The Software Freedom Conservancy sues Vizio, Inc. for alleged violations of the GNU GPL covering software incorporated into certain Vizio smart TVs.
An early and widely publicised example of the impacts of such non-compliance was the 2008 lawsuit initiated by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) against Cisco Systems that alleged several of Cisco's consumer network routers used GPL licensed code. The litigation was settled with Cisco releasing the source code, making a contribution to the FSF, and appointing a compliance officer. Quite the kicker.
In this latest action SFC asserts that all consumers of copyleft code deserve the opportunity to know, access and modify the code on their devices and is seeking the release of the complete, corresponding source (CCS) for all GPL’d components on Vizio TVs. The benefit? Well much as it was with the older analogue hardware TV's that would be repaired by technicians, coders would have the option to repair the software when the supplier potentially stops support for their older models (surely not from 'built-in obsolescence'?)
And lets not forget the ethics involved given the FOSS history and the principles that underpin it. From its fruition in the 1990s and early 2000s when Linux and other GPL’d software was considered nothing more than experimental. From those curious beginnings grew the community of enthusiastic developers whose software has benefited and furthered the rights and freedoms of individual users, consumers, and developers around the globe. It is a culture worth preserving and that means keeping organisations who benefit from that culture honest. (SFC refers to this as 'Ethical Technology' meaning technology that serves its users rather than the corporations who profit from it and preserves and promotes the rights of those impacted by it).
So if you are an organisation using open-source software, and in particular, incorporating it in proprietary commercial products, make sure you understand your compliance obligations with the relevant open source licenses. If you don't, you might soon find that letter arrives requiring you to release all of the IP you've built on top of the most excellent Free and Open Source Software that we all benefit from.
The Software Freedom Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is supported largely by individuals who care about technology and advocates for software that has been designed to be shared (using copyright licensing that allows users to freely use and repair it, and, in particular, forms of software licensing that use the restrictions of copyright to promote sharing called “copyleft”, such as the GPL).