GPL will get its day in court

Summary:The Software Freedom Law Center says it has filed the first ever U.S.

The Software Freedom Law Center says it has filed the first ever U.S. copyright infringement lawsuit based on the GNU General Public License.

The Software Freedom Law Center (SLFC) said Thursday it is filing the lawsuit (see complaint, statement and Techmeme) against Monsoon Multimedia on behalf of the two developers behind BusyBox, described as a "lightweight set of standard Unix utilities commonly used in embedded systems and is open source software licensed under GPL version 2."

The crux of the case seems to be this:

One of the conditions of the GPL is that re-distributors of BusyBox are required to ensure that each downstream recipient is provided access to the source code of the program. On the company's own Web site, Monsoon Multimedia has publicly acknowledged that its products and firmware contain BusyBox. However, it has not provided any recipients with access to the underlying source code, as is required by the GPL.

In other words, Monsoon took the goods, but just isn't sharing.

The complaint seeks and injunction, damages and litigation costs. What'll be really interesting is watching how potential damages will be calculated given the code is supposed to be open and the software is free.

In the complaint the SLFC tried to contact Monsoon, but the company didn't reply. Usually these matters are handled with a letter.

Topics: Open Source, Legal, Software

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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