August 2008

Jacobsen v. Katzer

by Lee Gesmer on August 22, 2008

“Trust me, this is huge.” Larry Lessig

My partner Andy Updegrove has written a post discussing Jacobsen v. Katzer. In a nutshell, theCAFC upheld an open source copyright license, pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. As Andy discusses, this is an important decision for the open source movement.

Update: Here is a link to a thoughtful post discussing whether this decision might have the unexpected effect of tipping the scales (in favor of licensors) on the legal enforceability of license provisions prohibiting reverse engineering of software: Be Careful What You Wish For: How the Jacobsen v. Katzer Decision Could Hurt the Free Software MovementRead the full article

Charlie Could Not Get Off That Train ….

by Lee Gesmer on August 21, 2008

Let me tell you the story
Of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket,
Kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA

Charlie on the MTA (Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes, 1949)


U.S. District Judge O’Toole has his hands full with this one. Here’s the quick and dirty:

In 2006 the Boston MBTA released the “CharlieCard,” a passcard containing an integrated chip that allows riders of the “T” (the nation’s oldest subway) to store value for rides.

Two weeks ago Anderson, Ryan and Chiesa, three MIT students, announced that they had hacked the CharlieCard, and would present their results at DEFCON 16, scheduled for August 8-10 in Las Vegas. Their presentation slides, titled “Anatomy of a Subway Hack” were published in advance of DEFCON.

This upset the T, which filed suit in federal court in Boston on August 8th.… Read the full article

Litigation takes the place of sex in middle age.
Gore Vidal

I wrote in some detail almost two years ago about how trials can be very bad for clients. In the linked article I wrote:

Sadly, too many lawyers (you hear their ads on the radio and see them in the legal journals – “courtroom lawyers,” “trial lawyers”) are often as willing to take their clients to trial as generals are to commit their troops to battle.

Now, a study reported in the New York Times seems to find empirical confirmation for this. I quote from the article, linked here:

Note to victims of accidents, medical malpractice, broken contracts and the like: When you sue, make a deal.

That is the clear lesson of a soon-to-be-released study of civil lawsuits that has found that most of the plaintiffs who decided to pass up a settlement offer and went to trial ended up getting less money than if they had taken that offer.

Read the full article

If my partner Andy Updegrove (he’s the one on the right) is not the most knowledgeable lawyer on the planet about ODF/OOXML standard adoption issues (1,2,3), I would be more than a little surprised. Here is a Q & A with Andy that Redmond Developer News has published, where he discusses the ongoing appeals process related to these standards. A link to the article on is below, and here is a link to the article online. If you know absolutely nothing about this controversy, click here to read several articles Andy has published on the topic.

Read this document on Scribd: OOXML Q & A With Andy Updegrove
Read the full article