Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jacobsen v Katzer and Open Licensing

In my last post I mentioned my curiosity about whether the rights of a person holding a copyright would be recognized judicially as a protection of that copyright.  I researched this and found the case of Jacobsen v Katzer in the U.S. where the Appeals Court ruled that the license did protect the copyright of the licensor.  In writing about this case, Fitzgerald and Olwan (2008) write:

"This a landmark decision because it confirms that free and open source software copyright licences and by analogy open content licences that are similar in style to the Artistic Licence are:

1)copyright licences
2) which impose licence conditions which if not satisfied can found an action in and the grant of remedies for copyright infringement and
3) are legally enforceable

This in turn provides individuals, businesses, universities and governments that use these types of licenses to distribute and acquire code and content with a greater degree of confidence in their legality."

This case was remanded to the circuit court for that court to hold a trial to determine if the facts supported the specific claims that were required to preserve the copyright under the license.  But the important fact was that the license was upheld as legitimately protecting the copyright of the rights holder.

In addition to the Fitzgerald and Olwan link above, I also link you to which is another good summation of the ruling by Paul H. Arne at

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