FSFE on AVM vs Cybits: A small computer is still a computer

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Yesterday in Berlin a court hearing took place in a case that could set a crucial precedent for the embedded industry (see also "AVM violating license of the Linux kernel"). In the lawsuit between AVM and Cybits, AVM maintained that others should not be allowed to modify Free Software on computers bought from AVM, such as the widely used Fritz!Box. At the heart of the debate is the Linux kernel, distributed under the GNU GPL which guarantees exactly this freedom to users. Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and today published a detailed report about the hearing.

"Users have the right to decide for themselves which software they want to run on their computers. If AVM, or any other company, does not want to adhere to the GNU General Public License, they should not use GPL-licensed software," says Matthias Kirschner, FSFE's Germany coordinator.

"AVM wants to keep and extend its monopolistic power over those devices, even after they have been sold. Not only does this conflict with the GNU GPL license of the Linux kernel, it is also anti-competitive," says Harald Welte, Linux kernel contributor and founder of project.

The court made no decision during yesterday's hearing. The participants may file further written pleadings. The court may then either rule directly, or begin hearing evidence. FSFE and will continue to monitor the case and defend the freedom of software users.