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Legal

A referendum on GPL enforcement

Filed under
GNU
Legal

One of the key provisions of the GNU General Public License (GPL) is that derivative products must also be released under the GPL. A great many companies rigorously follow the terms of the license, while others avoid GPL-licensed software altogether because they are unwilling to follow those terms. Some companies, though, seem to feel that the terms of the GPL do not apply to them, presenting the copyright holder with two alternatives: find a way to get those companies to change their behavior, or allow the terms of the license to be flouted. In recent times, little effort has gone into the first option; depending on the results of an ongoing fundraising campaign, that effort may drop to nearly zero. We would appear to be at a decision point with regard to how (and whether) we would like to see GPL enforcement done within our community.

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German court addresses GPLv3 section 8 termination provisions

Filed under
OSS
Legal

GPLv2, first published in 1991, provides for automatic termination of the license in the event of violation, with no stated opportunity for cure. By the time of the drafting of GPLv3, the Free Software Foundation, steward of the GPL license family, had come to consider automatic termination to be an unduly harsh policy. GPLv3, introduced in 2007, formally retained automatic termination in its section 8 but moderated it in certain ways, including by providing for automatic reinstatement of the license for first-time GPLv3 violators who cure the violation prior to 30 days after receiving notice from the copyright holder. The precise wording of section 8 was drafted with German preliminary injunction procedure in mind.

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FOSS projects and their legal structures

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Free Software has been growing pretty much everywhere around the world, and so much so that we now face challenges nobody would have thought possible even ten years ago. One of these unexpected issues is the need for proper legal structures. Traditionally, only a handful of entities used to exist. They could be dedicated to one, large project or act as a hub for a “forge” or a set of more or less related projects: that’s the case with the Eclipse or the Apache Software Foundation. Others were one of kind: Software In the Public interest, SPI, is handling funds for large and small projects and has been doing so for well over 15 years. The Free Software Foundation both directly and through the Free Software Conservancy has also hosted many FOSS projects developments, infrastructure and financial resources.

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Leftovers: FSF/GNU

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Fighting For Social Justice Is a Major Contribution to Society

    I have something to say that I'm sure everyone is going to consider controversial. I've been meaning to say it for some time, and I realize that it's going to get some annoyance from all sides of this debate. Conservancy may lose Supporters over this, even though this is my personal blog and my personal opinion, and views expressed here aren't necessarily Conservancy's views. I've actually been meaning to write this publicly for a year. I just have to say it now, because there's yet another event on this issue caused yet another a war of words in our community.

  • Software Freedom Conservancy needs your support!

    Last August, Debian and Conservancy announced a partnership and formed the Copyright Aggregation Project where, among other things, Conservancy will be able to hold copyrights for some Debian works and ensure compliance with copyleft so that those works remain in free software.

  • The Free Software Foundation Updates Its Gift Giving Guide

Leftovers: FSF/GNU

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Software Freedom Conservancy Launches 2015 Fundraiser

    Today Software Freedom Conservancy announces a major fundraising effort. Pointing to the difficulty of relying on corporate funding while pursuing important but controversial issues, like GPL compliance, Conservancy has structured its fundraiser to increase individual support. The organization needs at least 750 annual Supporters to continue its basic community services and 2500 to avoid hibernating its enforcement efforts. If Conservancy does not meet its goals, it will be forced to radically restructure and wind down a substantial portion of its operations.

  • GIMP 2.8.16 Has Been Released
  • 20 Years of GIMP Evolution: Step by Step

    GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) – superb open source and free graphics editor. Development began in 1995 as students project of the University of California, Berkeley by Peter Mattis and Spencer Kimball. In 1997 the project was renamed in “GIMP” and became an official part of GNU Project. During these years the GIMP is one of the best graphics editor and platinum holy wars “GIMP vs Photoshop” – one of the most popular.

  • Infinity status

    I’m winding down for a month away from Infinity. The current status is that the language and note format changes for 0.0.2 are all done. Y

European Patent Office Threatens Blogger With Defamation Lawsuit For Criticism

Filed under
Legal
Misc

In fact, to argue that Schestowitz's post is defamatory is crazy. Threatening Schestowitz with a defamation claim is much crazier and dangerous than even Schestowitz's own interpretation of the EPO's memo. If you're working for a government agency, such as the EPO, you have to be willing to accept some amount of criticism, even if you disagree with it. To claim it's defamation and to threaten a lawsuit is really, really screwed up.

