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Microsoft Pays GPL Foes, Free Software Talks GPL, GPL Violator Pays the Linux Foundation

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GNU
Legal

New Github TOS Causes Anger

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GNU
BSD
Legal
  • Rational thoughts on the GitHub ToS change

    I woke this morning to Thorsten claiming the new GitHub Terms of Service could require the removal of Free software projects from it. This was followed by joeyh removing everything from github. I hadn’t actually been paying attention, so I went looking for some sort of summary of whether I should be worried and ended up reading the actual ToS instead. TL;DR version: No, I’m not worried and I don’t think you should be either.

    First, a disclaimer. I’m not a lawyer. I have some legal training, but none of what I’m about to say is legal advice. If you’re really worried about the changes then you should engage the services of a professional.

  • what I would ask my lawyers about the new Github TOS

    The Internet saw Github's new TOS yesterday and collectively shrugged.

    That's weird..

    I don't have any lawyers, but the way Github's new TOS is written, I feel I'd need to consult with lawyers to understand how it might affect the license of my software if I hosted it on Github.

    And the license of my software is important to me, because it is the legal framework within which my software lives or dies. If I didn't care about my software, I'd be able to shrug this off, but since I do it seems very important indeed, and not worth taking risks with.

    If I were looking over the TOS with my lawyers, I'd ask these questions...

  • New GitHub Terms of Service r̲e̲q̲u̲i̲r̲e̲ removing many Open Source works from it

    The new Terms of Service of GitHub became effective today, which is quite problematic — there was a review phase, but my reviews pointing out the problems were not answered, and, while the language is somewhat changed from the draft, they became effective immediately.

    Now, the new ToS are not so bad that one immediately must stop using their service for disagreement, but it’s important that certain content may no longer legally be pushed to GitHub. I’ll try to explain which is affected, and why.

    I’m mostly working my way backwards through section D, as that’s where the problems I identified lie, and because this is from easier to harder.

Github's Alleged Attack on the GPL and Compliance Advice

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GNU
Legal
  • removing everything from github

    Github recently drafted an update to their Terms Of Service. The new TOS is potentially very bad for copylefted Free Software. It potentially neuters it entirely, so GPL licensed software hosted on Github has an implicit BSD-like license. I'll leave the full analysis to the lawyers, but see Thorsten's analysis.

    I contacted Github about this weeks ago, and received only an anodyne response. The Free Software Foundation was also talking with them about it. It seems that Github doesn't care or has some reason to want to effectively neuter copyleft software licenses.

  • How to Raise Awareness of Your Company’s Open Source License Compliance

    Communication is one of the seven essential elements to ensure the success of open source license compliance activities. And it’s not enough to communicate compliance policies and processes with executive leadership, managers, engineers, and other employees. Companies must also develop external messaging for the developer communities of the open source projects they use in their products.

FOSS Licensing: ZFS in Debian and Creative Commons

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OSS
Legal
  • On ZFS in Debian

    I’m currently over at FOSDEM, and have been asked by a couple of people about the state of ZFS and Debian. So, I thought I’d give a quick post to explain what Debian’s current plan is (which has come together with a lot of discussion with the FTP Masters and others around what we should do).

    [...]

    Debian has always prided itself in providing the unequivocally correct solution to our users and downstream distributions. This also includes licenses – we make sure that Debian will contain 100% free software. This means that if you install Debian, you are guaranteed freedoms offered under the DFSG and our social contract.

  • Complying with Creative Commons license attribution requirements in slides and powerpoint

    When I was at Mozilla and WMF, I frequently got asked how to give proper credit when using Creative Commons-licensed images in slideshows. I got the question again last week, and am working on slides right now, so here’s a quick guide.

Software Freedom Conservancy Funding

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GNU
Legal
  • Software Freedom Conservancy matching

    Non-profits that provide project support have proven themselves to be necessary for the success and advancement of individual projects and Free Software as a whole. The Free Software Foundation (founded in 1985) serves as a home to GNU projects and a canonical list of Free Software licenses. The Open Source Initiative came about in 1998, maintaining the Open Source Definition, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines, with affiliate members including Debian, Mozilla, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Software in the Public Interest (SPI) was created in the late 90s largely to act as a fiscal sponsor for projects like Debian, enabling it to do things like accept donations and handle other financial transactions.

