It’s called “open source” software for a reason. But it looks like one company might not be paying attention to even the most basic definitions of the term — and according to PC World, “In what may be the first action of its kind in the U.S., the Software Freedom Law Center has filed a lawsuit to enforce an open-source license.” There’s also a drier, more info-heavy writeup at Ars Technica (from last friday), snippy:
The Software Freedom Law Center announced yesterday that it is filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against Monsoon Multimedia on behalf of the open-source BusyBox project, which is distributed under the Free Software Foundation’s General Public License (GPL).
This is the first time that a company has been sued in the United States for failing to fulfill the copyleft obligations imposed by the license. Monsoon is accused of including BusyBox in the firmware for a video streaming device that is distributed under a proprietary license that isn’t compatible with the terms of the GPL. The GPL grants end users the right to modify and redistribute licensed code and requires that derivatives are distributed under the same license. Distributors who provide GPL software in binary form must also make the source code available to the public.
BusyBox is a collection of essential Linux command-line utilities bundled together in a single executable. It is widely used in mobile and embedded Linux solutions, like several routers, handheld computers, and network storage devices, because it’s designed to be highly compact and portable. A number of prominent companies that use BusyBox, including HP, IBM, and Nokia, comply with the licensing requirements stipulated by the GPL.
The BusyBox developers decided to pursue legal action after Monsoon confirmed last month that BusyBox is indeed included in one of its products but declined numerous requests to comply with the GPL.