[...]

I'm having trouble thinking of any other governmental agency that has ever threatened a public critic with defamation. Basic concepts around free speech suggest that the EPO should suck it up. If it disagrees with Schestowitz's interpretation of what it's doing, then it can come out and explain its side of the story. Threatening him with defamation actually only makes me think that perhaps his interpretation hits closer to home than I originally believed.

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TPP Article 14.17 & Free Software: No Harm, No Foul

Filed under
GNU
Legal

The first official public release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (known universally as the TPP) on November 5, 2015 generated much heated speculation. The ideal of “open agreements, openly arrived at” remains regrettably unattainable in international affairs. “Fast track” trade negotiating authority in the US means that parties excluded from the negotiating process have a short time in which to mobilize for or against the treaty as a whole in light of their specific concerns. The premium on speed of response to a very lengthy and complex legal document—and the presence of intense public attention—guarantees that hasty judgment and occasional self-promotion will always outrun professional analysis; this is one of the inherent defects of secret legislation.

In this context, early commentary on the TPP draft included much speculation that one provision in the draft’s chapter on electronic commerce might have serious negative consequences for free software and open source licensing, distribution, or government acquisition. Some lay readers marched immediately to the conclusion that, in less than 200 words ostensibly about something else, the negotiators had (a) abolished free licensing; (Cool prohibited governments from acquiring, supporting or preferring free software; or (c) had interfered with the enforcement of free licenses. Other non-professional readers invented complex demonstrations that one or more of these catastrophes had not occurred.

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Supercharging your router with third-party Wi-Fi firmware is just fine, says FCC

Filed under
OSS
Legal

LITIGATION VS FREE SOFTWARE

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Alice Corporation, a non-practice patent-holding entity, held patents on a method, system, and process for a particular type of financial risk hedging: namely, that one party to a set of financial transactions won’t pay at one or more stages in the set. This risk is known as “settlement risk”. Alice’s patents describe using a computer to keep track of the transactions between the parties. If the computer determines that a party does not have sufficient funds to pay their obligations to the other side, then the transaction is blocked. Litigation against CLS Bank International for alleged infringement of these patented ideas started in 2007, eventually winding its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Writing for a unanimous court, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas begins with a brief description of what the patents claimed. There are effectively three different types of claims made: “(1) the foregoing method for exchanging obligations (the method claims), (2) a computer system configured to carry out the method for exchanging obligations (the system claims), and (3) a computer-readable medium containing program code for performing the method of exchanging obligations (the media claims)” (page 3 of the ruling).

Thomas then goes on to cite the court’s recent ruling in Mayo vs Prometheus, which established a test to determine which inventions incorporating abstract ideas are patent-eligible: “First, we determine whether the claims at issue are directed to one of those patent-ineligible concepts” (page 7). If it is so directed, then the court looks at “the elements of each claim both individually and ‘as an ordered combination’ to determine whether the additional elements ‘transform the nature of the claim’ into a patent-eligible application” (page 7). This is what Thomas refers to as “a search for an ‘inventive concept’” (page 7).

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FCC: We aren’t banning DD-WRT on Wi-Fi routers

Filed under
Legal

Back in March, the FCC issued a Software Security Requirements document that said manufacturers applying for equipment authorizations should "Describe in detail how the device is protected from 'flashing' and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT." Applicants also had to answer the question, "What prevents third parties from loading non-US versions of the software/firmware on the device?"

Upon receiving criticism, the FCC insisted that there was no ban on software like DD-WRT and OpenWRT, saying instead manufacturers must prevent devices from working outside their allowed frequencies, types of modulation, and power levels so as not to interfere with other systems.

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More in Tux Machines

Openwashing Apple and Microsoft Proprietary Frameworks/Services

Viperr Linux Keeps Crunchbang Alive with a Fedora Flair

Do you remember Crunchbang Linux? Crunchbang (often referred to as #!) was a fan-favorite, Debian-based distribution that focused on using a bare minimum of resources. This was accomplished by discarding the standard desktop environment and using a modified version of the Openbox Window Manager. For some, Crunchbang was a lightweight Linux dream come true. It was lightning fast, easy to use, and hearkened back to the Linux of old. Read more

