The Free Software Foundation and Cisco have now settled the litigation over the GPL and Cisco's subsidiary, Linksys. Cisco has agreed to appoint a Free Software director for Linksys, and it has agreed to notify previous recipients of Linksys products of their rights under the GPL and other licenses, to publish a licensing notice on the Linksys website, and it will "continue to make the complete and corresponding source code for versions of the FSF programs used with current Linksys products freely available on its website." And Cisco will make a monetary contribution to the FSF.
There was a fair amount of misinformation about this topic recently. The link is just one example. Some were spinning that FSF had "lost" and unlike earlier GPL enforcement lawsuits had gotten "nothing" and had been forced to settle without gaining anything. They based the FUD on this dismissal notice [PDF]. As you can see, that was misinformation, however sincere it might have been. Or not. The parties merely agreed to dismiss since negotiations were going well, so as to focus on the settlement talks, and each had the right to ramp back up again in court, if things went south. But it worked out well, as they felt it would, and the settlement is now announced.
The GPL stands, much as that frustrates some. Cisco, by the way, negotiated, I've heard, in good faith, and the eventual settlement reflects that effort on their part to comply with the GPL going forward and to ameliorate earlier difficulties, for which it should be commended.
Here's the Free Software Foundation announcement and the FSF press release:
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Wednesday, May 20, 2009 -- The Free
Software Foundation (FSF) and Cisco Systems, Inc. are pleased to
announce that they have reached a joint agreement.
Under the agreement, the FSF has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against
Cisco has agreed to appoint a Free Software Director for Linksys, a
subsidiary of Cisco, to supervise Linksys' compliance with the
requirements of free software licenses such as the GPL (the GNU
General Public License). The Free Software Director will report
periodically to the FSF regarding Linksys' compliance efforts. Cisco
has further agreed to take certain steps to notify previous recipients
of Linksys products containing FSF programs of their rights under the
GPL and other applicable licenses, to publish a licensing notice on
the Linksys website, and to provide additional notices in a separate
publication. In addition, Cisco will continue to make the complete and
corresponding source code for versions of FSF programs used with
current Linksys products freely available on its website. Cisco will
also make a monetary contribution to the FSF.
The parties recognize Cisco's ongoing obligations under the GPL and
other free software licenses. The FSF will continue to independently
monitor Linksys' compliance with these licenses, and work with
Linksys to resolve any new issues that may arise.
"We are glad that Cisco has affirmed its commitment to the free
software community by implementing additional measures within its
compliance program and dedicating appropriate resources to them,
further reassuring the users' freedoms under the GPL," said Peter
Brown, Executive Director of the FSF. "Our agreement results in
making all of the relevant source code available in the fastest way
### About the FSF
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to
promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and
redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and
use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating
system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free
software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and
political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites,
located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information
about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at
. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.