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Legal

News and e-press echos after EUPL v1.2 publication

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OSS
Legal

The publication of the new EUPL v1.2 has been echoed widely across Europe, starting with the official Europa.eu: “The European Commission has released a new version of the European Union Public Licence (EUPL), a tool for publishing any copyrighted work as open source. The licence is legally consistent with the copyright law of all EU countries and is especially well-suited for public administrations sharing IT solutions.”

If the licence is especially suited for public sector, it is also widely used by the private sector. In fact, the majority of the 15.000 EUPL licensed works are distributed by economic actors, developers and enterprises.

In Germany, the announcement was promptly commented by IfrOSS, the German Institute for legal questions on free and open source software (EU-Kommission veröffentlicht neue EUPL-Version). Pro-Linux.de focuses on the extended compatibility of the EUPL (i.e. with the GPL v3) and point out that in various European Member States like The Netherlands, France, Spain etc. the licence has been selected for distributing, when convenient and applicable, software applications made by governments.

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Also: Romania opens new procurement portal for testing

Getting Started with Open Source Licenses

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OSS
Legal

With proprietary software, it's easy for a developer to know where he or she stands. Unless you or the company for which you're working owns the copyright to the code, it's off limits -- end of story. There's usually not even any temptation to use the code, because the source code is usually not available.

Moving into open source opens up a whole new world that can make things a lot easier. Suddenly, you're not constantly having to reinvent the wheel by writing code for processes where there's code already written and waiting at the ready. In some circumstances, you can even use open source code inside a proprietary project.

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GPL Win in Court Explained

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GNU
Legal
  • US Court Upholds Enforceability Of GNU GPL As Both A License And A Contract

    Free software dominates modern computing, from smartphones to supercomputers -- only the desktop remains a stronghold of proprietary code. Most of that free software has the Linux kernel at its heart, and a key element in the success of Linux -- and of thousands of other coding projects -- is the GNU General Public License. Although the first version of the GNU GPL was released by Richard Stallman back in 1989, and version 3 was issued in 2007, there have been surprisingly few court cases examining it and other open source licenses, and whether they are legally watertight.

    A key case is Jacobsen v. Katzer from 2008. As a detailed Groklaw post at the time explained, the US appeals court held that open source license conditions are enforceable as a copyright condition. Now we have another important judgment, Artifex v. Hancom, that clarifies further the legal basis of open source licenses. It concerns the well-known Ghostscript interpreter for the PostScript language, written originally by L. Peter Deutsch, and sold by the company he founded, Artifex Software. Artifex was a pioneer in adopting a dual-licensing approach for Ghostscript. That is, you could either use the software under the GNU GPL, or you could avoid copyleft's redistribution requirements by taking out a conventional proprietary license.

  • The GNU GPL Is An Enforceable Contract At Last [Ed: Misleading headline; it was always valid and enforceable, tested in US courts too.]
  • Artifex Software v Hancom: Guidance from US District Court on enforcement of open source software licences

    Open source software is regularly used as a way of leveraging the collective knowledge of the software development community by allowing anyone to improve and contribute to the code, provided they ‘pay it forward’ and allow their improved code to be used by the community. Open source software is often incorporated into proprietary software to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’ – why develop from scratch what has already been prepared and improved upon by the collective wisdom of developers worldwide? This can, however, create a risk of “infection” (requiring the proprietary software to be released on open source terms) – the risk varies based on the terms of the open source licence under which the software is released.

GNU, GPL, and 'Contamination'

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GNU
Legal
  • GDB 8.0 Released, Adds Many New Features, Drops Java GCJ Support

    GDB 8.0 has been released as the newest feature release for this widely-used GNU Debugger.

  • [Older] Understanding the “GPL is a Contract” court case

    There’s been a lot of confusion about the recent Artifex v. Hancom case, in which the court found that the GPL was an enforceable contract. I’m going to try to explain the whole thing in clear terms for the legal layman.

  • [Older] Google's New Mobile OS Will Have a Distinctly Non-Linux Hue [Ed: less GPL]
  • Not Open, Not Closed: The Future of Hybrid Licenses

    With proprietary software pressured and giving ground to open source competition, however, the process for selling software has become more challenging. It is possible, of course, to monetize open source software directly. A variety of mechanisms have been tried, from dual licensing to support and service to open core. It is inefficient and significantly less profitable than selling proprietary software was, however. Even the best in the industry depended heavily on volume to make up for the difficulty in converting users of free software to paid customers. MySQL, for example, reportedly was at its peak able to convert one in a thousand users to a paid product. Combined with generally lower margins (though Pivotal might disagree) due to increased competition from other open source projects, and it’s not difficult to understand why it’s harder for commercial organizations to extract revenue relative to proprietary competitors. Red Hat, then, is the exception that proves the rule.

