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First U.S. GPL lawsuit filed

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Legal

Normally, GPL violations have been settled by letters from the FSF (Free Software Foundation) or other open-source organizations, pointing out the violation. For the first time in the U.S., a company, multimedia device and software vendor Monsoon Multimedia, is being taken to court for a GPL violation.

The SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) announced on Sept. 20 that it had just filed the first ever U.S. copyright infringement lawsuit based on a violation of the GNU General Public License (GPL) on behalf of its clients. The group's clients are the two principal developers of BusyBox. BusyBox, small-footprint application that implements a lightweight set of standard Unix utilities commonly used in embedded systems, is open-source software licensed under the GPL version 2.

The developers came to the SFLC after trying to talk Monsoon into honoring the conditions of the GPLv2. Unsuccessful with this, the SFLC has filed suit on the developers' behalf against Monsoon.

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The device behind the GPL's first U.S. legal test

Moonsoon Multimedia has used embedded Linux to build a consumer DVR (digital video recorder) with remote multimedia file serving capabilities. The Hava -- recently implicated in a GPL violation court case -- aims to let the user access live and recorded TV content from broadband-connected locations.

Like the original Linux-based TiVo DVR, the Hava offers "time-shifting" capabilities, such as the capability to pause live television, or record it for asynchronous playback. And, like the BSD-based SlingBox, it offers integrated multimedia file serving capabilities aimed at "place-shifting" content, letting users consume live or recorded content from any broadband Internet connection.

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Also: Andersen v. Monsoon Multimedia, The Busybox Complaint, as text

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