[clug] Fwd: [LINK] Software Freedom Law Center files first US GPL infringement suit

Michael Cohen scudette at gmail.com
Mon Sep 24 05:26:09 GMT 2007

Just trying to play the devils advocate - Busybox is a shell like
replacement, which is a collection of tools like ls,rm etc. As such it
allows one in the embedded world to build a basic functional os platform
to run their application on. This is no different however, than say
loading linux on a box to create the platform to run your proprietary
software on. Busybox will have to prove that the defendant actually
extended busybox itself, and even then only those modifications are
releasable under gpl.

There is a commonly held boundary for the gpl. For example the kernel
userland api is a seperation boundary between the kernel and an
application running on the kernel - just using this api does not mean
you are extending the kernel for the purposes of the gpl. Similarly,
the boundary between different applications is considered to be the
linker (if you link to a gpl shared object you are extending it) but not
the exec api (if you shell out to a gpl tool you are not extending it -
just using it).  Just using a firmware with busybox in it does not mean
you are extending busybox.


On 9/24/07, steve jenkin <sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au> wrote:
> Relevant to this list.
> [and the link list is available publicly]
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject:        [LINK] Software Freedom Law Center files first US GPL
> infringement suit
> Date:   Mon, 24 Sep 2007 13:48:57 +1000
> From:   Roger Clarke
> To:     link at anu.edu.au
> <http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070921-software-freedom-law-center-files-first-gpl-infringement-suit.html>
> Software Freedom Law Center files first US GPL infringement suit
> By Ryan Paul | Published: September 21, 2007 - 02:10PM CT
> 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.
> "We licensed BusyBox under the GPL to give users the freedom to access
> and modify its source code," said BusyBox developer Erik Andersen in a
> statement. "If companies will not abide by the fair terms of our
> license, then we have no choice but to ask our attorneys to go to court
> to force them to do so."
> According to a complaint filed in a New York district court by the
> Software Freedom Law Center and seen by Ars, the plaintiffs accuse
> Monsoon of copyright infringement and seek damages and injunctive
> relief. "[U]nder the License, any party that redistributes BusyBox in a
> manner that does not comply with the terms of the License immediately
> and automatically loses all rights granted under it," the complaint
> says. "As such, any rights Defendant may have had under the License to
> redistribute BusyBox were automatically terminated the instant that
> Defendant made non-compliant distribution of the Infringing Products or
> Firmware. Since that time, Defendant has had no right to distribute
> BusyBox, or a modified version of BusyBox, under any circumstances or
> conditions."
> In a blog entry, DLA Piper senior partner Mark Radcliffe explains how
> the outcome of this case will influence future open-source license
> enforcement litigation. "This case is very important because it will
> establish what type of remedies (either contract or copyright) are
> available to licensors for breach of the GPLv2," writes Radcliffe.
> In most cases of this nature, the participants settle before going to
> trial. If this suit does escalate into a trial, it will mark the first
> time that the GPL's copyleft requirements are tested in court.
> --
> Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
> Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
>                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
> mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/
> Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
> Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
> Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
> 0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
> PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA
> sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin
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