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BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement - Updated 3Xs
Friday, December 07 2007 @ 01:43 PM EST

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. Those busy BusyBox developers, Erik Andersen and Rob Landley, have now filed a lawsuit against Verizon for GPL infringement. It's yet another case of alleged failure to provide source code. Here's the complaint [PDF]. I'll also provide it as text, below.

Remember how Eben Moglen used to say that negotiations were the best solution years ago, because the GPL was new and funds were limited? And then when he went to the Software Freedom Law Center he said he'd be in a position to do more? I think he told us the truth.

Update 3: For those thinking, "Well, how am I supposed to know how to get it right?" there is a BusyBox license page that explains, and it references Linksys as a good example nowadays, and suggests that you look at how they do it. Compliance isn't hard, really. I see the BusyBox developers used to have a Hall of Shame page, where they listed those ignoring the terms of the license. Apparently shame is insufficient as a motivator, so now they are starting to sue. Compliance is a lot pleasanter, I'm thinking, and the license page is quite clear.

The story's just starting to hit the media. Steven J. Vaughan Nichols' story in eWeek explains a bit about what BusyBox is:

The SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) announced on Dec. 7 that it has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Verizon Communications on behalf of its clients, the two principal developers of BusyBox, alleging that Verizon has violated the GNU GPLv2 (General Public License version 2) in its fiber-optic Internet and television service, aka FiOS.

Verizon distributes Actiontec MI424WR wireless routers to FiOS customers. This router contains BusyBox ... BusyBox is a set of tiny versions of many common Unix/Linux utilities, which are squeezed into a single small executable. By providing replacements for most of the utilities ordinary found in GNU fileutils, shellutils, etc., developers get much of the expected functionality of the GNU utilities without the space requirements. Thus, the BusyBox programs are used in many--perhaps most--embedded Linux-based devices.

So if there are others out there neglecting to provide source code, I gather the message is that this is a good time to do something about it. The same two principal developers already successfully sued Monsoon Media, and they have litigation pending against Xterasys Corporation and High-Gain Antennas, LLC.

Update: Sean Michael Kerner at Internet News has a reaction from Verizon and a comment from Dan Ravicher of SFLC:

"We are aware of the suit," Verizon spokesman David Fish told "This matter is being dealt with." Fish did not elaborate....

Ravicher said he isn't worried about Verizon's size being an issue. "We see no significant legal or factual challenges, as both the law and facts in these cases are overwhelmingly on our side," Ravicher said. "Verizon's capability to afford litigation may make it more likely that the case proceeds for some time, but that's not a disadvantage or challenge, as we at the Software Freedom Law Center have a legal staff of sufficient size and expertise to do the same."

Update 2: I think we can figure out the problem from these statements, from Grant Gross's article in ComputerWorld:

Verizon spokesman David Fish said the telecommunications company is aware of the lawsuit and isn't ducking the issue. "This matter is being dealt with," Fish said. "We've referred it to the responsible third-party vendor" -- a reference to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Actiontec.

But Ravicher claimed that both Actiontec and Verizon have to adhere to the requirements of the GPL as distributors of BusyBox. "When Actiontec distributes to Verizon, Actiontec has obligations," he said. "When Verizon turns around and redistributes to customers, Verizon has obligations. Even if Actiontec fulfills its obligations when it distributes to Verizon, that does not fulfill Verizon's obligations when it distributes to its customers."

Actiontec, according to the article, responded to the SFLC's notice, which is why it was not listed in the complaint. I'd say, then, that this is very likely to work out in the end. It appears to be a misunderstanding on Verizon's part. I have not forgotten, personally, how Verizon stood up to the RIAA, taking its case all the way to the Supreme Court to protect the privacy of its customers. And it won. So until I see otherwise, my assumption will be that this can be settled out.

Here is the press release from the Software Freedom Law Center on the Verizon suit, followed by the complaint as text.


BusyBox Developers File GPL Infringement Lawsuit Against Verizon Communications
Lawsuit Claims Verizon Illegally Distributes Open Source Software to FiOS Customers

NEW YORK, 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

"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.

