BusyBox Developers and Monsoon Multimedia Agree to Dismiss GPL Lawsuit

It’s great to see that the first U.S. GPL lawsuit filed has been settled with fairly little fanfare. From the press release:

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and Monsoon Multimedia today jointly announced that an agreement has been reached to dismiss the GPL enforcement lawsuit filed by SFLC on behalf of two principal developers of BusyBox.

BusyBox is a lightweight set of standard Unix utilities commonly used in embedded systems and is open source software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. One of the conditions of the GPL is that re-distributors of BusyBox are required to ensure that each downstream recipient is provided access to the source code of the program. Monsoon Multimedia uses BusyBox in its HAVA TV place-shifting devices.

As a result of the plaintiffs agreeing to dismiss the lawsuit and reinstate Monsoon Multimedia’s rights to distribute BusyBox under the GPL, Monsoon Multimedia 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 Monsoon Multimedia of their rights to the software under the GPL. The settlement also includes an undisclosed amount of financial consideration paid by Monsoon Multimedia to the plaintiffs.

“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.

The settlement did include a monetary piece, as the initial speculation indicated. As a whole, the outcome should serve to deter other companies from violating the GPL for fear of real damages being brought against them. Kudos to Monsoon for doing the right thing, but I’d still like to see the product they produce support Linux from a client perspective.

–jeremy

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