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Free Software Foundation Files Suit Against Cisco For GPL Violations

From: Brett Smith
Subject: Free Software Foundation Files Suit Against Cisco For GPL Violations
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 12:10:50 -0500

## Free Software Foundation Files Suit Against Cisco For GPL Violations

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, December 11, 2008 -- The Free
Software Foundation (FSF) today announced that it has filed a
copyright infringement lawsuit against Cisco.  The FSF's complaint
alleges that in the course of distributing various products under the
Linksys brand Cisco has violated the licenses of many programs on
which the FSF holds copyright, including GCC, binutils, and the GNU C
Library.  In doing so, Cisco has denied its users their right to share
and modify the software.

Most of these programs are licensed under the GNU General Public
License (GPL), and the rest are under the GNU Lesser General Public
License (LGPL).  Both these licenses encourage everyone, including
companies like Cisco, to modify the software as they see fit and then
share it with others, under certain conditions.  One of those
conditions says that anyone who redistributes the software must also
provide their recipients with the source code to that program.  The
FSF has documented many instances where Cisco has distributed licensed
software but failed to provide its customers with the corresponding
source code.

"Our licenses 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 licenses require distributors to provide it.
We are enforcing our licenses to protect the rights that everyone
should have with all software: to use it, share it, and modify it as
they see fit."

"We began working with Cisco in 2003 to help them establish a process
for complying with our software licenses, 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."

"Free software developers entrust their copyrights to the FSF so we
can make sure that their work is always redistributed in ways that
respect user freedom," said Peter Brown, executive director of the
FSF.  "In the fifteen years we've spent enforcing our licenses, we've
never gone to court before. We have always managed to get the
companies we have worked with to take their obligations seriously. But
at the end of the day, we're also willing to take the legal action
necessary to ensure users have the rights that our licenses

The complaint was filed this morning in United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York by the Software Freedom Law
Center, which is providing representation to the FSF in this case.
The case is number 08-CV-10764 and will be heard by Judge Paul
G. Gardephe.  A copy of the complaint is available at

### About the FSF

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to
promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and
redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and
use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating
system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free
software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and
political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites,
located at and, are an important source of information
about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at
<>. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

### About the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL)

The GNU General Public License (GPL) is a license for software.  When
a program is released under its terms, every user will have the
freedom to share and change it, no matter how they get it.  The GPL is
the most popular free software license in the world, used by almost
three quarters of all free software packages.  The FSF recently
updated the license to address new concerns in the free software
community; version 3 of the GPL (GPLv3) was released on June 29, 2007.

### About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a
free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only
operating system developed specifically for the sake of users'
freedom. See <>.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for
one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under
the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux
formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for
the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination
is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see

### Media Contacts

Brett Smith  
Licensing Compliance Engineer  
Free Software Foundation  
+1 (617) 542 5942 x18  


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