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Legal

It is time to end the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions process and put a stop to DRM

Filed under
GNU
Legal

Although it is accurate, there's one aspect of the process that is missing from that description: the length. While the process kicks off every three years, the work that goes into fighting exemptions, whether previously granted or newly requested, has a much shorter interval. As you can see from the timeline of events from the 2018 round of the exemptions process, the process stretches on for months and months. For each exemption we have to prepare research, documents, and our comments through wave after wave of submission periods. For the 2018 exemptions round, the first announcements from the United States Copyright Office were in July of 2017, on a process that concluded in October of 2018. Fifteen months, every three years. If you do the math, that means we're fighting about 40% of the time just to ensure that exemptions we already won continue, and that new exemptions will be granted. If the timeline from the last round holds up, then we're only a few short months away from starting this whole circus back up again.

Describing it as a circus seems an appropriate label for the purpose of this whole process. It's not meant to be an effective mechanism for protecting the rights of users: it's a method for eating up the time and resources of those who are fighting for justice. If we don't step up, users could lose the ability to control their own computing and software. It's like pushing a rock up a mile-long hill only to have it pushed back down again when we've barely had a chance to catch our breath.

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Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt Against Copyleft

Filed under
Legal
  • Why Open Source Licenses With A Commons Clause May Become Less Common

    The Commons Clause also is ambiguous in its prohibition against selling "hosting or consulting/support services related to the Software" for any product or service whose value derives entirely or substantially from the software's functionality. A plain reading of this provision suggests that a cloud service provider cannot host the licensed software for free and charge a fee for customer support or consulting relating to the software's functionality (e.g., how to use the software). The Commons Clause documentation refers to a discussion board suggesting that consulting may be permitted, but the language of the clause and the contents of that online discussion appear to suggest otherwise.

  • Manage Your OSS Security Using a Free Scanning Tool [Ed: "Enterprise License Optimization Blog" is Flexera marketing rubbish; it likes to talk all about "Open Source" (FUD), but its own stuff is 100% proprietary]
  • Sonatype: improving software with open source technology
  • Open source licence series - R3: The world needs audit licenses [Ed: Typical old nonsense of proprietary software firms, looking to portray a licensing question as pertaining only to FOSS]

    The so-called ‘open core’ model is hard to get right.

    [As we know, the open-core model primarily involves offering a “core” or feature-limited version of a software product as free and open-source software, while offering “commercial” versions or add-ons as proprietary software.]

Bruce Perens quits Open Source Initiative amid row over new data-sharing crypto license: 'We've gone the wrong way with licensing'

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Last year, lawyer Van Lindberg drafted a software license called the Cryptographic Autonomy License (CAL) on behalf of distributed development platform Holo – and submitted it to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for approval as an Open Source Definition-compliant (OSD) license.

The debate over whether or not to approve the license, now in its fourth draft, has proven contentious enough to prompt OSI co-founder Bruce Perens to resign from the organization, for a second time, based on concern that OSI members have already made up their minds.

"Well, it seems to me that the organization is rather enthusiastically headed toward accepting a license that isn't freedom respecting," Perens wrote in a missive to the OSI's license review mailing list on Thursday. "Fine, do it without me, please."

Perens, for what it's worth, drafted the original OSD.

Another open-source-community leader familiar with the debate – who spoke with The Register on condition of anonymity – claimed Lindberg lobbied OSI directors privately to green-light the license, contrary to an approval process that's supposed to be carried out in public.

"I don't think that's an appropriate characterization," said Lindberg, of law firm Dykema, in a phone interview with The Register. "I think there are number of people who from the beginning made up their minds about the CAL. You'll see a lot of people jumping onto any pretext they can find in order to oppose it."