About the Software Freedom Law Center

The Software Freedom Law Center -- directed by Eben Moglen, one of the world's leading experts on copyright law as applied to software -- provides legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software. The Law Center is dedicated to assisting non-profit open source developers and projects.


Daniel B. Ravicher (DR1498)
[address, phone, fax]

Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Erik Andersen and Rob Landley



ERIK ANDERSEN, an individual,
and ROB LANDLEY, an individual,



a Delaware corporation,



Civil Action No. CV


This is an action by Erik Andersen, an individual, and Rob Landley, an individual, ("Plaintiffs") by and through their attorneys, the Software Freedom Law Center, Inc., to recover damages arising from infringement of their copyrights by Verizon Communications, Inc. ("Defendant") and to enjoin Defendant's future infringement. Specifically, Defendant distributed and continues to distribute Plaintiffs' copyrighted BusyBox software without Plaintiffs' permission and despite the fact that Plaintiffs notified Defendant of its unlawful activity. Since Defendant has infringed Plaintiffs' copyrights, and since that infringement is ongoing, Plaintiffs seek damages and injunctive relief.


1. Erik Andersen is a private individual with a residence in [redacted]. Rob Landley is a private individual with a residence in [redacted]. Erik Andersen and Rob Landley ("Plaintiffs") develop, market, distribute and license computer software in a professional capacity.

2. Upon information and belief, Verizon Communications, Inc. ("Defendant") is a Delaware corporation with its principle place of business at [redacted].


3. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §501 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a).

4. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant pursuant to Rule 4(K)(1)(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and §301 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules because Defendant's principle place of business is located within this district.

5. Venue in this district is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391 and 1400 because a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims asserted herein arise in this district, and Defendant, upon information and belief, is and at all times was doing business in this district.


6. Plaintiffs are authors and developers of the BusyBox computer program, and the owners of copyrights in that computer program. BusyBox is a single computer program that comprises a set of computing tools and optimizes them for computers with limited resources, such as cell phones, PDAs and other small, specialized electronic devices. BusyBox is extremely customizable,


fast and flexible, and, upon information and belief, is used in countless products sold by more than 100 manufacturers all over the world, including IBM, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard, and Siemens.

7. Plaintiffs have distributed BusyBox since on or about November 4, 1999. They distribute BusyBox in source code form, the human-readable form of a computer program that a programmer must have in order to make changes to the program. Plaintiffs distribute BusyBox under a license entitled the "GNU General Public License, Version 2" ("the License"). A copy of the License is attached to this Complaint as Exhibit A.

8. Under the License, Plaintiffs grant certain permissions to other parties to copy, modify and redistribute BusyBox so long as those parties satisfy certain conditions. In particular, Section 2(b) of the License, addressing each licensee, states:

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

Thus, if a licensee redistributes a version of BusyBox, it may do so only under the terms of the License.

9. The License permits a licensee to distribute BusyBox, or works based on BusyBox, in object code or executable form, on the condition that the licensee gives recipients access to the source code corresponding to what they distribute. The object code or executable form of a computer program is the form that can actually be run on a computer, but which is not intelligible to the human reader and thus is not practicably modifiable. Section 3 of the License states:

You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:


a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange . . . .

10. Plaintiffs have at no time granted any permission to any party to copy, modify or distribute BusyBox under any terms other than those of the License.

11. Upon information and belief, Verizon distributes to its customers the Actiontec MI424WR wireless router ("Infringing Product"), which contains embedded executable software ("Firmware"). Defendant also provides the Firmware corresponding to the Infringing Product for download via its website, at

12. Upon information and belief, the Firmware contains BusyBox, or a modified version of BusyBox that is substantially similar to BusyBox, in object code or executable form. Distribution of the Firmware, either as part of the Infringing Product or by itself, thus inherently includes distribution of BusyBox and, as such, Defendant is required to have Plaintiffs' permission to make any such distribution. The only such permission available for BusyBox is the contingent one granted under the License.

13. Upon information and belief, since at least November 17, 2006, Verizon has distributed to the public copies of the Firmware in the Infringing Product, and none of these distributions included source code to BusyBox or offers to provide such source code.

14. Section 4 of the License states:


You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.

