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It's Time To Reject The Latest Attack On Open Source Software

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OSS
Legal

Open source software is under attack. Again. And so it's beholden on all of us to take a stand before the current scourge marginalizes the wonderous benefits of open source (which accrue to every human) and the organization which looks after both the sanctity of the open source movement and the integrity of the licenses behind it: the Open Source Initiative.

Whether you know it or not, all humans are the beneficiaries of open source software in almost everything we do in our digital lives. Most of everything we use -- the smartphones, the cable modem routers, our desktops and laptops, the Web sites and services we access, the APIs at work under the hood of it all -- is built using open source software (in all or in part). It can be easily argued that all of our user experiences would be a lot suckier and slower were it not for the open source model and how it drives innovation (much of it charitable) which trickles into every digital moment without exception. Some experiences that add value to our lives might not exist at all were it not for open source.

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Also: Open Source Devs Reverse Decision to Block ICE Contractors From Using Software

Licensing/Legal: Public Money, Public Code and Linux Foundation Stuff

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OSS
Legal
  • Software created using taxpayers’ money should be Free Software

    It might seem obvious that software created using tax money should be available for everyone to use and improve. Free Software Foundation Europe recentlystarted a campaign to help get more people to understand this, and I just signed the petition on Public Money, Public Code to help them. I hope you too will do the same.

  • Major Open Source Project Revokes Access to Companies That Work with ICE [iophk: "former open source now ... however, it is their code and they can change the license"]

     

    On Tuesday, the developers behind a widely used open source code-management software called Lerna modified the terms and conditions of its use to prohibit any organization that collaborates with ICE from using the software. Among the companies and organizations that were specifically banned were Palantir, Microsoft, Amazon, Northeastern University, Motorola, Dell, UPS, and Johns Hopkins University.  

  • Solving License Compliance at the Source: Adding SPDX License IDs

    Accurately identifying the license for open source software is important for license compliance. However, determining the license can sometimes be difficult due to a lack of information or ambiguous information. Even when there is some licensing information present, a lack of consistent ways of expressing the license can make automating the task of license detection very difficult, thus requiring significant amounts of manual human effort. There are some commercial tools applying machine learning to this problem to reduce the false positives, and train the license scanners, but a better solution is to fix the problem at the upstream source.

    In 2013, the U-boot project decided to use the SPDX license identifiers in each source file instead of the GPL v2.0 or later header boilerplate that had been used up to that point. The initial commit message had an eloquent explanation of reasons behind this transition.

  • Arm and Facebook join Yocto Project

    Arm and Facebook have joined Intel and TI as Platinum members of the Yocto Project for embedded Linux development. Meanwhile, the Linux Foundation announced 47 new Silver members.

    The Linux Foundation’s seven-year old Yocto Project was originally an Intel project, and the chipmaker has continued to nurture it over the years. Yet, the Yocto Project’s collection of open source templates, tools, and methods for creating custom embedded Linux-based systems was quickly embraced by the Arm world as well as x86. Now, the technology’s presence in Arm Linux has been reinforced at the membership level with Arm and Facebook joining Intel and Texas Instruments as Platinum members. In other news, the Linux Foundation announced 51 new Silver and Associate members (see farther below).

  • Google Hands Off Kubernetes to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Kinetica Joins Automotive Grade Linux, NordVPN Releases NordVPN Linux App, Storj Labs Announces The Open Source Partner Program and Update on Librem 5 Phone

    Google is handing over control of the Kubernetes project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. According to the TechCrunch post, Google is providing the foundation $9 million in Google Cloud credits to help cover the costs of building, testing and distributing the software.

Redis modules and the Commons Clause

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OSS
Legal

The "Commons Clause", which is a condition that can be added to an open-source license, has been around for a few months, but its adoption by Redis Labs has some parts of the community in something of an uproar. At its core, using the clause is meant to ensure that those who are "selling" Redis modules (or simply selling access to them in the cloud) are prohibited from doing so—at least without a separate, presumably costly, license from Redis Labs. The clause effectively tries to implement a "no commercial use" restriction, though it is a bit more complicated than that. No commercial use licenses are not new—the "open core" business model is a more recent cousin, for example—but they have generally run aground on a simple question: "what is commercial use?"

Redis is a popular in-memory database cache that is often used by web applications. Various pieces of it are licensed differently; the "Redis core" is under the BSD license, some modules are under either Apache v2.0 or MIT, and a handful of modules that Redis Labs created are under Apache v2.0, now with Commons Clause attached. Cloud services (e.g. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and other smaller players) provide Redis and its modules to their customers and, naturally, charge for doing so. The "charge" part is what the adoption of the clause is trying to stamp out—at least without paying Redis Labs.

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Copyrights on APIs (Java) Update

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Development
Legal
  • No do-overs! Appeals court won’t hear $8.8bn Oracle v Google rehash

    Over eight years of feuding between Oracle and Google over the use of Java code in Android may be nearing its end following a Tuesday court ruling.

    The US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has declined [PDF] to re-hear the case in which it found Google to be in violation of Oracle’s copyright on Android API code. The Chocolate Factory faces a demand from Oracle for $8.8bn in damages.

    Tuesday’s ruling means that the only remaining hope for Google to avoid a massive payout to Oracle is a hearing and decision from the US Supreme Court, something Google said it will pursue after today's verdict.

    "We are disappointed that the Federal Circuit overturned the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone," Google told The Register.

