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Legal

FSFE on Licensing in REUSE Initiative and Racket Moves to Apache 2.0/MIT Licence

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • The last 12 months in the light of software freedom

    In the last 12 months, we have achieved a lot with the help of our volunteers, through their donations and hard work. Thanks to their support, we were able to successfully continue our PMPC campaign, simplify licensing practices through our REUSE initiative, and stand up for router freedom in Europe. We will be back in 2020 with even more vigour towards our work. Please help us with a donation so that we can continue our successful commitment to Free Software.

  • Racket 7.5 Changes License

    Racket has been updated and is being released under a new, less-restrictive license: either the Apache 2.0 license or the MIT license. The new release also adds a standard JSON MIME type for the Web Server.

    Racket is described as a “full-spectrum programming language” that goes beyond Lisp and Scheme with dialects that support objects, types and laziness. When coding in it, you can link components written in different dialects, and write your own project-specific dialect if you want. The Racket libraries support applications from web servers and databases to GUIs and charts.

    [...]

    Chez Scheme is both a programming language and an implementation of that language, with supporting tools and documentation. It is a superset of the language described in the Revised Report on the Algorithmic Language Scheme (R6RS). Chez Scheme supports all standard features of Scheme, including first-class procedures, proper treatment of tail calls, continuations, user-defined records, libraries, exceptions, and hygienic macro expansion. The Racket team says they expect that Racket CS will be ready for production use by the next release.

    Elsewhere in this release, the Web Server now provides a standard JSON MIME type, including a response/jsexpr form for HTTP responses bearing JSON; and GNU MPFR operations run about three times faster.

Input for the BEREC's guidelines on Router Freedom in Europe

Filed under
Hardware
Legal

Router Freedom is the right of customers of any Internet Service Provider (ISP) to choose and use a private modem and router instead of a router that the ISP forces them to use. The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) drafted guidelines for national agencies how to deal with Router Freedom in their countries. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) provided mixed feedback to an ongoing public consultation.

The status of Router Freedom in Europe differs from country to country as the monitoring by the FSFE shows. The core of the debate is the question of where the Network Termination Point (NTP) is located. This defines where the network of the ISP ends and where the network of the user begins. If the modem and router are considered part of the ISP's infrastructure, a user cannot claim sovereignty of their communication and security.

The patchwork rug of different rules may change soon as BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, has been commissioned to create guidelines for the National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs) and help them with implementing European regulation in a harmonised way. BEREC's current draft of the guidelines is up for public consultation until 21 November 2019. We analysed this draft and the EU Directives and Regulations it references, and provided our conclusion in a brief document.

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Java License Fallout Continues Impacting IBM i Shops

Filed under
Development
Legal

Oracle’s decision to restrict the previously free distribution of Java version 8 tools and runtimes is impacting the entire IT industry. In our little neck of the woods, the decision to charge businesses for using Oracle’s Java has forced IBM i shops to take a hard look at the technology platform, and in some cases look for alternative solutions.

Oracle ruffled feathers in the Java community in 2017, when it made substantial changes to its Java roadmap. The company announced that Java Standard Edition (SE) version 8, which is a legacy version of Java but is still in widespread use, “will not be available for business, commercial or production use without a commercial license” after January 2019. Licenses for Java SE 8 could be purchased for $30 per desktop per year or $300 per processor for server licenses.

Oracle’s stated plan for the move was to accelerate the development and release cycle for Java in a bid to keep up today’s fast-paced DevOps environments (and perhaps part of its unstated plan, which was to squeeze Java users for revenue). The tech giant and the Java community hammered out Java SE versions 9 and 10 in quick fashion, in late 2017 and early 2018, respectively.

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Graphics and Standards

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks
Web
Legal
  • SHADERed 1.2.3 Released With Support For 3D Textures & Audio Shaders

    SHADERed is the open-source, cross-platform project for creating and testing HLSL/GLSL shaders. While a version number of 1.2.3 may not seem like a big update, some notable additions can be found within this new SHADERed release.

  • Vulkan 1.1.125 Released With SPIR-V 1.4 Support

    Succeeding Vulkan 1.1.124 one week later is now Vulkan 1.1.125 with a lone new extension.

    Vulkan 1.1.125 has its usual clarifications and corrections to this graphics API specification. Meanwhile the new extension introduced in the overnight v1.1.125 release is VK_KHR_spirv_1_4.

  • Making Movies Accessible for Everyone

    For the first time, people who are deaf or hard of hearing will be able to enjoy the Nairobi leg of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, opening on October 15.

Contributor License Agreement and Developer Certificate of Origin references

Filed under
OSS
Legal

In the last few years I have come across the CLA topic several times. It is and will be a popular topic in automotive the coming years, like in any industry that moves from being an Open Source Producer towards becoming an Open Source Contributor.

In my experience, many organizations take the CLA as a given by looking at the google, microsoft or intels of the world and replicate their model. But more and more organizations are learning about alternatives, even if they do not adopt them.

What I find interesting about discussing the alternatives is that it brings to the discussion the contributor perspective and not just the company one. This enrichs the debate and, in some cases, leads to a more balanced framework between any organization behind a project and the contriibutor base, which benefits both.

Throughout these years I have read a lot about it but I have never written anything. It is one of those topics I do not feel comfortable enough to write about in public probably because I know lots of people more qualified than I am to do so. What I can do is to provide some articles and links that I like or that have been recommended to me in the past.