EUPL Becomes GPLv3-compatible, GPL Defended by Courts

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GNU
Legal
  • European Commission updates EUPL open source licence

    The European Commission has updated the European Union Public Licence (EUPL). Version 1.2 has a wider coverage, making it easier to use the licence to publish data, documents, technical specifications and standards, as well as software source code. In addition, the new licence is compatible with a wider range of other free and open source software licences, including the GNU Public Licence v3.

  • 100 Million Reasons For Open Source Compliance

    CoKinetic Systems Corporation filed suit against Panasonic Avionics Corporation, seeking damages in excess of $100 million, in part, for violation of the GPL v2 open source license. CoKinetic alleged that Panasonic blocked competitors from having the ability to develop software for Panasonic’s In-flight Entertainment (IFE) hardware by refusing to distribute the source code for its open-source Linux based operating system. CoKinetic alleged that this software controls the basic functions of Panasonic IFE hardware systems. According to CoKinetic, this is a willful violation of the GPL License, exposing Panasonic as a willful infringer of the copyrights of thousands of software developers that have contributed to Linux. The suit includes other very interesting legal claims, detailed below.

  • Artifex v. Hancom: Open Source is Now an Enforceable Contract

    Today, as much as 50 percent of the code used in all software (including Internet of Things devices) is comprised of open source software. While open source provides a convenient short cut for software developers to be more agile and efficient – there’s also a hidden risk: The law. While open source components are by definition free and available for anyone to use – there are limitations and most open source components have licensing obligations that developers must comply with.

The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews AJ Jordon of gplenforced.org

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GNU
Legal

So basically Bradley Kuhn gave a talk at FOSDEM '17 about GPL enforcement and I was like, wow, it sucks how many companies and people think that enforcing the GPL is a bad idea. I mean, if you disagree with copyleft that's fine (though I personally would argue with that position), but then you should use a suitable license. Like MIT. The very idea that we shouldn't enforce the GPL just doesn't make sense to me because it suggests that the text of the license is watery and unimportant. I don't know about you, but when I say I want my programs to respect users' freedom, I mean it.

So GPL enforcement is important. It seemed to me that there are probably a lot of developers out there who want to support GPL enforcement but don't have a good way to voice that support. gplenforced.org is essentially a quick and dirty hack I wrote to make that dead-simple.

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A federal court has ruled that an open-source license is an enforceable contract

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GNU
Legal

When the South Korean developer of a suite of productivity apps called Hancom Office incorporated an open-source PDF interpreter called Ghostscript into its word-processing software, it was supposed to do one of two things.

To use Ghostscript for free, Hancom would have to adhere to its open-source license, the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GNU GPL requires that when you use GPL-licensed software to make some other software, the resulting software also has to be open-sourced with the same license if it’s released to the public. That means Hancom would have to open-source its entire suite of apps.

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No More MP3 (Software) Patents is Good News for GNU/Linux

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Red Hat
Legal

  • Full MP3 Support Being Added To Fedora Linux

    Fedora Workstation last year enabled support for MP3 decoding on this Red Hat Linux distribution while now they are enabling MP3 encoding support too.

    With the last of the MP3 patents expiring, there is MP3 encoding support being added to Fedora to finally provide a full MP3 support experience atop this distribution.

  • Full MP3 support coming soon to Fedora

    Both MP3 encoding and decoding will soon be officially supported in Fedora. Last November the patents covering MP3 decoding expired and Fedora Workstation enabled MP3 decoding via the mpg123 library and GStreamer. This update allowed users with the gstreamer1-plugin-mpg123 package installed on their systems to listen to MP3 encoded music.

Court Upholds Enforceability of Open Source Licenses

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GNU
OSS
Legal

The District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued an opinion that is being hailed as a victory for open source software. In this case, the court denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging violation of an open source software license, paving the way for further action enforcing the conditions of the GNU General Public License (“GPL”).

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Is The GPL Really Declining?

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GNU
Legal

At the huge FOSDEM developer meetup in Brussels in early February, I attended a panel where speakers discussed whether the use of “permissive” open source licenses like the Apache License is now outstripping use of “viral” licenses, such as the GPL. The discussion was spirited, with advocates associated with the Free Software Foundation pushing back on the assertion the GPL is “dying”.

