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FSF and Cisco Settle - For Real, This Time
Wednesday, May 20 2009 @ 05:49 PM EDT

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.

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 possible."

### 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.


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