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Foolproofing Open Source

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OSS

Imagine Bill Gates sends you an e-mail asking how Microsoft can improve the software license for Windows. He wants to make sure the legal language works better for your business.

Imagine that.

Well, that's exactly what is about to happen with Linux. It's yet another reminder of how Linux and open source are different -- but also good for business. Patents, intellectual property, and software licenses matter in open source. And the legal news on open source continues to be good for companies, consumers, governments, and developers of software.

STRONG FOOTING. Any discussion of open-source software and the law begins with software licenses. The GNU General Public License (GPL) is the world's most widely used open-source software license. It continues to be a very good license for different kinds of software.

The competitors to Linux and open source always stress the risk that users and companies face if they use this software to run their business. You may be surprised to learn that the GPL has never been successfully challenged in court since it was introduced in 1991. That's a very good thing to know if your business runs Linux.

The influence of the GPL extends far deeper than explaining the rights under which tens of millions of people can use software such as Linux. More than 70 percent of all open-source software relies on the GPL.

COURTING CONFUSION. Guess what? In the coming months, your company may very well hear from those involved in updating the GPL. The next version of the license is being drafted now under the direction of the Free Software Foundation. This may be the first time in history that customers themselves have been asked to help define the terms of a software license this important and widely used. That's good for everyone. It also gives another meaning to the "give back" provisions of the GPL. It's a practice that other software creators may want to embrace, I think.

Many advocates of open source, however, have been criticized for the proliferation of too many software licenses. I believe this criticism is justified. Part of my job as the CEO of Open Source Development Labs is working with the development community, large customers of Linux and open-source software, and global information-technology vendors to tap leading legal experts in the industry to try to halt this practice.

Who cares about a lot of licenses? You should.

Full Article.

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: OSS

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  • Ostatic and Archphile Are Dead
    I’ve been meaning to write about the demise of Ostatic for a month or so now, but it’s not easy to put together an article when you have absolutely no facts. I first noticed the site was gone a month or so back, when an attempt to reach it turned up one of those “this site can’t be reached” error messages. With a little checking, I was able to verify that the site has indeed gone dark, with writers for the site evidently losing access to their content without notice. Other than that, I’ve been able to find out nothing. Even the site’s ownership is shrouded in mystery. The domain name is registered to OStatic Inc, but with absolutely no information about who’s behind the corporation, which has a listed address of 500 Beale Street in San Francisco. I made an attempt to reach someone using the telephone number included in the results of a “whois” search, but have never received a reply from the voicemail message I left. Back in the days when FOSS Force was first getting cranked up, Ostatic was something of a goto site for news and commentary on Linux and open source. This hasn’t been so true lately, although Susan Linton — the original publisher of Tux Machines — continued to post her informative and entertaining news roundup column on the site until early February — presumably until the end. I’ve reached out to Ms. Linton, hoping to find out more about the demise of Ostatic, but haven’t received a reply. Her column will certainly be missed.
  • This Week In Creative Commons History
    Since I'm here at the Creative Commons 2017 Global Summit this weekend, I want to take a break from our usual Techdirt history posts and highlight the new State Of The Commons report that has been released. These annual reports are a key part of the CC community — here at Techdirt, most of our readers already understand the importance of the free culture licensing options that CC provides to creators, but it's important to step back and look at just how much content is being created and shared thanks to this system. It also provides some good insight into exactly how people are using CC licenses, through both data and (moreso than in previous years) close-up case studies. In the coming week we'll be taking a deeper dive into some of the specifics of the report and this year's summit, but for now I want to highlight a few key points — and encourage you to check out the full report for yourself.
  • ASU’s open-source 'library of the stars' to be enhanced by NSF grant
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    Arizona State University has earned 14 National Science Foundation early career faculty awards, ranking second among all university recipients for 2017 and setting an ASU record. The awards total $7 million in funding for the ASU researchers over five years.

R1Soft's Backup Backport, TrustZone CryptoCell in Linux

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    The upcoming Linux 4.12 kernel cycle plans to introduce support for CryptoCell hardware within ARM's TrustZone.

Lakka 2.0 stable release!

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Leftovers: Gaming