Technology and Business Law Blog

Artistic License Terms- Copyright Infringement

In Jacobsen v. Katzer, the appellant brought an action against the appellees for copyright infringement for not following the terms of the Artistic License while copying and incorporating materials from it’s website.

The District court had stated that open source Artistic License created an “intentionally broad” non-exclusive license which is unlimited in scope and thus did not create liablity for copyright infringement. The appellete court’s analysis was otherwise stating that the Artistic License and other open source licenses cannot be randomly copied and modified without following the terms set forth in the license.

In this case the Artistic License required that changes to the computer code be tracked so that downstream users know what part of the computer code is the original code created by the copyright holder and what part has been newly added and altered by another collaborator. The appellate court stated that a user who downloaded the JMRI copyrighted material is authorized to make modifications and to distribute the materials “provided that” the user follows the restrictive terms of the Artistic License.

The crux of the appeal was that whether the terms of the Artistic License are just actionable under breach of contract based on covenants or if they were breach of conditions enforceable under copyright infringement. The court held that the term “provided that” denotes a condition and under copyright law the conditions under an Artistic License are enforceable. and so the Artistic License terms were conditions enforcable copyright conditions.

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August 14, 2008 - Posted by | Contract, Copyright Infringement, Licensing |

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