Posted by: commonsresource | August 6, 2010

You Can’t Do That on HDTV – GPL scores another historic U.S. court victory for open source

Continuing with yesterday’s sport theme, let’s turn to the The Register post entitled GPL scores historic court compliance victory. Gavin Clarke (San Francisco) reports that

The Software Freedom Conservancy has secured $90,000 in damages for willful infringement of GPLv2, plus nearly $50,000 in costs from Westinghouse Digital Electronics over its illegal distribution of the Unix utility BusyBox. The company has also been ordered to stop shipping product loaded with BusyBox. It’s the first time a US court has awarded an injunction ordering a GPL violator to permanently stop distribution of out-of-compliance GPL’d software.

As Gavin notes, this is one of 14 similar actions by the Software Freedom Conservancy. While it is important to note that  Westinghouse Digital Electronics (currently in California bankruptcy assignment) did not defend itself, the case is significant for both its decision and range of remedies which included “the right to compel Westinghouse to hand over all unsold [HDTV] products loaded with BusyBox for donation to charity”.

This decision about BusyBox is the latest cautionary example of the perils of GPL and other open source software license non-compliance by companies. As noted in the title, it is now perfectly clear that You Can’t Do That on HDTV!


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