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Legal

The VMware Hearing and the Long Road Ahead

Filed under
GNU
Legal

On last Thursday, Christoph Hellwig and his legal counsel attended a hearing in Hellwig's VMware case that Conservancy currently funds. Harald Welte, world famous for his GPL enforcement work in the early 2000s, also attended as an observer and wrote an excellent summary. I'd like to highlight a few parts of his summary, in the context of Conservancy's past litigation experience regarding the GPL.

First of all, in great contrast to the cases here in the USA, the Court acknowledged fully the level of public interest and importance of the case. Judges who have presided over Conservancy's GPL enforcement cases USA federal court take all matters before them quite seriously. However, in our hearings, the federal judges preferred to ignore entirely the public policy implications regarding copyleft; they focused only on the copyright infringement and claims related to it. Usually, appeals courts in the USA are the first to broadly consider larger policy questions. There are definitely some advantages to the first Court showing interest in the public policy concerns.

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SCO vs. IBM looks like it's over for good

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The long-running SCO vs. IBM case looks like it might just be over.

A new filing (PDF) scooped up by the good folks at Groklaw sees both SCO and IBM agree to sign off on two recent decisions in which SCO's arguments advancing its claims to own parts of Unix were slapped down by the US District Court.

As The Register reads the PDF we've linked to above, and our informal legal counsel concurs, the new document describes IBM and SCO both signing off on the recent court orders. Those orders left SCO without a legal argument to stand on.

The new filing also points out that SCO remains bankrupt and has “has de minimis financial resources beyond the value of the claims on which the Court has granted summary judgment for IBM.”

Or in plain English, SCO is broke and the only asset it possess of any value is its claims against IBM, and now it doesn't even have those because it just lost a court case about them. That leaves SCO in no position to carry on.

“Accordingly,” the new filing continues, “the disposition of SCO’s appeal is the practical course most likely to conserve both judicial and private resources.” That's the legal sense of “disposition”, by the way, so what the document's saying is that SCO giving up its appeal is most likely to stop the courts spending any more time or energy on this matter. Courts don't like wasting resources. So this is both parties explaining that wrapping things up now is a desirable thing.

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Is SFLC Shooting Open Source in the Foot?

Filed under
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

Filed under
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

Filed under
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

Filed under
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

Filed under
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

Filed under
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

Filed under
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

Filed under
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.

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More in Tux Machines

Escuelas Linux 5.2 Officially Released with LibreOffice 5.3.1 & Google Chrome 57

Alejandro Diaz informs Softpedia today about the general availability of Escuelas Linux 5.2, the newest and most advanced version of his Bodhi/Ubuntu-based GNU/Linux distribution designed for educational purposes. Read more

today's leftovers

  • Linux Kernel Podcast for 2017/03/21
  • Announcing the Shim review process [Ed: accepting rather than fighting very malicious things]
    However, a legitimate criticism has been that there's very little transparency in Microsoft's signing process. Some people have waited for significant periods of time before being receiving a response. A large part of this is simply that demand has been greater than expected, and Microsoft aren't in the best position to review code that they didn't write in the first place.
  • rtop – A Nifty Tool to Monitor Remote Server Over SSH
    rtop is a simple, agent-less, remote server monitoring tool that works over SSH. It doesn’t required any other software to be installed on remote machine, except openSSH server package & remote server credentials.
  • Chakra GNU/Linux Users Get KDE Plasma 5.9.3 and KDE Applications 16.12.3, More
    Neofytos Kolokotronis from the Chakra GNU/Linux project, an open-source operating system originally based on Arch Linux and the KDE Plasma desktop environment, announced the availability of the latest KDE updates in the distro's repositories. Those of you using Chakra GNU/Linux as your daily drive will be happy to learn that the stable repos were filled with numerous up-to-date packages from the recently released KDE Plasma 5.9.3 desktop environment, KDE Applications 16.12.3 software suite, and KDE Frameworks 5.32.0 collection of over 70 add-on libraries for Qt 5.
  • YaST Team: Highlights of YaST development sprint 32
    One of the known limitations of the current installer is that it’s only able to automatically propose an encrypted schema if LVM is used. For historical reasons, if you want to encrypt your root and/or home partitions but not to use LVM, you would need to use the expert partitioner… and hope for the best from the bootloader proposal. But the new storage stack is here (well, almost here) to make all the old limitations vanish. With our testing ISO it’s already possible to set encryption with just one click for both partition-based and LVM-based proposals. The best possible partition schema is correctly created and everything is encrypted as the user would expect. We even have continuous tests in our internal openQA instance for it. The part of the installer managing the bootloader installation is still not adapted, which means the resulting system would need some manual fixing of Grub before being able to boot… but that’s something for an upcoming sprint (likely the very next one).
  • Debian stretch on the Raspberry Pi 3 (update) (2017-03-22)
    I previously wrote about my Debian stretch preview image for the Raspberry Pi 3.
  • Asus Tinker Board – Chromium YouTube Performance
    One of the many strengths of the Asus Tinker Board is its multimedia support. This 4K video capable machine is a mouthwatering prospect for the multimedia enthusiast. The machine has a respectable 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A17 quad-core processor. It’s only 32-bit (unlike the Raspberry Pi 3) but has a higher clock speed. The Tinker Board also sports an integrated ARM-based Mali T764 graphics processor (GPU).

Microsoft vs GNU/Linux

Netflix and GNU/Linux