Verizon Settles GPL Infringement Suit

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In September 2007, the Software Freedom Law Center filed the first U.S. lawsuit to enforce the terms of the GNU General Public License. It sued Monsoon Multimedia on behalf of BusyBox creators for its use of the open source utility without proper attribution and without releasing the source code and its changes. Eventually, the case settled.


Since then the organization has filed and settled several lawsuits on behalf of BusyBox creators. The latest settlement, however, may be the biggest victory yet for open source. On Monday, SFLC announced that BusyBox creators have settled their lawsuit against Verizon.


According to InformationWeek, the telecom carrier distributed routers containing the BusyBox code to its broadband subscribers, and neither Verizon nor its supplier, Actiontec, made the BusyBox code available to the end users -- as is required by the GPL.


An SFLC statement describes the settlement this way:

Actiontec has agreed to appoint an Open Source Compliance Officer within its organization to monitor and ensure GPL compliance, to publish the source code for the version of BusyBox it previously distributed on its Web site, and to undertake substantial efforts to notify previous recipients of BusyBox from Actiontec and its customers, including Verizon, of their rights to the software under the GPL. The settlement also includes an undisclosed amount of financial consideration paid to the plaintiffs.

The 451 Group's Jay Lyman says the settlement is huge because it:

serve[s] to bolster the GPL. More companies large and small are now on GPL notice and if they're smart, are making sure they are complying with the rules and regulations of free and open source software.