The Free Software Foundation has filed a copyright infringement complaint against Cisco Systems. The complaint alleges that Cisco’s Linksys products contain certain works in which the FSF holds the copyright, but Cisco has not complied with the requirements of the licenses pursuant to which the FSF makes the works available.
This is the first copyright infringement action ever filed by the FSF, according to the press release announcing the filing of the action. The filing of the lawsuit follows on the ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last August in Jacobsen v. Katzer that open source licenses are enforceable under copyright law.
The complaint names the GNU C Library, GNU Coreutils, GNU Readline, GNU Parted, GNU Wget, GNU Compiler Collection, GNU Binutils, and GNU Debugger programs as the infringed works and alleges that Linksys products contain firmware that contains embedded executable software that incorporates the copyrighted programs or substantially similar modified versions of them. The complaint cites the requirements laid out in the GNU General Public License and GNU Lesser General Public License that require distributors of products containing licensed code in executable form to make the source code available to the public. The complaint asserts that the failure to comply with the license conditions negates any permission that Cisco had to distribute the licensed code:
As such, any rights Defendant may have had to redistribute any Program offered under any of the Licenses were automatically terminated the instant that Defendant made non-compliant distribution of the Program in its Infringing Products or Firmware. Since the ﬁrst such violation of each Program’s License, Defendant has had no right to distribute that Program, or a modiﬁed version of the Program, under any circumstances or conditions
Further, the complaint alleges protracted negotiations with Cisco aimed at resolving the matter, including a demand for compensation for past distributions of GNU code.
The complaint seeks damages, injunctive relief, and costs of suit.