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SFLC Sues 14 Companies For BusyBox GPL Violations

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the fourteen-birds-with-one-stone dept.

GNU is Not Unix 309

eldavojohn writes "The Software Freedom Law Center has filed a lawsuit accusing fourteen companies, including Best Buy, Samsung and Westinghouse, of violating the GPL in nearly 20 separate products. This is similar to earlier BusyBox GPL suits. The commercial uses of BusyBox must be much more prolific than anyone could have imagined. Having dealt with hundreds of compliance problems and finding an average of one violation per day, the SFLC recommends one thing: be responsive to their requests (they try to settle things in private first) lest you find one of these (PDF) in your inbox."

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WDTV (1)

BumbaCLot (472046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436330)

Is it affected?

Re:WDTV (3, Informative)

NiteMair (309303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436396)

Well, this was mentioned in page 8 of the PDF:

"Western Digital's WDBABF0000NBK WD TV HD Media Player;"

Re:WDTV (1)

VoltageX (845249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436482)

Brad over at b-rad.cc is already working on alternative firmware, and there's a debian chroot if that's what you were looking for.

This sounds like a job for the RIAA/MPAA !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436748)

Sic 'em boyz !!

Not such a great idea (0)

Megor1 (621918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436358)

On one hand the GPL violations are not so great...however action like this isn't going to encourage people to embrace open source...

Re:Not such a great idea (4, Informative)

JonJ (907502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436422)

The SFLC confirmed BusyBox violations in nearly 20 separate products cited in the complaint and gave each defendant ample time to comply with the requirements of the license. "We try very hard to resolve these types of issues privately with companies, as we always prefer cooperation" said SFLC counsel Aaron Williamson. "We brought this suit as a last resort after each of these defendants ignored us or failed to meaningfully respond to our requests that they release the source code".

Seems like they were given enough chances to respond, it would've been the same with proprietary software.

Re:Not such a great idea (4, Informative)

bfields (66644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436692)

Yes. The SFLC have consistently been proponents of working with violators in private whenever possible; see, for example:

http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2009/11/08/gpl-enforcement.html [ebb.org]

If they're resorting to a suit, it's likely only after making serious efforts to resolve the conflict some other way.

Re:Not such a great idea (4, Informative)

stiggle (649614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437204)

Its not that difficult to comply with the GPL.
I've been emailing Humax for the last year (since I bought one of their digital TV STB) to get hold of the code in accordance with the GPL and they've either sent me a manual for a different device, told me that they didn't need to provide the code as I was unable to update the firmware myself so its useless me having any source code.

They do provide some GPL code for a box they sell in Germany though - but not the UK one, and there is no mention of using GPL code in their manuals.

If you want to try and get anything GPL related out of Humax you can try emailing them
gnu@humaxdigital.com (who never reply)
support@humaxdigital.com (who say they don't need to provide the code and can't even C&P a name properly)

But... (0, Flamebait)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437222)

Seems like they were given enough chances to respond, it would've been the same with proprietary software.

But... it wouldn't have been the same with PD software (like this [ideaspike.com] ), which is actually free, as opposed to "we will ruin your life with lawyers if you use it any way but how we tell you", which is a summary of GPL-poisoned software.

The GPL is a travesty foisted off on the programming community - it is anti-progress and a wasteful time sink and anti-freedom and court fodder and lawyer bait. Other than that, of course, it's just great. :/

Re:But... (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437320)

No the GPL is just somewhere between "actually free" and totally proprietary...
How do you think most commercial vendors would react if you started distributing their code in violation of their terms?

The GPL is a defence mechanism, primarily against vendors who would take open code, perform minor changes to break compatibility and they try to lock people in to proprietary forks. Noone really likes it, it's just a sad fact of life that if you give people too much freedom they will abuse it.

Re:Not such a great idea (4, Insightful)

NiteMair (309303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436426)

Are you sure these companies "embrace" open source? sounds to me like they really just raped it...

