Software // Operating Systems
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12/15/2009
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Open Source Group Sues Consumer Electronics Companies

Best Buy, Samsung, Westinghouse, JVC and 10 other consumer electronics companies are charged with violating the General Public License.

Best Buy, Samsung, Westinghouse, JVC and 10 other consumer electronics companies were named Monday in a lawsuit accusing the companies of license infringement in the use of open source software.

The Software Freedom Law Center filed the suit in federal court in New York on behalf of the Software Freedom Conservancy. The latter group claims the defendants sold products containing its BusyBox application in violation of the terms of the software's license, the GNU General Public License version 2. The GNU GPL v2 governs the use of many open source technologies.

BusyBox is a component of embedded Linux, the OS used in many consumer electronics products. Under the GNU GPL v2, anyone can view, modify and use BusyBox for free on condition that they distribute the source code to customers.

"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," SFLC lawyer Aaron Williamson said in a statement.

The companies named were not immediately available for comment

In its complaint, the SFLC said it found nearly 20 separate products that violated the BusyBox licensing terms. The products include Best Buy's Insignia Blu-ray DVD player, Samsung HDTVs and Westinghouse's 52-inch LCD television.

Other companies named in the suit include Western Digital, Robert Bosch, Phoebe Micro, Humax USA, Comtrend, Dobbs-Stanford, Versa Technology, Zyxel Communications, Astak and GCI Technologies.

The SFLC is a non-profit law firm established in 2005 to provide legal services at no charge to free and open source software (FOSS) developers. Since 2007, the SFLC has sued six companies, accusing them of selling products with embedded FOSS programs in violation of the GPL.

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