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Legal

Copyright 101 for Gentoo contributors

Filed under
Gentoo
Legal

While the work on new Gentoo copyright policy is still in progress, I think it would be reasonable to write a short article on copyright in general, for the benefit of Gentoo developers and contributors (proxied maintainers, in particular). There are some common misconceptions regarding copyright, and I would like to specifically focus on correcting them. Hopefully, this will reduce the risk of users submitting ebuilds and other files in violation of copyrights of other parties.

First of all, I’d like to point out that IANAL. The following information is based on what I’ve gathered from various sources over the years. Some or all of it may be incorrect. I take no responsibility for that. When in doubt, please contact a lawyer.

Secondly, the copyright laws vary from country to country. In particular, I have no clue how they work across two countries with incompatible laws. I attempt to provide a baseline that should work both for US and EU, i.e. ‘stay on the safe side’. However, there is no guarantee that it will work everywhere.

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A successful defense against a copyright troll

Filed under
Linux
Legal

At the 2018 Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW), which is a yearly gathering of lawyers and technical folks organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), attendees got more details on a recent hearing in a German GPL enforcement case. Marcus von Welser is a lawyer who represented the defendant, Geniatech, in a case that was brought by Patrick McHardy. In the presentation, von Welser was joined by Armijn Hemel, who helped Geniatech in its compliance efforts. The hearing was of interest for a number of reasons, not least because McHardy withdrew his request for an injunction once it became clear that the judge was leaning in favor of the defendants—effectively stopping this case dead in its tracks.

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GNU/FSF, Conservancy and Heritage of Free Software

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • GIMP 2.10 Is Finally Here! Here’s How to Install it on Ubuntu

    It’s finally here: GIMP 2.10 is available to download for Windows, macOS and Linux.

    The latest stable release of this insanely popular open source image editing tool – oft touted as a Photoshop alternative – has been 6 years in development.

    Yes, six years.

    Given the long gestation period you won’t be too shocked to hear that GIMP 2.10is jam-packed with changes, improvements and new features, both big and small, visible and non-visible.

  • Guile-CV version 0.1.9
  • Deb Nicholson joins Conservancy as Director of Community Operations

    Today Software Freedom Conservancy announces its newest employee, Deb Nicholson. Nicholson is a prominent software freedom advocate and organizer. Nicholson’s professional roots are in the world of local community organizing in Massachusetts. Her first roles in the free software movement were as a staff member at the Free Software Foundation. Nicholson won the O’Reilly Open Source Award for her volunteer work with GNU MediaGoblin, a federated media-hosting service and OpenHatch, an initiative to help bring newcomers into free software. She is also a founding organizer of the Seattle GNU/Linux Conference, an annual event dedicated to surfacing new voices and welcoming new people to the free software community in the Pacific Northwest. Most recently, she served as the Community Outreach Director for the Open Invention Network, a company that builds a defensive patent pool for open source software. Nicholson has volunteered for Conservancy for many years, including on Conservancy’s Evaluations Committee since 2015.

    [...]

    “Deb has been a force for software freedom,” said Karen Sandler, Conservancy’s Executive Director. “In her jobs and as a volunteer she has had a strong impact on the communities she’s participated in. She’s a great fit for Conservancy and we’re all excited to work with her.”

  • A Wayback Machine for Source Code

    In March 2016, software developer Azer Koçulu famously broke the internet by taking 11 lines of open source computer code he had written offline. The problem: millions of software packages written in the programming language JavaScript had been built on top of Koçulu’s code, or they were built on top of other packages that, in turn, were built on top of the code Koçulu wrote. “I think I have the right of deleting all my stuff,” Koçulu wrote bluntly in an email at the time. 

    [...]

     Since 2015, archivists at the Software Heritage project, which is hosted by the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, have been collecting open source code available at various online repositories and websites. To date, the archive contains more than 4 billion source files from more than 80 million projects, says Roberto Di Cosmo, a computer scientist who is directing the project in Paris. In cases where open source code disappears, or the server it is stored on is hacked, destroyed or lost, the platform aims to become the go-to place for a backup version.

The GDPR Takes Open Source to the Next Level

Filed under
GNU
OSS
Legal

Stallman pointed out that running a free software operating system—for example Google's ChromeOS—offered no protection against this loss of control. Nor does requiring the cloud computing service to use the GNU Affero GPL license solve the problem: just because users have access to the underlying code that is running on the servers does not mean they are in the driver's seat. The real problem lies not with the code, but elsewhere—with the data.

Running free software on your own computer, you obviously retain control of your own data. But that's not the case with cloud computing services—or, indeed, most online services, such as e-commerce sites or social networks. There, highly personal data about you is routinely held by the companies in question. Whether or not they run their servers on open-source code—as most now do—is irrelevant; what matters is that they control your data—and you don't.