Re:Not such a great idea (5, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436548)

I have to give credit to Sharp. I bought an Aquos 52" TV this past year and they included the GPL statements and a link to obtain busybox on their site. The link wasn't working at first and I emailed them to get the source and the link started working again the next day. Following the rules isn't all that hard to do. I don't see why there would be such a huge problem with companies providing a link.

Re:Not such a great idea (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437092)

Out of curiosity, what's a TV doing with BusyBox?

Re:Not such a great idea (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437322)

I assume you have yet to see the latest range of net connected TVs?

Re:Not such a great idea (3, Informative)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436430)

Without the litigation, you lose the purpose of the GPL, though.

We don't want people embracing open source if by "embrace" they mean "take this free code, create my own product, and sell it".

Re:Not such a great idea (5, Informative)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436614)

Without the litigation, you lose the purpose of the GPL, though.

We don't want people embracing open source if by "embrace" they mean "take this free code, create my own product, and sell it".

Major correction. We do want people embracing open source if by "embrace" they mean "take this free code, create my own product, and sell it". If it happens to be free software as well, they just need to release the source code to their new product as well. If it's BSD or some other open source license, the conditions might be different (attribution in advertising, possibly). Very few open source licenses forbid the commercialization of code.

Re:Not such a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436990)

Correction: No open source license forbids the commercialisation of code. No restrictions on use is one of the basic rules!

Re:Not such a great idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437490)

No, they just forbid successful commercialization.

Re:Not such a great idea (5, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436644)

We don't want people embracing open source if by "embrace" they mean "take this free code, create my own product, and sell it".

No, you're dead wrong. The GPL allows exactly what you're describing.

It attaches a condition to that, though: It also says, 'Anything you distribute has to be available in source form as well.'

It's bad enough that proprietary software apologists try constantly to conflate the terms 'proprietary' and 'commercial' without GPL supporters showing equal ignorance. Proprietary software has exactly nothing to do with whether it's commercial or not. GPL has exactly nothing to do with price.

To back up parent..... (4, Informative)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436844)

From the GPL FAQ [gnu.org] :

Does the GPL allow me to charge a fee for downloading the program from my site?

Yes. You can charge any fee you wish for distributing a copy of the program. If you distribute binaries by download, you must provide “equivalent access” to download the source—therefore, the fee to download source may not be greater than the fee to download the binary.

It looks to me that I can charge $1,000,000 for my GPL software and charge another $1,000,000 for the source.

Re:To back up parent..... (2, Informative)

quercus.aeternam (1174283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437138)

Yes, it does look that way, but it's a one-shot deal.

Anyone who buys it has exactly the same rights as you do - including selling the binaries or source at half price.

Re:To back up parent..... (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437346)

Yes, it does look that way, but it's a one-shot deal.

Anyone who buys it has exactly the same rights as you do - including selling the binaries or source at half price.

Hence the million dollar price tag.

Re:To back up parent..... (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437332)

yep, and let me know how many people buy your software at $1,000,000 and how many copies of as source at $1,000,000. As your software has to be licensed with the GPL only one copy needs to make it to the internet for redistribution. As the only thing that would be required is a name change to avoid trademark issues. IANAL but i would think that a statement "This, foobar, is a copy of the program foofoo (tm). All trademarks are owned by their respective owners.", would be likely be legal.

Re:To back up parent..... (2, Informative)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437358)

You can charge whatever you want, that's your freedom.

Depending on the actual worth of the software and its demand, one of two things will happen:

If the total worth of your software (value to each user * total users in the market) is less than $2,000,000, then obviously no one will buy it and you will earn a total of $0.

If the total worth of your software is greater than $2,000,000, then someone will pay you $2,000,000 to obtain your binary and source and re-distribute both under GPL at a reasonable price. Your competitor will capture the entire market and you will only earn $2,000,000 (a small portion of the entire market in this case). Thus by pricing your software above the market price, you have essentially developed a product for your competitor to sell. They will earn most of the profits while undertaking no risk.

In both cases, charging $1,000,000 for your software is not economically optimal.

In other words, the price of a GPL software is completely determined by the market, since anyone with money can buy you out and re-distribute at the market price. In contrast, the price of proprietary software is less constrained by the market, which explains the fact that almost all commercial software is proprietary.

