Free Software Foundation calls Cisco a leech, in court

Cisco may have defenses in fact, and it may seek to argue the law. Either way its image still takes a hit, just as it is trying to gain wider public acceptance

shooting yourself in the foot, from Alfred Capital Management
I had just finished defending Cisco on charges of being an open source leech when I learned the Free Software Foundation has sued the company for multiple GPL violations.

Blagoyevich, I said to myself. (Gesundheit.) (Picture from Alfred Capital Management.)

Cisco's Linksys unit has a long history of violating the GPL. But I assumed they had learned their lesson, that they had, as I put it in my own newsletter, gotten A Clue.

Apparently not. Now they have David Dan Ravicher, Software Freedom Law Center legal director and law partner of the legendary Eben Moglen, going all Patrick Fitzgerald on them.

At issue, according to the 38 page complaint released as a PDF today, are basic elements of the Linux operating system licensed under GPL V. 2. The complaint says Cisco's Linksys unit failed to provide source code.

This is the first time the FSF has had to go to court for relief in its 15 years. Previous violations, mainly over Bruce Perens' Busybox, were filed through GPL Violations and settled out of court.

As noted earlier this is not the first time Linksys, which Cisco acquired in 2003, has been accused of a code violation. When I researched the 2003 case sources told me Linksys was running very independently of Cisco.

UPDATE: Perens was an original author but writes the suits were filed by later developers. Also, GPL Violations was not involved in the initial complaint against Linksys.

That may still be the case. But five years on this is no longer an excuse, just an explanation. Cisco may have defenses in fact, and it may seek to argue the law.

Either way its image still takes a hit, just as it is trying to gain wider public acceptance by launching a small business technology group and opening an innovation center in Singapore.

Cisco stock is currently trading around $17 per share, down 38% since the start of the year.

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