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Legal

Open Source Software A Core Competency For Effective Tech M&A

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OSS
Legal

Imagine your company just acquired its competitor for $100 million. Now imagine the company’s most important asset – its proprietary software – is subject to third-party license conditions that require the proprietary software to be distributed free of charge or in source code form. Or, imagine these license conditions are discovered late in the diligence process, and the cost to replace the offending third-party software will costs tens of thousands of dollars and take months to remediate. Both scenarios exemplify the acute, distinct and often overlooked risks inherent to the commercial use of open source software. An effective tech M&A attorney must appreciate these risks and be prepared to take the steps necessary to mitigate or eliminate them.

Over the past decade, open source software has become a mainstay in the technology community. Since its beginnings, open source software has always been viewed as a way to save money and jumpstart development projects, but it is increasingly being looked to for its quality solutions and operational advantages. Today, only a fraction of technology companies do not use open source software in any way. For most of the rest, it is mission critical.

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Microsoft & Linux & Patents & Tweets

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GNU
Linux
Microsoft
Legal

Fact-checking some tweets about Linux Foundation’s newest member and their harvesting of other members’ money.

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Also: Microsoft Loves Linux Patent Tax

FOSS CMS News

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OSS
Legal
  • Newly Redesigned Boston.gov Just Went Open Source

    Boston is open sourcing its municipal website, three months after redesigning Boston.gov.

    Taking the source code public, a move overseen by the city’s Digital Team, will speed the rate at which the site evolves through the addition of new features developed by local software designers, academic institutions and organizations.

  • WordPress attacks Wix, and Wix strikes back
  • The WordPress-Wix Dispute
  • The Price Of GPL [Ed: hatred of the GPL]

    Wix’s CEO, Avishai Abrahami, responded with a round of non-sequiturs that carefully evade the point that his product is built from source code for which they have not paid. One of his engineers equally misses the point, focusing on the circumstances surrounding the violation, rather than taking responsibility for the theft.

    Some will take issue with the use of strong words like “stolen code,” and “theft,” with respect to a GPL violation. But that’s exactly what it is: software has been taken and deployed in Wix’s product, but the price for doing so has not been paid.

    [...]

    Many developers understand, and view the price of GPL as perfectly justified, while others (myself included) find it unacceptable. So what am I supposed to do? Not use any GPL source code at all in any of my proprietary products? Exactly. Because the price of GPL is too much for me, and I don’t steal source code.

FOSS Licensing

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GNU
OSS
Legal
  • Conservancy Promotes Transparency by Publishing Template Agreements for Linux Compliance Program

    Today at the Linux Plumbers Conference, Software Freedom Conservancy hosts its second feedback session on the GPL Compliance Program for Linux Developers. These sessions, which Conservancy is hosting at relevant events over the next year and summarizing for public review, will seek input and ideas from the Linux community about GPL enforcement, answer questions, and plan strategies to deal with GPL enforcement actions that do not follow Conservancy and FSF's Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement.

  • Eben Moglen on GPL Compliance and Building Communities: What Works

    Software Freedom Law Center, the pro-bono law firm led by Eben Moglen, Professor of law at Columbia Law School and the world's foremost authority on Free and Open Source Software law held its annual fall conference at Columbia Law School, New York on Oct. 28. The full-day program featured technical and legal presentations on Blockchain, FinTech, Automotive FOSS and GPL Compliance by industry and community stalwarts.

    The program culminated in remarks by Moglen that highlighted the roles of engagement and education in building effective, ever-lasting communities. While expressing his gratitude to his colleague, friend and comrade Richard M. Stallman, Moglen emphasized the positive message relayed by Greg Kroah-Hartman and Theodore Ts'o --earlier in the day-- for creating win-win solutions and spreading users' freedom.

  • Freedom In Moderation [Ed: Freedom insistence (in software) equated with “extremism”, worse a term than “purism”]

    I must define some terminology in case readers are unfamiliar. Free software is defined by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as software that carries four fundamental freedoms: the freedom to run the program for any purpose, the to study and change it, to redistribute unmodified copies, and to redistribute modified copies. The “free” refers not to price but to freedom, and is sometimes called “libre”, from the same Latin root as “liberate”.