In reality, however, it's impossible to have commercial GPL software since regardless of the price you charge, [insert evil software company here] could buy it and then maliciously re-distribute it for free, thus completely killing off your revenue stream. Thus GPL implies both libre and gratis in the real world.

Re:To back up parent..... (1)

ebob (220513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437426)

It looks to me that I can charge $1,000,000 for my GPL software and charge another $1,000,000 for the source.

Yes you could. But why would anyone buy it?

Re:Not such a great idea (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437356)

We don't want people embracing open source if by "embrace" they mean "take this free code, create my own product, and sell it".

Why not, as long as any GPL'd source "goes back into the pool", as it were.

Re:Not such a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436446)

They need to. Else GPL is worth nothing. Before using GPL code you should just know what you are getting yourself into.

We use GPL code at my workplace. Just simple stuff like the linux kernel, busybox, just as a base system. But we do comply to GPL by allowing customers to request those pieces of software. (As far as I know none has ever done so)

Re:Not such a great idea (2, Informative)

cl0s (1322587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436680)

If you are only using it internally (like for a server hosting your website - as we do at my job) I do not think you need to supply any source code, the business is using it for itself. Once you start distributing that software outside of your business to customers or business customers thats when the rules start to kick in. I could be wrong but that's how I interpret the GPL (and have heard of it interpreted/explained).

Re:Not such a great idea (4, Insightful)

datajack (17285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436448)

If they don't want to play by the rules, we won't miss them. If they do, then they will find a great resource and profit from mutual cooperation.

Re:Not such a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436458)

They can't ignore GPL violations. Otherwise, *everyone* will ignore the restrictions of the GPL license and use GPL'd software however they wish. The entire point of the GPL is to use the strong protections offered by copyright law to the advantage of the Free software movement. Without enforcement, the GPL has no teeth.

Re:Not such a great idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436460)

And Microsoft shouldn't sue any of the Mom-n-Pop computer shops for selling boxes with phony Windows license keys, as it would discourage anyone from selling boxes based on commercial / propriatary software.

Re:Not such a great idea -RTFA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436474)

The SFLC always makes contact and in good faith requests a response, compliance with the licence terms or other remedy in a reasonable time period.

So actions like these encourage people to embrace open source in an entirely legal manner rather than corporate interests ripping off the open source community.

Re:Not such a great idea (4, Insightful)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436484)

If you don't agree with the license, don't use GPL'd software.

Re:Not such a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437536)

It would be said best as:

If you don't agree with the license, don't use the licensed software

After all, GPL is just another license. The set of rules is the same for the GPL and any other work of art which is distributed under a license. By using the general expression instead of explicitly mentioning the GPL you are putting emphasis on the fact that this legal action is exactly like any copyright infringement license, not some sort of fundamentalist GPL attack on businesses who adopt GPLed software.

Re:Not such a great idea (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436516)

action like this isn't going to encourage people to embrace open source...

Why - because if you take something that's GPL'd you have to offer the source? What's the big deal? It certainly costs less to make the source available to buyers than it would to write your own code from scratch.

What's a DVD cost nowadays - a dime? Heck, they could include it on a free USB key, or offer it for $1 (+ $10 shipping and handling) a pop in the written documentation [gnu.org] :

b) Convey the object code in, or embodied in, a physical product (including a physical distribution medium), accompanied by a written offer, valid for at least three years and valid for as long as you offer spare parts or customer support for that product model, to give anyone who possesses the object code either (1) a copy of the Corresponding Source for all the software in the product that is covered by this License, on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange, for a price no more than your reasonable cost of physically performing this conveying of source, or (2) access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge.

You're starting to sound like Monty Widenius wanting to have the GPL retroactively removed from all versions of MySQL.

Re:Not such a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436520)

You're saying that allowing open source to be closed will encourage it? Really?
I think you've completely missed the point of the action.

Re:Not such a great idea (4, Insightful)

darthwader (130012) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436686)

In order for people to use open source software, someone has to write open source software. It does not appear by magic from the "software fairy".

