The Law.Com analysis is based on Jacobsen vs. Katzer, the case from last year in which an open source license was upheld as enforceable.
This means the conditions of an open source license can subject violators to sanctions under the Copyright Act, write Jonathan Moskin, Howard Wettan and Adam Turkel of White & Case LLP.
Under copyright law, the licensor does not have to prove economic harm by the licensee, only that a defendant's profits were the result of the copyright violation. The licensor can also sue "downstream licensees," the authors write.
In other words if Cisco sold a router with open source code to a telephone company, the owner of that code could sue the telephone company.
Thus, the effect of Jacobsen is twofold; it enables a set of potentially onerous monetary remedies for failures to comply with even modest license terms, and it subjects a potentially larger community of intellectual property users to liability.