Network World has news of what may well be the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States.
The SFLC filed the suit on Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Monsoon Multimedia Inc., on behalf of the developers of BusyBox, Erik Andersen, and Rob Landley. The suit charges Monsoon with using BusyBox under the GNU General Public License version 2 but failing to publish its source code. Under the terms of the license, distributors of software that uses the licensed software must make their source code available. Failing to do so is considered copyright infringement.
Despite reminders from BusyBox, members of the public, and the SFLC legal team notifying Monsoon of its responsibilities, the requisite code has yet to be published.
Says Dan Ravicher, legal director of SFLC, "While it is relatively common for licensees to neglect to share their code, parties typically work through the issues without having to go to court."
From a legal perspective, he adds that the suit is necessary since copyright owners can start to lose rights if they don't act to protect them. He believes this is the first ever such case filed in the United States in order to enforce an open-source license.
With the increasing prevalence of open source, it is a near certainty that this case will be closely watched from various quarters.
In the meantime, perhaps you might like to share with us the guidelines in your company with regards to the use and/or modification of open-sourced products.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.