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22 July 2008, 15:09

Extreme Networks accused of having violated GPL open source license

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The developers of the Busybox tool, often used in embedded Linux systems, have made another complaint via the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC). This time, US networking provider Extreme Networks is accused of violating the GPL with a number of its products and associated firmware, by not offering the Busybox source code for download and not informing buyers about the GPL. The SFLC is said to have tried to negotiate an out-of-court settlement but did not get a suitable response from Extreme Networks.

The complaint is worded in an unusually vague way. While the SFLC's lawyers normally use exact device names and revisions to substantiate their claims, this complaint only mentions, as an aside, that Extreme Network's Summit X450 family of managed network switches appears to be among the technologies in question.

BusyBox combines many common UNIX utilities within a single compact executable file. For embedded and small system developers, BusyBox allows them to install a whole range of commands into a systems with a much reduced disk and memory footprint.

Extreme Networks is not the first large company to enter into legal dispute with the Busybox developers. SFLC lawyers, acting on the developers behalf, also raised a complaint against US telecommunications giant Verizon for selling an Actiontec WLAN router without appropriately mentioning the GPL or making the source code of Verizon's firmware updates available for download. Like all the companies sued by the Busybox developers so far, Verizon agreed in an out-of-court settlement to pay an undisclosed amount of damages and nominate an "Open Source Compliance Officer" to ensure the company observes the GPL's terms in the future.


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