IDG News Service - Monsoon Multimedia Inc. and the Software Freedom Law Center are discussing a settlement regarding Monsoon's open-source licensing violation, but a deal isn't certain.
"Simply coming into compliance now is not sufficient to settle the matter, because that would mean anyone can violate the license until caught, because the only punishment would be to come into compliance," said Dan Ravicher, SFLC's legal director, in a statement. He confirmed that the parties are in settlement discussions but said an agreement hasn't yet been reached.
In a statement, Monsoon said that it has always intended to comply with the licensing requirements and expects to do so within the next couple of weeks.
Last week, the SFLC filed a lawsuit against Monsoon on behalf of two of the creators of BusyBox, a lightweight set of Unix utilities used in embedded systems. BusyBox claimed that even after repeated requests, Monsoon failed to publish its source code.
Monsoon uses BusyBox under the GNU General Public License Version 2, which requires distributors of software that uses the licensed software to make their source code available. Failing to do so is considered copyright infringement.
The SFLC said this is the first known case filed in the U.S. to enforce an open-source license. It is being closely watched as a test of the legal strength of GPL2.
If the case goes to trial, the key decision will be whether the court decides that GPL2 is a license or a contract, said James Gatto, a lawyer who leads the open-source team at New York-based Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, which is not involved in the lawsuit.
If the court decides GPL2 is a contract, it would be a blow to the open-source community. That's because the remedy for breach of contract is damages for losses, he said. "Here, what's the loss to a plaintiff that doesn't charge for the software?" he said. The court can also in some cases require specific actions in a breach of contract case, he said.
In a licensing arrangement, the defendant would be charged with copyright infringement, entitling the plaintiff to damages and an injunction.
It is unusual for an open-source licensing issue to reach the courts. Typically, the parties work it out privately. "There's not enough at stake generally for people not to comply," Gatto said.
In Europe, the GPL Violations Project has brought at least one open-source licensing case to court.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users? All Legal White Papers | Webcasts