Monday, 24 September 2007 04:01

First US GPL infringement suit filed

The Software Freedom Law Center has filed a copyright infringement suit against Monsoon Multimedia, alleging that it has failed to comply with the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2).

The case involves BusyBox, an implementation of various Unix-style commands in a form especially suited to embedded Linux systems, which was released under GPLv2 and used by Monsoon Multimedia in one of its products.

On behalf of Erik Andersen and Rob Landley (two principal developers of BusyBox), the Center alleges that Monsoon failed to make available the source code for BusyBox, and that Monsoon's software licence is incompatible with the GPL. By failing to comply with GPLv2, Monsoon loses the right to redistribute BusyBox.

"We licensed BusyBox under the GPL to give users the freedom to access and modify its source code," said Andersen. "If companies will not abide by the fair terms of our license, then we have no choice but to ask our attorneys to go to court to force them to do so."

The suit seeks an injunction preventing Monsoon and associated parties from making infringing use of BusyBox, costs, and all profits derived from Monsoon's "unlawful acts".

"Free software licenses such as the GPL exist to protect the freedom of computer users. If we don't ensure that these licenses are respected, then they will not be able to achieve their goal," said Eben Moglen, founding director of the Center. "Our goal is simply to ensure that Monsoon Multimedia complies with the terms of the GPL."

According to the Center, this is the first US suit alleging GPL violation. The Germany-based project brought a successful case against the local subsidiary of D-Link for infringing the GPL in respect of software embedded in its DSM-G6000 Wireless G Network Media Storage product. The project has identified more than 100 GPL violations and claims a 100 percent success record in or out of court.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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