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Legal

Open Invention Network, the Linux-based patent non-aggression community, exceeds 3,000 licensees

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Linux
Legal

OIN's mission is to enable Linux, its related software, and its programmers to develop and monetize without being hogtied by patent fights. In Linux's early years, this was a constant threat. Now, thanks largely to the OIN's efforts to get everyone to agree on the basic open-source principle -- that's it's better and more profitable to share than to cling to proprietary property -- open-source software has taken off in the marketplace.

The OIN isn't the first to take this concept and apply it to the Unix/Linux operating system family. After Novell bought Unix from AT&T, rather than keep fighting with Berkeley Software Design Inc. (BSDO) over possible Unix IP rights violations in BSD/OS, an early, commercial BSD Unix, Noorda famously declared that he'd rather compete in the marketplace than in court. This Unix case was settled in 1994.

That was a one off. The OIN, which has grown by 50% in the last two years, has turned patent non-aggression into policy for thousands of companies. By agreeing to the OIN license, members gain access to patented inventions worth hundreds of millions of dollars while promoting a favorable environment for Linux and related open source software.

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My personal journey from MIT to GPL

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GNU
Legal

As I got started writing open source software, I generally preferred the MIT license. I actually made fun of the “copyleft” GPL licenses, on the grounds that they are less free. I still hold this opinion today: the GPL license is less free than the MIT license - but today, I believe this in a good way.

[...]

I don’t plan on relicensing my historical projects, but my new projects have used the GPL family of licenses for a while now. I think you should seriously consider it as well.

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GPL Dodge and Compliance

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GNU
Legal
  • Why does macOS Catalina use Zsh instead of Bash? Licensing [iophk: "s/patents/software patents/g; :("]

    So, it’s no surprise that Apple’s moving its users away from Bash. I’m also not surprised to see Apple favor Zsh. For starters, it’s licensed under the MIT License, and therefore doesn’t contain the controversial language surrounding patents and Tivoization.

  • The Redmi S2, aka Y2, gets its Android Pie update

    That may not be a huge deal to some users, however. Xiaomi is also obliged to release the S2/Y2's kernel sources in order to remain compliant with GNU's general public licence.

EFF and Open Rights Group Defend the Right to Publish Open Source Software to the UK Government

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OSS
Security
Legal

EFF and Open Rights Group today submitted formal comments to the British Treasury, urging restraint in applying anti-money-laundering regulations to the publication of open-source software.

The UK government sought public feedback on proposals to update its financial regulations pertaining to money laundering and terrorism in alignment with a larger European directive. The consultation asked for feedback on applying onerous customer due diligence regulations to the cryptocurrency space as well as what approach the government should take in addressing “privacy coins” like Zcash and Monero. Most worrisome, the government also asked “whether the publication of open-source software should be subject to [customer due diligence] requirements.”

We’ve seen these kind of attacks on the publication of open source software before, in fights dating back to the 90s, when the Clinton administration attempted to require that anyone merely publishing cryptography source code obtain a government-issued license as an arms dealer. Attempting to force today’s open-source software publishers to follow financial regulations designed to go after those engaged in money laundering is equally obtuse.

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Licensing Changes

Filed under
GNU
OSS
Legal
  • CockroachDB changes its open-source licensing model [Ed: Waffling tom avoid saying it became proprietary]

    Cockroach Labs has announced that it is switching CockroachDB away from the Apache License version 2 (APL).

    According to Cockroach Labs, its business model has long relied on the assumption that “companies could build a business around a strong open source core product without a much larger technology platform company coming along and offering the same product as a service.” But this is no longer the case, the company explained.

  • Another open-source database company will tighten its licensing strategy, wary of Amazon Web Services [Ed: Another reminder that all the cloudwashing by corporate media is an assault on FOSS because people are shamed into ceding control, giving all money and data to GAFAM]

    Cockroach Labs, the New York-based database company behind the open-source CockroachDB database, will change the terms of the license agreement in the next version of the open-source project to prohibit cloud providers like Amazon Web Services from offering a commercial version of that project as a service.

  • CockroachDB shelters from AWS extermination under Business Software License [Ed: Amazon's assault on FOSS using the AWS/cloudwashing craze yields results; FOSS becoming proprietary software and GAFAM couldn't care less.]

    Cockroach Labs has become the latest open source vendor to run for cover from AWS and other cloud vendors, by relicensing its CockroachDB under the Business Source License.

    In a post explaining the move, the companies’ founders wrote “We’re witnessing the rise of highly-integrated providers take advantage of their unique position to offer “as-a-service” versions of OSS products, and offer a superior user experience as a consequence of their integrations.” They cited AWS’ forked version of ElasticSearch.

