The SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) announced on Dec. 7 that it has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Verizon Communications on behalf of its clients, the two principal developers of BusyBox, alleging that Verizon has violated the GNU GPLv2 (General Public License version 2) in its fiber-optic Internet and television service, aka FiOS.
Verizon distributes Actiontec MI424WR wireless routers to FiOS customers. This router contains BusyBox, and under the terms of the GPL, Verizon is obligated to provide the source code of BusyBox to recipients of the device. According to the lawsuit, despite having been contacted by SFLC, Verizon is continuing to distribute BusyBox illegally without source code.
BusyBox is a set of tiny versions of many common Unix/Linux utilities, which are squeezed into a single small executable. By providing replacements for most of the utilities ordinary found in GNU fileutils, shellutils, etc., developers get much of the expected functionality of the GNU utilities without the space requirements. Thus, the BusyBox programs are used in many–perhaps most–embedded Linux-based devices. A non-comprehensive list of devices that rely on BusyBox range from SBC (single board computers) to DJ mixing consoles to car engine computers to music servers to Wi-Fi AP (access points).
The complaint requests that an injunction be issued against Verizon and that damage and litigation costs be awarded to the plaintiffs. A copy of the complaint, as filed Dec. 6 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, is available at the SFLC site in PDF format.
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