Openwashing Cars

  • Open source: sharing patents to speed up innovation
    Adjusting to climate change will require a lot of good ideas. The need to develop more sustainable forms of industry in the decades ahead demands vision and ingenuity. Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, believes he has found a way for companies to share their breakthroughs and speed up innovation. Fond of a bold gesture, the carmaker and space privateer announced back in 2014 that Tesla would make its patents on electric vehicle technology freely available, dropping the threat of lawsuits over its intellectual property (IP). Mr Musk argued the removal of pesky legal barriers would help “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport”. The stunning move has already had an impact. Toyota has followed Tesla by sharing more than 5,600 patents related to hydrogen fuel cell cars, making them available royalty free. Ford has also decided to allow competitors to use its own electric vehicle-related patents, provided they are willing to pay for licences. Could Telsa’s audacious strategy signal a more open approach to patents among leading innovators? And if more major companies should decide to adopt a carefree attitude to IP, what are the risks involved?
  • Autonomous car platform Apollo doesn't want you to reinvent the wheel
    Open source technologies are solving many of our most pressing problems, in part because the open source model of cooperation, collaboration, and almost endless iteration creates an environment where problems are more readily solved. As the adage goes, "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." However, self-driving vehicle technology is one rapidly growing area that hasn't been greatly influenced by open source. Most of today's autonomous vehicles, including those from Volkswagen, BMW, Volvo, Uber, and Google, ride on proprietary technology, as companies seek to be the first to deliver a successful solution. That changed recently with the launch of Baidu's Apollo.

today's leftovers

  • KDE Applications 18.04 Brings Dolphin Improvements, JuK Wayland Support
    The KDE community has announced the release today of KDE Applications 18.04 as the first major update to the open-source KDE application set for 2018.
  • Plasma Startup
    Startup is one of the rougher aspects of the Plasma experience and therefore something we’ve put some time into fixing [...] The most important part of any speed work is correctly analysing it. systemd-bootchart is nearly perfect for this job, but it’s filled with a lot of system noise.
  • Announcing Virtlyst – a web interface to manage virtual machines
    Virtlyst is a web tool that allows you to manage virtual machines. In essence it’s a clone of webvirtmgr, but using Cutelyst as the backend, the reasoning behind this was that my father in law needs a server for his ASP app on a Win2k server, the server has only 4 GiB of RAM and after a week running webvirtmgr it was eating 300 MiB close to 10% of all available RAM. To get a VNC or SPICE tunnel it spawns websockify which on each new instance around 20 MiB of RAM get’s used. I found this unacceptable, a tool that is only going to be used once in a while, like if the win2k freezes or goes BSOD, CPU usage while higher didn’t play a role on this.
  • OPNFV: driving the network towards open source "Tip to Top"
    Heather provides an update on the current status of OPNFV. How is its work continuing and how is it pursuing the overall mission? Heather says much of its work is really ‘devops’ and it's working on a continuous integration basis with the other open source bodies. That work continues as more bodies join forces with the Linux Foundation. Most recently OPNFV has signed a partnership agreement with the open compute project. Heather says the overall OPNFV objective is to work towards open source ‘Tip to top’ and all built by the community in ‘open source’. “When we started, OPNFV was very VM oriented (virtual machine), but now the open source movement is looking more to cloud native and containerisation as the way forward,” she says. The body has also launched a C-RAN project to ensure that NFV will be ready to underpin 5G networks as they emerge.
  • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E07 – Seven Years in Tibet - Ubuntu Podcast
  • Failure to automate: 3 ways it costs you
    When I ask IT leaders what they see as the biggest benefit to automation, “savings” is often the first word out of their mouths. They’re under pressure to make their departments run as efficiently as possible and see automation as a way to help them do so. Cost savings are certainly a benefit of automation, but I’d argue that IT leaders who pursue automation for cost-savings alone are missing the bigger picture of how it can help their businesses. The true value of automation doesn’t lie in bringing down expenses, but rather in enabling IT teams to scale their businesses.
  • Docker Enterprise Edition 2.0 Launches With Secured Kubernetes
    After months of development effort, Kubernetes is now fully supported in the stable release of the Docker Enterprise Edition. Docker Inc. officially announced Docker EE 2.0 on April 17, adding features that have been in development in the Docker Community Edition (CE) as well as enhanced enterprise grade capabilities. Docker first announced its intention to support Kubernetes in October 2017. With Docker EE 2.0, Docker is providing a secured configuration of Kubernetes for container orchestration. "Docker EE 2.0 brings the promise of choice," Docker Chief Operating Officer Scott Johnston told eWEEK. "We have been investing heavily in security in the last few years, and you'll see that in our Kubernetes integration as well."