  • Latest FSF Updates To Software Licenses

    If you've ever felt confused about open source licensing you are not alone. The good news is that the Free Software Foundation has a highly informative and well-maintained list of licenses, not only for software but also for documentation and for other works, drawing a distinction between free and non-free.

    The fact that that the Personal Public Licence Version 3a and the Anti-996 Licence have both been added to the non-free list isn't really the important bit of this news item. It is that the existence of the Various Licences and Comments about Them that deserves being better known.

Licensing: Companies That Close Down FOSS 'in the Cloud' and Latest GPL Compliance at OnePlus

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OSS
Legal
  • Confluent says it has the first cloud-native Kafka streaming platform

    Open-source unicorn Confluent Inc. is ready to go head-to-head with cloud computing giants with the release of a cloud-native and fully managed service based upon the Apache Kafka streaming platform.

  • For open source vs. proprietary, AWS might have it both ways [Ed: Mac Asay, Adobe, proponent of calling proprietary "open". IDG has just received money from Adobe (“BrandPost Sponsored by Adobe”) and Asay is now publishing articles owing to his employer paying the media. He’s is some kind of editor at InfoWorld (IDG). So the corporations basically buy ‘journalism’ (their staff as editors) at IDG.]
  • Why Open Source Should Remain Open

    On one hand, the validation that comes along with major tech players offering open source fuels growth in the software. On the other, it also changes the platform from one that’s always been free and available to one that is only available with limitations and has red tape all around it. As some of these companies join in the open source community, they’re losing sight of the original goal and community. Instead, they are building artificial walls and shutting down many parts of what makes open source open. This isn’t a unique occurrence, it’s happening more and more frequently and is something that will completely rearrange the core of open source as we know it.

  • BREAKING: OnePlus 7 Pro root achieved on global and Indian variants, kernel source codes released

    OnePlus phones are known for their developer friendliness as well as strong aftermarket development community. The Chinese OEM prefers to mandate GPL and push kernel source codes in a timely manner, which is a godsend compared to most of their competitors.

  • OnePlus 7 / 7 Pro kernel source code is now out, expect custom ROMs soon

    OnePlus announced the most-awaited OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro last week. Both the smartphones are already on sale and can be bought in all the countries they are available. Even the OnePlus 7 Pro received its maiden update which brings April security patch and more. As usual, the kernel source for the OnePlus 7 series is now out too in a timely manner. Thus, users can expect custom ROMS sooner than later.

Google GPL Compliance and Free Software Legal and Licensing Workshop 2019

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OSS
Legal
  • Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL forums and kernel source code are up

    Google’s newly launched Pixel 3a series matches up to the photography skills of the flagship Pixel 3 series, even while being priced at only half. But besides bringing the characteristic photography acumen of a Google Pixel, the Pixel 3a devices also share some part of their DNA with the erstwhile Google Nexus lineup. This is because they’re easy on the pocket (at least in the Western markets) and should, thus, be preferred by developers as devices meant to test the latest features in Android.

  • Renewed focus on REUSE

    Following the Free Software Legal and Licensing Workshop 2019 in Barcelona, I managed to get in touch with some people to put a renewed focus on the REUSE initiative by the FSFE.

  • ClearlyDefined: Putting license information in one place [Ed: Why is an FSFE workshop led by a Microsoft employee? Explains some things I've seen about FSFE lately (not good things). Be careful of ClearlyDefined because mostly Microsoft people promote it (everywhere they can). So you know it's Microsoft-leaning an effort and Microsoft is a serial GPL violator that got caught many times.]

    As the stats page shows, there are nearly five million definitions currently in the database (as of this writing, anyway). Multiple repositories are being harvested, including npm for Node.js, PyPI for Python, Maven for Java, Crate for Rust, GitHub, and others. ClearlyDefined was the subject of a lively workshop at the recent FSFE Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW), led by project lead Jeff McAffer of GitHub. The project has lots of partners, such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Qualcomm, Software Heritage, and Codescoop.

FOSS Licensing Debates at OSI and New Open Data From Recursion

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OSS
Legal
  • April 2019 License-Discuss Summary

    Antoine Thomas asks whether a contributor would be able to revoke/remove their contributions from a project, and how this would affect old versions of a project.

    Kevin Fleming responds that legitimately provided open source licenses are not revocable, but that a project might honor a request out of courtesy.

    Brendan Hickey points out that copyright law may provide special revocation rights, e.g. 17 USC §203. And even without revocation, a contributor could make life difficult for users.

  • April 2019 License-Review Summary

    Van Lindberg submits his Cryptographic Autonomy License (CAL) to the review process. This is a network copyleft license, but with a broader scope than the AGPL. The CAL is motivated by ensuring user autonomy in blockchain-based applications. Lindberg has also written an in-depth blog post that serves as a rationale document. Last month, there had already been preliminary discussion about the license on the license-discuss list (see the summary).

    [...]

