Jacobsen v Katzer

Background information

The plaintiff created software code and published it under an open source license called the Artistic license. Defendant incorporated the code into its commercial software without complying with the terms of the Artistic license. Plaintiff sued for copyright infringement.

Case summary

The district court held that the license was “intentionally broad” and unlimited in scope and therefore did not create liability for copyright infringement. On that basis, they denied the motion for preliminary injunction. Plaintiff appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court decision and remanded the case. The court held that the restrictions in the license were conditions rather than contractual covenants, meaning that violating them constituted copyright infringement.