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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).

LibreOffice With Microsoft DRM and a Tax

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LibO
Microsoft
Legal

Licensing With GPL: Greater Certainty

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GNU
Red Hat
Legal
  • A Movement Builds as a Diverse Group of 14 Additional Leaders Seek Greater Predictability in Open Source Licensing

    Today’s announcement demonstrates the expanded breadth and depth of support for the GPL Cooperation Commitment. Companies adopting the commitment now span geographic regions, include eight Fortune 100 companies, and represent a wide range of industries from enterprise software and hardware to consumer electronics, chip manufacturing to cloud computing, and social networking to automotive. The companies making the commitment represent more than 39 percent of corporate contributions to the Linux kernel, including six of the top 10 corporate contributors.1

  • ARM: Arm joins industry leaders in commitment to fair enforcement of open source licenses

    Today, Red Hat announced that several leading technology companies, including Arm, are joining a diverse coalition of organizations that have come together to promote greater predictability in open source license enforcement. Alongside Amazon, Canonical, Linaro, Toyota, VMware and many others we have committed to ensure fair opportunity for our licensees to correct errors in compliance with their GPL and LGPL licensed software before taking action to terminate the licenses.

  • Debian "stretch" 9.5 Update Now Available, Red Hat Announces New Adopters of the GPL Cooperation Commitment, Linux Audio Conference 2018 Videos Now Available, Latte Dock v0.8 Released and More

    Red Hat announced that 14 additional companies have adopted the GPL Cooperation Commitment, which means that "more than 39 percent of corporate contributions to the Linux kernel, including six of the top 10 contributors" are now represented. According to the Red Hat press release, these commitments "reflect the belief that responsible compliance in open source licensing is important and that license enforcement in the open source ecosystem operates by different norms." Companies joining the growing movement include Amazon, Arm, Canonical, GitLab, Intel Corporation, Liferay, Linaro, MariaDB, NEC, Pivotal, Royal Philips, SAS, Toyota and VMware.

Codecs and Patents

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Moz/FF
OSS
Legal
  • An Invisible Tax on the Web: Video Codecs

    Here’s a surprising fact: It costs money to watch video online, even on free sites like YouTube. That’s because about 4 in 5 videos on the web today rely on a patented technology called the H.264 video codec.

    A codec is a piece of software that lets engineers shrink large media files and transmit them quickly over the internet. In browsers, codecs decode video files so we can play them on our phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. As web users, we take this performance for granted. But the truth is, companies pay millions of dollars in licensing fees to bring us free video.

    It took years for companies to put this complex, global set of legal and business agreements in place, so H.264 web video works everywhere. Now, as the industry shifts to using more efficient video codecs, those businesses are picking and choosing which next-generation technologies they will support. The fragmentation in the market is raising concerns about whether our favorite web past-time, watching videos, will continue to be accessible and affordable to all.

  • AV1, Opportunity or Threat for POWER and ARM Servers?

    While I haven’t seen an official announcement, Phoronix reported that the AV1 git repository was tagged 1.0, so the launch announcement is imminent. If you haven’t heard about it already, AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is an open, royalty-free video coding format by the Alliance for Open Media.

  • VP9 & AV1 Have More Room To Improve For POWER & ARM Architectures

    Luc Trudeau, a video compression wizard and co-author of the AV1 royalty-free video format, has written a piece about the optimization state for video formats like VP9 and AV1 on POWER and ARM CPU architectures.

Open-source Moodle wins injunctions in Kiwi partner stoush

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OSS
Legal

The High Court in Auckland has granted injunctions and other relief to open source learning management platform Moodle after a falling out with a former partner.

Free and open source Moodle was created by Martin Dougiamas beginning in 1999 and is based in Perth, Western Australia.

Injunctions have been granted to protect Moodle's trademark from use by former Moodle partners and associates 123 Internet, Moodle Partners NZ, Onlearn Ltd and Gary Trevor Benner.

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D-Link and the GPL

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GNU
Legal

It tells me to go to D-Link’s page for GPL licensed software to get the source code. It also lets me write a request the source code on physical media for a nominal fee for the media and handling. Something I naturally did (being an engineer on vacation).

While waiting for a reply, let’s have a look at the online version. When entering the URL provided you have to click through an agreement that I understand what GPL and LGPL means and that the files distributed comes with no warranties (they spend more words saying this – read it if you want the details). Clicking “I Agree” I get a popup (back to the 90’s) asking me to register my product to enjoy all the benefits of doing so. At the same time the main window continues to a list of all D-Link products containing (L)GPL software – very nice.

