Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Legal

Software Freedom Law Center/Conservancy Dispute Update

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Concerning a Statement by the Conservancy

    On Friday, while we were putting on our annual conference at Columbia Law School, a puff of near-apocalyptic rhetoric about us was published by SFLC’s former employees, Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn, who now manage the Conservancy, which was originally established and wholly funded by SFLC, and still bears our name. We were busy with our conference when this happened, which seems to have been the point. We are glad to have the chance now, after a little much-needed rest, to help everyone avoid unnecessary hyperventilation.

  • Concerning a Statement by the Conservancy (Software Freedom Law Center Blog)

    The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has responded to a recent blog post from the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) regarding the SFC's trademark. SFLC has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to cancel the SFC trademark due to a likelihood of confusion between the two marks; SFC posted about the action on its blog.

Red Hat Explains GPL, New Dispute Surfaces

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Shedding light on foggy GPL licenses

    The terms in GPL v3 clause 14 are very similar to those in the GPL v2.

    Over the years, I've seen many open source projects that say they are GPL licensed without explicitly indicating a version number, while also including the text of an entire GPL license (e.g., v2 or v3). The ambiguity this potentially creates may be beneficial or detrimental to you, depending on factors such as whether you are the licensor or the licensee.

  • GPL bodies in bizarre trademark fight

    Senior Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman has claimed he asked the Linux Foundation to withdraw funding from the Software Freedom Conservancy back in 2016, because he was unhappy with the way in which the SFC went about enforcing compliance with the GPL, the licence under which the Linux kernel is published.

    Kroah-Hartman's claim was made as part of a long discussion about a spat between the SFC and the Software Freedom Law Centre, a body provides pro-bono legal services to developers of free, libre, and open source software, in which the SFLC has asked a court to cancel the trademark of the SFC due to what it claims is "priority and likelihood of confusion" to its own trademark.

    The bizarre aspect of the legal fight between the two bodies, both of which are involved in activities around the GPL, is that the SFLC launched the SFC in 2006 to carry out GPL enforcement.

SFLC Files Bizarre Legal Action Against Its Former Client, Software Freedom Conservancy

Filed under
GNU
Legal

About a month ago, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), the not-for-profit law firm which launched Conservancy in 2006 and served as Conservancy's law firm until July 2011, took the bizarre and frivolous step of filing a legal action in the United States Patent and Trademark Office seeking cancellation of Conservancy's trademark for our name, “Software Freedom Conservancy”. We were surprised by this spurious action. In our eleven years of coexistence, SFLC has raised no concerns nor complaints about our name, nor ever asked us to change it. We filed our formal answer to SFLC's action yesterday. In the interest of transparency for our thousands of volunteers, donors, Supporters, and friends, we at Conservancy today decided to talk publicly about the matter.

SFLC's action to cancel our trademark initiated a process nearly identical to litigation. As such, our legal counsel has asked us to limit what we say about the matter. However, we pride ourselves on our commitment to transparency. In those rare instances when we initiated or funded legal action — to defend the public interest through GPL enforcement — we have been as candid as possible about the circumstances. We always explain the extent to which we exhausted other possible solutions, and why we chose litigation as the last resort.

Read more

GitLab Changes its Contributor Licensing to Better Serve Open-Source Projects

Filed under
Development
Legal
  • GitLab Changes its Contributor Licensing to Better Serve Open-Source Projects

    Self-hosted Git repository management tool GitLab today announced that it is abandoning its Contributor Licensing Agreement (CLA) and adopting a Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO) and license.

    According to the company, which claims 67% market share in the self-hosted Git market, "the DCO gives developers greater flexibility and portability for their contributions."

  • GitLab Transitions Contributor Licensing to Developer Certificate of Origin to Better Support Open Source Projects; Empower Contributors

    GitLab, a software product used by 2/3 of all enterprises, today announced it was abandoning the industry-standard Contributor License Agreement (CLA) in favor of a Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO) and license. The DCO gives developers greater flexibility and portability for their contributions. The move has already attracted the attention of large open source projects who recognize the benefits. Debian and GNOME both plan to migrate their communities and open source projects to GitLab.

    GitLab's move away from a CLA is meant to modernize its code hosting and collaborative development infrastructure for all open source projects. Additionally, requiring a CLA became problematic for developers who didn't want to enter into legal terms; they weren't reviewing the CLA contract and they effectively gave up their rights to own and contribute to open source code.

Ensuring Openness Through and In Open Source Licensing

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Some of the largest forces in business today—consumer-facing companies like Google and Facebook, business-facing companies like SUSE, companies outside the tech industry such as BMW, Capital One, and Zalando, even first-gen tech corporations like Microsoft and IBM—all increasingly depend on open source software. Governments too, including the European Union, France, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many others have discovered the benefits of open source software and development models. Successful collaborative development of software and infrastructure used by these organizations is enabled by the “safe space” created when they use their IP in a new ways... to ensure an environment for co-creation where the four essential freedoms of software are guaranteed.

