The Software Freedom Law Center is suing Verizon for breaching the terms of the GNU General Public License.
Verizon uses a network utility called busybox in a router it has distributed to its broadband customers since 1999. The program is used to administer the router, which is made by ActionTec. However, Busybox is GPL software, and under the terms of the (2.0) license, the distributor is obliged to provide access to the source code under the terms of the copyright agreement. The SFLC is therefore able to sue Verizon on behalf of the busybox developers for copyright violation.
"Because Verizon chose not to respond to our concerns, we had no choice but to file a lawsuit to ensure that they comply with the GPL," said SFLC legal director Dan Ravicher in a prepared statement.
Verizon has yet to issue a statement.
It's the fourth lawsuit filed on behalf of the two BusyBox developers. An earlier lawsuit filed against speaker company Monsoon, became the first test of the GPL in a US Court. The dispute was settled out of court in October.
Verizon, with close to $90bn of revenues this year, is a far bigger target for the small law centre that defends the GPL.
One of the key aims when devising GPL 3 was to ensure device manufacturers don't grab the work of software libre developers for free, without paying attention to the principles behind it.
You can grab a pdf of the lawsuit here. ®