Busybox Creators Sue Monsoon Over GPL Violation

Here’s the jist of things:

Busybox, the guys who make a single, small, optimized package which contains a total of 17 useful GPL tools bundled into one. From their website:

“It provides minimalist replacements for most of the utilities you usually find in bzip2, coreutils, file, findutils, gawk, grep, inetutils, modutils, net-tools, procps, sed, shadow, sysklogd, sysvinit, tar, util-linux, and vim.  The utilities in BusyBox often have fewer options than their full-featured cousins; however, the options that are included provide the expected functionality and behave very much like their larger counterparts.”


Monsoon, who makes consumer devices primarily for home multimedia users which are close in function to the SlingBox. They decided to take busybox and use it, without releasing source code as required by the GNU Public License. That’s a shame. I guess we’ll finally see the GPL proven in court in the USA for the first time.

“We licensed BusyBox under the GPL to give users the freedom to access and modify its source code,” said Erik Andersen, a developer of BusyBox and a named plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Sept. 19 in Manhattan Federal District Court. “If companies will not abide by the fair terms of our license, then we have no choice but to ask our attorneys to go to court to force them to do so.”

I the best part of the BusyBox website is the Hall of Shame where they list prior violations – a total of 18. That page is no longer updated, instead they refer violators to the Software Freedom Law Center which files suit on their behalf.

The lawsuit, “Erik Andersen and Rob Landley v. Monsoon Multimedia Inc.,” case number 07-CV-8205 (PDF), will be heard by Senior District Judge John E. Sprizzo of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

I think this image pretty much sums things up: