Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer. Check out what Matt, a lawyer, has to say.
Very cool news that a US federal appeals court has ruled that open source code in Jacobsen v. Katzer is subject to copyright laws. A lower court had found that copyright law didn’t apply. However, the appeals court reversed that decision. The decision lays the foundation for future open source license infringements to be brought as copyright infringement claims instead of breach of contract claims. This is important because (b-school coming in handy!) remedies under copyright law are more severe than under contract law.
BTW, Roberto was arguing that the Business Software Alliance (BSA) should also help protect open source products, since they are copyrighted products also. The federal ruling strengthens Roberto’s case. Although, as an alliance of predominately closed-source software vendors, the BSA may not jump onto Roberto’s bandwagon. Although, it begs the question, why aren’t there any open source companies on the BSA? Where are you Red Hat, Sun, Alfresco, WSO2, Hyperic, etc?