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Legal

Is SFLC Shooting Open Source in the Foot?

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OSS
Legal

The academic article by SFLC about ZFS is troubling and may unintentionally shoot free software licensing in the foot.

When I was at Sun (as part of the team that released the Java Programming Language by starting the OpenJDK project) I often heard community concerns about the CDDL license. At the time the big complaint was about the "Choice of Venue" clause.

I got involved because Sun had developed many essential Java libraries and distributed them under CDDL. The community requested a more permissive license and I was able to convince internal project leaders (and Sun's lawyers) to make a licensing change for a handful of these projects. And there was much rejoicing.

Based on my experience in helping Java to become open source I came to appreciate the legal hacks on copyright which make open source possible. It's the free software license which uses copyright to enable sharing (vs. the default of disabling sharing).

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The Linux Kernel, CDDL and Related Issues

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Linux
Legal

The license terms on the Linux kernel are those of GPLv2. This is the unanimous consensus of the extensive community of copyright holders. No other terms, or modifications of those terms, are represented in any document as the consensus position of the relevant parties.

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Also: SFC: GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

Winning the copyleft fight

Linux GPL Enforcement

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Linux
Legal
  • I’m Part of SFConservancy’s GPL Compliance Project for Linux

    I believe GPL enforcement in general, and specifically around the Linux kernel, is a good thing. Because of this, I am one of the Linux copyright holders who has signed an agreement for the Software Freedom Conservancy to enforce the GPL on my behalf. I’m also a financial supporter of Conservancy.

  • Report from the VMware GPL court hearing

    Today, I took some time off to attend the court hearing in the GPL violation/infringement case that Christoph Hellwig has brought against VMware.

    I am not in any way legally involved in the lawsuit. However, as a fellow (former) Linux kernel developer myself, and a long-term Free Software community member who strongly believes in the copyleft model, I of course am very interested in this case - and of course in an outcome in favor of the plaintiff. Nevertheless, the below report tries to provide an un-biased account of what happened at the hearing today, and does not contain my own opinions on the matter. I can always write another blog post about that Smile

    I blogged about this case before briefly, and there is a lot of information publicly discussed about the case, including the information published by the Software Freedom Conservancy (see the link above, the announcement and the associated FAQ.

  • I bought some awful light bulbs so you don't have to

    Anyway. Next step was to start playing with the protocol, which meant finding the device on my network. I checked anything that had picked up a DHCP lease recently and nmapped them. The OS detection reported Linux, which wasn't hugely surprising - there was no GPL notice or source code included with the box, but I'm way past the point of shock at that. It also reported that there was a telnet daemon running. I connected and got a login prompt. And then I typed admin as the username and admin as the password and got a root prompt. So, there's that. The copy of Busybox included even came with tftp, so it was easy to get copies of tcpdump and strace on there to see what was up.

  • SFC: GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

The U.S. Copyright Office requiring proprietary software in DMCA anti-circumvention study

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OSS
Legal

In Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anti-circumvention study, the U.S. Copyright Office extends comment period and asserts that proprietary software is required for comment submission.

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Canonical accused of violating GPL with ZFS-in-Ubuntu 16.04 plan

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Ubuntu
Legal

The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) thinks Canonical, the curator of Ubuntu, has breached the Gnu Public Licence (GPL).

As the Conservancy explains, Canonical recently announced that Ubuntu 16.04 will “make OpenZFS available on every Ubuntu system. Canonical reckons that adding OpenZFS represents “one of the most exciting new features Linux has seen in a very long time.”

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GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

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Legal

This post discusses an atypical GPL violation. Unlike most GPL violations Conservancy faces, in this case, a third-party entity holds a magic wand that can instantly resolve the situation. Oracle is the primary copyright holder of ZFS, and, despite nearly eight years (going back to the days of Sun's control of the code) of the anti-license-proliferation community's urging, Oracle continues to license their code under their own, GPL-incompatible license. While this violation has many facets, and Oracle did not themselves violate GPL in this specific case, they hold the keys to this particular kingdom and they forbid the Linux community to enter. While there are complexities that we must address, in this context, Oracle could make everyone's life easier by waving their magic relicensing wand. Nevertheless, until they do, since GPL-incompatible licenses are the root of all GPL violations, combinations of GPL'd code with Oracle's GPL-incompatible code yield GPL violations, such as the ongoing violation by Canonical, Ltd.

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Kuhn's Paradox

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OSS
Legal

I believe this paradox is primarily driven by the cooption of software freedom by companies that ostensibly support Open Source, but have the (now extremely popular) open source almost everything philosophy.

For certain areas of software endeavor, companies dedicate enormous resources toward the authorship of new Free Software for particular narrow tasks. Often, these core systems provide underpinnings and fuel the growth of proprietary systems built on top of them. An obvious example here is OpenStack: a fully Free Software platform, but most deployments of OpenStack add proprietary features not available from a pure upstream OpenStack installation.

Meanwhile, in other areas, projects struggle for meager resources to compete with the largest proprietary behemoths. Large user-facing, server-based applications of the Service as a Software Substitute variety, along with massive social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that actively work against federated social network systems, are the two classes of most difficult culprits on this point. Even worse, most traditional web sites have now become a mix of mundane content (i.e., HTML) and proprietary Javascript programs, which are installed on-demand into the users' browser all day long, even while most of those servers run a primarily Free Software operating system.

