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

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

Summary: 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.

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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.

Topics: Legal, CXO, Open Source, Samsung, Software, IT Employment

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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32 comments
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  • To quote the great songwriter, Tom Lehrer:

    "I have always found it interesting... that there are people who regard
    copyright infringement as a form of flattery."
    msalzberg
    • Obviously great...

      Because I have no idea who he is.
      Spiritusindomit
      • You must be very young, where were you in the 1960's?

        You can read about him <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lehrer>here</a> and <a href=http://www.tomlehrer.org/>here (site)</a>. He was a song writer.
        B.O.F.H.
        • I hope you're wrong

          about the "was." Although I'll admit I haven't heard anything from him since "That was the Year that Was," I'll always hold out hope for more Tomfoolery.
          IT_User
          • Tom Lehrer is 81, I doubt that he is working on anything new.

            Though I did enjoy his songs.
            B.O.F.H.
          • He quit after Kissinger or something

            I'd like to hear a Tom Lehrer song about Twitter. Or an "I went to a marvellous party" at the White House I wasn't invited to. Or something about modern athletes and sex / performance enhancer scandals. (Or indeed sex performance enhancers.)

            When he wrote "The Old Dope Peddler" there apparently weren't any local drug dealers in most neighbourhoods. Does it make it less or more funny that there now are?

            "He gives the kids free samples,
            Because he knows full well
            That today's eager young faces
            Will be tomorrow's clientele"

            (To flatter him some more)
            Robert Carnegie 2009
        • re: You must be very young, where were you in the 1960's?

          [i]He was a song writer.[/i]

          And a MIT professor.





          :)
          none none
  • RE: Best Buy, Samsung, Westinghouse, 11 more named in GPL lawsuit

    This is all the more reason not to use GPL'd licensed software. You will get sued if you do.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Gotta (+)1 this

      It seems all but arbitrary on a daily basis what form of dissemination they consider valid within their licensing arrangement. Not only that, GNU in general seems to arbitrarily decide it doesn't like some companies, and hammer them, while ignoring others in developing countries and other places they feel have some social right to plagiarize because some "man" was keeping them "down."

      In my opinion busybox is a program that needs to be under the MIT license.
      Spiritusindomit
      • Excellent idea

        [i]In my opinion busybox is a program that needs to be under the MIT license. [/i]

        Nothing stopping you or anyone else from writing a clone and licensing it under MIT. Otherwise, your opinion is no different from someone who thinks that Microsoft should issue everything they've done under the GPL.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Doesn't writing a clone

          then put you in another fire all together, like patents and/or copywrite infringement?
          John Zern
          • IANAL

            [i]Doesn't writing a clone then put you in another fire all together, like patents and/or copywrite infringement?[/i]

            No patents in evidence (else the lawsuit would have cited them, BTW -- you're supposed to bring all of your complaints if you're filing suit on the same basic material.)

            Copyright? Only if you copy the code -- the function is by definition not covered by copyright, only the expression. That's how Compaq was founded: a clean-room reimplementation of the functionality of IBM's PC BIOS. [b]Very[/b] well-tested law.
            Yagotta B. Kidding
    • LOL!

      [i]This is all the more reason not to use GPL'd licensed software. You will get sued if you do. [/i]

      Actually, this is all the more reason not to violate any software license terms. You will get sued if you do.
      none none
    • LD the Fallacious arguement.

      .nt.
      Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
    • I'm sure Microsoft wouldn't sue you L.D.

      If you were doing things with their software that is against the law.

      You god-darn idiot!
      AdventTech67
    • No, they are the only ones who do that.....

      Not like Microsoft has sued anyone over infringement. Hmmm... actually didn't they just loose an appeal after being caught infringing on someones patent?
      devlin_X
  • In a word,

    "Oops!"

    :D


    See, laws are for everyone - except the profiteers.
    HypnoToad72
  • GPL going to leave a bad taste in these folks mouth.

    Don't expect them to be big fans of the GPL or anything covered by it in the future.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • its quite simple.. release your code.. no suite

      There is very little cost in releasing their code and most people wont even look twice at it.

      What would be good is if other people copied it and used it. Then we might have some type of standardization... oohh crap ... noo i could not have said the S word... we wouldnt want consumers to be able to mix and match... now would we?
      Been_Done_Before
      • 1 simple sentence in the manual

        would have saved them all this trouble.

        "Source code available upon request."

        The bad taste in their mouth is greed. Following the GPL is simple, and since they are using other people's software to make a profit, following the GPL shouldn't be too much to ask.
        baboddonggae