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Vizio Sued for GPL Violations

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  • Complaint (direct link)
  • Software Freedom Conservancy files lawsuit against California TV manufacturer Vizio Inc. for GPL violations

    Software Freedom Conservancy announced today it has filed a lawsuit against Vizio Inc. for what it calls repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL).

    The lawsuit alleges that Vizio’s TV products, built on its SmartCast system, contain software that Vizio unfairly appropriated from a community of developers who intended consumers to have very specific rights to modify, improve, share, and reinstall modified versions of the software.

  • SFC files suit against Vizio over GPL violations []

    Software Freedom Conservancy has announced that it filed suit against TV maker Vizio over "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)". The organization raised the problems with Vizio in August 2018, but the company stopped responding in January 2020, according to the announcement.

  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues Vizio for GPL violations

    The SFC is suing Vizio because its SmartCast OS is based on Linux. Linux's source code is protected under the GPL version 2 (GPLv2). Besides the Linux kernel, the other GPL'd and Lesser GPL (LGPL)'d code in SmartCast includes U-Boot, bash, gawk, tar, Glibc, and FFmpeg. In short, Vizio is using the code without permission.

    This can't come as any surprise. Vizio has been made well aware of this problem. The company was first informed that it had violated the GPLv2 for not releasing SmartCast OS's source code by the SFC in August 2018. After over a year of diplomatic attempts to work with the company, the Conservancy declared that not only was the company still refusing to comply, but it had stopped responding to inquiries altogether as of January 2020.

Vizio In Hot Water Over Smart TV GPL Violations

  • Vizio In Hot Water Over Smart TV GPL Violations | Hackaday

    As most anyone in this community knows, there’s an excellent chance that any consumer product on the market that’s advertised as “smart” these days probably has some form of Linux running under the hood. We’re also keenly aware that getting companies to hold up their end of the bargain when it comes to using Linux and other GPL licensed software in their products, namely releasing their modified source, isn’t always as cut and dried as it should be.

    Occasionally these non-compliant companies will get somebody so aggravated that they actually try to do something about it, which is where smart TV manufacturer Vizio currently finds itself. The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) recently announced they’re taking the Irvine, California based company to court over their repeated failures to meet the requirements of the GPL while developing their Linux-powered SmartCast TV firmware. In addition to the Linux kernel, the SFC also claims Vizio is using modified versions of various other GPL and LGPL protected works, such as U-Boot, bash, gawk, tar, glibc, and ffmpeg.

Vizio Must Share TV Source Code With Consumers, Suit Says

  • Vizio Must Share TV Source Code With Consumers, Suit Says

    Vizio Inc. should be required to share source code underlying its televisions so consumers can adjust, improve, share and reinstall modified versions of the software, a nonprofit says, accusing the company of "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the general public license."

    Software Freedom Conservancy hit the California-based manufacturer with a "right-to-repair" suit in Orange County Superior Court, claiming Vizio's products contain software that it appropriated from developers who intended for consumers to have the right to modify, improve, share and reinstall modified versions of the software. The general public license ensures end users have those rights, according to...

Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL...

  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL infringement

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)."

    Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more.

    The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel."

Copyleft Lawsuit Against Vizio Will Allow Anyone To Defend...

Empowering users of GPL software

  • Empowering users of GPL software

    There are some other ways this lawsuit stands out from previous efforts. For one thing, it comes with an extensive press kit to help media outlets (and others) understand the suit and its ramifications. The press kit fills in some of the details from the complaint, but also provides a "Q&A" section, biographies of SFC spokespeople, quotes from various industry experts, a glossary, and more. It is an excellent summary of the background for those who are not well-versed in our community and its licenses, but there is quite a bit of interest in that document even for LWN readers and others who are generally knowledgeable about such things.

    The press kit makes clear that an additional goal of the lawsuit is to educate users about their rights under the GPL and why those rights should matter to them. The lawsuit could be seen as something of an attention-grabbing effort to try to help ensure that the benefits of licenses like the GPL actually end up reaching the users who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the source-code disclosure required. Doing so is in keeping with the public-benefit role of charities like SFC, but is typically not part of the strategy embodied in lawsuits, which are clearly targeted at the legal system—and the defendant, of course.

