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FSF throws sueball at Cisco

Brings lawsuit for alleged copyright infringements

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A group of open source advocates is suing tech giant Cisco for alleged violation of the General Public Licence (GPL).

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) said yesterday that it had filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the network kit vendor in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The group alleges that “in the course of distributing various products under the Linksys brand Cisco has violated the licenses of many programs on which the FSF holds copyright”.

It claimed the GCC, binutils and GNU C Library were among the programs whose licences had been violated by San Jose-based Cisco, thereby “denying” its users the “right to share and modify the software.”

Those programs are licensed under the GNU GPL or the GNU Lesser GPL, said FSF. The group has been working with the company on software compliance issues since 2003 when Cisco acquired Linksys for $500m.

But talks have recently broken down, said FSF licensing compliance engineer Brett Smith.

"Unfortunately, they never put in the effort that was necessary to finish the process, and now five years later we have still not seen a plan for compliance,” he said. “As a result, we believe that legal action is the best way to restore the rights we grant to all users of our software."

The group added that it had never taken a company to court before over a copyright dispute in the 15 years it’s been enforcing its licences.

Cisco, which is yet to issue a formal statement about the lawsuit, could not be immediately reached for comment at time of writing. ®

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