[OT] Open Source, EULA - the Big Bad Bogeyman

Kay C Lan lan.kc.macmail at gmail.com
Mon Mar 23 03:31:35 EDT 2009


Unfortunately I missed the recent frenzy regarding "Illegal Creativity".

I do not wish to fan that fire here, but do wish to point you to a Landmark
case going on right now involving a very small group of hobbyists, Open
Source Software, and an apparently wealthy individual and his company.

This case has huge implications not only for software developers and
software uses but is rattling around many legal blogs as well. If the
'Illegal Creativity' thread was of interest to you then I highly recommend
following a couple of the links below. If you like David and Goliath you
might also find this interesting :-)

As way of a VERY brief background; a group of model train hobbyists got
together and started an Open Source project written in Java - the Java Model
Railroad Interface (JMRI). Quite a while later KAM Industries came along,
took some of the code, created their own commercial program, patented some
aspects of the program and then started demanding royalties for every
downloaded copy of JMRI.

This eventually ended up in court and in the first instance the ruling was
in favour of KAM Industries. A single individual has mainly represented the
JMRI community and although the ruling was far less than the U$200,000+
sought, the financial impact was beyond this individual's means, even so,
with the help of donations, this individual continued to pursue the case to
a higher appeal court. KAM Industries thus far has spent over U$1,000,000 on
the case.

The result of the Appeal was only last Aug 13th 2008 and reversed the
decision of the lower court. But this is not the end, as of 11 Feb 09 KAM
Industries is seeking damages of U$6,000,000+

You can get a detailed JMRI sided view of the saga here:


Other links pointing to outside perspectives on the implications can be
found here:


Two I like are the Larry Lessig Blog and Slashdot thread:

Larry Lessig is a Prof. of Law at Stanford, a board member of the Creative
Commons project, and named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries,
for arguing "against interpretations of copyright that could stifle
innovation and discourse online."

This slashdot thread, make sure you scroll down, discusses EULA's and how
binding they really are.


If you are so swayed, you may wish to support this legal battle, the
Donations page is here:


Again, I do not wish to re-ignite any recent threads on this List, I post
this here purely as a pointer to Lists, Forums and Blogs much closer to the
coal face and frequented by individuals more qualified to help in such

Who'd watch TV when you have real life?

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