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Qt Licence Update

Filed under
KDE
Legal

Today Qt announced some changes to their licence. The KDE Free Qt team have been working behind the scenes to make these happen and we should be very thankful for the work they put in. Qt code was LGPLv2.1 or GPLv3 (this also allows GPLv2). Existing modules will add LGPLv3 to that. This means I can get rid of the part of the KDE Licensing Policy which says "Note: code may not be copied from Qt into KDE Platform as Qt is LGPLv2.1 only which would prevent it being used under LGPL 3".

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More: Protecting Software Freedom – the Qt License Update

The Gentle Art of Muddying the Licensing Waters

Filed under
Microsoft
OSS
Legal

I've been writing about free software for nearly 20 years, and about Microsoft for over 30 years. Observing the latter deal with the former has been fascinating. At first, the US software giant simply dismissed free software as unworthy even of its attention, but by the early years of this millennium, that was clearly no longer a viable position.

As I've charted elsewhere in my "Brief History of Microsoft FUD", it made various attempts to discredit open source, all of which were dismal failures. As it became clear that this strategy would not work, it adopted another, somewhat more sophisticated. This involved trying to match aspects of open source without actually embracing it. The first manifestation of this was "shared source":

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OSI and Conservancy Announce US Tax Exemption Working Group

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Software Freedom Conservancy and the Open Source Initiative are pleased to announce that they are the founding members of a working group focused on tax exemption issues for organizations in the United States.

Recent activity by the Internal Revenue Service in response to applications for tax exempt status have sparked a lot of interest and discussion amongst free and open source software communities.

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Oracle Embargoes FLOSS (Java)…

Filed under
OSS
Legal

So, Oracle is pushing the limits but apparently is legally doing so. Whether FLOSS can legally be embargoed by government is beyond me. After all, the source is out there and can’t be put back in the bottle. Further, if every country in the world had a random set of embargoes against every other country in he world, FLOSS could not be international at all. That would be a crime against humanity. If Java, why not Linux, itself? If such embargoes apply, Russia, Iran, Cuba etc. could just fork everything and go it alone. They certainly have the population to support a thriving FLOSS community behind their own walls.

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On Navigating Laws and Licenses with Open Source Projects

Filed under
OSS
Legal

A few years ago, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst made the prediction that open source software would soon become nearly pervasive in organizations of all sizes. That has essentially become true, and many businesses now use open source components without even knowing that they are doing so.
For these reasons and other ones, it is more important than ever to know your way around the world of laws and licenses that pertain to open source software. Leaders of new projects need to know how to navigate the complex world of licensing and the law, as do IT administrators. Here is our latest collection of resources to help you navigate in the arena of law and licenses.

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Bad Microsoft Android patents may lie behind Samsung lawsuit

Filed under
Android
Microsoft
Legal

Microsoft's wrestling match with Samsung may just be a contract fight, or it could be the beginning of a war over the validity of Microsoft's Android patents.

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Microsoft files Android patent-royalty suit against Samsung

Filed under
Android
Microsoft
Legal

Microsoft is seeking a ruling as to whether its acquisition of Nokia's handset and services business negates its intellectual-property licensing agreement with Samsung that dates back to 2011. Microsoft also is seeking unpaid interest from Samsung, resulting from the period of time last year when Samsung withheld patent royalties from Microsoft -- royalties which Samsung later paid.

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Lawsuit threatens to break new ground on the GPL and software licensing issues

Filed under
OSS
Legal

GPLv2 is one of the most widely used FOSS licenses, if not the most. It is the license for some of the most important and commercially valuable FOSS projects, including the Linux kernel, whose contributors include such uncomfortable bedfellows as Oracle and Google, Intel and AMD, and Cisco and Huawei. If XimpleWare is right, and a license under GPLv2 offers no protection from the licensor's patents, Linux would be a landmine for these companies, and really for any company with fewer patents than IBM.

