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Discussion Starter #1
JMRI, open source code for controlling a layout, had a big win in court yesterday over a bully.
 

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Could someone please boil all that down to:

1. Who sued who?

2. Why?

3. Who won?

4. What it means to us?

Please limit all answers to no more than 5 or 10 words.

As in:

1. Jack sued Jill.

2. Because he thinks she shoved him down the hill.

3. Jack won (on appeal to a higher court after Jill won).

4. Jill is now required to provide handrails on any hill she goes up with Jack.
 

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Just type in jmri wins lawsuit on Google search and you will find out everything you probably didnt want to know there! LOL The Regal/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif" border=0>" border=0>
 

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so to answer my questions

1. JMRI sued KAM industries

2. JMRI wrote software and gave it away free, KAM modified it some and put it with some hardware to sell it. JMRI sued because they say you cannot sell their software without blatantly identifing the source of the software and KAM failed to do that.

3. JMRI won so KAM cannot no longer sell their product.

4. I have one less vendor to get the functionality of the software. MY recourse is to find another vendor that included the software attribution clause or invent my own hardware, and modify the free software to work with it on my own.

Now, one more question:

Is the hobby better off for this decision? Everybody seems to be praising it, but I still don't understand.
 

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Charles

Not quite correct, admittedly this is from JMRI's point of view, however I think you'll find it fairly accurate. The link will place you at the last update, if you scroll up the whole story and its time line is there. And you being a software developer would understand the larger implications to Open Source I would think.

JMRI Defence: Our Story So Far
 

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Discussion Starter #7
"Stylized" event summary:

1. Jacobsen (physics prof/Berkeley) wrote code to control model trains and contributed it to public domain
with caveat that anyone can use it, but not charge for anything containing that code.

2. Katzer then had a programmer download and incorporate it in a product, patented it,
filed a suit on it, and sent bills to Jacobsen for over $200,000 several times.

He also called Jacobsen's employer and threatened. Total bully. He wanted $29 royalty
for each copy.

3. Jacobsen lost one round (Katzer is flush with lawyers).

4. Jacobsen prevailed on appeal (yesterday).



What it means (opinion):

1. A very basic patent(using any 2 commands sequentially in controlling a model train layout)

will now probably be whacked;

2. Down the road when software proliferates in our hobby, you might not have

to pay the vig ala Microsoft.

3. Open source projects (can) deliver much more reliable products to market quicker

than most proprietary products. Thus, your options on playing with DCC are better.

4. Huge win for open source folks; full article in the Wall Street Journal.



See Bob Grosh's description and click on the link at the bottom:



http://www.mylargescale.com/Community/Forums/tabid/56/forumid/34/tpage/1/view/topic/postid/36500/Default.aspx#37158



The bad boys in this tale are at: www.trainpriority.com
 

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Posted By SteveC on 08/14/2008 3:03 PM
Charles

Not quite correct, admittedly this is from JMRI's point of view, however I think you'll find it fairly accurate. The link will place you at the last update, if you scroll up the whole story and its time line is there. And you being a software developer would understand the larger implications to Open Source I would think.

JMRI Defence: Our Story So Far




Being a software developer, I really do not like (or fully understand, maybe) the Open Source movement. I have written programs and freely given them away (You want an alarm clock on your computer? How about a way to print the list of files in a folder/directory?)... but not the source code. You can have the "executable program" but not the program code that a compiler used to create that executable version of the program; that "code" belongs to me. Sure, I'll SELL it to you, but just like I can sell you a book, you cannot incorporate MY code into your product. If you want to incorporate my code in your product, I will RENT you the rights to do that, too, with certain caveats and conditions. You want to write your own code to do the same thing that my program will do for free? Go ahead, maybe you'll do better than my code. If I discover and can prove you incorporated MY code in YOUR program I will sue you for Copyright infringement. If your program is exactly like mine and you can sell it... stupid consumer, they could have had it for free from me.

Assume software is a hamburger... I cook them and give them away. I give one to William Goat. Billy Goat then sell it to someone else. Stupid "someone else"... I would have given them one for free, untouched by this second party's possibly contaminated hooves.

Now if Billy takes my burger with catsup and pickles as I provided it, and scrapes the pickles off and adds mustard and onions, that is no longer "MY" hamburger and I don't want any association with it... Billy could have had salmonella contaminated onions and who knows what is in that mustard... it is no longer MY hamburger and I will NOT accept blame for someone eating it. But again, stupid consumer for not getting a good, FREE one, from me. If they'd a asked, I might have incorporated the different condiments for free (or not, depending on how expensive it is to me, how hard it is to do or how offensive it is to me to do it to a burger).

Now back to software... Suppose I write a Microsoft Excel look-a-like program and give the source code to anybody that wants it. Mr. Goat modifies it and tacks his name to the list of programmers. What'd he do to MY code? Change the names of the variables in the code to those of his kids instead of something descriptive like I had them? Or did he actually enhance the code by adding functionality or fix bugs? Did he screwup the next iteration I had in mind for the code by altering the structure?

