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Legal

3 great reasons to give away your precious tech under an open-source license

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OSS
Legal

Earlier this week, cloud provider Joyent did a surprising thing: It shared its finely tuned cloud software, SmartDataCenter, under an open-source license.

But while it might seem like the company is giving away its high-value intellectual property at a time when Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have made the public cloud market ultra-competitive, Bryan Cantrill, the company’s chief technology officer, actually has some very smart justifications for the move, which he spelled out in a blog post.

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Software Freedom Conservancy and Free Software Foundation announce copyleft.org

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GNU
Legal

This new site will not only provide a venue for those who constantly update and improve the Comprehensive Tutorial, but is also now home to a collaborative community to share and improve information about copyleft licenses, especially the GNU General Public License (GPL), and best compliance practices.

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Updated UK public information licence adds attribution

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Legal

The Open Government Licence (OGL) is recommended as the default licence for public sector information in the UK.
The licence is part of the UK Government Licensing Framework. This was launched in 2010 to organise best practices and to standardise the licensing principles for government information. By making government-held information public, the government aims to increase openness and allow others to use the information.
“The OGL permits the use and re-use of a wide range of government and other public sector information”, the National Archives said in a statement published Friday. “This supports the government's policy on transparency and open data.”

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Charting new licensing territories with the Open Definition standard

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OSS
Legal

The CC BY and CC BY-SA 4.0 licenses are conformant with the Open Definition, as are all previous versions of these licenses (1.0 – 3.0, including jurisdiction ports). The CC0 Public Domain Dedication is also aligned with the Open Definition.

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Let's Pay for Open Source with a Closed-Source Software Levy

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OSS
Legal

This column has often explored ways in which some of the key ideas underlying free software and open source are being applied in other fields. But that equivalence can flow in both directions: developments in fields outside the digital world may well have useful lessons for computing. A case in point is a fascinating post by James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a non-governmental organisation concerned with public health and other important issues.

It is called "The value of an open source dividend", and is a discussion of the problems the world of pharma faces because of the distorting effect of patents - problems it shares with the world of computing...

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Patent trolls have one fewer legal loophole to hide behind

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Legal

Using this form, patent trolls can attack their victims without having to explain why they think the patent has been infringed. A similarly weak charge in any other lawsuit could be brushed aside early in the process. By using the approved, simple form, the attacker can ensure its victims are unable to successfully stem the attack in an inexpensive "motion to dismiss."

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What Google's petition to the Supreme Court really means

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Android
Google
Legal

Google makes a series of compelling points in its petition. The company asserts that there's split opinion on the applicability of copyrights to APIs in the circuit courts -- a classic cue to SCOTUS to intervene -- and the matter is "a recurring question of exceptional importance." These points alone seem strong to me. But Google also says CAFC has made a serious error that ignores the precedent of earlier SCOTUS decisions and violates the distinction between copyright and patent as monopolies.

On the first point, Google refers back to the SCOTUS Lotus v Borland case in 1996. Google points out that "methods of operation embodied in computer programs are not entitled to copyright protection," then asserts that the Java class APIs are a method of operating the Java class implementations. Since Android's implementations of the Java APIs are Google's original work, the company claims copyright does not apply.

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Free Software & Money

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OSS
Legal

In fact, it is not really that money and Free Software are strange bedfellows. Not only is there nothing prohibiiting anyone to generate revenues with Free Software, it is even encouraged. We have adopted a (sane) practice for years, which is to provide binaries and source code of entire Free Software stacks for free. Reading the GPL you may notice that this is not at all something to be expected; if anything, you may sell your binaries tomorrow, and only give away your source code. The unhealthy part comes when the expectation that not only all this should be free, but that your time, expertise and your entire work should always remain free.

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Google, Oracle Java API copyright battle lands at Supreme Court

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Android
Google
Legal

The legal fracas started when Google copied certain elements—names, declaration, and header lines—of the Java APIs in Android, and Oracle sued. A San Francisco federal judge largely sided with Google in 2012, saying that the code in question could not be copyrighted. But the federal appeals court reversed, and ruled that the "declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection.

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As patent trolls fade, a group formed to combat them thrives

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OSS
Legal

Remember the Open Invention Network (OIN)? That's the defensive software patent community set up to protect Linux against patent aggressors. Well, it recently passed 1,000 members, growing nearly 70 percent over the last year.

Growth of this order is an interesting phenomenon. At a time when the tide seems to be turning on patent trolls as a result of the Supreme Court's decision on Alice Corporation v CLS Bank, why are so many companies still seeking mutual protection in use of the Linux System (a term defined by OIN to indicate a vast range of open source software, not just Linux)? Maybe the small trolls aren't the only problem.