The SFLC's primary purpose is to encourage people to write open source software, not to encourage people to use it. By encouraging people to write OSS, SFLC helps ensure that there is a large body of useful and relevant OSS available for people to use.

People who write OSS under the GPL are motivated by (among other things) the idea of sharing work: The price you pay to use my work is that you have to share any improvements you make, and you have to allow your users to share my work, too.

By bringing forward these lawsuits, the SFLC ensures that the author's sharing requirement is met, thus encouraging the author to make more OSS available.

Reevaluation (-1, Flamebait)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436470)

In other news, thousands of corporate gpl users reevaluate their use of gpl software. I know... Many gpl advocates are ecstatic at the idea of corporations not using gpl code.

Re:Reevaluation (1)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436528)

Yeah, right. "Hey, instead of using Linux, let's write our own kernel."

Re:Reevaluation (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436584)

Yeah, because if you steal commercial code and hide it in your product, you're sooo much better off.

Re:Reevaluation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437186)

Of course you are. With closed source software, you are far less likely to get caught in the first place, and secondly even if you do, you can always buy the company (and their IP) outright or just negotiate a license. No need to give away valuable secrets.

This is not rocket science, kids, it's called "capitalism", look into it.

Re:Reevaluation (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437444)

You can potentially buy off or negotiate a license with someone who wrote GPL code too, whoever holds the copyright on the code is free to make it available to you under different terms.

With closed source you're far less likely to do it in the first place, since not having the source will impair your ability to integrate it into your product... But it has happened.

With closed source you could be much worse off, the vendor may be too big for you to buy out, and may refuse to license the code to you at all. At least with the GPL you have a clear path in order to be legal, and so long as you comply with the GPL there's nothing anyone can do against you.

As for giving away secrets, that entirely depends on how the rest of your product interacts with the GPL components, and if it's really that important to you then write your own code instead of using someone else's.

Re:Reevaluation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437448)

Uh...that's NOT a foregone conclusion...

For example...if you did that with some of Microsoft's code, I can assure you that you can't "buy the company" nor will you be in a good position to negotiate anything other than an assraping from their legal department or from the BSA.

This, honestly, is little different here- and people that try to paint it differently don't have the foggiest what they're talking about or are trying to sell you something...

Re:Reevaluation (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436588)

Or they may take steps to ensure they're within the bounds of the license, just like they would have to for pretty much any other alternative proprietary library. I'm very glad that corporations use GPL code; they just need to understand it.

Re:Reevaluation (1)

FxChiP (687923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436598)

I'm a GPL advocate and actually, I'd be ecstatic if a major corporation decided to use GPL code -- as long as they adhered to the terms of the license and released the code along with the binary.

Other than that, yeah, if a company's not going to adhere to the license, I really would not want them using the code.

Re:Reevaluation (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436770)

I'm a GPL advocate and actually, I'd be ecstatic if a major corporation decided to use GPL code -- as long as they adhered to the terms of the license and released the code along with the binary.

You mean, like Google?

Re:Reevaluation (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436654)

If this were a concern, they'd already be using embedded BSD everywhere. Which BSD is very good for, but Linux is ridiculously more popular. Why is that, d'you think?

Re:Reevaluation (1)

MSG (12810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436690)

In other news, thousands of corporate gpl users reevaluate violating the license.

Fixed that for you.

I feel dirty.

Re:Reevaluation (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436820)

In other news, thousands of corporate gpl users reevaluate their use of gpl software. I know... Many gpl advocates are ecstatic at the idea of corporations not using gpl code.

Any sane corporate user of software knows that software comes with a license, and at a price. If the software you use is licensed under GPL, the price is the cost and the effort of putting the source code on your web site for anyone to download. If the people responsible for software licensing are too stupid to read the GPL license, they deserve all that they get. Nobody wants corporate users who use GPL software because they are too stupid to read a license. And certainly nobody wants corporate users who use GPL'd software because they think they can rip off GPL software.