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ZFS Licensing Issues

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Ubuntu
Legal
  • Canonical Says There Is No ZFS and Linux Licence Incompatibility

    Canonical announced that support for the ZFS (Z File System) will be available in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, but a lot of users have been asking about a possible license conflict. Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland explained why that’s not a problem.

    ZFS (Z File System) is described as a combination of a volume manager (like LVM) and a filesystem (like ext4, xfs, or btrfs), and it’s licensed under CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License). Don’t worry if you didn’t hear about it. It’s not something that’s commonly used.

  • ZFS Licensing and Linux

    We at Canonical have conducted a legal review, including discussion with the industry's leading software freedom legal counsel, of the licenses that apply to the Linux kernel and to ZFS.

    And in doing so, we have concluded that we are acting within the rights granted and in compliance with their terms of both of those licenses.

Latest on SCO

Filed under
Linux
Legal
  • SCO vs. IBM legal battle over Linux may – finally – be finished

    A breach-of-contract and copyright lawsuit filed nearly 13 years ago by a successor company to business Linux vendor Caldera International against IBM may be drawing to a close at last, after a U.S. District Court judge issued an order in favor of the latter company earlier this week.

    Judge David Nuffer said that all of SCO’s claims against IBM are dismissed, and that briefs for a final legal certification of the judgment would be due Feb. 26, with responses, if necessary, on March 11. Nuffer re-opened the case in 2013.

  • SCO's last arguments in 'Who owns Linux?' case vs. IBM knocked out [Ed: some history]

    The end of the near-immortal “Who owns Unix?” case looks to be near after a US judge knocked out the two remaining arguments with which the SCO group hoped to attack IBM.

    As we reported on Tuesday, Judge David Nuffer of the US District court found against SCO's attempt to work a breach of contract angle in its long-running dispute with IBM, which centres on SCO code that may or may not have made it into Linux and AIX.

FOSS Licensing

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Confused by license compatibility? A new article by Richard Stallman may help

    Richard Stallman has published a new guide on gnu.org titled License compatibility and relicensing. Gnu.org is home to a whole host of resources on free software licensing, including frequently asked questions about GNU licenses and our list of free software licenses. Our license list contains information on which licenses are compatible with the GNU General Public License as well as a brief description of what it means to be compatible. This latest article by Stallman provides a more in–depth explanation of what compatibility means and the different ways in which it is achieved.

  • The most important part of your project might not even be a line of code

    What is licensing? Why does it matter? Why should you care? There are many reasons that licensing is an important part of a project you are working on. You are taking the time to write code and share it with the world in an open way, such as publishing it on GitHub, Bitbucket, or any number of other code-hosting services. Anyone might stumble across your code and find it useful.

    Licensing is the way that you can control exactly how someone who finds your code can use it and in what ways.

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More in Tux Machines

ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5: is it near-perfect?

ROSA is a Linux distribution forked some time ago from Mandriva Linux by a team of Russian developers, Rosa Lab, or officially LLC NTC-IT ROSA. I reviewed their distributions several times: ROSA KDE R7, ROSA Desktop 2012 and even interviewed the ROSA team. The most recent release of ROSA is now ROSA Desktop Fresh R8, which is available in several flavours: MATE, GNOME 3, KDE 4 and Plasma 5. I decided to try the Plasma 5 edition of this distribution, especially as my interest to Plasma increased after the good impression Kubuntu 16.10 left on me. There are links to the ISO images available on the ROSA download page, and I used it to get my own version of this Linux distribution. The size of ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5 64-bit image is 1.9 Gb. The dd command helped me to "burn" the image to the USB stick. So, the USB drive is attached to my Toshiba Satellite L500-19X laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go! Read more

Korora 25 Unleashed, Best KDE Distro, Notorious B.U.G.

Fedora-based Korora 25 was released Wednesday in 64-bit versions. Users are urged to upgrade. Elsewhere, Jack Wallen was seriously impressed by Fedora 25 and blogger DarkDuck said ROSA R8 is "near-perfect." Bruce Byfield discussed obstacles to Linux security just as a new kernel vulnerability comes to light. Dedoimedo declared the best KDE distro of 2016 and FOSSBYTES has 10 reasons to use Ubuntu. Read more

OnePlus 3T review: One of the best Android phones gets a little better

OnePlus has never been one to play by the rules. Back when it made its entrance into the crowded smartphone market with the One, it set itself apart by selling a premium handset at a mid-tier price and offering invitation-only purchases instead of the standard preorders. The 3T very much fits with this rebellious nature. Essentially a refreshed version of the 6-month-old OnePlus 3, the new phone undermines another smartphone constant: the yearly update. iPhone users are familiar with the concept of the mid-cycle model—a handset that keeps the same enclosure but beefs up features and internal components. But there’s always been a special hook with Apple’s S phones, a reason for current owners to rush out and buy the new model. The 3T could be seen as OnePlus’ attempt to mimic the success Apple has had with the formula (and in fact, the company says it picked T for the new phone’s surname simply because it’s a letter higher than S). Read more

Linux Foundation adds an open source networking specialist to the team

In recognition of the increasingly central role open source technology has played for the networking sector, the Linux Foundation today named Arpit Joshipura as its general manager for networking and orchestration. Joshipura, a veteran tech executive who has worked at Dell, Ericsson, and Nortel, among others, is considered by the organization to be a foundational contributor to open source software in general and networking in particular. Currently, he’s the chief marketing officer for Prevoty, an application security startup in Los Angeles. Read more