Posts Tagged 'GNU'

Open source developers file the first General Public Liscence law suit in the US

In a first-of-a-kind copyright infringement lawsuit, two open source software developers in the United States are taking a company that produces TV place-shifting devices to court over violation of the General Public License.

So what does this mean?

The General Public License (aka GPL) is a free software license created by the Free Software Foundation. It was originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project (a project to create a complete free software operating system). The GPL is the most popular license for free software (or open source software). The purpose of the GPL is to grant any user the right to copy, modify and redistribute programs and source code from developers that have chosen to license their work under the GPL. What is important to understand here is that while anyone is free to use and modify software released under this license at no cost, the terms of the license dictate that the user of such software is required to allow others access to the source code of whatever you have developed based on the aforementioned software.The basic principle here is “if you’ve used mine, you have to show me your’s”

So when Monsoon Multimedia used the open source software package known as BusyBox in their latest line of TV placeshifter, the Hava, the developers of Busy Box rightfully asked Monsoon to see the source code of their new device. Not surprisingly, Monsoon declined that request. The surprise came from the developers’ side, who filed a GPL copyright infringement suit against the company.

“We licensed BusyBox under the GPL to give users the freedom to access and modify its source code. 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.” said Erik Andersen, a developer of BusyBox. (Source: Software Freedom Law Center)

Hmm, Okay. So why is this important?

Again, it is a first (at least in the US). It should be very interesting to follow how the case proceeds and concludes, and see if it will set a precedent.