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Allison Randal Joins Conservancy Board

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Legal

We're very excited to welcome Allison Randal to Conservancy's Board of Directors. When it comes to free and open source software, there are few people who have had so much experience in so many different ways. Over the last 30 years, she has taken on projects that became instrumental in welcoming more people to the software freedom cause. She's made numerous critical technical contributions in addition to her impressive leadership contributions. She's also worked hard to get folks from very different organizations to collaborate on languages, licensing and events. We're very lucky that Randal has chosen to bring her uniquely broad and historical perspective to her work as a Conservancy Director.

Randal is a board member at the Perl Foundation, a board member at the OpenStack Foundation, and co-founder of the FLOSS Foundations group for free software community leaders. At various points in the past she has served as president of the Open Source Initiative, president of the Perl Foundation, board member of the Python Software Foundation, chairman of the Parrot Foundation, chief architect of the Parrot virtual machine, Open Source Evangelist at O’Reilly Media, conference chair of OSCON, Technical Architect of Ubuntu, Open Source Advisor at Canonical, Distinguished Technologist and Open Source Strategist at HP, and Distinguished Engineer at SUSE. She collaborates in the Debian project, and is currently taking a mid-career research sabbatical at the University of Cambridge. While on sabbatical, she has been teaching computer science.

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A Brief History of Open Source Software, Part 2: OSS Licenses and Legalities

Filed under
GNU
Legal

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the magic of open source software (OSS) is based as much on legal innovation as it is on collaboration. Indeed, the essential innovation that launched free and open source software was not Richard Stallmans GNU Project, but his announcement of a revolutionary new licensing philosophy, and the actual license agreements needed to put that philosophy into effect. Only later did global collaboration among developers explode, riding the wave of Stallman's licenses, Linus Torvald's pioneering work in creating the distributed development process, and rapidly increasing telecommunications bandwidth.

In this installment, we'll explore how Stallman's philosophy spread and forked, and where it has taken us to today.

The legal theories, agreements, and documentation that relate to OSS, and its precursor, Free and Open Source Software (for convenience, in this installment I'll refer to both types collectively as FOSS), are far too complex to explore more than superficially in an article of this type. But for current purposes, it is less important to acquire a deep knowledge of FOSS legal terms than it is to gain insight into why the legalities of FOSS are so important.

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Nginx/Rambler Dispute Over Code

Filed under
Development
Server
Legal
  • What’s yours is ours Rambler Group claims exclusive rights to world’s most popular web-server software, six months after it's sold to U.S. company for 670 million dollars

    On Thursday, December 12, Russian law enforcement raided the Moscow office of the IT company “Nginx,” which owns the eponymous web-server used by almost 500 million websites around the world. According to several reports, Nginx co-founders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov spent several hours in police interrogation. The search is part of a criminal case based on charges by a company tied to the Russian billionaire and Rambler Group co-owner Alexander Mamut, whose businesses believe they own the rights to the Nginx web-server because Sysoev started developing the code while working for Rambler in 2004. Meduza’s correspondent Maria Kolomychenko looks at how Sysoev and his partners spent 15 years creating the world’s most popular web-server before selling it to an American firm for $670 million, and how Rambler decided, half a year later, that it owns the technology.

  • ‘A typical racket, simple as that’ Nginx co-founder Maxim Konovalov explains Rambler's litigation against his company, which develops the world’s most popular web-server

    Russia’s IT industry is in the midst of a major conflict between businesses belonging to “Rambler Group” co-owner Alexander Mamut and the company “Nginx,” created by Igor Sysoev and his partner Maxim Konovalov. Nginx’s key product is the eponymous web-server used by more than a third of the world’s websites. Sysoev first released the software in 2004, while still an employee at Rambler, which is now claiming exclusive rights to Nginx, based on its interpretation of Russian law. The police have already joined the dispute, launching a criminal investigation and searching Nginx’s Moscow office. In an interview with Meduza, Nginx co-founder Maxim Konovalov described the police raid and explained why he thinks it took Rambler 15 years to claim ownership over the coveted web-server technology, which recently sold to the American corporation “F5 Networks” for $670 million.