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Xiaomi aims to release Kernel Source Code for new devices within 3 months after launch

Filed under
Linux
Legal

Xiaomi is a company that’s largely renowned for their devices that offer excellent specifications relative to price. Smartphones is just one of their many ventures, but it’s how the company has made its name known globally. The company’s rapid expansion in markets like India has brought millions of new users onto smartphones running Android, which has resulted in a wave of new users on our forums looking to customize their devices. Unfortunately, Xiaomi has a poor history of complying with open source licenses as they have shown time and time and time again that they are willing to violate the General Public License v2 (GPLv2) by failing to release kernel source code for their devices. The GPL is what makes the developer community on our forums possible, as all Android phones run on the Linux kernel and without access to the source code it would have been nearly impossible for custom AOSP-based ROMs to take off the way they’ve done on our forums.

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Also: Conservancy Welcomes the Common Workflow Language as a Member Project

​Symantec may violate Linux GPL in Norton Core Router

Filed under
GNU
Legal

For years, embedded device manufacturers have been illegally using Linux. Typically, they use Linux without publishing their device's source code, which Linux's GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) requires them to do. Well, guess what? Another vendor, this time Symantec, appears to be the guilty party.

This was revealed when Google engineer and Linux security expert Matthew Garrett was diving into his new Norton Core Router. This is a high-end Wi-Fi router. Symantec claims it's regularly updated with the latest security mechanisms. Garrett popped his box open to take a deeper look into Symantec's magic security sauce.

What he found appears to be a Linux distribution based on the QCA Software Development Kit (QSDK) project. This is a GPLv2-licensed, open-source platform built around the Linux-based OpenWrt Wi-Fi router operating system.

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How the EU's Copyright Reform Threatens Open Source--and How to Fight It

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Translated into practical terms, this means that sites with major holdings of material uploaded by users will be required to filter everything before allowing it to be posted. The problems with this idea are evident. It represents constant surveillance of people's online activities on these sites, with all that this implies for loss of privacy. False positives are inevitable, not least because the complexities of copyright law cannot be reduced to a few algorithmic rules that can be applied automatically. That, and the chilling effect it will have on people's desire to upload material, will have a negative impact on freedom of expression and undermine the public domain.

The high cost of implementing upload filters—Google's ContentID system required 50,000 hours of coding and $60 million to build—means that a few big companies will end up controlling the market for censorship systems. Their oligopoly power potentially gives them the ability to charge high prices for their services, which will impose burdens on companies in the EU and lead to fewer online startups in the region. Other problems with the idea include the important fact that it seems to go against existing EU law.

Article 13 has been drawn up mainly to satisfy the barely disguised desire of the European copyright industry to attack successful US companies like Google and Facebook. But the upload filter is a very crude weapon, and it will affect many others who—ironically—will be less able than internet giants to comply with the onerous requirement to censor. For example, it is likely that Wikipedia will be caught by the new rule. After all, it hosts huge amounts of "subject-matter" that is uploaded by users. As a post on the Wikimedia blog pointed out: "it would be absurd to require the Wikimedia Foundation to implement costly and technologically impractical automated systems for detecting copyright infringement."

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Keep the IoT Free (Patent Battles Not Welcome)

Filed under
OSS
Legal

While it has experienced nearly exponential growth, the successful adoption and use of open-source by banking networks, mobile phone manufacturers, telecom networks, smart cars, cloud computing and blockchain platforms, among numerous others, was not a foregone conclusion. In 2003, there was an IP-based attack on Linux, the most prevalent open-source software project.

While the claims underlying the litigation ultimately were found to be without merit in the court proceeding, it was a wake-up call to several IP-savvy companies as to the potential negative impact of patent aggression on the growth of Linux and open source software projects. IBM, Red Hat and SUSE (then Novell) coordinated an effort with Sony, Philips and NEC to conceptualize and implement a solution designed to create a patent no-fly zone around the core of Linux.

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​FOSSA: Open-sourcing open-source license management

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Kevin Wang, CEO of FOSSA, has a different approach. The 22-year-old founder told me at Open Source Leadership Summit in Sonoma, CA: "Code scanning is not enough anymore. FOSSA's approach to dependency scanning leverages both static and dynamic code analysis. Dynamic analysis allows FOSSA to get an accurate, live view of what dependencies are pulled into builds. Static analysis supplements the results with metadata on how dependencies are included to power deep intelligence features and recommendation engines. Both these approaches are used to build the most accurate, performant, and intelligent infrastructure for managing your open source."

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EUPL planned actions

Filed under
OSS
Legal

A revised set of guidelines and recommendations on the use of the open source licence EUPL v1.2 published by the Commission on 19 May 2017 will be developed, involving the DIGIT unit B.3 (Reusable Solutions) and the JRC 1.4 (Joint Research Centre – Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer). The existing licence wizard will be updated. New ways of promoting public administrations' use of open source will be investigated and planned (such as hackathons or app challenges on open source software). The target date for the release of this set of guidelines on the use of the European Public Licence EUPL v1.2, including a modified Licence Wizard, is planned Q2 2018.

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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