A blog for the enterprise open source community
Is the Monsoon settlement a missed opportunity?Matthew Aslett, October 31, 2007 @ 6:24 am ET
Although it is heartening to see that the Software Freedom Law Center and Monsoon Multimedia have reached a settlement regarding claims that Monsoon had breached the GNU GPL, one can’t help the feeling that the case once again represents a missed opportunity to establish a legal precedent.
The complaint stated that Monsoon had failed to supply users of its HAVA TV media software with the source code to the BusyBox software used within it. The company has now agreed to do so, as well as appoint an Open Source Compliance Officer to monitor and its GPL compliance, and to notify users of their rights to the software under the GPL. The company is also making an undisclosed financial payment to BusyBox developers Rob Landley and Erik Andersen (for more on that see Rob’s comment below).
While this is a good result for BusyBox and the enforcement of the GPL, at least one legal expert has expressed frustration that the case did not result in a legal decision. “The settlement itself appears to have done little to advance the law surrounding the enforceability and interpretation of the GPL and open source licenses in general,” writes Holme, Roberts & Owen partner, Jason Haislmaier, on his blog.
“As a result, those of us in the open source legal community who had hoped that the BusyBox lawsuit might begin the process of establishing the type of binding legal precedent regarding the enforceability and legal interpretation of the GPL here in the U.S. that has begun to occur in Germany and other countries are once again left empty handed.”
Certainly more was hoped for from the first US GPL lawsuit. “This case is very important because it will establish what type of remedies (either contract or copyright) are available to licensors for breach of the GPLv2,” wrote Mark Radcliffe at the time the complaint was filed.
However, for those looking for legal precedent, all may not be lost. “Stay tuned, however, as this is likely not the last lawsuit we will see here in the U.S. to enforce the terms of the GPL,” notes Haislmaier.
Comments (9) Categories: Licensing,Software