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The GPL in Layman’s Terms - Free as in What?

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Linux
Legal

Through the glazed-over eyes of friends and family, past that painful look of well-intended but feigned interest, I can clearly see a fundamental lack of understanding about this free software I’m constantly going on about.

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via DMT/Linux Blog

Licensing FUD and Licensing Advice

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Legal
  • On the Law and Your Open Source License [Ed: Black Duck is just a parasite selling proprietary software by bashing FOSS]

    "Looking back five or ten years, companies managing open source risk were squarely focused on license risk associated with complying with open source licenses," notes a report from Black Duck Software. Fast-forward to today, and the rules and processes surrounding open source licensing are more complex than ever.

  • Explaining the source code requirement in AGPLv3

    This condition was intended to apply mainly to what would now be considered SaaS deployments, although the reach of "interacting remotely through a computer network" should perhaps be read to cover situations going beyond conventional SaaS. The objective was to close a perceived loophole in the ordinary GPL in environments where users make use of functionality provided as a web service, but no distribution of the code providing the functionality occurs. Hence, Section 13 provides an additional source code disclosure requirement beyond the object code distribution triggered requirement contained in GPLv2 Section 3 and GPLv3 and AGPLv3 Section 6.

7 notable legal developments in open source in 2016

Filed under
OSS
Legal

A number of interesting and notable legal developments in open source took place in 2016.

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Latest Black Duck Attack on Free/Open Source Software

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OSS
Security
Legal
  • M&A deals imperilled by failure to manage open source software risk, says expert [Ed: As is so common these days, today it's Microsoft's proxy Black Duck attacking FOSS and trying to scare people]
  • Open Source: Know It Before You Embrace It [Ed: By Josh Software, not Black Duck FUD about security and licences]

    Open source has already taken the world by storm. Businesses from across industries are embracing it. Earlier open source was just a tiny revolutionary idea that was not given any hope, but it has now become not just mainstream but possibly the only stream. The world has realized its importance and benefits over other closed source languages and tools. More importantly, start-ups have started embracing open source whole heartedly to gain an edge over their competitors. But the question is, how are they utilizing it to their advantage and how is it benefiting them?

FOSS Licensing

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • [Older] Licensing resource series: License Violations and Compliance
  • [Older] The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews Micah Lee of GPG Sync

    This is the latest installment of our Licensing and Compliance Lab's series on free software developers who choose GNU licenses for their work. In this edition, we conducted an email-based interview with Micah Lee of GPG Sync.

    GPG Sync is a recently launched project for managing the sharing of GPG keys, particularly within an organization. Micah Lee made the project internally at First Look Media and has now shared it with the world.

  • Apache and the JSON license

    The JSON license is a slightly modified variant of the MIT license, but that variation has led it to be rejected as a free-software or open-source license by several organizations. The change is a simple—rather innocuous at some level—addition of one line: "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil.". Up until recently, code using the JSON license was acceptable for Apache projects, but that line and the ambiguity it engenders was enough for Apache to put it on the list of disallowed licenses.

    At the end of October, Ted Dunning brought up the license on the Apache legal-discuss mailing list. He suggested that classifying the JSON license as acceptable (i.e. on the list of Category A licenses) was an "erroneous decision". That decision was made, he said, "apparently based on a determination that the no-evil clause was 'clearly a joke'". He pointed to a thread from 2008 where a "lazy consensus" formed that the "not evil" condition did not preclude Apache projects from using the license.

Open Source Software A Core Competency For Effective Tech M&A

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OSS
Legal

Imagine your company just acquired its competitor for $100 million. Now imagine the company’s most important asset – its proprietary software – is subject to third-party license conditions that require the proprietary software to be distributed free of charge or in source code form. Or, imagine these license conditions are discovered late in the diligence process, and the cost to replace the offending third-party software will costs tens of thousands of dollars and take months to remediate. Both scenarios exemplify the acute, distinct and often overlooked risks inherent to the commercial use of open source software. An effective tech M&A attorney must appreciate these risks and be prepared to take the steps necessary to mitigate or eliminate them.

Over the past decade, open source software has become a mainstay in the technology community. Since its beginnings, open source software has always been viewed as a way to save money and jumpstart development projects, but it is increasingly being looked to for its quality solutions and operational advantages. Today, only a fraction of technology companies do not use open source software in any way. For most of the rest, it is mission critical.

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Microsoft & Linux & Patents & Tweets

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GNU
Linux
Microsoft
Legal

Fact-checking some tweets about Linux Foundation’s newest member and their harvesting of other members’ money.

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Also: Microsoft Loves Linux Patent Tax

FOSS CMS News

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OSS
Legal
  • Newly Redesigned Boston.gov Just Went Open Source

    Boston is open sourcing its municipal website, three months after redesigning Boston.gov.

    Taking the source code public, a move overseen by the city’s Digital Team, will speed the rate at which the site evolves through the addition of new features developed by local software designers, academic institutions and organizations.

  • WordPress attacks Wix, and Wix strikes back
  • The WordPress-Wix Dispute
  • The Price Of GPL [Ed: hatred of the GPL]

    Wix’s CEO, Avishai Abrahami, responded with a round of non-sequiturs that carefully evade the point that his product is built from source code for which they have not paid. One of his engineers equally misses the point, focusing on the circumstances surrounding the violation, rather than taking responsibility for the theft.

