First US GPL infringement case settled

By   |  October 31, 2007

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and Monsoon Multimedia announced yesterday that an agreement was reached to dismiss the GNU General Public License ([1]GPL[/1]) enforcement lawsuit filed by SFLC on behalf of two principal developers of BusyBox.

As this settlement prevents the case from going to court, the SFLC’s defence of the GPL remains untested in a US courtroom.

The case was filed on September 19 on behalf of the developers at BusyBox, which provides a lightweight set of standard Unix utilities commonly used in embedded systems under the [2]open source[/2] GPL version 2. Their complaint was that Monsoon Multimedia used BusyBox in its HAVA TV place-shifting devices, but did not comply to the GPL requirement of supplying access to the source code.

In the settlement, Monsoon Multimedia agreed to appoint an open source compliance officer to monitor and ensure GPL compliance, to publish the source code for the version of BusyBox it previously distributed on its website, and to undertake substantial efforts to notify previous recipients of their rights to the software under the GPL. An undisclosed amount of financial consideration paid by Monsoon Multimedia to the plaintiffs was also included in the settlement.

“Although we really hated having to ask our attorneys to file a lawsuit to get Monsoon Multimedia to abide by the GPL, we are extremely pleased that they worked so hard and so fast to come into compliance,” said Rob Landley, a developer of BusyBox and a named plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“Going forward, we are confident that Monsoon Multimedia will be upstanding members of the open source community and we wish them the absolute best of luck with their business,” said Erik Andersen, the other BusyBox developer named as a plaintiff.

“We are happy to put this behind us and move forward,” said Graham Radstone, chairman and chief operating officer at Monsoon Multimedia. “The fact that Monsoon Multimedia and BusyBox have reached an agreement amicably shows that settlement is far better than costly litigation. We will ensure that we are in compliance with the agreement in the future.”

Redstone added that, given their position as an innovative comapny “it is essential that we set an example for compliance for others”.

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