Best Buy, Samsung, Westinghouse, 11 more named in GPL lawsuit

Best Buy, Samsung, Westinghouse and JVC are among 14 consumer electronics companies named in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed today in New York by the Software Freedom Law Center.

Best Buy, Samsung, Westinghouse and JVC are among 14 consumer electronics companies named in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed today in New York by the Software Freedom Law Center.

According to the complaint (.pdf), the defendants sold products containing software application BusyBox in violation of the terms of its license, the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2).

The entire list of companies named in the suit is as follows:

  • Best Buy
  • Samsung
  • Westinghouse
  • JVC
  • Western Digital
  • Robert Bosch
  • Phoebe Micro
  • Humax USA
  • Comtrend
  • Dobbs-Stanford
  • Versa Technology
  • Zyxel Communications
  • Astak
  • GCI Technologies

The suit was filed on behalf of the Software Freedom Conservancy, the non-profit "corporate home" of BusyBox, as well as Erik Andersen, one of the program's principal developers and copyright holders.

From the statement:

Known as the “Swiss Army Knife” for Linux, BusyBox is a common component of a growing number of household devices, including Best Buy's Insignia Blu Ray DVD Player, Samsung HDTVs, Westinghouse's 52-inch LCD Television, and more than a dozen other products that the defendants have continued to sell without the permission of the software's copyright holders. Under the terms of the GPLv2, anyone can view, modify, and use the program for free on the condition that they distribute the source code to customers.

The SFLC confirmed BusyBox violations in nearly 20 separate products cited in the complaint and gave each defendant ample time to comply with the requirements of the license.

The SFLC said the companies either failed to respond meaningfully to requests or ignored them altogether. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Since 2007, the SFLC says it has sued six companies, including Verizon and Cisco, for selling products with embedded FOSS programs in violation of the GPL. The SFLC is a non-profit law firm that offers pro-bono legal services to Free and Open Source Software developers.

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