Even without an explicit patent grant, lawyers advising businesses on FOSS issues generally agree that GPLv2 protects licensees (at least those in compliance with the license terms) from patent suits by licensors. This is because the law provides for an implied license (or judicial estoppel) where a licensor's conduct leads the licensee to believe it will not be sued, or where fairness otherwise demands that the licensor should be prevented from suing. Because the GPL encourages licensees to copy, modify, and distribute the licensed software—all conduct that would infringe any patents on the software absent a license—licensees can reasonably expect that the software's producers won't sue them for doing those things. (Adam Pugh and Laura A. Majerus of Fenwick & West discuss GPLv2's implied patent license in greater detail in this paper.)

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Tyler Livingston is one of the Licensing Team's summer intern

Filed under
GNU
Legal

Hello. I am a rising Third Year law student at SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas, TX. I am working hard to master the technical aspects of law, electronics, and software. My current interests involve protecting individuals and investigating new technology, particularly in the communications field by utilizing licenses for authorship, art, and inventions. Prior to law school, I attained a bachelor's degree in History at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Licensing is where I began to be involved with free software; the FSF in particular utilizes a great strategy of working within the current licensing jurisprudence by using copyleft to support freedom and empowerment for users over their computers and software. My computer science skills are lacking, but I have worked with UNIX systems in the past and am now finally feeling comfortable enough to make a permanent switch to enjoy software on my own terms. Other interests include electronics and travel (with a trip planned to Eastern Europe later this year).

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FOSS & the IRS: Now We're Talking

Filed under
OSS
Legal

We've been watching with great interest this week as the travails of FOSS organizations with the US Internal Revenue Service have become a hot topic. When our client, Jim Nelson of Yorba, discussed blogging about the IRS rejection of Yorba's application for 501c3 status with us, we hoped but did not expect that the situation, to which we had discreetly called community and company attention for years, would finally receive some. We're very glad that's now happening. Unfortunately, it's really too late. Because of the long delays in determination imposed by the IRS in its increasingly anti-FOSS positioning, neither the full consequences of the IRS's present position nor the state of our legal technology in response can be seen from the materials currently under discussion.

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NHS open-source Spine 2 platform to go live next week

Last year, the NHS said open source would be a key feature of the new approach to healthcare IT. It hopes embracing open source will both cut the upfront costs of implementing new IT systems and take advantage of using the best brains from different areas of healthcare to develop collaborative solutions. Meyer said the Spine switchover team has “picked up the gauntlet around open-source software”. The HSCIC and BJSS have collaborated to build the core services of Spine 2, such as electronic prescriptions and care records, “in a series of iterative developments”. Read more

What the Linux Foundation Does for Linux

Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, talks about Linux a lot. During his keynote at the LinuxCon USA event here, Zemlin noted that it's often difficult for him to come up with new material for talking about the state of Linux at this point. Every year at LinuxCon, Zemlin delivers his State of Linux address, but this time he took a different approach. Zemlin detailed what he actually does and how the Linux Foundation works to advance the state of Linux. Fundamentally it's all about enabling the open source collaboration model for software development. "We are seeing a shift now where the majority of code in any product or service is going to be open source," Zemlin said. Zemlin added that open source is the new Pareto Principle for software development, where 80 percent of software code is open source. The nature of collaborative development itself has changed in recent years. For years the software collaboration was achieved mostly through standards organizations. Read more

Arch-based Linux distro KaOS 2014.08 is here with KDE 4.14.0

The Linux desktop community has reached a sad state. Ubuntu 14.04 was a disappointing release and Fedora is taking way too long between releases. Hell, OpenSUSE is an overall disaster. It is hard to recommend any Linux-based operating system beyond Mint. Even the popular KDE plasma environment and its associated programs are in a transition phase, moving from 4.x to 5.x. As exciting as KDE 5 may be, it is still not ready for prime-time; it is recommended to stay with 4 for now. Read more

diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development

One problem with Linux has been its implementation of system calls. As Andy Lutomirski pointed out recently, it's very messy. Even identifying which system calls were implemented for which architectures, he said, was very difficult, as was identifying the mapping between a call's name and its number, and mapping between call argument registers and system call arguments. Some user programs like strace and glibc needed to know this sort of information, but their way of gathering it together—although well accomplished—was very messy too. Read more