Thursday, August 14, 2008

Landmark Federal Circuit Decision holds that Open Source Copyrights are Legally Enforceable

Here is a great Federal Circuit decision on Copyrights in Open Source which the New Media & Technology Law Blog (Jeffrey D. Neuburger) describes as follows:

"There are so few judicial opinions dealing with open source licenses that any single one is of great interest, but the pro-open source ruling of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Jacobsen v. Katzer, No. 2008-1001 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 13, 2008) easily goes to the top of the charts of this small category. This is a highly significant opinion that will greatly bolster the efforts of the open source community to control the use of open source software according to the terms set out in open source licenses."

Straight from Information Week and read the rest there:

"Open Source Copyrights Legally Enforceable, Appeals Court Rules

The federal appeals court said open source users that do not comply with the software's strict licensing terms can be sued for copyright infringement -- even if the software is free.

A federal appeals court has struck down a lower court ruling that found that open source copyrights may not be legally enforceable if they're licensed under terms that are "intentionally broad."

Ruling on an appeal brought by software developer Robert Jacobsen, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Wednesday that open source users that do not comply with the software's strict licensing terms can, in fact, be sued for copyright infringement -- even if the software is free."

In the opinion for the Federal Circuit, District Judge Hochberg stated simply and clearly:

"We consider here the ability of a copyright holder to dedicate certain work to free public use and yet enforce an "open source" copyright license to control the future distribution and modification of that work.....

Copyright holders who engage in open source licensing have the right to control the modification and distribution of copyrighted material.

That takes care of that.

Read the rest at Information Week and at the New Media & Technology Law Blog.

Medical Alert : Can Sweetener Aspartame Cause Depression after High Doses of 0%-Sugar Zero-type Soft Drinks? Can Phenylalanine Cause Seizures?

Sainsbury's large retail supermarket chain in the UK banned the controversial sweetener aspartame from soft drinks on its shelves in 2007, but aspartame-containing soft drinks are still readily available around the world.

Natural News writes about Aspartame as follows:

"The problem with aspartame lies in overconsumption....

Aspartame, the artificial sweetener that often flavors sugar-free drinks and foods, has been known to induce convulsions and grand mal seizures in certain individuals. So why is it still on peoples' shopping lists?"

Good question. One reason is that over 130 countries have approved aspartame for use in foods and drinks, as one can read at the Coca-Cola (TM) website. Aspartame is marketed as a sweetener, 180 times more powerful than sugar, under trade names such as Equal (TM) and Nutrasweet (TM). It is also added liberally to "diet" foods and "diet" drinks. Are there any dangers?

We think the answer is definitely yes. Let us look at the following - very personal, and quite recent - case study involving aspartame in a soft drink beverage.

The LawPundit is nearing age 62, and, yet, a fellow golfer recently stated to another player in our threesome that no golfer he had ever met over 45 years of age hit their drives longer than I do (that may be overstating it a bit). In any case, I am thus quite healthy and strong for my age and take no medication of any kind, although I have been struggling with moderate weight gain in recent years. The scales recently hit 215 pounds. For 6 feet tall that is not bad, but as you get older that added weight begins to settle in places you don't want it, ala John Daly, of whom I am a big fan when he is playing well, but health and performance tend to suffer from excess weight and from the kind of lifestyle that leads to weight gain.

Nevertheless, although over the years I have sampled an occasional "diet" food or have drunk - rarely - beverages containing an "artificial sweetener", I have stuck to eating and drinking normal foods and real sugar beverages (normal soft drinks), simply because I do not like the taste of artificial sweeteners. Really, that stuff tastes bad - of course to my personal and individual tastebuds.

By contrast, on a normal day I can without difficulty put away a couple of big bottles of classic Coca Cola (TM), or, in the USA, also those great root beers like Sonic, Mug, A&W and many more root beer brands that food chains - sadly - do not sell in Europe. I was told recently that drinking such large quantities of sugared soft drinks was a contributing cause to weight gain.

So, yesterday
- rather than buying a normal "sugared" Coke (TM) viz. Coca-Cola (TM)) or a lower-priced cloned natural-sugar cola (Edeka and Aldi in Germany e.g.) -
I purchased a large bottle (1.5 liters) of one of those 0% sugar ("zero type") cola drinks (in this case a non-Coca-Cola "Freeway 0%" cola from the food chain Lidl). Such a 0%-sugar cola contains no sugar but it DOES contain the artificial sweetener aspartame (ASP), an ingredient which is specifically designated as a source of phenylalanine on the German bottle label because of the danger of phenylalanine to people with Phenylketonuria (explained further below). The German label reads "Phenylalaninquelle".

Also Coca-Cola Zero (TM) (i.e. Coke Zero) (TM) from the Coca-Cola Company, the world's largest beverage company, contains aspartame as an ingredient.

The problem is that "coke drinkers", for example, who drink Coca-Cola Zero (Coke Zero) or a competing 0%-sugar cola know little if anything about aspartame or phenylalanine. How much is in any given soft drink batch or bottle? How much, if any, is harmful?