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How the Apache License allows open source to thrive

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OSS
Legal

Open source is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and so is the Apache License. The Apache License is a permissive free software license that is currently in its third iteration. The license allows customers to use intellectual property for any purpose, such as modifying or distributing it.

According to Roman Shaposhnik, member of the Apache Software Foundation board of directors, the license was created from a combination of business interests and a desire of the Apache Group (which later became the Apache Software Foundation) to ensure that the community around Apache httpd web server grew. That Apache web server was actually the first project to be licensed under the Apache License, Shaposhnik said.

“These licenses help us achieve our goal of providing reliable and long-lived software products through collaborative open source software development. In all cases, contributors retain full rights to use their original contributions for any other purpose outside of Apache while providing the ASF and its projects the right to distribute and build upon their work within Apache,” the Apache Software Foundation wrote on their website.

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Article 13 – An Existential Threat to Free Software

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OSS
Legal

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a letter from more than 70 leaders in the emerging meshed society (including me) which criticises Article 13 of the European Union’s proposed new copyright regulations. This Article starts from the assumption that the only role of an individual is to consume copyrighted works and hence deduces that any act of publication on the part of an individual must be infringing the copyrights of a corporation unless proven otherwise. The text doesn’t state things that clearly, but the effect is unmistakeable. It’s as if a politician was proposing to ban syringes because addicts use them, without considering that hospitals do too.

The regulations go on to use the power of “safe harbour” – an increasingly popular legislative device that grants delay or immunity from prosecution as a party to an offence to a company if it can demonstrate it has taken specified actions. For example. it’s “safe harbour” that induces YouTube to take down your videos when a copyright holder asserts the bird song in the background is in fact a song they published. Getting that video re-posted involves you, an individual, taking on terrifying potential liability in the event the copyright holder litigates so YouTube can be absolved of it.

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Security: 'Cyber' Wars, IPFS, Updates and PHP FUD

Graphics: CodeXL, X.Org Server, FreeDesktop.org and SIMD32

  • CodeXL 2.6 is released!
    For current users of CodeXL, this new release may look and feel a little different. The AMD Developer Tools team has been busy working on many new tools, some of which replicate functionality found in older versions of CodeXL. Thus, to limit confusion for our users, we have removed several major components from CodeXL.
  • AMD CodeXL 2.6 Advances GPU Profiling, Static Analysis & GPU Debugging
    But what is found within CodeXL 2.6 for GPU developers are the GPU profiling features, static analysis features, and GPU debugging features.
  • [ANNOUNCE] xorg-server 1.20.2
    Lots of bugfixes all over the map. Thanks to all for testing and patches!
  • X.Org Server 1.20.2 Released With A Bunch Of Bug Fixes
    It's almost been a half-year already since the release of the long delayed X.Org Server 1.20, but with no signs of X.Org Server 1.21 releasing soon, xorg-server 1.20.2 was announced today as the latest stable point release.
  • FreeDesktop.org Might Formally Join Forces With The X.Org Foundation
    FreeDesktop.org is already effectively part of X.Org given the loose structure of FreeDesktop.org, the key members/administrators being part of both projects, and FreeDesktop.org long being the de facto hosting platform from the X.Org Server to Mesa and much more. But now they may be officially joining forces. As a formality, the X.Org Foundation is seeking to change their foundation's by-laws to reflect that the X.Org Foundation shall also "Support free and open source projects through the freedesktop.org infrastructure. For projects outside the scope [of the X.Org Foundation] support extends to project hosting only."
  • Experimental Patches For Using SIMD32 Fragment Shaders With Intel's Linux Driver
    Existing Intel graphics hardware already supports SIMD32 fragment shaders and the Intel open-source Linux graphics driver has supported this mode for months, but it hasn't been enabled. That though is in the process of changing. Since June the Intel Mesa driver's fragment shader code has supported the SIMD32 mode supported by the past number of generations of Intel graphics hardware, but it hasn't actually been turned on. That enabling wasn't done over not having the heuristics in place for determining when to enable it over the other code paths.

8 of the Best Free Linux Comic Book Viewers (Updated 2018)

A comic book is a magazine which consists of narrative artwork in the form of sequential images with text that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanied by brief descriptive prose and written narrative, usually dialog contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form. Comics are used to tell a story, and are published in a number of different formats including comic strips, comic books, webcomics, Manga, and graphic novels. Some comics have been published in a tabloid form. The largest comic book market is Japan. Many users associate desktop Linux with their daily repetitive grind. However, we are always on the look out for applications that help make Linux fun to use. It really is a great platform for entertainment. Some document viewers offer a good range of different formats. Although they are not dedicated comic book viewers, Evince and okular have support for the common comic book archive files, and merit mention here. Read more