  • Federal Circuit denies Oracle v Google en banc rehearing

    Google has already said it will appeal to the Supreme Court in the latest development in the dispute over unauthorised use of 37 packages of Oracle’s Java application programming interface

Open-source licensing war: Commons Clause

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OSS
Legal

Most people wouldn't know an open-source license from their driver's license. For those who work with open-source software, it's a different story. Open-source license fights can be vicious, cost serious coin, and determine the fate of multi-million dollar companies. So, when Redis Labs added a new license clause, Commons Clause, on top of Redis, an open-source, BSD licensed, in-memory data structure store, all hell broke loose.

Why? First, you need to understand that while you may never have heard of Redis, it's a big deal. It enables real-time applications such as advertising, gaming financial services, and IoT to work at speed. That's because it can deliver sub-millisecond response times to millions of requests per second.

But Redis Labs has been unsuccessful in monetizing Redis, or at least not as successful as they'd like. Their executives were discovering, like the far more well-known Docker, that having a great open-source technology did not mean you'd be making millions. Redis' solution was to embrace Commons Clause.

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GPL Violations Cost Creality a US Distributor

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OSS
Legal

One of the core tenets of free and open source software licenses is that you’re being provided source code for a project with the hope that you’ll “pay it forward” if and when you utilize that code. In fact some licenses, such as the GNU Public License (GPL), require that you keep the source code for subsequent spin-offs or forks open. These are known as viral licenses, and the hope is that they will help spread the use of open source as derivative works can’t turn around and refuse to release their source code.

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Deutsche Bahn Intercity software under EUPL

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OSS
Legal

This software, distributed under the EUPL, is the open European Train Control System (OpenETCS), the signalling and control component of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). It is kind of positive train control, replacing the many incompatible safety systems previously used by European railways. It is becoming a standard that was also adopted outside Europe and is an option for worldwide application. It is managed by the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) and it is a legal requirement that all new, upgraded or renewed tracks and rolling stock in the European railway system should adopt it, possibly keeping legacy systems for backward compatibility

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The Commons Clause – Helpful New Tool or the End of the Open Source as We Know it?

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Legal

Almost nothing inspires a spirited discussion among the open source faithful as much as introducing a new open source license, or a major change in an existing license’s terms. In the case of version 3 of the GPL, the update process took years and involved dozens of lawyers in addition to community members. So, it’s no surprise that the pot is already boiling over something called the “Commons Clause.” How energetically? Well, one blog entry posted yesterday was titled The Commons Clause Will Destroy Open Source. The spark that turned up the heat was the announcement the same day by RedisLabs that it was adopting the license language.

The clause itself is short (you can find it here, together with an explanatory FAQ). It was drafted by Heather Meeker, an attorney with long open source involvement, in conjunction with “a group of developers behind many of the world’s most popular open source projects.”

It’s also simple in concept: basically, it gives a developer the right to make sure no one can make money out of her code – whether by selling, hosting, or supporting it – unless the Commons Clause code is a minor part of a larger software product. In one way, that’s in the spirit of a copyleft license (i.e., a prohibition on commercial interests taking advantage of a programmer’s willingness to make her code available for free), but it also violates the “Four Freedoms” of Free and Open Source software as well as the Open Source Definition by placing restrictions on reuse, among other issues.

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Stop Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh to protect free software!

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GNU
Legal

United States Supreme Court judges serve from the time they are appointed until they choose to retire -- it's a lifetime appointment. One judge recently stepped down, and Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to fill the empty seat. He comes with a firm stance against net neutrality.

Last year he wrote:

Supreme Court precedent establishes that Internet service providers have a First Amendment right to exercise editorial discretion over whether and how to carry Internet content.

Here, Kavanaugh argues that controlling the way you use the Internet is a First Amendment right that ISPs -- companies, not people -- hold. The First Amendment, which guarantees Americans the right to free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to congregate, is one of the most dearly-held amendments of the United States Constitution. With this statement, he says that net neutrality protections -- policies that prevent companies from "editorializing" what you see on the Web -- is a violation of the Constitution. He believes net neutrality is unconstitutional. We know he's wrong.

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Also: LibreJS 7.15 released

EA Kills "Open Source" Version Of SimCity 2000

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OSS
Legal
  • Electronic Arts shuts down the open source SimCity 2000 fan remake

    Electronic Arts has taken down the open source fan remake of SimCity 2000, OpenSC2K. According to the DMCA notice, OpenSC2K uses assets from SimCity 2000 and since these assets are under copyrights, they should not be used in free remakes or projects.

  • EA Takes Down ‘Open Source’ SimCity 2000 Remake

    Electronic Arts has asked GitHub to remove a fan-created remake of the classic SimCity 2000 release. While the original game is a quarter-century old, the publisher points out that the assets are not free to use, adding that a copy of the game can still be purchased legally.

  • EA Kills "Open Source" Version Of SimCity 2000

    Earlier this year, a game called OpenSC2K was released on GitHub, claiming to be a free, open source version of Maxis’ classic. Turns out it wasn’t as open source as it could have been, though, because EA have had the game removed from the platform.

    As TorrentFreak report, the art assets used in OpenSC2K were lifted straight from the 1993 original, so EA have filed a DMCA request against the project that led to its removal (remember that SimCity 2000 is still commercially available on Origin).

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Debian Installer Buster Alpha 4 release

The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the fourth alpha release of the installer for Debian 10 "Buster". Foreword ======== I'd like to start by thanking Christian Perrier, who spent many years working on Debian Installer, especially on internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) topics. One might remember graphs and blog posts on Planet Debian with statistics; keeping track of those numbers could look like a pure mathematical topic, but having uptodate translations is a key part of having a Debian Installer that is accessible for most users. Thank you so much, Christian! Read more Also: Debian Installer Buster Alpha 4 Released