Therefore, under the License, any party that redistributes BusyBox in a manner that does not comply with the terms of the License immediately and automatically loses all rights granted under it. As such, any rights Defendant may have had under the License to redistribute BusyBox were automatically terminated the instant that Defendant made non-compliant distribution of the Infringing Product or Firmware. Since that time, Defendant has had no right to distribute BusyBox, or a modified version of BusyBox, under any circumstances or conditions.

15. On November 16, 2007, through their counsel, Plaintiffs notified Defendant of its unlawful conduct based upon its failure to comply with the License.

16. Defendant has not responded to Plaintiffs' notice and continues to distribute the Infringing Products and Firmware in violation of Plaintiffs' exclusive rights under the Copyright Act.



17. Plaintiffs reallege and restate paragraphs 1 through 16 as if more fully set forth herein.

18. Plaintiffs are, and at all relevant times have been, copyright owners under United States copyright law in the software program known as BusyBox.

19. Defendant's distribution of its Infringing Product and Firmware without approval or authorization by Plaintiffs infringes Plaintiffs' exclusive copyrights in BusyBox pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §501.


20. Plaintiffs are entitled to recover from Defendant the amount of their actual damages incurred as a result of their infringement, in such amount as is shown by appropriate evidence upon the trial of this case. 17 U.S.C. §504.

21. Plaintiffs are also entitled to injunctive relief pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §502 and to an order impounding any and all infringing materials pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §503. Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law for Defendant's wrongful conduct because, among other things, (a) Plaintiffs' copyrights are unique and valuable property whose market value is impossible to assess, (b) Defendant's infringement harms Plaintiffs such that Plaintiffs could not be made whole by any monetary award, and (c) Defendant's wrongful conduct, and the resulting damage to Plaintiffs, is continuing.

22. Plaintiffs are also entitled to recover their attorneys' fees and costs of suit. 17 U.S.C. §505.


WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request judgment against Defendant as follows:

(1) That the Court issue injunctive relief against Defendant, and that Defendant, its directors, principals, officers, agents, representatives, servants, employees, attorneys, successors and assigns, and all others in active concert or participation with Defendant, be enjoined and restrained from copying, modifying, distributing or making any other infringing use of Plaintiffs' software.

(2) That the Court order Defendant to pay Plaintiffs' actual and consequential damages incurred, in an amount to be determined at trial;

(3) That the Court order Defendant to account for and disgorge to Plaintiffs all profits derived by Defendant from its unlawful acts;


(4) That the Court order Defendant to pay Plaintiffs' litigation expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees and costs of this action; and

(5) That the Court grant Plaintiffs any such further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.


Dated: New York, New York
December 6, 2007

Respectfully submitted,


Daniel B. Ravicher (DR1498)
[address, phone, fax]

Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Erik Andersen and Bob Landley


BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement - Updated 3Xs | 575 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: red floyd on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:10 PM EST
Please state the nature of the corrections emergency in the title,


This => That

I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United
States of America.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-Topic here
Authored by: red floyd on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:12 PM EST
Please follow the instructions in Red.

I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United
States of America.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Comments Here
Authored by: red floyd on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:13 PM EST
For the trifecta!

I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United
States of America.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rental or Ownership?
Authored by: John Hasler on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:22 PM EST
One issue here is likely to be whether the users own the modems or merely rent
them. Can any FIOS users comment?

IOANAL. Licensed under the GNU General Public License

[ Reply to This | # ]

Looking at the source code
Authored by: TJ on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:25 PM EST

I saw this earlier when it first hit the wires and did some research and talked to an acquaintance on IRC that has one of those routers.

Actiontec, the company that makes the router, provide a download site for the GPL components at Actiontec GPL Code Download Centre. I've downloaded and checked the source-code and it contains licenses as expected.

My contact tells me there is a link in the router's web interface to Actiontec's web-site although he wasn't clear in what context that is displayed. I don't think it is in relation to anything that would satisfy GPL v2 section 3 though.

My contact insists on arguing that Verizon are covered under clause 3c because they give away the router for free. I pointed out that isn't noncommercial use but it fell on deaf ears.