  • Clojars is Conservancy’s Newest Member Project

    Software Freedom Conservancy is pleased to announce the addition of Clojars as its newest member project. Clojars is a community-maintained repository for free and open source libraries written in the Clojure programming language. Clojars emphasizes ease of use, publishing library packages that are simple to use with build automation tools.

FOSS Policies

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OSS
Legal

GNU/FSF

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GNU
Legal
  • Why I Love Free Software

    I’m a Linux desktop user, because Linux doesn’t try to lock me into their platform and services only to abandon me halfway through the journey.

    Instead of having my access to remote management features, convenient encryption features, and even how long I’m allowed to use my own device be restricted by how much I’ve paid for my operating system edition; I’m free to choose whichever edition I want based on my needs of the moment.

  • Here's a sneak peek at LibrePlanet 2017: Register today!
  • What's a cryptovalentine?

    Roses are red, violets are blue; I use free software to encrypt my online communication and you can too.

  • Bradley Kuhn Delivered Copyleft Keynote at FOSDEM

    At FOSDEM last week, Conservancy’s Distinguished Technologist Bradley Kuhn delivered a keynote “Understanding The Complexity of Copyleft Defense.” The speech reviews the history of GPL enforcement efforts, pointing out development projects such as OpenWRT and SamyGo that began thanks to GPL compliance work. Kuhn focused in particular on how copyleft compliance can further empower users and developers as more kinds of devices run GPL’d software, and he concluded his remarks urging developers to take control of their own work by demanding to hold their own copyrights, using mechanisms such as Conservancy’s ContractPatch initiative.

Top 10 FOSS legal stories in 2016

Filed under
OSS
Legal

The year 2016 resulted in several important developments that affect the FOSS ecosystem. While they are not strictly "legal developments" they are important for the community.

For one, Eben Moglen, the general counsel of the Free Software Foundation, stepped down. Eben has been a leader on FOSS legal issues since the late 1990s and has been critical to the success of the FOSS movement. The FOSS community owes him a huge debt of gratitude, and I expect that he will continue to be active in the FOSS community. The success of FOSS adoption was dramatically illustrated when Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation and summarized in the article, Open Source Won. So, Now What? in Wired magazine.

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GPL Enforcement and FUD

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Supporting Conservancy Makes a Difference

    There are a lot of problems in our society, and particularly in the USA, right now, and plenty of charities who need our support. The reason I continue to focus my work on software freedom is simply because there are so few focused on the moral and ethical issues of computing. Open Source has reached its pinnacle as an industry fad, and with it, a watered-down message: “having some of the source code for some of your systems some of the time is so great, why would you need anything more?”. Universal software freedom is however further from reality than it was even a few years ago. At least a few of us, in my view, must focus on that cause.

    I did not post many blog posts about this in 2016. There was a reason for that — more than any other year, work demands at Conservancy have been constant and unrelenting. I enjoy my work, so I don't mind, but blogging becomes low priority when there is a constant backlog of urgent work to support Conservancy's mission and our member projects. It's not just Conservancy's mission, of course, it's my personal one as well.

  • The decline of GPL? [Ed: So Bacon is citing Microsoft proxies like Black Duck whose sole initial purpose was to attack the GPL... Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS firm.]

    It seems that in recent years that trend has continued. Aside from the Black Duck research, a license study in GitHub in 2015 found that the MIT license was a dominant choice. Even observationally in my work at XPRIZE (where we chose a license for the Global Learning XPRIZE), and my work as a community leadership consultant, I have seen a similar trend with many of my clients who feel uncomfortable licensing their code under GPL.

Judge Nixes PS3 Linux Class Action Settlement As Class's Lawyers Victimize The Class A Second Time

Filed under
Linux
Legal

We've made the point for several years now that the way class action lawsuits are handled in America is flawed in fundemental ways. What was supposed to be a method for enabling large groups of the aggrieved to pool resources against much larger and better-funded entities has instead devolved into a procedure that appears almost perfectly designed to enrich unscrupulous lawyers while the class itself gets a laughable percentage any monetary damages.

We get to see these flaws in practice yet again, this time in an update for the story that simply will not die: the legal action over Sony removing the PS3's ability to run Linux, which it advertised when the console launched. The class action suit had reached a proposed settlement, only to have the presiding judge nix it, essentially over concerns that the class was being victimized all over again, this time by its own lawyers.

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An introduction to Joplin, an open source Evernote alternative

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Open Source OS Still supporting 32-bit Architecture and Why it’s Important

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