Monday, December 17, 2007

BusyBox Settles Second GPL Suit

The Software Freedom Law Center ("SFLC") has settled a second BusyBox sofware lawsuit. The settlement for Xterasys is confidential, but appears to be virtually identical to the settlement for Monsoon Media. Dan Ravicher, the SFLC attorney for BusyBox, stated:

As a result of the settlement, Xterasys has agreed to cease all binary distribution of BusyBox until SFLC confirms it has published complete corresponding source code on its Web site. Once SFLC verifies that the complete source code is available, Xterasys' full rights to distribute BusyBox under the GPL will be reinstated.

Additionally, Xterasys has agreed to appoint an internal Open Source Compliance Officer to monitor and ensure GPL compliance, and to notify previous recipients of BusyBox from Xterasys of their rights to the software under the GPL. Xterasys will also pay an undisclosed amount of financial consideration to the plaintiffs.

The settlement suggests that SFLC has adopted a template for settlement. The lessons for FOSS management are the same as I suggested in my post about Monsoon Media.

1. You need to respond quickly and appropriately to any complaints about non compliance with open source licenses.

2. You should have a FOSS Use Policy to avoid these problems.

3. Your FOSS Use Policy should include a procedure for responding to these types of complaints.

4. Non-compliance, even “innocent” non-compliance, is getting more expensive.

If you don’t take these steps voluntarily, they may be imposed on you and you will have your own Open Source Compliance Officer.