There's lots of talk in tech circles about the fact that the Free Software Foundation is now suing Cisco
for copyright infringement, over Cisco's misuse of GPL'd code in its Linksys routers. What seems odd is that this got as far as it did. The issue with Linksys and its use of GPL'd code has been talked about for years, and it seems like there should have been a simple solution from the very beginning: Cisco/Linksys should have made the code available, as per the terms of the license. So why didn't they? Well, the details from the case suggest that, while Cisco did drag its feet in releasing the code, FSF then came back with additional demands, specifically:
- Cisco needed to appoint a "free software compliance officer."
- Cisco needed to try to inform all past customers of its failed compliance
- Cisco needed to pay FSF a chunk of money
It appears that it's these
issues over which the two parties disagree and the lawsuit was filed. While I'm sympathetic to the FSF's position, this might be going a bit too far. Nothing in the GPL requires someone to set up a "compliance officer." Yes, due to Cisco's foot-dragging, you can see why FSF would ask for such a thing, but it's difficult to see how it should be required, or eventually involve a lawsuit. Also, it's unclear why Cisco should need to inform people. The folks who actually care are likely to hear about this anyway. Yes, Cisco violated the GPL, and yes, it was slow to get itself in compliance, but FSF seems to be demanding an awful lot in response.