The router package is developed and built using Jungo's OpenRG SDK which requires a license.

It seems it is possible that, on that basis, the distributed source-code could be infringing clause 3 where it requires:

For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement
Authored by: Sunny Penguin on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:45 PM EST
So with the new copyright law; does this mean the Verizon guy gets 10 years in

"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
-D. Adams

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:49 PM EST
In this case I am happy that there are people with a professional law background
deeply involved in GPL and other OSS projects; I always was. It is my experience
law people tend to be more balanced than the mob justice thrown out at Slashdot
(and at times by myself too... shame on me).

No, I wouldn't like to be represented by myself, at any time... I know my
weaknesses too well. I guess name calling doesn't work very well in court... ;)

Thanks! To all well versed in legalese for providing a freedom of speech

(Men as in human, regardless of sex.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 02:56 PM EST
Why isn't this lawsuit directed at the maker, Actiontec, rather than a
distributer like Verizon? I don't understand this at all.

The Actiontec models in that series is also one of the recommended DSL modems
for Qwest. In fact Qwest also distributes them - as does Best Buy. In fact I
bought one from Best Buy in order to get DSL service from Qwest. I can also tell
you that the modem was "hacked" a while back by some people who found
you could telnet in using the user ID "admin" with the password

So given all the ways one can get that DSL modem, I can only conclude that this
lawsuit is confusing as all heck - or poorly thought out. If everyone down the
chain must provide access to source code, then would I be infringing if I resold
my Actiontec modem without providing source code?? (I'm currently using a
Netopia DSL modem, so it had crossed my mind.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'm a little puzzled here...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 03:08 PM EST
It sounds as though Verizon is distributing a piece of gear that they don't make
(the router); and that said router contains GPL code (Busybox)--and that Verizon
themselves isn't publishing the source code.

According to another response, the company that actually *makes* the router, is
compying with the GPL.

Maybe I'm missing something here... but how is this a copyright violation on
Verizon's part? (And likewise, I believe that you can buy a TiVo at Circuit
City, but Circuit City doesn't publish the GPL'd source code inside a TiVo. Is
Circuit City in violation)?

So... a few questions:

* Is Verizon somehow modifying the GPL-protected source code in the router, or
merely redistributing the device as-is?
* Does the "first sale doctrine" apply to product which is given away?
(Does it apply at all to materials which may be in violation of copyright)?
* Likewise, if the router contained pirated code from, say, Microsoft--could MS
sue Verizon (and have a legit case)?
* If Verizon sold customers the router, any difference? If Verizon gave
customers a voucher to buy the router at Circuit City, any difference? (How
would this case differ from MS issuing vouchers for Novell Linux?) If Verizon
were merely to spec the router--customers were entirely on their own to procure
* If it is established in fact that the router supplier does comply with the
GPL--and thus there are no copyvios when the router leaves their factory--why
wouldn't downstream parties who handle the device be immune from any further GPL

[ Reply to This | # ]

Verizon FiOS and Firmware
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 04:12 PM EST
Not only does Verizon make the firmware available to download but it also
pushes it out to the Actiontec routers. We have FiOS at work and stopped using
the router for this reason, we had automatic updating turned off in the router
yet the firmware updated each night to one that caused issues with one of our
uses. We could roll back to a prior version but it would just update again the
next night. We called tech support about the problems with the version and also

asked if they could stop sending it to our router. They stated that they were
unaware of the problem we were having, but they would not stop from pushing
back to our router as it was a "required" update. Because of the
problem and the
fact we did not like that Verizon could do this with the router we replaced it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is this good news?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 04:23 PM EST
I think that with these two fools on the street we have seen many--perhaps
most--embedded Linux-based devices.
Oh well, it was nice. Maybe another time we'll see more.

[ Reply to This | # ]

BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 04:28 PM EST
"We have met the enemy and it are us"

One of the truly exciting opportunities for Linux and other open source is in
the area of embedded system products. By their nature they are
"things" which do some function not related to being a computer. DSL
modems, for instance. These "things" will be bought, sold, stocked,
distributed and used without anyone ever caring that there is a processor or
software inside. Its value is in the function the "thing" does.