Today, due to the very unexpected and quite astonishing negative depressing effect of that aspartame 0%-sugar cola on me after drinking a full 1.5 liters of it, I thought I better check the soft drink ingredients online to see if aspartame had any known side effects like depression (it did - see e.g. one report here) .

In fact, aspartame is a substance which is broken down in the body into three substances, indeed, potentially VERY harmful substances. As written by Dr. Lendon Smith:

"This compound breaks down in the system to: * 1) phenylalanine (50%) which can be neurotoxic and in some susceptible people will cause seizures * 2) aspartic acid (40%) which can cause brain damage in the developing brain * 3) methanol (10%) which turns into formaldehyde embalming fluid an obvious toxin. They all have adverse effects, but not everyone is affected equally. This is why the scientific community is having trouble evaluating these anecdotal reports."

This information was a possible explanation for my condition yesterday afternoon and still for the good part of today after having drunk 1.5 liters of that 0%-sugar cola quickly all in one afternoon sitting (it was hot). Was there a causal connection between my depressed state and the drinking of that 0%-sugar cola?

People who know me well know that I am not subject to any kind of depression, also not in combination with alcohol. Quite the contrary, I tend to get livelier as the evening wears on. As far as I know, I have never really been depressed a day in my life, until - that is to say - starting yesterday afternoon and continuing today, after I drank that whole bottle of the 0%-sugar cola the day before. Indeed, my sleep the entire night was very disturbed, until I got up this morning, feeling - for lack of a better word - depressed, although I am not sure that I am correctly defining my state, since it was foreign to me. Nor did I have any reason to feel depressed, which I equate with feeling senselessly "down" rather than optimistically "up", my normal state.

Although of course a causal relationship for this kind of event is very difficult to establish, whatever was in that 0%-sugar cola was - in my opinion - an almost immediate cause of that depression. This could only be caused by aspartame.

Most scientific studies seem to suggest that there are no grievous health effects to be feared from aspartame (e.g. the MIT CRC study ten years ago), but other independent studies and curious developments seem to point to a persistent and disturbing thread that not everything is quite right with aspartame. Indeed, in 2006 the Holland Sweetener Company, Europe's largest maker of aspartame, exited the aspartame sweetener business entirely. Indeed, some commentators think that fear of the aspartame carcinogenic study by the Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences in Italy was responsible for that development. The then parent company Royal DSM N.V. (22000 employees) in fact continues to make other sweeteners, but no longer aspartame. Why that?

The European Food Safety Authority considered but did not attach any significant weight to that above-mentioned report by Ramazzini, a study which seems to suggest that aspartame could be carcinogenic. The Daily Mail in the UK reported:

"Their report concluded: "In our experimental conditions, it has been demonstrated, for the first time, that aspartame causes a dose-related statistically significant increase in lymphomas and leukaemias in females at levels very near those to which humans can be exposed." "

Furthermore, phenylalanine, one of the byproducts of aspartame metabolism, is also definitely related to a heightened propensity for epileptic-type seizures in humans, a propensity also documented in monkeys.

Indeed, one double-blind study with aspartame using patients with a history of depression had to be stopped "because of the severity of reactions within the group of patients with a history of depression."

In the United States, the FDA has thus far also seen no cause for concern. However, one of the products of aspartame, phenylalanine, is a deadly poison to people who suffer from Phenylketonuria (PKU):

"Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder characterized by a deficiency in the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). This enzyme is necessary to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine to the amino acid tyrosine. When PAH is deficient, phenylalanine accumulates and is converted into phenylpyruvate (also known as phenylketone), which is detected in the urine. PAH is found on chromosome number 12.

Left untreated, this condition can cause problems with brain development, leading to progressive mental retardation and seizures. However, PKU is one of the few genetic diseases that can be controlled by diet. A diet low in phenylalanine and high in tyrosine can be a very effective treatment. There is no cure. Damage done is irreversible so early detection is crucial."

To put it bluntly, phenylalanine does not look like the kind of substance you want to have in your body in large amounts as a byproduct of ingesting aspartame, even if you do not suffer from Phenylketonuria.

What is even more remarkable is that there is almost no evidence that aspartame has ANY beneficial effects when taken with foods or drinks. Quite the contrary, the Daily Mail in the UK writes Why low-calorie sweeteners are 'more fattening than sugar':

"One of the first rules of weight watching has always been: Put the sugar bowl at the back of the cupboard and use low-calorie sweeteners from now on.

But researchers suggested yesterday that dieters might be better sticking with sugar after all.

They think that a sweet taste can prompt the body to prepare for a large intake of calories.

When this does not arrive, the body then becomes confused and either demands more food or burns less energy - with the result showing on the scales.

"The data clearly indicate that consuming a food sweetened with no-calorie saccharin can lead to greater body-weight gain than the same food sweetened with high-calorie sugar," say the U.S. team behind the research."

No more aspartame for this writer. And no artificial sweeteners of any kind. The key to weight loss appears to be to just to cut down a bit on food, drink and sugar intake.

The food and drug authorities around the world should start looking into this matter of aspartame a bit more deeply and far more critically than they have done up to now.


Please note that the author of this LawPundit posting, Andis Kaulins, is licensed as a pharmaceutical consultant in Germany, competent to advise even physicians about the effects and side effects of medicinal drugs.

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