OSI Transparency Reports

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • October 2019 License-Discuss Summary

    We would like to introduce (and thank!) Amol Meshram, who has joined us here at the OSI to provide monthly summaries of both the License-Discuss and License-Review mailing lists. We hope these reports provide you with a helpful snapshot of the monthly activities on the lists, keeping you up to date with the latest topics, while also providing a reference point for further discussion. Of course all suggestions are welcome as we continue to enhance our reporting. We will try our best to include the feedback from OSI community members to make the summaries as accurate as possible and the discussions lively and fruitful.

  • October 2019 License-Review Summary

    Carlo Piana is not in favour of The Vaccine License and feels it is a trolling exercise. Filli Liberandum suggested to Carlo Paina to read the mailing list code of conduct. In furtherance to it, Filli Liberandum explained why there is a necessity of acknowledging The Vaccine License by OSI board and its members.
    Anand Chowdhary based on his experience of adding privacy compliance under twente open source license pointed out that there are better ways to protect privacy of individuals like local/national/international regulation instead of protecting it through open source license. He is of the opinion that there are better ways to advocate for vaccination and open source license is not the better way to advocate for it.
    Filli Liberandum countered to Anand Chowdhary by citing example of Cryptography Autonomy License of Mr. Lindstrom which ask for some release of data as a condition and head of OSI has publicly accepted this condition. Pamela Chestek brought into notice of Filli Liberandum that OSI did not endorse the view of Simon Phipps (referred head of OSI by Filli) on Cryptography Autonomy License data condition clause. Simon Phipps is member of the board along with others. Simon Phipps views on CAL are personal.
    Filli Liberandum raised a concern with respect to archives as it is stuck in a plaintext mode.
    Simon Phipps suggested to Filli Liberandum to familiarize with License-review process and change the tone of message and requested to leave moderating to the moderators to which Filli agreed and responded that here onwards Filli will directly reach out to concerned members.
    Gil Yehuda responded to Fil that Licenses usually do ask for things in return and appreciated the efforts of Fil in writing The Vaccine License, while considering the OSD. Gil raised an important point of enforceability of The Vaccine License in the real life scenario. Gil is of the opinion that one can right a blog and promote the importance of the idea instead of restricting it with copyright license. To buttress claim, Gil cited article written by Selam G which convinced Gil to support Free Software Movement. The reason behind citing this article is to explore other platforms instead of publishing work under copyright license.

    Carlo Piana responded to Fil that The Vaccine License is discriminatory and non-enforceable in nature. Carlo thinks that vaccination can be achieved through local authorities instead of enforcing it through copyright license. Carlo believes one should provoke reactions rather than genuine attempt of having a license approved.
    Josh Berkus agrees with Carlo on provoking reactions from members on license instead of attempting for approving the license. Josh suggested to take this submission as a use case and put it on opensource.org for future reference.
    Carlo Piana is of the same view that opensource.org should take this submission as a use case for future submissions to avoid duplication of work.
    Bruce Perens is also of the opinion that a direct law on vaccination will be more effective than a license. Similarly, Bruce also wrote two blog posts on the issue of “ethical” licenses wherein Bruce referred the proposed The Vaccine License.
    Grahame Grieve replied to Bruce’s blog post and appreciated the efforts of writing blog post on ethical license and also the basic arguments put forwards by Bruce. But Grahame bothered by the lack of ethics in the Vaccine License, judging vaccine license solely based on enforceability clause. Similarly, Grahame wanted to know whether the lawyers, courts and violators laugh at license and is there any precedent on when someone gives something of value away, on the condition that it not used in a particular way? Bruce Perens replied to all the queries of Graham Grieve. Firstly, Bruce Perens claims blog post argument is based on law instead of license terms. Secondly, Bruce has experience in handling litigation for various reasons and Bruce wants other should not get into litigation for same cause of action. Lastly, Bruce said Lawyers, courts and violators laugh at license and this whole exercise will be term as a ‘‘copyright misuse’’.
    Kevin P. Fleming replied to Graham and pointed that The Vaccine License does not talk about goals instead it focusses on action to be performed which is not in sync with the use of the software. Similarly, Kevin is of the opinion that The Vaccine License violates the OSD 5. To this Grahame Grieve countered by saying if The Vaccine license is applied to health software then in such scenario would Kevin change his opinion.
    Van Lindberg appreciated various aspect of the Vaccine License and efforts put forward by Fil in creating the vaccine license. But Van feels the Vaccine License does not qualify for OSS because it imposes conditions which are logically separate from and wholly unrelated to scope intellectual property rights that are licensed. Similarly, Van attempted to answer the question on what scope of action can be required of a license? Van observed if restrictions are closely related to the exercise of the intellectual property rights granted under license then such restrictions make sense and compatible with OSD.
    Filli Liberandum replied to analysis of Van and requested to reverse engineer the rules from the approved licenses which Fil believe will lead us to conclusion that the Vaccine License attempt is not an accidental in nature.
    Josh Berkus feels that The Vaccine License is very good example for ‘’unrelated conditions’’ license which can be referred in future as a textbook example to differentiate between what kind of licenses OSS supports and what can’t be supported by OSS license.