    The Free Software Foundation has been campaigning for “users’ freedom” since 1985. They advocate for the release of software under licenses they approve that give users those freedoms. Some of their notable successes include the GNU project, which develops various low-level and mid-level system tools, and their Defective By Design campaign to oppose digital rights management (DRM).

Distributing encryption software may break the law

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OSS
Security
Legal

Developers, distributors, and users of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) often face a host of legal issues which they need to keep in mind. Although areas of law such as copyright, trademark, and patents are frequently discussed, these are not the only legal concerns for FOSS. One area that often escapes notice is export controls. It may come as a surprise that sharing software that performs or uses cryptographic functions on a public website could be a violation of U.S. export control law.

Export controls is a term for the various legal rules which together have the effect of placing restrictions, conditions, or even wholesale prohibitions on certain types of export as a means to promote national security interests and foreign policy objectives. Export control has a long history in the United States that goes back to the Revolutionary War with an embargo of trade with Great Britain by the First Continental Congress. The modern United States export control regime includes the Department of State's regulations covering export of munitions, the Treasury Department's enforcement of United States' foreign embargoes and sanctions regimes, and the Department of Commerce's regulations applying to exports of "dual-use" items, i.e. items which have civil applications as well as terrorism, military, or weapons of mass destruction-related applications.

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GCC RISC-V Support Allegedly Held Up Due To University Lawyers

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Development
GNU
Legal

While there has been talk about RISC-V architecture support in the GCC compiler and for LLVM too going back months, a developer is reporting that the GCC RISC-V support is being delayed due to UC Berkeley lawyers.

Contributions to the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) require a copyright assignment to the Free Software Foundation for this GPLv3-licensed compiler. It turns out the University of California Berkeley lawyers are taking issue with this, temporarily holding up the compiler back-end from merging.

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FOSS Licensing

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Legal
  • Making money from copylefted code

    I wanted to put this out there while I still have it fresh in my mind. Here at the copyleft BoF with Bradlely Kuhn at LAS GNOME. One of the biggest take away from this is something that Bryan Lunduke said that people are able to make money off from copyleft if we don’t actually brand it as free and open source software. So it seems that if we don’t advertise something as free or open source or that there is software available, then there is a decent chance that you can make money.

  • Help Send Conservancy to Embedded Linux Conference Europe

    Last month, Conservancy made a public commitment to attend Linux-related events to get feedback from developers about our work generally, and Conservancy's GPL Compliance Program for Linux Developers specifically. As always, even before that, we were regularly submitting talks to nearly any event with Linux in its name. As a small charity, we always request travel funding from the organizers, who are often quite gracious. As I mentioned in my blog posts about LCA 2016 and GUADEC 2016, the organizers covered my travel funding there, and recently both Karen and I both received travel funding to speak at LCA 2017 and DebConf 2016, as well as many other events this year.

  • Copyleft, attribution, and data: other considerations

    When looking at solutions, it is important to understand that the practical concerns I blogged about aren’t just theoretical — they matter in practice too. For example, Peter Desmet has done a great job showing how overreaching licenses make bullfrog maps (and other data combinations) illegal. Alex Barth of OpenStreetMap has also discussed how ODbL creates problems for OSM users (though he got some Wikipedia-related facts wrong). And I’ve spoken to very well-intentioned organizations (including thoughtful, impactful non-profits) scared off from OSM for similar reasons.

OSI Approved Licenses, a Foundation for Federal Source Code Policy

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OSS
Legal

The Federal Source Code memorandum includes a subject line that clearly communicates the federal government's commitment, "Achieving Efficiency, Transparency, and Innovation through Reusable and Open Source Software," and we applaud the OMB for their compressive work: introducing the benefits of open source software, development and communities to a bureaucracy often challenged to move away from traditional modes of practice and policy; engaging with the larger technology sector in a inclusive and comprehensive review of current, and potential future-states for software development and use within the government, and; actually delivering a policy that can serve as a foundation to build on.

