collaborative effort by several European film archives & centers, the Europa Film Treasures aims at preserving in digital format a good part of the world's memory in picture – although it is probable that already 70% of the images shot during the first fifty years of cinema is definitively lost.

These videos are provided with free access and via streaming (cannot be downloaded) and cover all genres and time periods, starting in the late 1800's up to our days – thus creating a moving heritage of European cultural and political history.

Recently launched, the website will be regularly expanded with films, documents, interviews, references, and much more; also its interface will be provided in five languages. Along with works already in the public domain, Europa Film Treasures will also make available film cleared with the legal successors (when they have been identified) and depositaries.

Europeana conference, June 23/24, The Hague

"Users expect the interoperable": this is the tile of the upcoming conference of Europeana, Europe’s digital library, archive and museum.

Scheduled for June 23/24, in The Hague (Netherlands), the event will be devoted to discussion between archivists, curators, librarians and technical experts about the ways to bring digital content – sound, film, books, papers, museum objects - together in the Europeana repositories.

The first prototype of Europeana will also be previewed, and feedback sessions held so you can contribute to the development of the final prototype, which will launch in November.

With 120 delegates already booked, this will be an excellent opportunity to network with project members and contributors from across Europe.

For more information, please see the conference program.
Contact: Jonathan Purday (Jonathan.Purday [at]

White paper on open access for academic research

"Open Doors and Open Minds: What faculty authors can do to ensure open access to their work through their institution."

Released by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and Science Commons, the new white paper assists institutions in adopting policies that ensure the widest practical exposure for scholarly works produced, such as that adopted by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences in February.

The white paper details the motivations behind the Harvard policy, offers a concise explanation of U.S. Copyright Law and how it relates to the scholarly publishing process, and makes specific suggestions for faculty and advocates to pursue a campus-wide policy. The guide offers a detailed plan of action, a series of institutional license options, and a 10-point list of actions for realizing a policy and adopting the right University License to meet the institution's particular needs.

"Open Doors and Open Minds" and the 10-step action list is openly
available on the SPARC Web site.

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