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12 December 2008, 09:25

FSF sues Cisco

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The Free Software Foundation has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Cisco. The claim is that in distributing Cisco's Linksys branded projects, Cisco has violated the licences of many GPL or LGPL licensed programs, including the GCC compiler, binutils and the GNU C library. The complaintPDF lists these and many other FSF copyrighted works, as being present in the Firmware for Linksys’ models EFG120, EFG250, NAS200, SPA400, WAG300N, WAP4400N, WIP300, WMA11B, WRT54GL, WRV200, WRV54G, and WVC54GC, and in the program Quick-VPN.

The FSF holds the copyright to these programs and has now, after numerous attempts to get Cisco to comply with the requirements of the GPL, decided to go to court. As Brett Smith, licensing compliance engineer at the FSF explained "We began working with Cisco in 2003 to help them establish a process for complying with our software licenses, and the initial changes were very promising". The complaint itself documents the history of the problem back to May 2006, when the FSF first asked Cisco to distribute source code in compliance with the GPL.

In July 2006, the FSF says Cisco confirmed that they were not in compliance and after correspondence, they believed Cisco would resolve the issue. The FSF continued to monitor Cisco's response and the dispute carried on through 2007 and 2008, with no satisfactory resolution. The FSF is seeking an injunction to stop Cisco's distribution of products that contain FSF copyright code, for as long as they do not comply with the GPL. Brett Smith added "Unfortunately, they never put in the effort that was necessary to finish the process, and now five years later we have still not seen a plan for compliance. As a result, we believe that legal action is the best way to restore the rights we grant to all users of our software."

The FSF is being represented by the Software Freedom Law Center and the complaint has been filed in a New York court.


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