Having returned from a much needed vacation last week (my first since starting to work for Stardock two years ago), it's time for me to get back on the old soapbox and talk about the latest news on software and law!
It seems that while I was away last week, a ninth circuit court of appeals overturned a previous ruling in the matter of open-source developer Robert Jacobsen versus a company who'd taken parts of his code, stripped all attribution to him, and used it for their own purposes in violation of the terms he released it under.
The previous ruling, made a year ago yesterday, was that the code had already been released to the public and that the company's use of it didn't constitute copyright infringement (dramatically limiting the developer's options to stop them). This new ruling holds that it is indeed infringement to redistribute open source code in violation of the terms it was released under.
I think this serves as an interesting counterpoint to the ruling I posted about a month ago (which is still going strong). In that case, the judge ruled that simply running a legitimately obtained piece of software in violation of the EULA counted as copyright infringement, which I still feel is an abuse of both the letter and intent of copyright law. In this case, the offender really was making copies, and just because the author gave it away for nothing, I think it's entirely sensible that he should still be able to govern its further distribution.
What do you guys think? Is this new ruling fair and sensible, and will the courts ever find the proper balance between the rights of creators and consumers that copyright was meant to provide?