Read more

Control Or Consensus?

Filed under
OSS
Legal

In a recent conversation on the Apache Legal mailing list, a participant opined that “any license can be Open Source. OSI doesn’t ‘own’ the term.” He went on to explain “I could clone the Apache License and call it ‘Greg’s License’ and it would be an open source license.”

As long as the only people involved in the conversation are the speaker and people who defer to his authority, this might be OK. But as soon as there are others involved, it’s not. For the vast majority of people, the term “open source license” is not a personal conclusion resulting from considered evaluation, but rather a term of art applied to the consensus of the community. Individuals are obviously free to use words however they wish, just like Humpty Dumpty. But the power of the open source movement over two decades has arisen from a different approach.

The world before open source left every developer to make their own decision about whether software was under a license that delivers the liberty to use, improve and share code without seeking the permission of a rights holder. Inevitably that meant either uncertainty or seeking advice from a lawyer about the presence of software freedom. The introduction of the open source concept around the turn of the millennium solved that using the crystalisation of consensus to empower developers.

By holding a public discussion of each license around the Open Source Definition, a consensus emerged that could then by crystalised by the OSI Board. Once crystalised into “OSI Approval”, the community then has no need to revisit the discussion and the individual developer has no need to guess (or to buy advice) on the compatibility of a given license with software freedom. That in turn means proceeding with innovation or deployment without delay.

Read more

Licences: Eclipse Public Licence 2.0, GPL Copyright Troll, Fiduciary License Agreement 2.0

Filed under
Legal
  • Eclipse Public License version 2.0 added to license list

    We recently updated our list of various licenses and comments about them to include the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 (EPL).

    In terms of GPL compatibility, the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 is essentially equivalent to version 1.0. The only change is that it explicitly offers the option of designating the GNU GPL version 2 or later as a "secondary license" for a certain piece of code.

  • Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll

    Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman and several other senior Linux figures have published a “Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement” to be included in future Linux documentation, in order to ensure contributions to the kernel don't fall foul of copyright claims that have already seen a single developer win "at least a few million Euros.”

    In a post released on Monday, October 16th, Kroah-Hartman explained the Statement's needed because not everyone who contributes to the kernel understands the obligations the GNU Public Licence 2.0 (GPL 2.0), and the licence has “ambiguities … that no one in our community has ever considered part of compliance.”

  • Fiduciary License Agreement 2.0

    After many years of working on it, it is with immense pleasure to see the FLA-2.0 – the full rewrite of the Fiduciary License Agreement – officially launch.

Conservancy Applauds Linux Community's Promotion of Principled Copyleft Enforcement

Filed under
GNU
Legal

Software Freedom Conservancy congratulates the Linux community for taking steps today to promote principled, community-minded copyleft enforcement by publishing the Linux Kernel Enforcement Statement. The Statement includes an additional permission under Linux's license, the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2 (GPLv2). The additional permission, to which copyright holders may voluntarily opt-in, changes the license of their copyrights to allow reliance on the copyright license termination provisions from the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3) for some cases 1.

Conservancy also commends the Linux community's Statement for reaffirming that legal action should be last resort for resolving a GPL violation, and for inviting noncompliant companies who work their way back into compliance to become active participants in the community. By bringing clarity to GPLv2 enforcement efforts, companies can adopt software with the assurance that these parties will work in a reasonable, community-centric way to resolve compliance issues.

Read more

Facebook Licence-Patents Debacle

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • Facebook’s About Face

    Thirty-five days after publicly stating, in response to objections from the Apache Software Foundation among others, that the company would not be re-licensing its React library, Facebook on Friday announced that it was re-licensing its React library. It was a surprising but welcome reversal for many in the industry, including Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg.

    Ten days ago, Mullenweg published a piece that was at once understanding and blunt announcing that React would be excised from WordPress related projects. The problem was not Automattic – their general counsel saw little problem with the license – but given the breadth of WordPress’ distribution, the decision was made to remove the software because of the uncertainties surrounding its license. As bad as it was being banished from Apache Software Foundation projects, this was worse. Depending on whose numbers you use, WordPress can account for something close to one in four websites.

    Given such extensive and escalating costs, the burden of proving the offsetting benefits to a patent clause required by virtually no one else in the industry presumably became too great, at which point the only rational decision would be to re-license the asset – difficult as such backtracking may have been.

