FSF Sues Cisco to Enforce Open Source Licenses

Lora Bentley

In case you missed it last week, the Free Software Foundation filed a lawsuit against Cisco Systems alleging violations of the GNU General Public and Lesser General Public Licenses (GPL and LGPL, respectively). Though the Software Freedom Law Center, which is representing the FSF, has filed several lawsuits on behalf of other open source developers in the past, this is the first time the FSF has resorted to legal action, according Executive Director Peter Brown:

In the fifteen years we've spent enforcing our licenses, we've never gone to court before. We have always managed to get the companies we have worked with to take their obligations seriously. But at the end of the day, we're also willing to take the legal action necessary to ensure users have the rights that our licenses guarantee.

In a blog post explaining the suit, FSF licensing compliance engineer Brett Smith says the organization began working with Cisco to facilitate open source compliance in 2003, and though initial efforts looked promising, after five years "Cisco seems unwilling to take the steps that are necessary to come into compliance and stay in compliance."


It's time for Cisco to take responsibility for its license compliance, he says.

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