GPL goes to court

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GPL goes to court

Developers of the BusyBox open source project have filed a lawsuit against Monsoon Multimedia for alleged violations of the General Public License.

The suit marks the first legal case around the GPL in the US.

A court ruling could further validate license, as parties including SCO have previously have charged that the licence is illegal and therefore non-binding.

The BusyBox tools offer Unix utilities for the development of embedded systems. The software is licensed under the GPLv2. Although the license allows developers to distribute the application free of charge, they are required to publish the source code for any changes that they made.

Monsoon develops devices ranging from mobile appliances to Mpeg compressors. Although its products use a modified version of the BusyBox software, the lawsuit alleges that the firm refuses to publish the source code. It demands an injunction that blocks Monsoon from further distributing the software as well as unspecified damages.

The BusyBox developers are represented by the Software Freedom Law Center. In its legal complaint, the legal group claims that it officially notified Monsoon about the license violation earlier this month.

Colin Stiles, Monsoon's executive vice president in charge of sales of marketing told that the firm hadn't received the legal complaint and as a result couldn't comment.

Even though the case marks the first time that GPL developers ask US courts to enforce the licence, it has been heard before courts in Europe.

Harald Welte and Armijn Hemel, two developers from Germany and The Netherlands respectively, are heading up the GPL-violations project. Hemel earlier this year brought Cisco to its knees, forcing the networking giant to pay for GPL components that it uses in its equipment.

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