Here it is, the complaint [PDF] in the first US copyright infringement lawsuit based on a violation of the GPL, as text. The lawsuit, Erik Andersen and Rob Landley v. Monsoon Multimedia Inc., case number 07-CV-8205, was filed today by the Software Freedom Law Center and will be heard by Senior District Judge John E. Sprizzo of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
It's a copyright infringement lawsuit, based on infringement of the GPL in that Monsoon, the complaint alleges, acknowledges that its products and firmware contain BusyBox but are not providing recipients with source code, as required by the license. The plaintiffs ask for the following relief: an injunction, damages, and litigation costs. And here is some information from LinuxDevices about the Monsoon Multimedia device in question, Hava.
Update: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at Linux-Watch has some interesting details:
Monsoon makes consumer devices primarily for home multimedia users. Its line includes such products as Hava, a place- and time-shifting TV recorder similar to the SlingBox, and SnappySoft, Windows Media Center video capture software.
Interestingly, Monsoon Multimedia is run by a highly experienced lawyer named Graham Radstone. According to his corporate biography, Radstone has an MA in Law from the University of Cambridge, England, and held the top legal spot at an unnamed "$1 billion private multinational company." He also reportedly held a top management position with Philip Morris.
I guess we can rule out a "what did I know?" affirmative defense, if he's a lawyer. Kidding. There is no such defense. And a lawyer will be assumed to know how to read a license, I think.
SOFTWARE FREEDOM LAW CENTER, INC.
Daniel B. Ravicher (DR1498)
[address, phone, fax]
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Erik Andersen and Rob Landley
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
ERIK ANDERSEN, an individual,
and ROB LANDLEY, an individual,
MONSOON MULTIMEDIA, INC.
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 Monsoon Multimedia, 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, Monsoon Multimedia, Inc., ("Defendant") is a California
corporation with its principle place of business at 1730 South Amphlett Blvd. in San Mateo,
California. Upon information and belief, Defendant is engaged in the business of advertising, marketing and distributing computer hardware and software. Upon information and belief, Defendant
regularly transacts substantial business in this district, including at least through its website where
it sells and distributes its hardware and software products.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
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 and 302 of the New York Civil Practice Law and
Rules because, upon information and belief, Defendant has conducted and continues to conduct
substantial business in the State of New York. This business includes owning and operating a
website at www.myhava.com for the purposes of directly marketing, selling and supporting various
multimedia devices to people in New York state, including residents of New York state.
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 Defendants,
upon information and belief, are and at all times were 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
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, Defendant makes and sells various media devices and hardware (the "Infringing Products") that contain embedded executable software (the "Firmware").
Defendant also provides the Firmware itself for download via its website, at
12. Upon information and belief, Defendant's 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 Products or by itself, thus inherently
includes distribution of BusyBox and, as such, Defendant is required to have Plaintiffs' permission
to make that distribution. The only such permission available for BusyBox is the contingent one
granted under the License.
13. Upon information and belief, Defendant offers copies of the Firmware on its website,
but does not offer any source code corresponding to the Firmware. Upon information and belief,
since at least January 6, 2006, Defendant has distributed to the public copies of the Firmware in
its Infringing Products and via its website without providing source code to BusyBox. Defendant's
Infringing Products include Defendant's Hava line of video streamer products.
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
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 Products 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. Upon information and belief, on August 28, 2007, Defendants were notified by third
parties of Plaintiffs' copyright in BusyBox and of Defendant's infringement thereof. This notification was provided via a public forum on Defendant's website. Upon information and belief, on
September 5, 2007, via the same forum, Defendant's employee or agent, identified as "Gary-MM"
of "MyHAVA Support", confirmed that Defendant was redistributing BusyBox, but not providing
source code as per the requirements of the License.
16. On September 11, 2007, through their counsel, Plaintiffs notified Defendant of its
unlawful conduct based upon its failure to comply with the License. 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, the copyright owners under United
States copyright law in the software program known as BusyBox.
19. Defendant's distribution of its Infringing Products and Firmware without approval or
authorization by Plaintiffs infringes Plaintiffs' exclusive copyrights in BusyBox pursuant to 17
20. Plaintiffs are entitled to recover from Defendant the amount of their actual damages
incurred as a result of the 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
22. Plaintiffs are also entitled to recover their attorneys' fees and costs of suit. 17 U.S.C.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request judgment against the 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
Dated: New York, New York
September 19, 2007
SOFTWARE FREEDOM LAW CENTER, INC.
Daniel B. Ravicher (DR1498)
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Erik Andersen and Rob Landley
The GNU General Public License
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