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GNU/FSF/GPL

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GNU
Legal
  • Unifont 9.0.02 Released

    Unifont 9.0.02 is released. The package and related files can be downloaded at ftp://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/unifont/unifont-9.0.02/

  • GCC 7 To Continue Improving Debug Messages, More Helpful Assembly Output

    Early on LLVM's Clang compiler offered much better debugging / error messages than GCC but in the past few years the GNU Compiler Collection developers have been working on generating more helpful messages too.

  • The Last LinuxCon, MariaDB Goes Open Core & More… [Ed: And a day later publicly attacks the Conservancy over GPL compliance against VMware]

    Linus Torvalds being interviewed by VMware’s Dirk Hohndel on the last day of the last LinuxCon North America. Next year’s event in Los Angeles will be renamed Open Source Summit.

  • GPL compliance suit against VMware dismissed

    In a setback to the Christoph Hellwig's efforts to enforce the GPL on code that he wrote in the Linux kernel, his suit against VMware in Germany has been dismissed on procedural grounds. The court ruled that he had not provided enough specificity about the code he was claiming had been used by the company. The merits of the GPL and whether the two main parts of VMware's product constitute a derived work of the kernel were not even considered. There may be another chance for the court to do so, however, as Hellwig will appeal the dismissal.

GNU/Linux Leftovers

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GNU
Linux
Legal
  • World Wide Web became what it is thanks to Linux

    Linux is used to power the largest websites on the Internet, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and Wikipedia.

  • SFC's Kuhn in firing line as Linus Torvalds takes aim

    A few days after he mused that there had been no reason for him to blow his stack recently, Linux creator Linus Torvalds has directed a blast at the Software Freedom Conservancy and its distinguished technologist Bradley Kuhn over the question of enforcing compliance of the GNU General Public Licence.

    Torvalds' rant came on Friday, as usual on a mailing list and on a thread which was started by Software Freedom Conservancy head Karen Sandler on Wednesday last week. She suggested that Linuxcon in Toronto, held from Monday to Thursday, also include a session on GPL enforcement.

  • Linux at 25: A pictorial history

    Aug. 25 marks the 25th anniversary of Linux, the free and open source operating system that's used around the globe in smarphones, tablets, desktop PCs, servers, supercomputers, and more. Though its beginnings were humble, Linux has become the world’s largest and most pervasive open source software project in history. How did it get here? Read on for a look at some of the notable events along the way.

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More in Tux Machines

Red Hat News

  • Improving Storage Performance with Ceph and Flash
    Ceph is a storage system designed to be used at scale, with clusters of Ceph in deployment in excess of 40 petabytes today. At LinuxCon Europe, Allen Samuels, Engineering Fellow at Western Digital, says that Ceph has been proven to scale out reasonably well. Samuels says, “the most important thing that a storage management system does in the clustered world is to give you availability and durability,” and much of the technology in Ceph focuses on controlling the availability and the durability of your data. In his presentation, Samuels talks not just about some of the performance advantages to deploying Ceph on Flash, but he also goes into detail about what they are doing to optimize Ceph in future releases.
  • Ceph and Flash by Allen Samuels, Western Digital
  • Red Hat Opens Up OpenShift Dedicated to Google Cloud Platform
    When businesses and enterprises begin adopting data center platforms that utilize containerization, then and only then can we finally say that the container trend is sweeping the planet. Red Hat’s starter option for containerization platforms is OpenShift Dedicated — a public cloud-based, mostly preconfigured solution, which launched at this time last year on Amazon AWS.
  • Volatility Numbers in View for Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)

Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

  • Rhizome is working on an open-source tool to help archive digital content
    "The stability of this kind of easy archiving for document storage, review and revision is a great possibility, but the workflow for journalists is very specific, so the grant will allow us to figure out how it could function." Another feature of Webrecorder that journalists might find appealing, and one of the software's core purposes, is to preserve material that might be deleted or become unavailable in time. However, the tool is currently operated under a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown policy. This means any individual can ask for a record of their web presence or materials to be removed, so Rhizome will be working to "answer the more complicated questions and figure out policies" around privacy and copyright with the latest round of funding.
  • An ode to releasing software
    There is one particular moment in every Free and Open Source Software project: it’s the time when the software is about to get released. The software has been totally frozen of course, QA tests have been made, all the lights are green; the website still needs to be updated with the release notes, perhaps some new content and of course the stable builds have to be uploaded. The release time is always a special one. The very day of the release, there is some excitement and often a bit of stress. The release manager(s), as well as everyone working on the project’s infrastructure are busy making sure everything is ready when the upload of the stable version of the software, binaries and source, has been completed. In many cases, some attention is paid to the main project’s mirror servers so that the downloads are fluid and work (mostly) flawlessly as soon as the release has been pushed and published.
  • Diversity Scholarship Series: My Time at CloudNativeCon 2016
    CloudNativeCon 2016 was a wonderful first conference for me and although the whirlwind of a conference is tiring, I left feeling motivated and inspired. The conference made me feel like I was a part of the community and technology I have been working with daily.
  • WordPress 4.7 Content Management System Provides New Design Options
    WordPress is among the most widely used open-source technologies in the world, powering more than 70 million websites. WordPress 4.7 was released Dec. 6, providing a new milestone update including new features for both users and developers. As is typically the case with new WordPress releases, there is also a new default theme in the 4.7 update. The 2017 theme provides users with a number of interesting attributes including the large feature image as well as the ability to have a video as part of the header image. The Theme Customizer feature enables users to more intuitively adjust various elements of a theme, to fit the needs of websites that use will upgrade to WordPress 4.7. In addition, the new custom CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) feature within a theme preview lets users quickly see how style changes will change the look of a site. As an open-source project, WordPress benefits from participation of independent contributors and for the 4.7 release there were 482 contributors. In this slideshow eWEEK takes a look at some of the highlights of the WordPress 4.7 release.
  • Psychology Professor Releases Free, Open-Source, Preprint Software
    The Center for Open Science, directed by University of Virginia psychology professor Brian Nosek, has launched three new services to more quickly share research data as the center continues its mission to press for openness, integrity and reproducibility of scientific research. Typically, researchers send preprint manuscripts detailing their research findings to peer-reviewed academic journals, such as Nature and Science. The review process can take months or even years before publication – if the research is published at all. By contrast, “preprinting,” or sharing non-peer-reviewed research results online, enables crucial data to get out to the community the moment it is completed. That, said Nosek, is critical.
  • Integral Ad Science Launches Open Source SDK to Drive Mobile Innovation for the Advertising Industry
  • Tullett Prebon Information, Quaternion and Columbia University form open source risk collaboration
  • Tullett Prebon Information And Quaternion Risk Management Partner To Enhance Transparency And Standardisation In Risk Modelling – Partnership Fuels Columbia University Research To Improve Understanding Of Systemic Risk
  • Integral Ad Science Partners with Google, Others for Open Source Viewability
  • DoomRL creator makes free roguelike open-source to try and counter Zenimax legal threat
  • DoomRL Goes Open-Source in Face of Copyright Claims
    Earlier this week, ZeniMax Medi hit DoomRL, a popular roguelike version of the original first-person shooter, with a cease-and-desist order. This order instructed producer ChaosForge to remove the free downloadable game to prevent further legal action. Instead of taking it down, co-creator Kornel Kisielewicz turned the game open-source.
  • This Indian software company just partnered with the world’s biggest open source community
    In what can be called a major motivation for Indian tech firms, Amrut Software, an end-to-end Software, BPO services and solutions provider has become a GitHub distributor for India region. GitHub hosts world’s biggest open source community along with the most popular version control systems, configuration management and collaboration tools for software developers. It has some of the largest installations of repositories in the world.
  • Python 3.6 released with many new improvements and features
    Python,the high-level interpreted programming language is now one of the most preferred programming language by beginners and professional-level developers.So,here Python 3.6 is now available with many changes,improvements and of course the ease of Python was not left in the work list.

Security Leftovers