Artifex Software, the company behind the open source Ghostscript PDF processing software, has filed a lawsuit against voting machine vendor Diebold and its subsidiary Premier Election Solutions. Artifex says that Diebold violated the GPL by incorporating Ghostscript into commercial electronic voting machine systems.
Ghostscript, which was originally developed in the late 80s, is distributed for free under the GNU General Public License (GPL). This license permits developers to study, modify, use, and redistribute the software but requires that derivatives be made available under the same terms. Companies that want to use Ghostscript in closed-source proprietary software projects can avoid the copyleft requirement by purchasing a commercial license from Artifex. Among commercial Ghostscript users who have purchased licenses from Artifex are some of the biggest names in the printing and technology industries, including HP, IBM, Kodak, Siemens, SGI, and Xerox.