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BusyBox Developers File GPL Infringement Lawsuit Against Verizon Communications

Lawsuit Claims Verizon Illegally Distributes Open Source Software to FiOS Customers

December 7, 2007

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) today announced that it has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Verizon Communications, Inc. on behalf of its clients, two principal developers of BusyBox, alleging violation of the GNU General Public License (GPL). BusyBox is a lightweight set of standard Unix utilities commonly used in embedded systems and is open source software licensed under GPL version 2.

Verizon is the provider of a fiber-optic Internet and television service called FiOS. Verizon distributes Actiontec MI424WR wireless routers to FiOS customers. This router contains BusyBox, and under the terms of the GPL, Verizon is obligated to provide the source code of BusyBox to recipients of the device. According to the lawsuit, Verizon continues to distribute BusyBox illegally without source code, despite having been contacted by SFLC.

The complaint requests that an injunction be issued against Verizon and that damages and litigation costs be awarded to the plaintiffs. A copy of the complaint, as filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, is available at http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2007/dec/07/busybox/verizon.pdf

"Our clients licensed BusyBox under the GPL to ensure that all users of the program can access and modify its source code," said Dan Ravicher, Legal Director of SFLC. "Because Verizon chose not to respond to our concerns, we had no choice but to file a lawsuit to ensure that they comply with the GPL."

This is the fourth GPL enforcement lawsuit filed by SFLC on behalf of BusyBox developers Erik Andersen and Rob Landley. Defendants in previous cases have included Monsoon Multimedia, High Gain Antennas, and Xterasys Corporation. The case against Monsoon Multimedia was settled out of court in October, with Monsoon agreeing to remedy its prior violation, ensure future compliance, and financially compensate the plaintiffs.

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