    Unlike many high-profile lawsuits, SFC's suit is not asking for monetary damages from Vizio; instead it is asking the court to order Vizio to comply with the terms of the GPL and LGPL that cover code in its TVs. Beyond that, it is asking the court to declare that the terms and conditions of the GPL licenses require source-code disclosure, effectively determining that the GPL operates the way that the free-software community believes that it does—and that Vizio is in breach of the license. The only monetary requests are for reimbursements of the costs and attorney fees needed to pursue the lawsuit.

Software Freedom Conservancy Takes On Vizio in Lawsuit...

  • Software Freedom Conservancy Takes On Vizio in Lawsuit Alleging GPL Violations

    The Software Freedom Conservancy announced that it is suing Vizio, an American TV manufacturer, for what it alleges are “repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL).”

    The 501(c)(3) charity organization is a non-profit that provides infrastructure support for free and open source software projects, defending users’ rights under copyleft licenses and the GPL. A few of its member projects include BusyBox, Git, Homebrew, OpenWrt, and phpMyAdmin. As part of its mission, the Conservancy assists member projects in enforcing the terms of FLOSS licenses, including through litigation.

Vizio Sued Over Use Of Open Source Software

  • Vizio Sued Over Use Of Open Source Software

    Irvine-based Vizio has been sued over its use of open source software, with a group saying that Vizio should be required to share the source code underlying its televisions, due to their use of General Public License (GPL) software for its Smartcast televisions. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday by the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a nonprofit which supports and defends free software. The group claims Vizio had "repeated failures to fulfill even the most basic requirements" of the license. GPL is the license that popular operating system Linux is based upon. The SFC is not seeking monetary damages, only access to source code that Vizio uses to run its televisions.

  • Open Source Software enforcement – helping to reduce e-waste?

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has commenced litigation in the US against smart TV manufacturer Vizio for alleged breaches of open source software (OSS) licences. While a US case, this is interesting to monitor as the SFC is taking a novel approach to OSS enforcement which, if successful, could lead to businesses re-evaluating their risk-based approach to OSS compliance. It could also form an important part of the “right to repair” movement which is aiming to reduce e-waste – a particularly pertinent topic in the light of the ongoing COP26 summit.

SFC Files GPL Enforcement Suit Against Vizio...

  • SFC Files GPL Enforcement Suit Against Vizio Advancing Novel Legal Theories

    Software Freedom Conservancy filed a lawsuit in late October 2021 against Vizio, claiming violation of the GPL and LGPL with respect to its SmartCast TVs. The complaint is here. The complaint is styled first as a claim of breach of contract, and then a claim for declaratory relief.

    Lawsuits to enforce GPL are still quite rare, and among them, this one is radically different in its legal structure from those that have come before. In fact, it conflicts with much of the conventional wisdom about enforcement of licenses like GPL, even principles previously enunciated by the Software Freedom Law Center and the Free Software Foundation–who have had their disagreements with Software Freedom Conservancy in the past.

The GNU GPL violations aren’t the only reason...

  • The GNU GPL violations aren’t the only reason not to buy a Vizio TV. They barely support their products and they spy.

    They had to revise the firmware in mine as part of a lawsuit settlement.

    The one where it spied on your TV watching, including sending them which networks you watched with a TV antenna.

    Whether they violate the GPL or not, and whether the GPL is a contract are very important issues that should be pressed in court, because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain vs. developers who won’t enforce their own licenses (mostly “Linux” kernel people).

    But like other devices that want to connect to the internet and call themselves “Smart”, it’s usually a bad idea to give the device what it wants.

Vizio sued for breach of Copyleft Open-Source Software License

  • Vizio sued for breach of Copyleft Open-Source Software License

    On October 19, 2021, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) sued Vizio, Inc. for alleged violations of the GNU General Public License covering software incorporated into certain Vizio smart TVs.

