A legal dispute involving model railroad hobbyists has resulted in a major courtroom victory for the free software movement also known as open-source software, reports The New York Times. In a ruling Wednesday, the federal appeals court in Washington said that just because a software programmer gave his work away did not mean it could not be protected.

The decision legitimizes the use of commercial contracts for the distribution of computer software and digital artistic works for the public good. The court ruling also bolsters the open-source movement by easing the concerns of large organizations about relying on free

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