But any corporate user with more than half a braincell understands what the GPL is about and either uses GPL software or they don't, based on the quality and the cost.

I can hear upper management screaming now (-1, Troll)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436496)

Unfortunately, this may be the kind of thing that makes upper management kill OSS in the shop. Who wants to risk a lawsuit? Forget that they have nothing to do with each other.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (3, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436524)

Big fucking deal. Follow the license or don't use the code.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436558)

You don't need the license to *use* the code.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436634)

By use, I mean incorporate into your product or create a derivative work.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (2, Insightful)

NiteMair (309303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436672)

Which is still possible without releasing any source code.

The keyword here is "distributing" - even if you don't create a derivative at all.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436896)

Sure you do. That is why bison and gcc come with GPL exceptions, and why every binary created with GNAT GPL Edition must be distributed under GPL.

Down with that myth. Using GPL programs can put restrictions on the output of these programs.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (4, Interesting)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437056)

Wouldn't the use of BusyBox inside a DVD player be for debugging use only? In other words, great for the developer, but useless for the end customer?

In which case - why didn't they simply remove it from the shipping version? They are free to use it as an internal tool, just not ship it with the product. Satisfies everyone - engineers, upper management, and the OSS lawyers.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (2, Informative)

stiggle (649614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437280)

Busybox is used for setting up the ethernet interface most devices seem to have these days and to manage the internal filesystem most devices have for caching & downloadable content. Well thats what its for in the box I have. I wish they'd activated the HTTP server in Busybox aswell as then I could have some access to the content on the box from elsewhere on my home network.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436550)

So, err, there's no risk of a lawsuit by stealing someone else's proprietary code? I sincerely beg to differ on that one.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

FxChiP (687923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436562)

Hey, if it causes those upper managements to stop trying to sell the hard work of others (who don't even work for them!) for their own profit, more power to it. Any legal department would be able to tell you quite simply that the only thing you have to do when you release the product is release the source code you've modified (and not even that if it's a BSD-type license).

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436752)

But it will not stop that.
All you have to do is include a link to the source on your website and a GPL statment with the product.
You don't even have to include a link to the source you could "require" that they send you a written letter and pay for shipping of the source.
Which frankly is all just silly.
The source for BusyBox is freely available already so an extra link will not really make it any more free. Those are the rules but except for including the GPL in the docs for the product I see little value in the link to the source except to cross the t's and dot the i's.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436658)

Fear drives management. There are many worse things to fear, such as the cost of using proprietary software, and the risks and costs of a BSA audit. Recall their attention to the bottom line, and they'll likely change their tune. Not all management is bad.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436788)

Management only fears one thing worse than expenses: the unknown. The GPL ecosystem is completely unknown to a lot of the gray-hairs that don't understand that software is not a physical product like a coffee pot. The economy changes when your cost to replicate a thing is effectively zero. That's why a lot of companies pay a ton of cash to MySQL and other open-source software companies... they just don't want to have to think about the licensing, they want to do it the old way.

And then have their nephew install Office on every computer from the same, single, legal install disc.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437506)

Unfortunately for them, the "old way" doesn't remove the requirements to think about the licensing.

Under no terms should ANY manager or exec be led to think they don't have to worry about license terms- period. Even with "buying" you have all sorts of landmines within the licensing that buying doesn't even avoid.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436678)

It doesn't kill OSS, it kills the use of GPL'ed code. With our proprietary products, we were extremely careful that if we did use other code/libraries that they were either BSD or MIT style licenses.

Why do people forget that OSS is more than just the GPL?

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

minsk (805035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436884)

Because the folks using BSD- and MIT-style licenses don't care if the license terms are ignored?

No, wait, they do care. Funny that.

CC-BY and CC-BY-SA (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437328)

License terms for permissive free software licenses amount to the following: "You must credit us in x way." Unlike a copyleft license, this doesn't subvert any proprietary software business model. Compare this to the difference between CC-BY and CC-BY-SA licenses.

Rule of the long tail. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436694)

If it's free, it's either crap or its a legal mine field. This is why my company is 100% OSS-free and always will be so long as I am CTO.