Assume Mr. Jack Ass also got the code and also made changes to it, with the same unknowns as to the veracity/security/intelligence of the code. Now we have at least 3 versions of the program floating about. How compatible are they? Can a change made to one of them be incorporated into the others without inducing bugs and other incompatibilities?

Now a bunch of folk get together to consolidate the versions and attempt to prove out the veracity/security/intelligence of the code... it is called the "Open Source" committee. Pretty good idea, actually. All software needs a full review by folk that KNOW what they are doing!

But do you know what an elephant is?

It is a horse designed by a committee!

I have worked with hundreds of programmers...

Some were absolutely brilliant (I am truly humbled by their abilities!)...

MOST were total idiots. Yes, most could write code, but they had absolutely no idea of what the consumer wants and had their own ideas of what the consumer "needs" and by golly, they will FORCE the consumer to fit their (the programmer's) ideal. I have had more than one programmer tell me that they would not spend 10 minutes of their time improving the code to save the end user a minute of execution time each time the program is run. QUOTE: "The pay is the same either way and I don't care." UNQUOTE!


As for the present situation, even though I have read the reports (as best as I could) I still have not assimilated the "Facts" (an probably never will), but it sure seems that if the "code" had never been given away in the first place, or not given away with the strings attached, the problem would be different... not necessarily better, but, at least, different.

I suppose that if one (or both) of the parties were a "bully" about it, then castration with a sledge hammer is in order, but I cannot pass judgment based on news reports nor without hearing both parties expound on their positions and understanding of the facts directly to me... and I don't count in this situation.

If this present judgment provides for More, Better, Cheaper (pick any two) products for this hobby then it is a good decision... otherwise the only winners are the lawyers.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Info on Open source concepts can be found at "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source".


This forum is running on a "Open Source"-based OS, probably uses Apache (ditto) and the MySQL database (ditto)....


I am looking at it with a Firefox browser on a MAC that has Unix underneath....

Hmmmmm....



To keep the focus, this ruling today was a win for anybody who uses a computer and specifically the model railroading community.

Chip
 

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Charles

You may not understand, nor agree with with the "Open Source" concept, but it is a fact of life out there. The point being the individual that originated the code has every right to do with it as they see fit, from putting it out in the public domain to hording it or anything in between.

As an example, it's one of the main reasons that 'Ethernet' out lived 'token ring', because IBM held the copyright on the firmware that had to go into the network card and you were going to pay dearly for it.

As for the court's ruling, basically all they did was uphold the copyright of the individuals that created the software that the other gentleman used part of and failed to live up to the terms of the license he was granted.
 

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The holding of this case goes to whether the restrictions in "open source" software (SW) narrow the scope of the license enough to support claims of copyright infringement, despite the fact that they are free, widely distributed, and the use restrictions are relatively minor.

Courts and intellectual property scholars have been wrestling with the following legal issue for some time: if open source licenses allow anyone to download the relevant SW for free and the licenses are exceptionally broad, do the relatively limited use restrictions (e.g., requiring licensees to cite the original SW author's names when using the code) constitute "conditions" to the license? This is an important issue - conditions to a license are enforceable by way of copyright infringement claims and there are helpful legal presumptions associated with the copyright infringement cause of action. If, on the other hand, these minor restrictions constitute "covenants," the copyright holder may enforce them through bread-and-butter contract claims only. Breach of contract claims come with fewer legal goodies and are harder to win.

Here, plaintiff Jacobson sought a preliminary injunction at the District Court based on a claim of copyright infringement to stop Katzer/Kamind from selling their Decoder Software allegedly based on Jacobson's code. The District Court held that the license was overly broad in scope and too unlimited to support a copyright infringement claim â€" in other words, that the restrictions in the license were "covenants." Because Jacobson was relying on the nifty legal presumption of irreparable harm that accompanies a copyright infringement claim to justify the PI â€" when the court tossed the copyright infringement claim, the presumption of irreparable harm and Jacobson's chance of obtaining a PI died as well.

On appeal, though, the 9th Circuit completely reversed the district court and (for the time being at least) resolved this persistent open source license conundrum. They held that the restrictions in Jacobson's license did constitute conditions because they were "vital to enable the copyright holder to retain the ability to benefit from the work of downstream users" and because "Copyright holders who engage in open source licensing [should] have the right to control the modification and distribution of copyrighted material."

This decision, while very significant for the development of IP legal doctrine, simply allows Mr. Jacobson to once again attempt to obtain a preliminary injunction. It doesn't decide the case. There are other elements he must prove to get the PI and if he gets the PI, there will be a trial on the merits if the parties don't settle. Still, by permitting the developers of open-source SW to restrict certain uses of their work even if the SW is distributed free of charge, it's likely that more developers will be willing to license their SW this way. That means more-and-more programs will become available to the consumer.
 
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