The Road Towards KF6 & SPDX License Identifiers

Filed under
KDE
Legal

With KF6, I want to see SPDX license identifiers being introduced into KDE frameworks in order to ease the framework re-use in other projects. This follows the same approach e.g. the Linux Kernel took over the last years.

The problem that the SPDX markers address is the following: When publishing source code under an open source license, each source code file shall explicitly state the license it is released with. The usual way this is done is that a developer copies a license header text from the KDE licensing policies wiki, from another source file, or from somewhere else from the internet and puts it at the top of their newly created source code file. Thus the result is that today we have many slightly different license headers all over our frameworks source files (even if they only differ in formatting). Yet, these small differences make it very hard to introduce automatic checks for the source code licenses in terms of static analysis. This problem becomes even more urgent when one wants to check that a library, which consists of several source files with different licenses, does only contain compatible licenses.

The SPDX headers solve this problem by introducing a standardized language that annotates every source code file with license information in the SPDX syntax. This syntax is rich enough to express all of our existing license information and it can also cover more complicated cases like e.g. dual-licensed source files.

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FSFE on Licensing in REUSE Initiative and Racket Moves to Apache 2.0/MIT Licence

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • The last 12 months in the light of software freedom

    In the last 12 months, we have achieved a lot with the help of our volunteers, through their donations and hard work. Thanks to their support, we were able to successfully continue our PMPC campaign, simplify licensing practices through our REUSE initiative, and stand up for router freedom in Europe. We will be back in 2020 with even more vigour towards our work. Please help us with a donation so that we can continue our successful commitment to Free Software.

  • Racket 7.5 Changes License

    Racket has been updated and is being released under a new, less-restrictive license: either the Apache 2.0 license or the MIT license. The new release also adds a standard JSON MIME type for the Web Server.

    Racket is described as a “full-spectrum programming language” that goes beyond Lisp and Scheme with dialects that support objects, types and laziness. When coding in it, you can link components written in different dialects, and write your own project-specific dialect if you want. The Racket libraries support applications from web servers and databases to GUIs and charts.

    [...]

    Chez Scheme is both a programming language and an implementation of that language, with supporting tools and documentation. It is a superset of the language described in the Revised Report on the Algorithmic Language Scheme (R6RS). Chez Scheme supports all standard features of Scheme, including first-class procedures, proper treatment of tail calls, continuations, user-defined records, libraries, exceptions, and hygienic macro expansion. The Racket team says they expect that Racket CS will be ready for production use by the next release.

    Elsewhere in this release, the Web Server now provides a standard JSON MIME type, including a response/jsexpr form for HTTP responses bearing JSON; and GNU MPFR operations run about three times faster.