Re:Rule of the long tail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436704)

Congratulations?

Re:Rule of the long tail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437028)

why is this so hard for corps to get? the gpl is basically like any other proprietary license except that the 'fee' for use is any additional code that you add yourself to a particular binary. It's really not a big deal. If you can swallow microsoft's EULAs then gpl shouldn't cause you to break a sweat.

Re:Rule of the long tail. (1)

esampson (223745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437198)

Considering that it is used in over 20 of their products (N.B.: I have no idea how many products BusyBox is used in. These 20 products are just the ones produced by a certain set of companies that are non-compliant. I would speculate that BusyBox is used in far more products where they are compliant) I think we can probably throw out the idea that it is crap.

Considering that it is very easy to comply with GPL as many other posters have pointed out we can throw out the idea that it is a legal mine field. The SFLC didn't even come after them demanding compensation for the previously shipped units. They simply asked them to come into compliance and it was only when they refused that the SFLC filed suit.

Re:I can hear upper management screaming now (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436696)

Unfortunately, this may be the kind of thing that makes upper management kill OSS in the shop. Who wants to risk a lawsuit? Forget that they have nothing to do with each other.

Yeah, I can see how that would play:

"Wait, what? This software has rules? We have to follow rules?!? And we get sued if we don't???!! Sandra, call my congressman, and take a memo: No more, uh, G-L-P software until we get this fixed!"

Bug report (1)

bengoerz (581218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436506)

Code Error: Wrong + Wrong != Right

Mod parent troll/flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436974)

Those companies were offered the use of copyrighted code under certain terms, had every opportunity to learn those terms, and either willfully or negligently violated them. Dragging their asses into civil court is not "wrong." If anyone belongs there over a copyright beef, it's them.

Works for me. (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436518)

Unlike the patent trolls and the **AA, at least these guys do it right. You don't find a summons showing up without knowing that one is coming, there's no extortionist tactics, and they're not doing it for profit motive.

Now why in the hell don't we see state/federal laws that require such behavior? I mean, why not have something sane like a law detailing that first the litigant must prove that they spent at least x days/weeks/months trying to negotiate a change in behavior first, and must prove that they had done so in a good faith effort? (that last part is important, as otherwise one could see the likes of the RIAA sending some ungodly demand down, then claiming that they "tried")?

Re:Works for me. (1)

tdc_vga (787793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436828)

Actually, sometimes they do.

Just for reference, all Federal Court and several State courts require, and some will even provide them free of charge, mediation sessions before a case is allowed to go to trial. Statistically, aka. take it with a grain of salt, 98% of cases settle when taken to mediation.

Second, some laws do require notice before claims are allowed. The dreaded and oft hated DMCA requires notices in certain circumstances. Additionally, there are requirements on most statutes involving administrative agencies that all administrative remedies must be exhausted required and I'm sure there are more examples.

In conclusion, people do think of this. Maybe there are just too many law suits, or maybe people are afraid to talk to each other anymore?

Cheers,
TdC

Re:Works for me. (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436862)

Because the **AA can afford better legislation than you can. How much cash did you use to buy off^W^W^W^W donate to your local senator last year?

Re:Works for me. (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437518)

Doesn't that one unfriendly, intimidating legal notice with more threats than the US banks have dollars count as a good faith effort?

Sounds entirely reasonable to me. (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436670)

They gave them fair warning. If they don't defend the GPL it loses it's strength.
If you are unable to follow the licence, you shouldn't be using the code, simple as that...

sorry, you've made an incorrect statement (3, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436832)

While I like your sentiment, your statement is wrong. You can selectively enforce copyright all you want.

It's trademarks that lose strength if you don't enforce them.

You must have forgotten laches (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437266)

You can selectively enforce copyright all you want.

It's trademarks that lose strength if you don't enforce them.

Not exactly. Copyright and patent claims are still subject to laches [wikipedia.org] , even if the penalty for delay is weaker than for a trademark claim.

Re:sorry, you've made an incorrect statement (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437512)

While I like your sentiment, your statement is wrong. You can selectively enforce copyright all you want.

