Previous Copyleft Litigation

Pursuant to our Principles of Community-Oriented GPL enforcement, Software Freedom Conservancy sees litigation as an last resort when other methods to achieve copyleft compliance fail. Below, we discuss the outcome of past compliance lawsuits where Conservancy played a role.

Software Freedom Conservancy v. Best Buy, et al

On 14 December 2009, Software Freedom Conservancy filed a federal copyright lawsuit against 14 defendants, including Best Buy, Samsung, Westinghouse, and JVC. The docket of that lawsuit is available (on and the original complaint is on our website.

Conservancy settled with each defendant at different times, and the dismissals can be seen in the docket. Generally speaking, and pursuant to our Principles of Community-Oriented GPL enforcement, Conservancy never settles a lawsuit unless we believe that full compliance has been achieved (or will be achieved imminently) with the terms of all copyleft licenses on all software included in the devices at issue in any lawsuit that we've filed.

One oft-stated confusion about this litigation was that we sued Best Buy for sales of third-party devices in their stores. That is not accurate. Best Buy had a house-brand DVD player under the “Insignia” “house brand” that they produced as their own product.

Christoph Hellwig's VMware Lawsuit

Conservancy partially funded and assisted in coordination of Christoph Hellwig's lawsuit against VMware in Germany. That case concluded in 2019. You can view the relevant announcements and analysis that Conservancy has published about the case below, starting with the announcement regarding the conclusion of the case:

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