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Legal

Lawsuit threatens to break new ground on the GPL and software licensing issues

Filed under
OSS
Legal

GPLv2 is one of the most widely used FOSS licenses, if not the most. It is the license for some of the most important and commercially valuable FOSS projects, including the Linux kernel, whose contributors include such uncomfortable bedfellows as Oracle and Google, Intel and AMD, and Cisco and Huawei. If XimpleWare is right, and a license under GPLv2 offers no protection from the licensor's patents, Linux would be a landmine for these companies, and really for any company with fewer patents than IBM.

Even without an explicit patent grant, lawyers advising businesses on FOSS issues generally agree that GPLv2 protects licensees (at least those in compliance with the license terms) from patent suits by licensors. This is because the law provides for an implied license (or judicial estoppel) where a licensor's conduct leads the licensee to believe it will not be sued, or where fairness otherwise demands that the licensor should be prevented from suing. Because the GPL encourages licensees to copy, modify, and distribute the licensed software—all conduct that would infringe any patents on the software absent a license—licensees can reasonably expect that the software's producers won't sue them for doing those things. (Adam Pugh and Laura A. Majerus of Fenwick & West discuss GPLv2's implied patent license in greater detail in this paper.)

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Tyler Livingston is one of the Licensing Team's summer intern

Filed under
GNU
Legal

Hello. I am a rising Third Year law student at SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas, TX. I am working hard to master the technical aspects of law, electronics, and software. My current interests involve protecting individuals and investigating new technology, particularly in the communications field by utilizing licenses for authorship, art, and inventions. Prior to law school, I attained a bachelor's degree in History at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Licensing is where I began to be involved with free software; the FSF in particular utilizes a great strategy of working within the current licensing jurisprudence by using copyleft to support freedom and empowerment for users over their computers and software. My computer science skills are lacking, but I have worked with UNIX systems in the past and am now finally feeling comfortable enough to make a permanent switch to enjoy software on my own terms. Other interests include electronics and travel (with a trip planned to Eastern Europe later this year).

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FOSS & the IRS: Now We're Talking

Filed under
OSS
Legal

We've been watching with great interest this week as the travails of FOSS organizations with the US Internal Revenue Service have become a hot topic. When our client, Jim Nelson of Yorba, discussed blogging about the IRS rejection of Yorba's application for 501c3 status with us, we hoped but did not expect that the situation, to which we had discreetly called community and company attention for years, would finally receive some. We're very glad that's now happening. Unfortunately, it's really too late. Because of the long delays in determination imposed by the IRS in its increasingly anti-FOSS positioning, neither the full consequences of the IRS's present position nor the state of our legal technology in response can be seen from the materials currently under discussion.

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M-Cam casts doubts on Microsoft's Android patent portfolio

Filed under
Android
Microsoft
Legal

The company then assessed "Microsoft’s alleged Android portfolio and commercially scored the U.S. granted patents using M-Cam’s commercial asset underwriting systems. This assessment measured the commercial strength and transferability of each patent. Commercial patents are linked directly with cash flows and may have a basis for licensing."

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Open source's identity crisis

Filed under
Interviews
Legal

For Karen Sandler, software freedom isn't simply a technical matter. Nor is it a purely ideological one.

It's a matter of life and death.

Sandler, Executive Director of the non-profit Software Freedom Conservancy, says software freedom became personal when she realized her pacemaker/defibrillator was running code she couldn't analyze. For nearly a decade—first at the Software Feedom Law Center, then at the GNOME Foundation before Conservancy—she's been an advocate for the right to examine the software on which our lives depend.

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Qualcomm DMCA Notice Takes Down 100+ Git Repositories

Filed under
Development
Legal

Using the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), Qualcomm has forced GitHub to take down over 100 Git repositories on the basis of "Cyveillance has recently discovered the unauthorized publication, disclosure, and copying of highly sensitive, confidential, trade secret, and copyright-protected documents on the below web site. Specifically, we have confirmed that the documents whose locations and filenames identified below are confidential and proprietary to Qualcomm and were posted without Qualcomm’s permission."

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THE NEW 501(C)(3) AND THE FUTURE OF FREE SOFTWARE IN THE UNITED STATES

Filed under
Legal

I believe what the IRS is inadvertently requiring here is copyright assignment. Since Yorba does not require copyright assignment from our contributors, the IRS appears to think our software cannot be a public work.

Copyright assignment is controversial in the free software community. (A nice overview can be found here; the controversy up-close and in-person can be found here and here.)

I hope I’m wrong about this. I doubt they’re going to start enforcing this in the future for organizations that already enjoy exemption. If they do, it will be a royal mess for those projects having to contact every author of every non-trivial contribution and get them to sign over their rights. This is all a big if, of course.

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Something Rotten in the State of...Europe: the Unified Patent

Filed under
Legal

That's particularly the case for software patents, where the US experiences shows us how much damage trolls can cause. The UPC will open up Europe for software patent trolling on a massive scale.

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FSF statement on Court of Appeals ruling in Oracle v Google

Filed under
Android
Google
Legal

The situation then is substantially similar to the situation today. The key difference is that some of Google's affirmative defenses to claim non-infringement have been eliminated by this new ruling. The FSF now sincerely hopes for the next best thing to Alsup's original ruling: that Google is successful in its fair use defense.

Notwithstanding our support of Google's fair use defense, the FSF urges caution to all prospective Android users. Even though the core of the Android system is free, every Android device sold comes pre-loaded with a variety of proprietary applications and proprietary hardware drivers. The FSF encourages users to support the development of Replicant, a distribution of Android that is 100% free software. The FSF also encourages users of any Android-based system to install F-Droid, a free replacement for the Google Play app that allows users to browse, install, and receive updates from a repository of free software Android apps. Replicant uses F-Droid as its default repository.

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A settlement between Apple and Samsung may be on the horizon

Filed under
Legal

The long and drawn out battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple over the ownership of various intellectual properties may be coming to a close.

According to The Korea Times Samsung and Apple have resumed discussion of settling their patent disputes. Recent developments such as Apple’s deal with Google show that times may be changing on how these types of disputes are handled. There is a different air surrounding these discussions compared to the countless court battles and negotiations that preceded.

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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