Lawsuit charges open-source license violation

From: Arthur Keller <voting_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Sun Sep 23 2007 - 20:37:14 CDT

Lawsuit charges open-source license violation

By Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service

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

The SFLC filed the suit on Wednesday in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York against Monsoon
Multimedia Inc., on behalf of the developers of BusyBox, Erik
Andersen and Rob Landley. The suit charges Monsoon with using BusyBox
under the GNU General Public License version 2 but failing to publish
its source code. Under the terms of the license, distributors of
software that uses the licensed software must make their source code
available. Failing to do so is considered copyright infringement.

BusyBox, members of the public and the SFLC legal team notified
Monsoon of its responsibilities, but Monsoon has not yet published
the code, said Dan Ravicher, legal director at SFLC. While it's
relatively common for licensees to neglect to share their code,
parties typically work through the issue without having to go to
court, he said.

This case is a last resort after Monsoon failed to rectify the
situation, he said. The suit is necessary because from a legal
perspective, copyright owners can start to lose rights if they don't
act to protect them, he said.

BusyBox is a lightweight set of Unix utilities used in embedded
systems. Monsoon develops digital video products, including a
Slingbox-like device that enables remote TV viewing.

If BusyBox ultimately prevails in the case, under copyright law the
company is entitled to damages, an injunction prohibiting continued
infringement and court costs, Ravicher said.

He believes this is the first case filed in the U.S. in order to
enforce an open-source license.

The GPL Violations Project is a group that actively pursues license
violators and has brought at least one case to court in Germany.
Earlier this year, one of the project's team members publicly
revealed violations that Cisco Systems Inc. made in its phone
previously called the iPhone. Cisco subsequently corrected the

Monsoon did not reply to a request for comment.

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Sun Sep 30 23:17:17 2007

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