If you enforce 0.000001% of your copyrights, then many places will ignore them. If you enforce 100% of them, then no one will ignore them. That's what I took from them becoming weaker.

It's trademarks that lose strength if you don't enforce them.

I don't think I'd use the "lose strength" terms. It's either valid or not. There is no weak trademark, unless you are talking about one that wasn't vigorously enforced for some time and may or may not be lost and it takes a court order to decide. At least according to the courts, Photoshop and Lego trademarks are as strong as Ford, even though people photoshop their photographs of their kid playing with leggos (and no, I have no idea why the plural adds another "g", it just does). But in the minds of people, the trademark may be weaker. But trademarks are like expiring copyright. It's either 100% in effect or 0% in effect. And the "weakness" is whether you'll get in trouble for using it wrong.

But who gets paid? (2, Interesting)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436730)

I don't know much about this product, but in general...

If there is a community supported project then

a) Who gets to sue companies/people who violate the project's GPL or other open source license
b) Who gets paid should the lawsuit be successful
c) Who gets in debt should the lawsuit not be successful?
d) Who funds the lawsuit?
e) Doesn't the possibility exist for "open source trolls" who scour the world looking for GPL/Apache/BSD/whatever violations and sue the offender hoping to make a few dollars?

Re:But who gets paid? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436804)

a - b) The copyright holder or his/her appointed representative
c - d) The copyright holder or the organization which volunteers to file the lawsuit on the copyright holder's behalf
e) No -- the copyright holder is in charge of who gets sued

Got an e-mail from the SFLC this morning (5, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436738)

A little over two years ago, I discovered that my VersaTek modem was using Linux/BusyBox. I requested the source, and the company refused saying that their Chinese OEM didn't give it to them, so that they couldn't give it to me. This is, of course, still a violation of the GPL in the same way that selling a stolen stereo doesn't change the fact that the stereo is stolen.

I mailed a report of this to the BusyBox author, and this morning the SFLC sent me an e-mail letting me know that VersaTek was being included in this lawsuit. They don't mention the specific VersaTek product that I notified them about, but it's nice that they followed up.

Re:Got an e-mail from the SFLC this morning (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437076)

Here's a question. BusyBox is just a bunch of optimized, small UNIX utilities right? What source were you expecting to get, and why didn't they just send you the BusyBox source itself? They are not linking against BusyBox, they are not using the source for busybox - so the only thing GPL related is making the BusyBox source itself available, no?

Re:Got an e-mail from the SFLC this morning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437246)

This is where the viral nature of the GPL comes into play. If you use a GPL library for your program, you have to release the whole she-bang.

That's why I stick to LPGL or better "more free" for me to do with as I please.

Re:Got an e-mail from the SFLC this morning (4, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437276)

That's what's so galling about these cases; these companies are distributing unmodified BusyBox so complying with GPL shouldn't be that hard and it doesn't even require them to release any of their code. Yet they don't even bother to provide unmodified BusyBox source.

Re:Got an e-mail from the SFLC this morning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437314)

It should be that simple and makes you wonder why they didn't comply after they were contacted and made aware.

Re:Got an e-mail from the SFLC this morning (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437486)

Somehow I seriously doubt a judge or jury will accept the "well our Chinese OEM didn't give it to us" defense.

Just because you hire a Chinese company to develop a product for you doesn't mean you aren't required to ensure your product doesn't violate any laws or license agreements when you sell it here in the USA.

SFLC Sues 14 Companies for Copyright Violations (3, Interesting)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436922)

What the hell, I have karma to burn: It doesn't sound as nice when I put it that way, does it?

Granted, (before I get 20 responses telling me just how many ways the SFLC is different than the RIAA), I acknowledge that the tactics that the SFLC is using are actually sane and civil. The point remains, however: all the pirate supporters on this website don't like it when you shove their arguments back in their face. If there were no copyright, or if copyright were limited to 2 years, then Linux 2.6.15 would be in the public domain by now and anyone could put it into any product they wanted without giving back to the people that created it.