    Use of open-source software has become increasingly popular in the development of proprietary commercial computer software, including software embedded in hardware devices such as consumer electronic devices. Open-source software can provide important and useful functionality, and is increasingly used by developers to reduce development time.

    The licensing models under which open-source software is made available can be thought of as falling into two broad categories: permissive licenses and copyleft licenses. Permissive open-source licenses typically do not create significant obstacles to incorporating the open-source software into proprietary commercial software products. Copyleft licenses, however, can be extremely problematic for developers of proprietary software and hardware. The terms of such licenses may require that, if any software that incorporates or otherwise interacts with the open-source software and is distributed, then the distribution of such modified software is governed by the same copyleft license. For this reason, some refer to these types of open-source licenses as “viral”. This term is intended to refer to the licenses’ effect of capturing (some use the term “infecting”) an ever-growing amount of software code.

An older one

  • GPL Had Better be a Contract

    Software Freedom Conservancy announced today that they are suing Vizio, which makes TVs, for violations of GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1. Their website has a copy of a signed complaint, the legal document you file with a court to get a lawsuit started.

    Upshot: It looks like SFC’s suing for breach of contract. They’re claiming explicitly that GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 are contracts, that Vizio breached those contracts, and that they should be held accountable under contract law.

    The main remedy SFC requests—the thing they’re asking the court to do for them—is to order Vizio to give them full corresponding source code, as agreed under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1. That’s called “specific performance”. It’s a remedy under contract law. Not property law or intellectual property law, like copyright law.

First Update on the Vizio lawsuit

Yesterday, we received from Vizio their first official response in our pending litigation against Vizio for their copyleft license violations. So, what was their response?

Did Vizio release the source code — as the GPL and LGPL require — for the modified versions of Linux, alsa-utils, GNU bash, GNU awk, BusyBox, dmesg, findutils, dmsetup, GNU tar, mount and selinux found in their TV’s firmwares? No.

Did Vizio propose a CCS candidate for us to review, provide them with additional feedback, so that we could help them get consumers who bought their TVs the source code they deserve? Nope.

Did Vizio argue that we had erred, and in fact, none of those programs we list above appear in their firmware? Not that either. (Unlikely though — after all, they surely know those programs are in their firmware!)

Read more

SFC: First Update on the Vizio lawsuit

Open-source Vizio lawsuit takes an ugly turn

  • Open-source Vizio lawsuit takes an ugly turn

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit organization that promotes open-source software and defends the free software General Public License (GPL), sued major TV vendor Vizio for abusing the GPL. Specifically, Vizio is using Linux's source code and other open-source software, such as BusyBox, U-Boot, bash, gawk, tar, Glibc, and FFmpegis, in its SmartCast OS TV firmware. These programs are protected under the GPL version 2 (GPLv2) and the Lesser GPL (LGPL).


    In other words, "Vizio's filing implies that only copyright holders, and no one else, have a right to ask for source code under the GPL and LGPL."

    That's not how open-source software works.

    But, wait, there's more: "Vizio has gone a disturbing step further and asked the federal United States District Court for the Central District of California to agree to the idea that not only do you as a consumer have no right to ask for source code but that Californians have no right to even ask their state courts to consider the question!"

    The SFC refuses to accept this fundamental assault on the GPL and, by implication, all other open-source licenses. The SFC intends to fight back.

The intriguing implications of SFC v Vizio

  • The intriguing implications of SFC v Vizio

    A couple of weeks ago, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) filed suit against television maker Vizio, alleging that Vizio took advantage of open source software without playing by open source rules—a scenario akin to joining in a friendly, come-one, come-all community game of soccer then taking the ball and running away with it.

    The suit alleges that Vizio incorporated software covered by two General Public License agreements into its SmartCast platform for streaming content from services like Apple's AirPlay and Google's Chromecast to its TVs, but Vizio didn't make its source code publicly available. After several years of diplomacy and numerous unsuccessful appeals on the part of SFC to Vizio to provide the source code out of a duty to fair play, the SFC is now asking a California state court to force Vizio to share the source code.

