Jacobsen v. Katzer

Order Vacating and Remanding

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The United States Court of Appeals held that "Open Source" or public license licensors are entitled to copyright infringement relief.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit also known as, THE "IP" court, has upheld a free copyright license, explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. The Court held that free licenses such as the CC 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.

In August of 2007 the Northern District of California ruled that a violation of public license is a mere contract violation and is not a form of infringement. This ruling reverses the district courts ruling and adds substatialy to power of public licenses.

The court noted that ignoring attribution requirements caused reputation and economic harm to the original licensor. This opinion showed a very strong understanding of many of the basic economic principles of the internet. The opinion also directly challenged the notion that free distribution equates to no economic harm to the original author.

I strongly recommend reading the opinion.

This summary was adapted from Lessig's Blog post on the ruling with additional facts and background added.

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Reference Info:Decision | Federal, Federal Circuit, Patent | United States


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Brian Rowe, Freedom for IP | Attorney Advertising

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