  • Facebook Relents on React.js License Issue
  • Facebook Relents to Developer Pressure, Relicenses React

Licensing: Facebook Responds to Licence Complaints, Cloud Native Open Source License Choices Analysed

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • Facebook relicenses several projects

    Facebook has announced that the React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js projects will be moving to the MIT license. This is, of course, a somewhat delayed reaction to the controversy over the "BSD+patent" license previously applied to those projects.

  • Relicensing React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js

    Next week, we are going to relicense our open source projects React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license. We're relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don't want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons.

    This decision comes after several weeks of disappointment and uncertainty for our community. Although we still believe our BSD + Patents license provides some benefits to users of our projects, we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community.

  • Cloud Native Open Source License Choices

    One of the most common questions regarding open source licensing today concerns trajectories. Specifically, what are the current directions of travel both for specific licenses as well as license types more broadly. Or put more simply, what licenses are projects using today, and how is that changing?

    We’ve examined this data several times, most recently in this January look at the state of licensing based on Black Duck’s dataset. That data suggested major growth for permissive licenses, primarily at the expense of reciprocal alternatives. The Apache and MIT licenses, for example, were up 10% and 21% respectively, while the GPL was down 27%. All of this is on a relative share basis, of course: the “drop” doesn’t reflect relicensing of existing projects, but less usage relative to its peers.

    [...]

    One such community with enough of a sample size to be relevant is the one currently forming around the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Founded in 2015 with the Kubernetes project as its first asset, the Foundation has added eleven more open source projects, all of which are licensed under the same Apache 2 license. But as a successful Foundation is only a part of the broader ecosystem, the real question is what are the licensing preferences of the Cloud Native projects and products outside of the CNCF itself.

    [...]
    Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the influence of the CNCF itself, Apache strongly outperforms all other licenses, showing far greater relative adoption than it has in more generalized datasets such as the Black Duck survey. Overall in this dataset, approximately 64% of projects are covered by the Apache license. No other project has greater than a 12% share. The only other licenses above 10%, in fact, are the GPL at 12% and MIT at 11%. After that, the other projects are all 5% or less.

Syndicate content

More in Tux Machines

Kernel: Qualcomm/Atheros "Ath10k", FUSE and Code of Conduct

  • Linux's Qualcomm Ath10k Driver Getting WoWLAN, WCN3990 Support
    The Qualcomm/Atheros "Ath10k" Linux driver coming up in the Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel merge window is picking up two prominent features. First up, the Ath10k driver is finally having WoWLAN support -- Wake on Wireless LAN. WoWLAN has been supported by the kernel for years and more recently is getting picked up by Linux networking user-space configuration utilities. Ath10k is becoming the latest Linux wireless driver supporting WoWLAN (WIPHY_WOWLAN_NET_DETECT) for automatically waking up the system when within range of an a known SSID.
  • FUSE File-Systems Pick Up Another Performance Boost With Symlink Caching
    FUSE file-systems in user-space are set to be running faster with the upcoming Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel thanks to several performance optimizations. The FUSE kernel code for this next Linux kernel cycle already has a hash table optimization and separately is copy file range support for efficient file copy operations. Staged today into the FUSE tree for the next cycle was yet another performance-boosting patch.
  • Another Change Proposed For Linux's Code of Conduct
    With the Linux 4.19-rc8 kernel release overnight, one change not to be found in this latest Linux 4.19 release candidate are any alterations to the new Code of Conduct. The latest proposal forbids discussing off-topic matters while protecting any sentient being in the universe. While some immediate changes to the Linux kernel Code of Conduct have been talked about by upstream kernel developers, for 4.19-rc8 there are no changes yet. We'll presumably see some basic changes land this week ahead of Linux 4.19.0 expected next Sunday as not to have an unenforceable or flawed CoC found in a released kernel version.

Plasma 5.14 – Phasers on stun

Linux is much like the stock market. Moments of happiness broken by crises. Or is the other way around? Never mind. Today shall hopefully be a day of joy, for I am about to test Plasma 5.14, the latest version of this neat desktop environment. Recently, I’ve had a nice streak of good energy with Linux, mostly thanks to my experience with Slimbook Pro2, which I configured with Kubuntu Beaver. Let’s see if we can keep the momentum. Now, before we begin, there are more good news woven into this announcement. As you can imagine, you do need some kind of demonstrator to test the new desktop. Usually, it’s KDE neon, which offers a clean, lean, mean KDE-focused testing environment. You can boot into the live session, try the desktop, and if you like it, you can even install it. Indeed, neon is an integral part of my eight-boot setup on the Lenovo G50 machine. But what makes things really interesting is that neon has also switched to the latest Ubuntu LTS base. It now comes aligned to the 18.04 family, adorned with this brand new Plasma. Proceed. Read more

today's howtos

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