That the manufacturer has complied with the licensing requirements is proof of
due diligence. One wonders if Verizon even knows what's inside the box. Anything
more complicated than dirt these days is going to be comprised of who knows how
much IP, patents and licensing. When you obtain a "thing" from
somebody the reasonable expectation that the manufacturer their part. As the
user you can't possibly know, and shouldn't have to know, what all went into the

It seems Mr. Andersen and Mr. Landley are striving to be the new Daryl McBride
and Eben Moglen is looking for the cash cow with which to make a living. I'm
with Verizon on this one. As an engineer who does embedded systems designs,
these actions make me sick.

[ Reply to This | # ]

BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 04:30 PM EST
Remember on Dec. 23, 2004 when AllParadox explained third parties and “legal
standing” to Groklaw readers.

The GPL’s sec. 2(b) directs all performance of the licensor and licensee to
third party donee beneficiaries:

“b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in
part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed
as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.”

There is no return promise of consideration from “all third parties” – they are
truly an intended class of third party donee beneficiaries.

As third party beneficiaries they alone have legal standing to complain that
they never received the source code.

"First, the Court has held that when the asserted harm is a ‘generalized
grievance’ shared in substantially equal measure by all or a large class of
citizens, that harm alone normally does not warrant exercise of jurisdiction.
Second, even when the plaintiff has alleged injury sufficient to meet the
"case or controversy" requirement, this Court has held that the
plaintiff generally must assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot
rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third
parties." Warth v. Seldin 422 U.S. 490 (1975)

"A plaintiff must point to some type of cognizable harm, whether such harm
is physical, economic, reputational, contractual, or even aesthetic. . . But the
injury in fact test requires more than an injury to a cognizable interest. It
requires that the party seeking review be himself among the injured.”
Koziara v. City of Casselberry, 392 F.3d 1302 (11th Cir. 2004)

Erik Andersen and Rob Landley are going to be saddened when they find that they
have no legal standing to insist on the publication of source code intended for
“all third parties.”

Losers in copyright actions must pay defendant's attorney fees.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Actually, Verizon Messed Up Here
Authored by: maz2331 on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 05:17 PM EST
I looked at the complaint, and Verizon IS in violation of the GPL here. The
reason is that they have the binaries on a VERIZON website, and no corresponding
source availability. That makes them a distributor of the code, and they must
distribute source on-demand.

It's not permitted to rely on an "upstream" party to do that.

If Verizon simply passed-through the units pre-loaded from the factory, this
would not be an issue. It's the non-compliance by providing binaries on
Verizon-controlled sites without source that is the issue.

It seems like splitting hairs, but is actually fundamental to the spirit and
letter of the license.

[ Reply to This | # ]

BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 06:16 PM EST

The most important point to note is that this was filed after Verizon failed to respond. Not refused to comply, but refused to respond.

The lesson here is that when the SFLC calls, you pick up the phone.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Verizon did not respond in three weeks!
Authored by: E-man on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 09:19 PM EST
More from that Internet News article that PJ mentioned:
"We sent initial communications to Verizon three weeks ago," [SFLC Legal Director] Ravicher said. "They never responded. Thus, there are no negotiations underway with them. That is what forced us to file the lawsuit, because it was our only last option to get Verizon to address our clients' concerns."

To me, the interesting thing is that Verizon didn't do anything for 3 weeks. They didn't even acknowledge receipt, if I understand this correctly. That's just normal courtesy. I can't believe that the SFLC didn't send the communication properly.

I wonder if Verizon didn't have a clue what to do about it, and the matter just got pushed around from person to person, so nothing actually got done. It could see that happening, especially since the router is manufactured by Actiontec. Normally (excluding GPL), complying with the license would be their responsibility, I would think. (In another comment PJ says something about Verizon maybe thinking of SFLC as a bunch of long-haired hippies (IIRC); I wouldn't be surprised if that had a role, too.) I can imagine a number of red faces now that the lawsuit has been filed, and a lot of finger pointing and butt covering is probably going on. (In other words, everyone is probably just following the Standard Operating Procedures for a large corporation. ;-) )

[ Reply to This | # ]