    Some will take issue with the use of strong words like “stolen code,” and “theft,” with respect to a GPL violation. But that’s exactly what it is: software has been taken and deployed in Wix’s product, but the price for doing so has not been paid.

    [...]

    Many developers understand, and view the price of GPL as perfectly justified, while others (myself included) find it unacceptable. So what am I supposed to do? Not use any GPL source code at all in any of my proprietary products? Exactly. Because the price of GPL is too much for me, and I don’t steal source code.

FOSS Licensing

Filed under
GNU
OSS
Legal
  • Conservancy Promotes Transparency by Publishing Template Agreements for Linux Compliance Program

    Today at the Linux Plumbers Conference, Software Freedom Conservancy hosts its second feedback session on the GPL Compliance Program for Linux Developers. These sessions, which Conservancy is hosting at relevant events over the next year and summarizing for public review, will seek input and ideas from the Linux community about GPL enforcement, answer questions, and plan strategies to deal with GPL enforcement actions that do not follow Conservancy and FSF's Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement.

  • Eben Moglen on GPL Compliance and Building Communities: What Works

    Software Freedom Law Center, the pro-bono law firm led by Eben Moglen, Professor of law at Columbia Law School and the world's foremost authority on Free and Open Source Software law held its annual fall conference at Columbia Law School, New York on Oct. 28. The full-day program featured technical and legal presentations on Blockchain, FinTech, Automotive FOSS and GPL Compliance by industry and community stalwarts.

    The program culminated in remarks by Moglen that highlighted the roles of engagement and education in building effective, ever-lasting communities. While expressing his gratitude to his colleague, friend and comrade Richard M. Stallman, Moglen emphasized the positive message relayed by Greg Kroah-Hartman and Theodore Ts'o --earlier in the day-- for creating win-win solutions and spreading users' freedom.

  • Freedom In Moderation [Ed: Freedom insistence (in software) equated with “extremism”, worse a term than “purism”]

    I must define some terminology in case readers are unfamiliar. Free software is defined by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as software that carries four fundamental freedoms: the freedom to run the program for any purpose, the to study and change it, to redistribute unmodified copies, and to redistribute modified copies. The “free” refers not to price but to freedom, and is sometimes called “libre”, from the same Latin root as “liberate”.

    The Free Software Foundation has been campaigning for “users’ freedom” since 1985. They advocate for the release of software under licenses they approve that give users those freedoms. Some of their notable successes include the GNU project, which develops various low-level and mid-level system tools, and their Defective By Design campaign to oppose digital rights management (DRM).

Distributing encryption software may break the law

Filed under
OSS
Security
Legal

Developers, distributors, and users of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) often face a host of legal issues which they need to keep in mind. Although areas of law such as copyright, trademark, and patents are frequently discussed, these are not the only legal concerns for FOSS. One area that often escapes notice is export controls. It may come as a surprise that sharing software that performs or uses cryptographic functions on a public website could be a violation of U.S. export control law.

Export controls is a term for the various legal rules which together have the effect of placing restrictions, conditions, or even wholesale prohibitions on certain types of export as a means to promote national security interests and foreign policy objectives. Export control has a long history in the United States that goes back to the Revolutionary War with an embargo of trade with Great Britain by the First Continental Congress. The modern United States export control regime includes the Department of State's regulations covering export of munitions, the Treasury Department's enforcement of United States' foreign embargoes and sanctions regimes, and the Department of Commerce's regulations applying to exports of "dual-use" items, i.e. items which have civil applications as well as terrorism, military, or weapons of mass destruction-related applications.

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Linux on Servers

  • Who's cashing in on containers? Look to the cloud
    Docker-style containers are so hot they’ve broken the scale ETR uses to measure CIO intent to purchase enterprise technology, registering “the strongest buying intention score ever recorded in [its] six-year history.” While that data is more than a year old, more recent analyses peg Docker adoption up by a factor of 2.6 in 2016 over 2015, yielding a market worth $762 million in 2016, projected to bloat to $2.7 billion by 2020, according to 451 Research.
  • Serverless Computing Is the Stack Reimagined [Ed: Serverless=you have less control over the computer you use. Cloud=you have no ownership of the computer you use. Serverless Cloud=suicide.]
    In Ho's own words, "Serverless computing is the code execution model that the cloud provider abstracts the complexity of managing individual servers." This basically means the provider worries about the servers. You just run your code on them.
  • Docker 1.13 Prunes Containers, Improves Security
    The Docker 1.13 release introduces multiple new commands including prune and squash, which can help containers to use disk space more efficiently. Docker officially announced its 1.13 release on Jan. 19, with new capabilities to help build, manage and secure containers.

Android Leftovers

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Linux Kernel 4.4.44 LTS Brings Some x86 Improvements, Various Updated Drivers

After informing us about the availability of the fifth maintenance update of the Linux 4.9 kernel series, which has recently become a long-term supported branch, Greg Kroah-Hartman is today announcing the availability of Linux 4.4.44 LTS. If you're reading our regular reports on the Linux kernel, you should be aware of the fact that the Linux 4.4 kernel branch is a long-term support (LTS) one that should get security patches for one more year, until February 2018. This branch is currently available in several popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Alpine Linux, and Arch Linux, and Linux 4.4.44 LTS is now the most advanced release. Read more Also: Linux 4.9 Confirmed As The New Long-Term Supported Kernel