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GPL Licensing: FSF Update Rules Commons Clause Non-Free, Red Hat on Compliance

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  • FSF Update Rules Commons Clause Non-Free

    The Free Software Foundation has added the Commons Clause to its list of non-free licenses among a number of recent updates to its licensing materials. Other changes clarify the GNU GPL position on translating code into another language and how to handle projects that combine code under multiple licenses.

  • More companies want fairness to open source license enforcement

    The 16 new companies in this announcement are a diverse set of technology firms whose participation makes evident the worldwide reach of the GPL Cooperation Commitment. They comprise globally-operating companies based on four continents and mark a significant expansion of the initiative into the Asia-Pacific region. They represent various industries and areas of commercial focus, including IT services, software development tools and platforms, social networking, fintech, semiconductors, e-commerce, multimedia software and more.

    The GPL Cooperation Commitment is a means for companies, individual developers and open source projects to provide opportunities for licensees to correct errors in compliance with software licensed under the GPLv2 family of licenses before taking action to terminate the licenses. Version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv2), version 2 of the GNU Library General Public License (LGPLv2), and version 2.1 of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv2.1) do not contain express “cure” periods to fix noncompliance prior to license termination. Version 3 of the GNU GPL (GPLv3) addressed this by adding an opportunity to correct mistakes in compliance. Those who adopt the GPL Cooperation Commitment extend the cure provisions of GPLv3 to their existing and future GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x-licensed code.

Introducing Jake Glass, FSF campaigns and licensing intern

  • Introducing Jake Glass, FSF campaigns and licensing intern

    Hello software freedom supporters! I am Jake Glass, and I will be interning for both the campaigns and the licensing teams this fall/winter. I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where I earned an engineering degree in computer science, and I am currently in the process of applying to law school.

    During my summers as an undergraduate, I worked in software development, where I began to consider the ethical ramifications of computing. I realized that my peers and I were often unintentionally building tools to exert social and political control. As the Snowden leaks were emerging around this time, it became clear to me that the pervasiveness of these tools is an imminent threat to freedom worldwide. This was my original motivation in supporting the free software movement: how can we be sure the programs running on our own machines are not spying on us without having access to the source, as required by the Four Freedoms? My interest in these issues concerning copyrights, patents, and civil rights on the Internet has convinced me to attend law school, where I can engage in formal study of these topics.

Free Software Foundation updates their licensing materials

  • Free Software Foundation updates their licensing materials, adds Commons Clause and Fraunhofer FDK AAC license

    Commons Clause is added to their list of non-free licenses. This license is added to an existing free license to prevent using the work commercially, rendering the work nonfree. By making commons clause as non-free, FSF recommends users to fork software using it. So, if a previously existing project that was under a free license adds the Commons Clause, users should work to fork that program and continue using it under the free license. If it isn’t worth forking, users should simply avoid the package.

    This move by FSF sparked a controversy that the Commons Clause piggybacks on top of existing free software licenses and thus could mislead users to think that software using it is free software when it’s, in fact, proprietary by their definitions.

    However, others found the combination of a free software license + Commons Clause to be very compelling.

    A hacker news user pointed out, “I’m willing to grant to the user every right offered by free software licenses with the exception of rights to commercial use. If that means my software has to be labeled as proprietary by the FSF, so be it, but at the same time I’d prefer not to mislead users into thinking my software is being offered under a vanilla free software license.”

    Another said, “I don’t know there is any controversy as such. The FSF is doing its job and reminding everyone that freedom includes the freedom to make money.

    If your software is licensed under something that includes the Commons Clause then it isn’t free software, because users are not free to do what they want with it.”

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