Lawrence Lessig - lessig blog - huge and important newsSo for non-lawgeeks, this won't seem important. But trust me, this is huge.[...]In non-technical terms, the Court [of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has jurisdiction over intellectual property law issues - bc] has held that free licenses such as the [Creative Commons] licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.
The comments are absolutely worth reading, by the way, or were as of the writing of this post, anyway. Mr. Lessig has some very smart and interesting readers.