BusyBoxers, SFLC v Verizon for Infringement - Presumptions and Speculations
Authored by: webster on Friday, December 07 2007 @ 11:45 PM EST
1. Open Source code is ubiquitous and free. It is "up for grabs."
Many people get it, modify it, use it and distibute it. They don't even bother
with the license. It's free. Some do this thoughtlessly. Some do it on
purpose. Some have lazy coders in windowless halls with beige cubicles
'producing' patch code. They are selling the code; they don't want their
competitors to copy their modification: they are doing something questionable
with the code, i.e. spying or spamming. They don't want attention. They want
to be like Tivo and enjoy exclusively the fruits of their labors with open
source-GPL code. If they know it is wrong, they want to do it as long as
possible to maintain their advantage. They will behave when forced.

2. Verizon knows better. They are trying to hide something or they are
delaying with compliance as long as possible to maintain an advantage.

3. The BusyBoxers have become the stand up guys for the GPL. BusyBox must be a
marvelous product attractive to many. They recently took action with success
against another violator. They now have had SFLC jump on Verizon. Verizon was
probably surprised and thought there would be another warning they could ignore.
They thought they could work it out when they were ready. They wouldn't dare

4. What will happen now. BB has their attention. They will work it out but it
will take two things: 1) money; 2)disclosure of the present and future code
derived from GPL Code, like BusyBox. The code will be most intetresting. The
source code disclosed will have to match the binary code they disclose on their
website. It will be interesting to see if that is more embarassing than the GPL
dust up.

5. There is no question but that Verizon will settle this quickly. Lawyers
fees and then some boat money will do it. After all, there is pllenty of
non-infringed, identical code freely available elsewhere.

6. Procedurally, Verizon is probably trying to work this out with their own in
hous counsel. SFLC has probably agreed to extra time for them to respond now
that they have their attention. They are letting SFLC and Mr. Moglen educate
them. They have no fear of exhorbitant losses, but Busy Boys, be reasonable!


[ Reply to This | # ]

I enjoyed reading the complaint.
Authored by: itchytweed on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 10:17 AM EST
Messr's Moglen and Ravisher have a wonderfully written complaint here. It is
simple, easy to read, and gets right to the point. I would hope that some of the
resident Groklaw court reporters get to sit in on this one, if the complaint
ends up in front of the bench.

The BuxyBox guys have been busy lately but I am glad to see that they are
sticking up for themselves. Yet again, as each of their cases go to court and
they win, this builds case history supporting the GPL and its goals. So asides
from protecting themselves, they end up protecting the community.

On an aside, even though the complaint is short, straight to the point, and
easily solved, can Verizon and their legal staff (BSF maybe? snicker, snicker)
deliberately drag this on, can the judge nail them, for the lack of the proper
term(s), "delay of game"? And I am not looking for a 5-yard penalty

-- Itchytweed

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BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 11:34 AM EST
this people is the beginning of the end for the GPL... mark my words.

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Who is doing the copping?
Authored by: Mikkel on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 01:48 PM EST
What would happen is a company had a router built for them, with their brand
mane on it, and the packaging to their specifications? They do not supply
firmware updates. Would they be responsible for complying with the GPL, or would
the company that built it for them?

I would think that they would be, but I do not know. I would think it would be
different then a store selling the router that came pre-packaged and with
someone elses brand name on it.

Old age and treachery ALWAYS beats Youth and enthusiasm!

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BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 02:15 PM EST
So where is the consideration received by the copyright holders again?

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BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 03:23 PM EST
An amazing set of anti-GPL trolls about today.
I get the feeling somebody is really worried :)

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Missing Registrations
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 07:48 PM EST
Neither Erik Anderson nor Rob Landley return any copyright registrations at the
Copyright Office online search.

You can't prosecute a claim for copyright infringement unless the work is
registered. What gives?

