The code is freedomware but the GPL requires that source code be available from the distributor. It's not a cost issue, it's a license management issue usually caused by lazy software engineers who don't comply fully with the license of the code they use. These law suits are usually the result of corporate bureaucracy being too slow to respond with a simple license compliance request.
Can you imagine the consumer backlash if the vendors comply? "Here is your new Blu-Ray player. You must take this CD of software with it. No, really, sir. You cannot leave the store without this source code."
OTOH, the GPL is absolutely clear. And reasonable. "You can use my stuff for free if you only sell it under the conditions that I impose" is a pretty generous offer.
Maybe the solution is not to include the free software in consumer products, period. The manufacturer has to balance the utility of the software, and the great price, against the "cost" of "forcible" distribution of the source code. In my opinion, the legal action is reasonable. Someone is giving away great stuff for free, in return for the company that benefits from it playing by his/her rules - seems like a good bargain.
And now, The Perfect Solution (ta-da). The items described, TV and Blu-Ray player, have menu interfaces that display on a TV screen. Make a menu option to display the source code. If the GPL will consider this distribution, it seems fair. The 99.9% of consumers who don't give a rodent's posterior aren't inconvenienced, and the condition is met. Mention it in the printed manual, if there is one: "Some applications provided under the GPL. Source code is available through menu item zed-seven."
This fails if the distributed source code has to be compilable - reading it off the screen wouldn't count. OTOH, so many of these devices have a USB port; maybe it could appear as a drive to your computer and present the source?
To summarize, I think that the demand for compliance is reasonable if the vendor benefits from the use of the code. The code distribution mechanism should probably be as unobtrusive as possible. Imagine if it were like those FBI warnings: every time you start to play a movie, you have to watch the entire source code first!
I think its interesting that these products contain busybox at all! how many "normal" consumers ssh/telnet into their devices?
wyomingKnott, no the source code is WAY too much to view on a TV screen, not only that but it has to be distributed along with the binary. It does not have to be on the device its self, but it must be made available somewhere. This means in the zip file containing the firmware, you have to have:
1.)The source code (actual source, not just a link or reference to the source)
2.)Copy of the GPLv2 liscense
3.)The compiled binary
If what they say is true and violated the GPL license then all the companies involved need to comply with what the GPL license says. They must release the source code. If Apple, M$, or any other company found out their closed source code was being distributed they would and have sued for violating the license, terms of agreement or what have you in a heart beat. If these companies used source code that is under the GPL they must abide by it. Otherwise they show their own hypocrisy. They cannot just pick and choose.