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Free software lawyers hit Best Buy et al with GPL 'violation' claim

In Boxing ring with BusyBox

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US retail giant Best Buy and 13 other consumer electronics firms have been named in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed yesterday in New York by the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC).

The pro-free and open source software law firm said it had brought the complaint on behalf of the Software Freedom Conservancy, which is the "non-profit corporate home" of BusyBox.

According to the lawsuit filing, each of the defendants are charged with flogging products containing the BusyBox application in "violation of the terms of its GNU licence".

BusyBox, which has been dubbed "the Swiss army knife of embedded Linux", falls under the General Public Licence version 2 (GPLv2).

The suit (pdf) accuses Best Buy; Samsung; Westinghouse; JVC; Western Digital; Robert Bosch; Phoebe Micro; Humax USA; Comtrend; Dobbs-Stanford; Versa Technology; Zyxel Communications; Astak and GCI Technologies of copyright infringement.

None of the defendants could immediately be reached for comment at time of writing.

In the past few years several lawsuits have been filed on behalf of BusyBox's developers. An earlier lawsuit filed against speaker company Monsoon became the first test of the GPL in a US Court. The firm eventually settled out of court in October 2007.

Verizon was also hit with a similar claim from the SFLC. ®

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