    Pamela Chestek provides a careful analysis of unclear language in the license.

    Henrik Ingo is concerned that the anti-DRM provision might not be effective, which leads to some comparisons with the GPLv3 [1,2,3,4].

  • Recursion Releases Open-Source Data from Largest Ever Dataset of Biological Images, Inviting Data Science Community to Develop New and Improved Machine Learning Algorithms for the Life Sciences Industry

Licensing/Legal Facets of FOSS

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • 5 Best Drag and Drop Builders For WordPress of 2019 [Ed: And proprietary software with "free bait".]

    Depends on your requirements, really. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that the prices are different for different packages, so money is a factor you need to consider before making the decision. For example, Elementor could as well have been the best for beginners had their license not been so restrictive. Also, their Pro version is not GPL.

    Other such drawbacks for other builders make Beaver Builder and Divi clearly the most preferred WordPress page builders. Visual Composer comes very close to these two. So, while there may be a bit of a pocket pinch, you can go for any of these if you want to be on safe hands. Also, while the recent Gutenberg editor holds a lot of promise, it is still going to be a while before it comes anywhere close to any of these powerful builders.

  • Upstream First

    This talk was mostly aimed at managers of engineering teams and projects with fairly little experience in shipping open source, and much less experience in shipping open source through upstream cross vendor projects like the kernel. It goes through all the usual failings and missteps and explains why an upstream first strategy is the right one, but with a twist: Instead of technical reasons, it’s all based on economical considerations of why open source is succeeding. Fundamentally it’s not about the better software, or the cheaper prize, or that the software freedoms are a good thing worth supporting.

    Instead open source is eating the world because it enables a much more competitive software market. And all the best practices around open development are just to enable that highly competitive market. Instead of arguing that open source has open development and strongly favours public discussions because that results in better collaboration and better software we put on the economic lens, and private discussions become insider trading and collusions. And that’s just not considered cool in a competitive market. Similar arguments can be made with everything else going on in open source projects.

  • The sustainability of open source for the long term

    The problem of "sustainability" for open-source software is a common topic of conversation in our community these days. We covered a talk by Bradley Kuhn on sustainability a month ago. Another longtime community member, Luis Villa, gave his take on the problem of making open-source projects sustainable at the 2019 Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW) in Barcelona. Villa is one of the co-founders of Tidelift, which is a company dedicated to helping close the gap so that the maintainers of open-source projects get paid in order to continue their work.

  • On technological liberty

    In his keynote at the 2019 Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW), longtime workshop participant Andrew Wilson looked at the past, but he went much further back than, say, the history of free software—or even computers. His talk looked at technological liberty in the context of classical liberal philosophic thinking. He mapped some of that thinking to the world of free and open-source software (FOSS) and to some other areas where our liberties are under attack.

    He began by showing a video of the band "Tears for Fears" playing their 1985 hit song "Everybody wants to rule the world", though audio problems made it impossible to actually hear the song; calls for Wilson to sing it himself were shot down, perhaps sadly, though he and the audience did give the chorus a whirl. In 1985, the band members were young and so was open source, he said. But there were new digital synthesizers available, with an open standard (MIDI) that allowed these instruments to talk to one another. It freed musicians from the need for expensive studio time, since they could write and polish their music anywhere: a great example of technological freedom.

Crowdsourcing license compliance with ClearlyDefined

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OSS
Legal

Open source use continues to skyrocket, not just in use cases and scenarios but also in volume. It is trivial for a developer to depend on a 1,000 JavaScript packages from a single run of npm install or have thousands of packages in a Docker image. At the same time, there is increased interest in ensuring license compliance.

Without the right license you may not be able to legally use a software component in the way you intend or may have obligations that run counter to your business model. For instance, a JavaScript package could be marked as MIT license, which allows commercial reuse, while one of its dependencies is licensed has a copyleft license that requires you give your software away under the same license. Complying means finding the applicable license(s), and assessing and adhering to the terms, which is not too bad for individual components adn can be daunting for large initiatives.

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today's howtos

Software: Nvidia, MuseScore, Cockpit, Oracle Java and KDE/Krita

  • 2 Tools For Monitoring Nvidia GPUs On Linux (GUI And Command Line)

    This article presents 2 tools for monitoring Nvidia graphics cards on Linux: one that comes with a terminal user interface (TUI), so it runs in a console, and another one that uses a graphical user interface.

  • MuseScore 3.2 Released with Dozens of Bug Fixes

    Free scorewriter MuseScore 3.2 was released a day ago with dozens of bug-fixes as well as some improvements to user interface.

  • Cockpit 197

    Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 197.

