Many companies using Linux for embedded applications may be unwittingly violating the Linux license and even breaking federal securities laws, according to a white paper released by Wasabi Systems, an embedded operating systems provider. The white paper, When GPL Violations are Sarbanes-Oxley violations, is the first in a series of legal studies analyzing the common misperceptions and risks associated with Linux and its license, the GNU general public license (GPL). Future white papers will look at the GPL implications of loadable kernel modules (LKM) and how upstream GPL violations impact VARs and end users.

"Linux is a powerful operating system," says Jay Michaelson, an author of the white paper and Wasabi Systems' General Counsel. "But if companies violate the license, the consequences can be more severe than they think." He notes that Wasabi uses open source software in its products, including very careful use of software governed by the GPL.

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