Re:SFLC Sues 14 Companies for Copyright Violations (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437116)

if copyright were limited to 2 years, then Linux 2.6.15 would be in the public domain by now and anyone could put it into any product they wanted without giving back to the people that created it.

A lot more problems would be solved than created if copyright was made that short. Having binary blobs everywhere with no source wouldn't be a problem - we'd just have increasingly better reverse-engineering and decompiling tools, and they'd be fully legal to use on this stuff.

Re:SFLC Sues 14 Companies for Copyright Violations (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437546)

Well, it should also be mandatory that source code be made available when a binary falls into the public domain...

And yes, the terms should be very short especially for software, because software ages so quickly. Even stuff that is 2 years old is often considered obsolete and has already been superseded by newer versions.

Re:SFLC Sues 14 Companies for Copyright Violations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30437144)

If there were no copyright, or if copyright were limited to 2 years, then Linux 2.6.15 would be in the public domain by now and anyone could put it into any product they wanted without giving back to the people that created it.

I'd take that trade happily. I don't think it'd harm Linux in the slightest, to be honest with you -- there are any number of open source projects out there that aren't GPL and are thriving nevertheless. Might even help Linux if it meant we could legally decompile and reverse-engineer other peoples' stuff that's out there past the 2 year mark.

Speak for yourself, white man. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437162)

The point remains, however: all the pirate supporters on this website don't like it when you shove their arguments back in their face.

Which pirate supporters are you referring to?

Re:SFLC Sues 14 Companies for Copyright Violations (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437350)

The point remains, however: all the pirate supporters on this website don't like it when you shove their arguments back in their face. If there were no copyright, or if copyright were limited to 2 years, then Linux 2.6.15 would be in the public domain by now and anyone could put it into any product they wanted without giving back to the people that created it.

I think these mythical piracy supporters would be all for that. Many seem to be of the mind of "if you are going to make this copyright shit that gets in the way of real progress, then we will use your tool against you." There's nothing wrong with taking the tools of your enemy and using them against him. And so I think the mythical pirates you refer to would be happy to have the problem you describe, as long as it came with the 2 year cap to copyright you mentioned (or even abolition).

Re:SFLC Sues 14 Companies for Copyright Violations (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437456)

he point remains, however: all the pirate supporters on this website don't like it when you shove their arguments back in their face.

Slashdot user base is big.

Didn't it occur to you that these might be completely different individuals?

How to fix the situation: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436926)

Don't buy products made in China.

Infringing devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30436938)

Here's a list of [some of] the infringing devices from page 8 of the PDF:

  • BestBuy's Insignia NS-WBRDVD Blu-ray Disc
    Player
  • Samsung's LN52A650 and LA26A450 LCD HDTV's
  • Westinghouse's TX-52F480S LCD
    HDTV
  • JVC's LT-42P789 LCD HDTV and VN-C20U IP Network Camera
  • Western Digital's
    WDBABF0000NBK WD TV HD Media Player
  • Bosch's DVR4C Security System DVR
  • Phoebe Micro's Airlink101 AR670W and AR690W wireless routers and
    Airlink101 AICAP650W IP Motion Wireless Camera
  • Humax's iCord HD HDTV DVR
  • Comtrend's CT-5621 and NexusLink 5631/ 5631E ADSL2+ bonded modems
  • Dobbs-Stanford's Frame Jazz EyeZone B1080P-2 digital media player
  • Versa Tech's PS-730 ITS Gateway and VX-BW2250 weatherproof dual
    radio outdoor wireless access point
  • ZyXEL's P-663H-51 ADSL 2+ Bonded 4 Port Router
  • Astak's CM-818DVR4V security camera system with DVR and CM-04DE and CM-04DEV
    security system DVR devices
  • and, GCI's Cortex HDC-3000 digital music controller

I finally understand!!! (1)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30437256)

So this is how you make money with F/OSS.

1.) Write F/OSS.
2.) File Lawsuits against infringers.
3.) ???
4.) Profit!!!

I'm curious... how much money would he have made from the software if he didn't sue?

Bill
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