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Invasion of The Ethical Licenses

Filed under
OSS
Legal

About 23 years ago, I created the Debian Free Software Guidelines to help the Debian developers decide what software was permissible to include in Debian, which aspired to be 100% Free Software, and what should be consigned to a “non-free” repository upon which Debian would never depend. Nine months later, those guidelines became the Open Source Definition, and I announced Open Source to the world.

                        
                        [...]
                        
                        Despite the seeming impossibility of its enforcement, the Vaccine License is the most professionally constructed of this pack, carefully targeting the approval process of the Open Source Initiative – and IMO missing it. But all three licenses appear to be unlikely to obtain the agreement of a court in enforcement, and scaling their requirements would be a sort of full-employment act for lawyers.

Let’s work through how these licenses would be enforced.

When these licenses are enforced, the copyright holder is the plaintiff, a fancy word for someone who makes a complaint. Their complaint is that the defendant, the licensee, committed a tort, a violation of civil law. The tort is copyright infringement.

The important point here is that the complaint isn’t that the license was violated, the complaint is that the defendant did not have a license at all, and is infringing copyright. The defendant then has to prove that they did have a license, and that they were obeying the license’s terms, or that the court should for some reason not honor those terms.

Licenses are also contracts, and thus the tort can be breach of contract. But contracts require the consent of both parties – the copyright holder, and the licensee. Real consent is indicated by signing the contract, but that doesn’t ever happen with this sort of license. Instead, there is a lesser indication of consent by the action of using, distributing, or modifying the software.

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Digital Restrictions (DRM) Watch

Filed under
Security
Web
Legal
  • One Weird Law That Interferes With Security Research, Remix Culture, and Even Car Repair

    How can a single, ill-conceived law wreak havoc in so many ways? It prevents you from making remix videos. It blocks computer security research. It keeps those with print disabilities from reading ebooks. It makes it illegal to repair people's cars. It makes it harder to compete with tech companies by designing interoperable products. It's even been used in an attempt to block third-party ink cartridges for printers.

    It's hard to believe, but these are just some of the consequences of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives legal teeth to "access controls" (like DRM). Courts have mostly interpreted the law as abandoning the traditional limitations on copyright's scope, such as fair use, in favor of a strict regime that penalizes any bypassing of access controls (such as DRM) on a copyrighted work regardless of your noninfringing purpose, regardless of the fact that you own that copy of the work.  

  • One Weird Law That Interferes With Security Research, Remix Culture, and Even Car Repair
  • Spotify is Defective by Design

    I never used Spotify, since it contains DRM. Instead I still buy DRM-free CDs. Most of my audio collection is stored in free formats such as FLAC and Ogg Vorbis, or Red Book in the case of CDs, everything can be played by free players such as VLC or mpd.

    Spotify, which uses a central server, also spies on the listener. Everytime you listen a song, Spotify knows which song you have listened and when and where. By contrast free embedded operating systems such as Rockbox do not phone home. CDs can be baught anonymously and ripped using free software, there is no need for an internet commection.

Trademark Law Against Amazon's (Mis)Use of Elasticsearch

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • AWS faces Elasticsearch lawsuit for trademark infringement

    Elasticsearch has sued AWS for trademark infringement and false advertising in connection with the cloud giant's recently released version of the widely used Elasticsearch distributed analytics and search engine.

    Elasticsearch Inc., or Elastic, is based on the open-source Lucene project and Elastic serves as originator and primary maintainer. Tensions flared in March when AWS, along with Expedia and Netflix, launched Open Distro for Elasticsearch. The release is fully open source compared with Elastic's version and was actually prompted by Elastic's weaving too much proprietary code into the main line over time, according to AWS.

  • Open Source Search Firm Accuses Amazon of Trademark Infringement

    O'Melveny & Myers is representing search engine Elasticsearch in a complaint that alleges Amazon is willfully infringing its mark by promoting competing search and analytics products.

Oracle demands $12K from network biz that doesn't use its software

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Software
Legal

Merula Limited, a UK-based network service provider, recently received a bill from Oracle for $12,200 for using the company's proprietary VirtualBox Extension Pack, which provides extra capabilities for the free GPL-licensed VirtualBox hypervisor.

For Richard Palmer, director of the company, this was a perplexing demand. As he explained to The Register, "Merula does not operate or manage any computer using VirtualBox or any Oracle software."

Oracle provided the company with a range of IP addresses, more than 100, that it claimed had been using its proprietary VirtualBox Extension Pack in conjunction with VirtualBox installations.

It's claimed that Oracle's software phones home to report where it's being used, though the company may be repurposing VirtualBox telemetry for its audits. Or it may simply be checking the IP addresses associated with downloads of the software and contacting address registrants to seek payment.

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GNU: GIMP, FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab, Xiaomi Compliance

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Photoshop too expensive? Use these free alternatives instead

    GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a downloadable, professional-grade photo editor with an extensive Photoshop-like collection of essential editing tools. In addition, GIMP boasts advanced filters and layer masks. Whether you want to add text, erase background or add texture to a photo, this no-cost editing software will meet your needs.

  • FSF Continuing Legal Education Seminar on GPL Enforcement and Legal Ethics

    The FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab will work with experienced lawyers and professionals to provide a full day continuing legal education (CLE) seminar on GPL Enforcement and Legal Ethics for legal professionals, law students, free software developers, and anyone interested in licensing issues.

  • Xiaomi Releases Android Pie Kernel Sources for Redmi Note 8, Note 8 Pro

    Xiaomi has often been criticized by FOSS proponents and developers for its failure to abide by the GNU General Public License v2 license, which governs open source software such as Android. The company has often either completely failed to release kernel sources for its smartphones and tablets, or released them long after the launch of the device, both of which are an outright violation of the GNU GPL license.

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