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More in Tux Machines

Development Functional Programming in JavaScript and Learning to Code

  • An introduction to functional programming in JavaScript
    When Brendan Eich created JavaScript in 1995, he intended to do Scheme in the browser. Scheme, being a dialect of Lisp, is a functional programming language. Things changed when Eich was told that the new language should be the scripting language companion to Java. Eich eventually settled on a language that has a C-style syntax (as does Java), yet has first-class functions. Java technically did not have first-class functions until version 8, however you could simulate first-class functions using anonymous classes. Those first-class functions are what makes functional programming possible in JavaScript. JavaScript is a multi-paradigm language that allows you to freely mix and match object-oriented, procedural, and functional paradigms. Recently there has been a growing trend toward functional programming. In frameworks such as Angular and React, you'll actually get a performance boost by using immutable data structures. Immutability is a core tenet of functional programming. It, along with pure functions, makes it easier to reason about and debug your programs. Replacing procedural loops with functions can increase the readability of your program and make it more elegant. Overall, there are many advantages to functional programming.
  • Learning to Code in One’s Own Language
    I recently published a paper with Sayamindu Dasgupta that provides evidence in support of the idea that kids can learn to code more quickly when they are programming in their own language. Millions of young people from around the world are learning to code. Often, during their learning experiences, these youth are using visual block-based programming languages like Scratch, App Inventor, and Code.org Studio. In block-based programming languages, coders manipulate visual, snap-together blocks that represent code constructs instead of textual symbols and commands that are found in more traditional programming languages.
  • [Older] RcppArmadillo 0.7.900.2.0

Intel Core i7 7740X Preliminary Benchmarks On Linux

For those not yet well briefed on the Core-X series since the embargo expiry last week, the i7-7740X has four cores plus Hyper Threading. It has a 4.3GHz base frequency with 4.5GHz turbo frequency and an 8MB cache. The i7-7740X has a 112 Watt TDP, natively supports DDR4-2666 of dual-channel memory, and foregoes any integrated graphics. Read more

Security: Another Massive, Worldwide Ransom Attack on Microsoft Windows, Security News About GNU/Linux

  • NSA-linked tools help power second global ransomware outbreak [Ed: And neglecting to mention it targets Microsoft Windows. Why?]
  • Hacker Behind Massive Ransomware Outbreak Can't Get Emails from Victims Who Paid
    On Tuesday, a new, worldwide ransomware outbreak took off, infecting targets in Ukraine, France, Spain, and elsewhere. The hackers hit everything from international law firms to media companies. The ransom note demands victims send bitcoin to a predefined address and contact the hacker via email to allegedly have their files decrypted.
  • Digital signatures in package management
    Serious distributions try to protect their repositories cryptographically against tampering and transmission errors. Arch Linux, Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu all take different, complex, but conceptually similar approaches. Many distributions develop, test, build, and distribute their software via a heterogeneous zoo of servers, mirrors, and workstations that make central management and protection of the end product almost impossible. In terms of personnel, distributions also depend on the collaboration of a severely limited number of international helpers. This technical and human diversity creates a massive door for external and internal attackers who seek to infect popular distribution packages with malware. During updates, then, hundreds of thousands of Linux machines download and install poisoned software with root privileges. The damage could hardly be greater. The danger is less abstract than some might think. Repeatedly in the past, projects have had to take down one or more servers after hacker attacks. The motivation of (at least) all the major distributions to protect themselves from planted packages is correspondingly large and boils down to two actions: one simple and one cryptographic.
  • This Windows Defender bug was so gaping its PoC exploit had to be encrypted
    Microsoft recently patched a critical vulnerability in its ubiquitous built-in antivirus engine. The vulnerability could have allowed attackers to execute malicious code by luring users to a booby-trapped website or attaching a booby-trapped file to an e-mail or instant message.
  • [Older] Reproducible Builds: week 110 in Stretch cycle
  • [Older] Free Market Security
    I think there are many of us in security who keep waiting for demand to appear for more security. We keep watching and waiting, any day now everyone will see why this matters! It's not going to happen though. We do need security more and more each day. The way everything is heading, things aren't looking great. I'd like to think we won't have to wait for the security equivalent of a river catching on fire, but I'm pretty sure that's what it will take.
  • Linux Systems in the Hackers' Cross Hairs [Ed: This is a rewrite of a press release below. Phil Muncaster could certainly have done better than this.]
  • New Research Shows Cybersecurity Battleground Shifting to Linux and Web Servers
    "This new Firebox Feed data allows us to feel the pulse of the latest network attacks and malware trends in order to identify patterns that influence the constantly evolving threat landscape," said Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer at WatchGuard Technologies. "The Q1 report findings continue to reinforce the importance and effectiveness of basic security policies, layered defenses and advanced malware prevention. We urge readers to examine the report's key takeways and best practices, and bring them to the forefront of information security efforts within their organizations."

Ubuntu Kylin, a Linux Distribution with a Microsoft Windows Experience

Ubuntu Kylin is an open-source Linux distribution based on Ubuntu since 2013, mainly developed by a Chinese team alongside dozens of Linux developers all over the world. It contains the basic features you would expect from Ubuntu, plus features a desktop environment and applications. As far as we know, Ubuntu Kylin is one of the most suitable Linux distributions for users who are farmiliar with Microsoft Windows, including its desktop environment, office suite and various applications. Read more