CPR: How Jacobsen v. Katzer Resuscitated the Open Source Movement

Although the open source software movement is growing in popu-larity and acceptance, the fact remains that the legal rights of open source software developers remain largely unknown. The Federal Cir-cuit’s landmark opinion in Jacobsen v. Katzer, however, which held that open source licenses are enforceable under both state contract law and federal copyright law, was a landmark victory for the open source move-ment. This Note analyzes Jacobsen and discusses how it infused new life into the open source movement. The author first defines “open source,” explains the theory behind the open source movement, and presents the most commonly used open source licenses. Next, the author discusses the benefits and the drawbacks of enforcing open source licenses under state contract law and federal copyright law, analyzes the Jacobsen decision, and illustrates the impact Jacobsen may have on software licensing. Fi-nally, the author recommends how courts, open source licensors, and open source licensees should act in light of the Jacobsen decision.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.