Software Freedom Law Center goes after Verizon over GPL

Open-source and free-software defenders allege that Verizon's Fios wireless-router provider is not abiding by terms of the General Public License.

The Software Freedom Law Center on Friday said it has filed a suit against Verizon Communications alleging that it has violated the terms of the General Public License, which governs the use of thousands of free and open-source software products.

The suit is the fourth that the SFLC has filed on behalf of two programmers who wrote BusyBox, a software utility package covered under the GPL. BusyBox is typically embedded in hardware devices that use the Linux open-source operating system.

The move reflects a more aggressive stance that the SFLC, which provides legal counsel to free and open-source developers, has taken this year.

Verizon distributes a wireless router made by Actiontec Electronics to customers of its Fios fiber-optic broadband service.

The router uses the BusyBox software, and under terms of the GPL, Verizon has to make the source code available to people who use the device, according to the SFLC suit (PDF).

The first suit alleging misuse of the BusyBox software, which the SFLC filed in September of this year, was settled quickly. The SFLC also sued Xterasys and High-Gain Antennas in November.

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