Jenkins–Laporte doctrine

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In United States copyright law and jurisprudence established under the doctrine of stare decisis by the case of Netbula, LLC v. Symantec Corp., 516 F. Supp.2d 1137 (N.D.Cal. 2007)[1] and related cases.[2] The cases defined the boundaries of property rights and contractual rights in the licensing of digital works. It is so called because the cases were decided by two renowned American judges and leading jurists, former U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins (now a Justice in California Courts of Appeal) and Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte.

The basic principles of the doctrine can be summarized:

(1) If an accused infringer did not see or agree to copy restriction, there was no infringement;

(2) A "one user on one computer" restriction does not limit the scope of a software license, it's an independent contractual covenant;

(3) A termination clause in the license agreement does not limit the scope of the license, it's an independent contractual covenant.

The ingenious observation Justice Jenkins made was that in a copyright action, although license is an affirmative defense to infringement, the "plaintiff’s initial hurdle is proving the terms of the license." 516 F. Supp. 2d at 1151. The Jenkins–Laporte doctrine provides a legal foundation for circumvention of the exclusive rights provided by the Copyright Act, as the doctrine requires the copyright owner to prove the negative.


  1. ^ Netbula, LLC v. Symantec Corp., 516 F. Supp.2d 1137 (N.D.Cal. 2007)
  2. ^ [1] Netbula, LLC v. Storage Technology Corporation et al., 2008 U.S. Dist LEXIS 4119 (N.D. Cal., January 18, 2008)