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Dual License question
Authored by: LaurenceTux on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 08:59 PM EST
lets say i create the "Next Big Net Thing" and i decide to give it a
dual license As written i give you a choice of either GPL Version X or LT Tech
Proprietary sort of like
The program has a choice of licenses either GPL Version X [incorperated herein
by reference/link] or the following license
{long list of legal gibbering}
Article 29 Site license: each site not to be larger than 50 miles must have
payment of US$500,000.00 on file with LT tech and after the period of 1 (one
year) provide a payment of US$10,000.00
[final bits of legal gibbering}

Assuming that all of my contributers agree and some company does in fact use the
code in GPL mode but violates the license (no source provided) and gets caught
after 5 years are they now liable for massive fees??

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The legal complaint is badly written
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 10:43 PM EST
I am suprised by the poor quality of their complaint.

I remember reading that you don't even need to mention the GPL. You are supposed
to wait for the defendant to try and use the GPL.

The factual background should have been:

7) Plaintiffs have been distributing BusyBox since 1999 etc etc etc and own the
copyright as shown by etc etc etc

8) Defendants have copied and distributed BusyBox without permission. The
distribution occcurred on date xxxx etc etc

9) Defendants have therefore breached copyright. We would like $220,000 to match
the RIAA (excuse my sarcasm) etc etc etc

Of course lawyers don't like to keep their work short and sweet as they charge
by the hour... There was no need to mention the GPL at all.... this was badly

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the gpl-is-teh-devil1 story so far
Authored by: sumzero on Sunday, December 09 2007 @ 04:14 AM EST
1) the gpl has never been tested in court and is unenforceable.

2) the gpl has never been tested in an us court and is unenforceable.

3) the gpl is enforceable, but enforcing it is a bad idea because then the
people who are infringing on your rights might decide to stop infringing on your
rights and then you'll have nothing.

did i miss anything?

48. The best book on programming for the layman is "alice in wonderland"; but
that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.

alan j perlis

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Current status of the cases
Authored by: JesseW on Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 03:22 AM EST
None of the currently open SFLC Busybox cases have yet had Answers filed by the
defendants. In Andersen et al v. Verizon Communications, Inc. (
1:07-cv-11070-LTS ), the most recent filing is the Complaint, on Dec 6. In
Andresen et al v. High-Antennas, L.L.C. ( 1:07-cv-10456-LBS ), the defendants
were served on Dec 2, and their answer is due by Dec 24. In Andersen et al v.
Xterasys Corporation ( 1:07-cv-10455-PKC ), the defendants were served on Nov
21, and their answer was due by today; however, yesterday they got an extension;
their new due date for answering the complaint is Jan 11, 2008.

So, no news of interest yet, but, assuming there is no settlement, we should be
seeing something of interest by early January at the latest.

(Contact me for comment licensing, e.g. GPL, CC, PD, etc.)

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What is acceptable compliance?
Authored by: achates on Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 02:42 PM EST
I would like to know what the authors consider acceptable (the referenced page
doesn't really give enough detail).

The license, taken literally, says that a commercial distributor who does not
directly provide the source with the object distribution but provide a written
offer to provide a copy, fixed in a durable medium commonly used for software
distribution. So, a letter offering to send a CD-ROM would meet the license
requirements, but a letter pointing at a website would not.

Yet, the authors seem to be accepting a website as an alternative, based on the
Monsoon case. Have they said this in so many words anywhere? In legal terms,
would accepting such an alternative dilute the authors' rights (via estoppel or
whatever)? Is a court likely to be comfortable with plaintiff saying "You
don't need to strictly comply if you do this alternative form of
non-compliance", or is a court likely to say "You can't pick and
choose what terms to enforce."?

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BusyBox Developers, SFLC Sue Verizon for GPL Infringement - Updated 3Xs
Authored by: achates on Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 02:50 PM EST
The other question I have about the series of SFLC suits is that they seem to be
picking on trivia. Yes, the license does require you to provide the source even
if you don't modify the source, but how is that more than a pro-forma
non-compliance? The source code clearly is available (both from the authors and
from hundreds of other places, so what justifies the time and effort of going to
court over it?

One wonders whether the SFLC is trying to use this as a stalking horse to
establish the viability of the license by a long series of suites and
settlements that they can point at as precedent.

I'm not saying one shouldn't have to comply with the license, I'm just wondering
why this particular form of non-compliance matters to anyone (and, peripherally,
why a court should care).

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