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3/17/2008
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Verizon Settles Open Source Software Lawsuit

The issue centered on claims that a subcontractor used an open source program called BusyBox in Verizon's wireless routers.

Two software developers have reached a settlement in a lawsuit against Verizon Communications in which they claimed the telecom giant's broadband service violated the terms of the widely used open source agreement under which their product was licensed.

As part of the settlement announced Monday, Verizon subcontractor Actiontec Electronics must pay an undisclosed sum to developers Erick Andersen and Rob Landley. It must also appoint an internal officer to ensure that it's in compliance with licenses governing the open source software it uses.

Actiontec supplied Verizon with wireless routers for its FiOS broadband service that use an open source program called BusyBox. BusyBox developers Andersen and Landley in December sued Verizon -- claiming that the usage violated terms of version 2 of the GNU General Public License.

Andersen and Landley argued, among other things, that Verizon didn't make the source code in the routers' software available to end users -- as required under the GPL.

The settlement calls for Actiontec to post the source code on its Web site.

Andersen and Landley were represented in the case by an open source advocacy group called the Software Freedom Law Center. "We're happy to have settled this matter in a way that upholds the GPL," said SFLC legal director Dan Ravicher, in a statement Monday.

BusyBox is a set of open source software tools that optimize programs to run on devices with limited resources. SFLC previously had sued three smaller manufacturers on behalf of Andersen and Landley for allegedly using BusyBox in violation of the GPL.

The three previous cases were settled under terms similar to the Verizon agreement.

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