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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Gaming

Leftovers: Software

  • Hyper Is a Terminal Emulator Built Using Web Technologies
    A lot of us use the terminal on Ubuntu, typically from an app like GNOME Terminal, Xterm or an app like Guake. But did you know that there’s an JS/HTML/CSS Terminal? It’s called Hyper (formerly/also known as HyperTerm, though it has no relation to the Windows terminal of the same/similar name) and, usefulness aside, it’s certainl a novel proof-of-concept. “The goal of the project,” according to the official website, “is to create a beautiful and extensible experience for command-line interface users, built on open web standards.”
  • Little Kids Having Fun With “Terminal Train” In Ubuntu Linux
    Linux is often stereotyped as the operating system for tech savvy users and developers. However, there are some fun Linux commands that one can use in spare time. A small utility named sl can be installed in Linux to play with the Terminal Train.
  • This Cool 8-Bit Desktop Wallpaper Changes Throughout The Day
    Do you want a dynamic desktop wallpaper that changes throughout the day and looks like the sort of environment you’d be able to catchPokemon in? If so, check out Bit Day wallpapers. Created by Redditor user ~BloodyMarvelous, Bit Day is a collection of 12 high-resolution pixel art wallpapers.
  • This Script Sets Wallpapers from Imgur As Your Desktop Background
    Pyckground is a simple python script that can fetch a new desktop background on the Cinnamon desktop from any Imgur gallery you want. I came across it while doing a bit of background on the Bit Day wallpaper pack, and though it was nifty enough to be of use to some of you. So how does it work?
  • Productivity++
    In keeping with tradition of LTS aftermaths, the upcoming Plasma 5.9 release – the next feature release after our first Long Term Support Edition – will be packed with lots of goodies to help you get even more productive with Plasma!
  • Core Apps Hackfest 2016: report
    I spent last weekend at the Core Apps Hackfest in Berlin. The agenda was to work on GNOME’s core applications: Documents, Files, Music, Photos, Videos, Usage, etc.; to raise their overall standard and to make them push beyond the limits of the framework. There were 19 of us and among us we covered a wide range of modules and areas of expertise. I spent most of my time on the plumbing necessary for Documents and Photos to use GtkFlowBox and GtkListBox. The innards of Photos had already been overhauled to reduce its dependency on GtkTreeModel. Going into the hackfest we were sorely lacking a widget that had all the bells and whistles we need — the idiomatic GNOME 3 selection mode, and seamlessly switching between a list and grid view. So, this is where I decided to focus my energy. As a result, we now have a work-in-progress GdMainBox widget in libgd to replace the old GtkIconView/GtkTreeView-based GdMainView.

Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

  • Did Amazon Just Kill Open Source?
    Back in the days, we used to focus on creating modular architectures. We had standard wire protocols like NFS, RPC, etc. and standard API layers like BSD, POSIX, etc. Those were fun days. You could buy products from different vendors, they actually worked well together and were interchangeable. There were always open source implementations of the standard, but people could also build commercial variations to extend functionality or durability. The most successful open source project is Linux. We tend to forget it has very strict APIs and layers. New kernel implementations must often be backed by official standards (USB, SCSI…). Open source and commercial implementations live happily side by side in Linux. If we contrast Linux with the state of open source today, we see so many implementations which overlap. Take the big data eco-systems as an example: in most cases there are no standard APIs, or layers, not to mention standard wire protocols. Projects are not interchangeable, causing a much worse lock-in than when using commercial products which conform to a common standard.
  • Firebird 3 by default in LibreOffice 5.4 (Base)
    Lots of missing features & big bugs were fixed recently . All of the blockers that were initially mentioned on tracking bug are now fixed.
  • Linux & Open Source News Of The Week — Comma.ai, Patches For Firefox and Tor, And OSS-Fuzz
  • Open Source Malaria helps students with proof of concept toxoplasmosis pill
    A team of Australian student researchers at Sydney Grammar School has managed to recreate the formula for Daraprim, the drug made (in)famous by the actions of Turing Pharmaceuticals last year when it increased the price substantially per pill. According to Futurism, the undertaking was helped along by an, “online research-sharing platform called Open Source Malaria [OSM], which aims to use publicly available drugs and medical techniques to treat malaria.” The students’ pill passed a battery of tests for purity, and ultimately cost $2 using different, more readily available components. It shows the potential of the platform, which has said elsewhere there is, “enormous potential to crowdsource new potential medicines efficiently.” Although Daraprim is already around, that it could be synthesized relatively easily without the same materials as usual is a good sign for OSM.
  • Growing the Duke University eNable chapter
    We started the Duke University eNable chapter with the simple mission of providing amputees in the Durham area of North Carolina with alternative prostheses, free of cost. Our chapter is a completely student-run organization that aims to connect amputees with 3D printed prosthetic devices. We are partnered with the Enable Community Foundation (ECF), a non-profit prosthetics organization that works with prosthetists to design and fit 3D printed prosthetic devices on amputees who are in underserved communities. As an official ECF University Chapter, we represent the organization in recipient outreach, and utilize their open sourced designs for prosthetic devices.

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