    I encourage you to read the full copy of the complaint, because it’s a great treatise on “why it matters.” In Section D, SFC argues that defending software freedom benefits the public and offers three practical examples. First, developers could add features that protect the user’s privacy and personal data. (Vizio previously paid a $17 million settlement in a 2017 case for collecting consumer data with its Smart TVs without consumer consent.) Second, developers could also improve SmartCast accessibility to accommodate those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or disabled. And third, developers could “maintain and update the operating system should Vizio or its successor ever decide to abandon it or go out of business. In these ways, purchasers of Vizio smart TVs can be confident that their devices would not suffer from software-induced obsolescence, planned or otherwise.

Vizio lawsuit

  • Open source year in review: 2021 - TechRepublic

    Vizio lawsuit

    The Software Freedom Conservancy sued Vizio for abusing the GPL by using software like BusyBox, U-Boot, bash, gawk and tar within SmartCast OS. In turn, Vizio failed to release the source code (which puts them in breach of the GPL). Instead of rectifying the situation, Vizio filed a request to have the case removed from the California State Court. To make matters worse, Vizio took this one step further and asked that the California court to agree that consumers not only have no right to ask to be supplied with source code but residents of the state have no right to ask the court to consider the question. In effect, Vizio is saying anyone who purchases their SmartCast OS-powered TVs has no right to the source code or even make a request for the source code to the company or the court. Clearly, Vizio has no idea how open source works.

    Trump's Truth Social violates open-source license

    Speaking of license violations, Donald Trump's beta of his rumored Truth Social platform was discovered to violate the AGPLv3 open-source license. Turns out the site used code from the popular open-source Mastodon project and failed to release the code to the public. As soon as the organization was made aware of the violation, the site was taken down. However, users who set up accounts on the site (before it was taken down) were not given access to the code, which is in direct violation of the license, and the Trump organization continues to ignore requests for the source, though it has admitted that it used the code from Mastadon.

Vizio Responds to Software Freedom Conservancy’s GPL Compliance

  • Vizio Responds to Software Freedom Conservancy’s GPL Compliance Lawsuit: Will Not Release Source Code, Files to Move Case to US Federal Court – WP Tavern

    In October 2021, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) initiated a lawsuit against Vizio, an American TV manufacturer, for shipping products with copyleft licenses but refusing to provide the source code after multiple attempts at contact since 2018.

    The lawsuit is historic in its approach, because it focuses on consumer rights conferred by copyleft licenses and SFC is filing as a third-party beneficiary.

    Vizio has responded by filing a request to remove the case from the California State Court and move it into US federal court. The company contends that the computer programs and source code at issue in VIZIO’s SmartCast operating system “fall within the ‘subject matter of copyright.’”

One More Small Step Toward The Right to Software Repair

  • One More Small Step Toward The Right to Software Repair

    Yesterday afternoon, we filed a Motion for Remand in our lawsuit against Vizio for their flagrant GPL & LGPL violations, alleged with great detail in our complaint in California state court. Vizio's response to that complaint was to “remove” the case to federal court. Vizio argues that the lawsuit can only be brought by a copyright holder as a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court. In response, we have asked the federal court to return (“remand”) the case to state court.

    While Vizio's original request to “remove” the case from state court to federal court is, in the general sense, a standard litigation tactic and our response is a relatively standard response (on which we expect to prevail), the implications of these early procedural maneuvers deserve special attention for those of you that care deeply about copyleft as a strategy to achieve software freedom and rights. If you seek a deeper understanding of these essential issues in copyleft policy, we encourage you to first read our motion to remand, and then read this article as supplemental strategic context for that filing.

    Many of our longstanding Sustainers will recall that we previously have enforced the GPL for BusyBox in federal court. As part of that large lawsuit against 14 defendants, we learned how the process of copyright-only GPL enforcement works in US federal court. We still believe that federal litigation brought by copyright holders is an essential component of copyleft enforcement.

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