  • New Oracle Java 11 Installer For Ubuntu Or Linux Mint (Using Local Oracle Java .tar.gz)

    As many of you already know, Oracle Java requires logging in to an Oracle account to download most versions (all except Oracle Java 12). A while back I created Oracle Java 11 and 12 installer packages (based on the package by Web Upd8), and a PPA for Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Since Oracle Java 11 can't be directly downloaded from Oracle any more, the installer no longer works, so I created a new installer that requires the user to create an Oracle account, download the Oracle Java 11 .tar.gz archive (the same version as the installer), and place the archive in /var/cache/oracle-jdk11-installer-local/. After this, you can install the oracle-java11-installer-local package, and it will set up Oracle Java 11 for you. Everything else works as before. You can install the oracle-java11-set-default-local package to set Oracle Java 11 as default for example (not only set it as default using a .jinfo file and update-alternatives, but also export the JAVA_HOME environment variable, etc.).

  • My first month on GSoC

    This first month of GSoC was a great learning experience for me, when speaking to my colleagues of how Summer of Code is being important to my professional life, I always respond that I’m finally learning to code and the basic of C++. Yes, maybe this is strange, I’m a second year undergraduate Computer Science student, have two year experience with C++. I should have learn to code by now right? Well, at least on my Campus you don’t learn to code applications or how to build stable, clean code. You learn to solve problems, and that’s something I got pretty good at, but when it came to code, well, I’m learning that now and I’m liking it a lot.

  • Snapshot Docker

    The idea of snapshots is to make copies of the current document and allow users to return to them at a later time. This is a part of my whole Google Summer of Code project, which aims to bring Krita a better undo/redo system. When fully implemented, it will fully replace the current mechanism that stores actions with one that stores different states. That is to say, Krita will create a snapshot of the document for every undoable step. [...] Another interesting thing is the palettes. Krita 4.2.0 allows documents to store their own, local palettes. The palette list is but a QList<KoColorSet *>, meaning that only creating a new QList of the same pointers will not work. This is because, the palettes are controlled by canvas resource manager, which takes the responsibility to delete them. Therefore, when taking snapshots, we had better take deep copies of the KoColorSets. And then another problem comes: the snapshots own their KoColorSets because they are not controlled by the resource manager in any way; but the KisDocument in the view does not. So we have to set up another flag, ownsPaletteList, to tell the document whether it should delete the palettes in the destructor. And now the work has shifted to the refactoring of kritaflake, the library that mainly handles vector layers and shapes. I converted the whole KoShape hierarchy to implicit sharing where possible, but some tests are broken. I am now on Windows, where unit tests do not run. I will continue the development of flake as soon as I get access to my Linux laptop.

Fedora Workstation 31, AAC Support

  • Fedora Workstation 31 to come with Wayland support, improved core features of PipeWire, and more

    On Monday, Christian F.K. Schaller, Senior Manager for Desktop at Red Hat, shared a blog post that outlined the various improvements and features coming in Fedora Workstation 31. These include Wayland improvements, more PipeWire functionality, continued improvements around Flatpak, Fleet Commander, and more.

  • Fedora's AAC Support Finally Seeing Audio Quality Improvements

    Fedora's version of the FDK-AAC library that they began shipping in 2017 to finally provide AAC audio support strips out what was patented encumbered functionality. But that gutting of the code did cause some problems like audio playback glitches that are now being addressed. Fortunately, better AAC support is on the way to Fedora. There is this F30 update pending to provide an updated AAC implementation with quality enhancements.

Mozilla: Firefox's Gecko Media Plugin & EME Architecture, Accessibility, Firefox 68 Beta 10 Testday Results

  • Chris Pearce: Firefox's Gecko Media Plugin & EME Architecture

    For rendering audio and video Firefox typically uses either the operating system's audio/video codecs or bundled software codec libraries, but for DRM video playback (like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the like) and WebRTC video calls using baseline H.264 video, Firefox relies on Gecko Media Plugins, or GMPs for short. This blog post describes the architecture of the Gecko Media Plugin system in Firefox, and the major class/objects involved, as it looked in June 2019. For DRM video Firefox relies upon Google's Widevine Content Decryption Module, a dynamic shared library downloaded at runtime. Although this plugin doesn't conform to the GMP ABI, we provide an adapter to allow it to be run through the GMP system. We use the same Widevine CDM plugin that Chrome uses. For decode and encode of H.264 streams for WebRTC, Firefox uses OpenH264, which is provided by Cisco. This plugin implements the GMP ABI.

  • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: How accessibility trees inform assistive tech

    The web is accessible by default. It was designed with features to make accessibility possible, and these have been part of the platform pretty much from the beginning. In recent times, inspectable accessibility trees have made it easier to see how things work in practice. In this post we’ll look at how “good” client-side code (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) improves the experience of users of assistive technologies, and how we can use accessibility trees to help verify our work on the user experience.

  • QMO: Firefox 68 Beta 10 Testday Results

    As you may already know, Friday June 14th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 68 Beta 10.