Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

The open source patent war

Filed under
OSS

Due to the fact that Linux is free software and belongs to no-one, it is often assumed that Linux is "surrounded by legal uncertainties."

However, Linux is no more or less prone to legal uncertainties, by which we usually mean potential patent infringements, than any other software application or platform. The problem is not the software nor the license, but the legal framework within which the software industry operates. Software patents have become part of the standard software industry model but are antithetical to the objectives of open source software and are seen as problematic for the good health of future software development by free software developers.

The problem for proprietary software companies is that free software pulls the rug from under traditional software models. By definition free software is collaborative. Numerous individuals, hardware companies and academic establishments contribute to the code that is contained in a Linux distribution, and all have a vested interest in its success. The customer gains because the software is free and tends to be more adventurous, versatile and secure. The only potential loser is the traditional software vendor.

So it has been suggested, sometimes by the software vendors themselves, that those who are threatened by the competitive success of open source might seek to challenge Linux through the courts, on the grounds that the software, and Linux in particular, might include "stolen IP", and infringe the patents or copyrights of others. This is unlikely. The accusation has often been made, but the code is there for all to see, and no convincing evidence has ever been presented of any infringement.

The more likely action is of the type affected by Microsoft in its recent agreement with Novell.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

Software: Liberation of Code, GNU Parallel, Devhelp

  • When should you open source your software?
    It’s 20 years this this since the term ‘Open Source’ was coined. In that time the movement for free and open software has gone from a niche to a common method of distribution and a normal way of operating for businesses. Major technology shifts are now driven by open source technologies: Big Data (Hadoop, Spark), AI (TensorFlow, Caffe), and Containers (Docker, Kubernetes) are all open projects. Massive companies including Google, Facebook, and even Lyft regularly release Open Source tools for the world to use. Microsoft – whose former CEO once described Linux as a cancer – now embraces the concept.
  • GNU Parallel 20180422 ('Tiangong-1') released
    Quote of the month: Today I discovered GNU Parallel, and I don’t know what to do with all this spare time. --Ryan Booker
  • Devhelp news
    For more context, I started to contribute to Devhelp in 2015 to fix some annoying bugs (it’s an application that I use almost every day). Then I got hooked, I contributed more, became a co-maintainer last year, etc. Devhelp is a nice little project, I would like it to be better known and used more outside of GNOME development, for example for the Linux kernel now that they have a good API documentation infrastructure (it’s just a matter of generating *.devhelp2 index files alongside the HTML pages).

today's howtos

Android Leftovers