A claim for actual damages for infringement of open source software code is not precluded because the code was distributed without charge, a district court ruled. The court denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the issue of actual damages, finding that a monetary damages figure could be established by evidence in the record attributing a monetary value to the actual work performed by contributors to the open source project that produced the software code.
Jacobsen v. Katzer, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115204 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 10, 2009) Download PDF
Editor’s Note The case is most significant for the August 2008 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that rights in open source software code can be enforced under the Copyright Act. In the current ruling, the district court noted that Jacobsen, the manager of the open source project that produced the code in question, and the assignee of the related copyright rights, conceded that he was not entitled to statutory copyright damages. The district court’s opinion, including its rulings on several other issues, is discussed further on the Proskauer New Media and Technology Law blog, as is the announcement on February 17 of the settlement of the litigation.