The question we asked in January about whether Cisco would make it to court against a Free Software Foundation (FSF) GPL violation suit has been answered.
The answer was no.
The settlement announced Wednesday is everything open source could have wished. Cisco will ride herd on its Linksys subsidiary, where these violations have been taking place, it will notify customers of their rights, it will release the relevant source code, and it will make an unspecified "contribution" to the FSF.
A blog post on the settlement emphasized that compliance, not cash, was and remains the FSF's goal in these suits.
This was the first time the FSF went to court over a GPL violation, the blog post noted, adding:
When the violator admits that there's been a mistake and demonstrates they want to fix it, we take it as a sign that we can cooperative productively, instead of an opportunity to pounce.
That last bit helped emphasize a big difference between the FSF legal attitude and that of i4i, which this week got a $200 million judgement against Microsoft in what critics call the "patent troll court," the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Tyler.
The i4i technology was open source.
So, FSF good cop. Open source vendors, bad cop. The lesson here should be clear.
If you have to go to court for violating an open source license stick with the gnu you gknow.