There’s a long standing argument over the differences between “open-source” software and “free software. But, a more common error outside of software ideology circles is that you can use open-source software anyway you please. Nope. Wrong. It’s never been that way.
Cisco, the networking giant, should know better than this, but they’ve worn out the FSF’s (Free Software Foundation) patience. So, Cisco is now being sued by the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) on behalf of the FSF for Linux and other GPL copyright violations.
You see, Cisco, like many other networking companies use Linux, and other free software programs like GCC, binutils, and the GNU C Library in their products. Specifically, Cisco uses these programs in its Linksys line. In fact, the FSF first brought Cisco’s improper use of open-source code to the company’s attention back in 2004 with its use in the Linksys WRT54G wireless router.
The FSF wasn’t looking for money. The cost that comes with using free software code is that, if you sell or distribute programs or products that use the GPLed code, you have to share your modified code with its users.