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Open source developers file first GPL copyright infringement suit in the US

Hava Wireless HDIt's no secret that a lot of consumer electronics devices are built using Linux and other open source software. That includes well known products like TiVo, and somewhat lesser known items like Monsoon Multimedia's Hava place-shifting device (it's a lot like a Slingbox, but there's a wireless model).

Open source software is often powerful, stable, and most importantly, available. The open source community has developed a wealth of code that developers can draw from in order to build robust consumer oriented products.

But while the software is often free, meaning you can use it without paying, it's also free as in speech. In other words, once you incorporate code that has been published under the General Public License, you have to allow others to see the source code for your device. And that's not something a lot of companies like to do. You know, trade secrets and all.

So when the folks that developed the open source BusyBox software, which is used in the Hava, asked Monsoon Multimedia for a peek at the company's source code and Monsoon failed to comply, two open source developers filed suit against the company.

This is apparently the first time anyone has filed a copyright infringement suit in the US involving an alleged violation of the General Public License. It should be interesting to see if the case goes to court where it could set precedent, or if Monsoon Multimedia decides to settle out of court.

[via CNet]

Tags: general-public-license, gpl, hava, lawsuit, monsoon-multimedia, news, opensource