The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is suing Cisco for violation of the GNU General Public License (GPL) in its Linksys line of products.
The FSF says that numerous copyrights have been broken, including GCC, binutils, and the GNU C Library. In addition, Cisco's terms and conditions mean that customers cannot modify or share information about the software.
"Our licences are designed to ensure that everyone who uses the software can change it," said Richard Stallman, president and founder of the FSF.
"In order to exercise that right, people need the source code, and that's why our licences require distributors to provide it. We are enforcing our licences to protect the rights that everyone should have with all software: to use it, share it, and modify it as they see fit."
The FSF is contending that its code is found in the Linksys models EFG120, EFG250, NAS200, SPA400, WAG300N, WAP4400N, WIP300, WMA11B, WRT54GL, WRV200, WRV54G, and WVC54GC, and in the program Quick-VPN.
Cisco has been aware of the problems since 2006, according to the FSF, but still has not rectified the situation despite numerous meetings on the matter. The FSF has now lost patience and is taking the matter to court to seek damages and the removal of the disputed code.
"We began working with Cisco in 2003 to help them establish a process for complying with our software licences, and the initial changes were very promising," explained Brett Smith, licensing compliance engineer at the FSF.
"Unfortunately, they never put in the effort that was necessary to finish the process, and now five years later we have still not seen a plan for compliance. As a result, we believe that legal action is the best way to restore the rights we grant to all users of our software."
However, Cisco has said it is disappointed that the FSF has resorted to legal action and is adopting a conciliatory tone.
“Cisco is a strong supporter of open-source software. Cisco takes its open-source software obligations and responsibilities seriously and is disappointed that a suit has been filed by the Free Software Foundation related to our work with them in our Linksys Division,” said Cisco in a statement.
“We are currently reviewing the issues raised in the suit but believe we are substantially in compliance. We have always worked very closely with the FSF and hope to reach a resolution agreeable to the company and the foundation.”
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