Input for the BEREC's guidelines on Router Freedom in Europe

Filed under
Hardware
Legal

Router Freedom is the right of customers of any Internet Service Provider (ISP) to choose and use a private modem and router instead of a router that the ISP forces them to use. The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) drafted guidelines for national agencies how to deal with Router Freedom in their countries. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) provided mixed feedback to an ongoing public consultation.

The status of Router Freedom in Europe differs from country to country as the monitoring by the FSFE shows. The core of the debate is the question of where the Network Termination Point (NTP) is located. This defines where the network of the ISP ends and where the network of the user begins. If the modem and router are considered part of the ISP's infrastructure, a user cannot claim sovereignty of their communication and security.

The patchwork rug of different rules may change soon as BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, has been commissioned to create guidelines for the National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs) and help them with implementing European regulation in a harmonised way. BEREC's current draft of the guidelines is up for public consultation until 21 November 2019. We analysed this draft and the EU Directives and Regulations it references, and provided our conclusion in a brief document.

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Joplin: The True Open Source Evernote Alternative

If you like Evernote, you won’t be too uncomfortable with the open source software, Joplin. Joplin is an excellent open source note taking application with plenty of features. You can take notes, make to-do list and sync your notes across devices by linking it with cloud services like Dropbox and NextCloud. The synchronization is protected with end to end encryption. Joplin also has a web clipper that allows you to save webpages as notes. The web clipper is available for Firefox and Chrome/Chromium browsers. Joplin makes the switch from Evernote easier by allowing importing Evernote files in Enex format. Since you own the data, you can export all your files either in Joplin format or in the raw format. Read more

Games: GtkStressTesting, Dying Light and Kingpin: Life of Crime

  • Monitor and stress-test your Linux gaming PC with GtkStressTesting

    Monitoring your Linux gaming PC is pretty easy, there's some good applications out there to keep an eye on CPU use and more but what about some stress testing to see how it holds up? GtkStressTesting seems nice. The developer, Roberto Leinardi, who also made GKraken (control the cooling (and soon also the lighting) of a NZXT Kraken X) and GreenWithEnvy (controlling NVIDIA fans and overclocking on Linux) emailed in about GtkStressTesting. Originally called GnomeStressTest, they recently changed the name to GtkStressTesting along with a new release.

  • Dying Light turns five years old, send Zombies flying in the HyperMode event - big sale too

    Techland managed to create probably one of the best Zombie games ever with Dying Light, it's currently heavily discounted again and it's now hit five years since release. It was actually released on Linux same-day as Windows, something that was quite a surprise years ago for such a huge release. Sadly, it wasn't in the best state but they eventually got there and it ended up as one of my favourite games on any platform. To celebrate the occasion, Techland has turned on the HyperMode in-game event. This is where you're as strong as Superman, sending Zombies flying as you punch and kick. Additionally, for this event Techland has also boosted XP gain and there's person and global goals to hit to earn rewards.

  • Get ready to live a Life of Crime with Kingpin: Reloaded announced by 3D Realms - will be coming to Linux

    Kingpin: Life of Crime is being remastered with 3D Realms recently announced Kingpin: Reloaded bringing new life to the Quake II engine classic. Originally created by Xatrix Entertainment and published by Interplay Entertainment back in 1999, it's being given a fresh look by Slipgate Ironworks with 3D Realms publishing who will be enhancing it with a new quest system, Ultrawide and 4k Support, classic and enhanced modes, controller support, a no violence mode (but all the profanity stays), multiplayer and more.

Android Leftovers

Deepin Music – a beautiful and simple music player

I’ve reviewed a smorgasbord of open source music players. But there’s still quite a few I’ve yet to put through their paces. For this review, I’m looking at Deepin Music. The software bills itself as a “beautiful and simple music player that plays local audio. It supports viewing lyrics during playback, playing lossless audio, and playlist customization”. While the music player is designed for the Deepin Desktop Environment, it’s not tied to that environment. If you’re curious about Deepin Desktop Environment, it was featured in the survey of Best Linux Desktop Environments: Strong and Stable. Read more