In a Win For GPL, Open Source Group Settles

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has settled its second GPL infringement case, this time with networking vendor Xterasys over charges that the company wasn’t complying with terms of the open source license agreement.

The suit was filed nearly a month ago and leaves the SFLC with a score 2 settled cases and two still outstanding. Although no financial terms were revealed, the settlement itself could help spur other parties in similar lawsuits to come to the bargaining table.

“We are very pleased that we have settled the matter and that Xterasys has agreed to comply with the GPL on a going forward basis and take steps to ameliorate the harm caused by their past non-compliance,” SFLC Legal Director Dan Ravicher told

The SFLC’s legal suit against Xterasys was filed on behalf of BusyBox programmers. BusyBox is a collection of UNIX utilities that have been optimized for size and are most commonly used in embedded environments.
BusyBox is licensed under the GPL which is a reciprocal license and requires that users make the source code available to end users.

Ravicher argued that Xterasys had been notified more than a year before the law suit was first filed.

“As we said in our complaint, we believe that third parties notified them of these issues in July 2006,” Ravicher said. “We then directly notified them of these issues in May 2007. So, as of at least those dates, Xterasys had notice of these issues.”

As part of the settlement Xterasys will cease distributing BusyBox code until the SFLC can verify that Xterasys is in compliance with the GPL.
Xterasys will also appoint an internal person to ensure GPL compliance.
There is also an undisclosed financial sum that Xterasys will pay.

“We seek a fair amount of financial compensation,” Ravicher said. “Thus, there is no hard formula, but instead is negotiated on a case by case basis.”

The SFLC still has two cases outstanding on behalf of BusyBox. One OF the cases is with High Gain Antennas that was filed the same day as the Xterasys suit. The other which was filed in early December against Verizon.

“We are in discussions with both regarding hopefully settling those matters as well, although no settlement agreement in either case has yet been reached,” Ravicher said.

The SFLC had settled a case with Monsoon Multimedia in October on behalf of BusyBox with a similar GPL infringement complaint.

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