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Bell, SuperMicro sued over GPL

Jun 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has filed two more copyright infringement lawsuits on behalf of the developers of the Linux-based BusyBox utility suite. The suits have been filed against Bell Microproducts and SuperMicro Computer for alleged GPL violations, according to a Linux-Watch story.

Each of the companies have violated redistribution stipulations of the GNU General Public License (GPL), alleges the SFLC. According to the SFLC, it contacted both Bell and SuperMicro and gave the companies the opportunity to remedy their violations in private, but they were both unresponsive.

SuperMicro IPMI Card

The Bell Microproducts suit pertains to the Hammer MyShare NAS (network-attached storage) appliance (pictured above), which is sold by Bell's Hammer Storage division. The SuperMicro Computer suit is in reference to the SuperMicro IPMI Card (pictured below, at right). Both products ship with the open-source, GPLv2-protected BusyBox application, which combines tiny versions of many common Unix/Linux GNU utilities into a single small executable.

According to SFLC counsel Aaron Williamson, GPL violations are particularly prevalent in the embedded world. “In many cases, there's an upstream vendor. The hardware manufacturer buys an embedded Linux distribution from the upstream software vendor and the manufacturers either don't know or don't care enough to comply with the license,” he explained.

Williamson added that there's no practical — or legal — reason that it should take months to acquire the source code and post it. He said, “From the moment that you're distributing software in binary form to the public, you have the obligation to comply with the license at that moment.”

More details about the case, as well as the SFLC's previous suits on behalf of Busybox developers, can be found in the complete story at Linux-Watch, here.

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