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Licensing With GPL: Greater Certainty

Filed under
GNU
Red Hat
Legal
  • A Movement Builds as a Diverse Group of 14 Additional Leaders Seek Greater Predictability in Open Source Licensing

    Today’s announcement demonstrates the expanded breadth and depth of support for the GPL Cooperation Commitment. Companies adopting the commitment now span geographic regions, include eight Fortune 100 companies, and represent a wide range of industries from enterprise software and hardware to consumer electronics, chip manufacturing to cloud computing, and social networking to automotive. The companies making the commitment represent more than 39 percent of corporate contributions to the Linux kernel, including six of the top 10 corporate contributors.1

  • ARM: Arm joins industry leaders in commitment to fair enforcement of open source licenses

    Today, Red Hat announced that several leading technology companies, including Arm, are joining a diverse coalition of organizations that have come together to promote greater predictability in open source license enforcement. Alongside Amazon, Canonical, Linaro, Toyota, VMware and many others we have committed to ensure fair opportunity for our licensees to correct errors in compliance with their GPL and LGPL licensed software before taking action to terminate the licenses.

  • Debian "stretch" 9.5 Update Now Available, Red Hat Announces New Adopters of the GPL Cooperation Commitment, Linux Audio Conference 2018 Videos Now Available, Latte Dock v0.8 Released and More

    Red Hat announced that 14 additional companies have adopted the GPL Cooperation Commitment, which means that "more than 39 percent of corporate contributions to the Linux kernel, including six of the top 10 contributors" are now represented. According to the Red Hat press release, these commitments "reflect the belief that responsible compliance in open source licensing is important and that license enforcement in the open source ecosystem operates by different norms." Companies joining the growing movement include Amazon, Arm, Canonical, GitLab, Intel Corporation, Liferay, Linaro, MariaDB, NEC, Pivotal, Royal Philips, SAS, Toyota and VMware.

Codecs and Patents

Filed under
Moz/FF
OSS
Legal
  • An Invisible Tax on the Web: Video Codecs

    Here’s a surprising fact: It costs money to watch video online, even on free sites like YouTube. That’s because about 4 in 5 videos on the web today rely on a patented technology called the H.264 video codec.

    A codec is a piece of software that lets engineers shrink large media files and transmit them quickly over the internet. In browsers, codecs decode video files so we can play them on our phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. As web users, we take this performance for granted. But the truth is, companies pay millions of dollars in licensing fees to bring us free video.

    It took years for companies to put this complex, global set of legal and business agreements in place, so H.264 web video works everywhere. Now, as the industry shifts to using more efficient video codecs, those businesses are picking and choosing which next-generation technologies they will support. The fragmentation in the market is raising concerns about whether our favorite web past-time, watching videos, will continue to be accessible and affordable to all.

  • AV1, Opportunity or Threat for POWER and ARM Servers?

    While I haven’t seen an official announcement, Phoronix reported that the AV1 git repository was tagged 1.0, so the launch announcement is imminent. If you haven’t heard about it already, AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is an open, royalty-free video coding format by the Alliance for Open Media.

  • VP9 & AV1 Have More Room To Improve For POWER & ARM Architectures

    Luc Trudeau, a video compression wizard and co-author of the AV1 royalty-free video format, has written a piece about the optimization state for video formats like VP9 and AV1 on POWER and ARM CPU architectures.

Open-source Moodle wins injunctions in Kiwi partner stoush

Filed under
OSS
Legal

The High Court in Auckland has granted injunctions and other relief to open source learning management platform Moodle after a falling out with a former partner.

Free and open source Moodle was created by Martin Dougiamas beginning in 1999 and is based in Perth, Western Australia.

Injunctions have been granted to protect Moodle's trademark from use by former Moodle partners and associates 123 Internet, Moodle Partners NZ, Onlearn Ltd and Gary Trevor Benner.

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D-Link and the GPL

Filed under
GNU
Legal

It tells me to go to D-Link’s page for GPL licensed software to get the source code. It also lets me write a request the source code on physical media for a nominal fee for the media and handling. Something I naturally did (being an engineer on vacation).

While waiting for a reply, let’s have a look at the online version. When entering the URL provided you have to click through an agreement that I understand what GPL and LGPL means and that the files distributed comes with no warranties (they spend more words saying this – read it if you want the details). Clicking “I Agree” I get a popup (back to the 90’s) asking me to register my product to enjoy all the benefits of doing so. At the same time the main window continues to a list of all D-Link products containing (L)GPL software – very nice.

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How the Apache License allows open source to thrive

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Open source is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and so is the Apache License. The Apache License is a permissive free software license that is currently in its third iteration. The license allows customers to use intellectual property for any purpose, such as modifying or distributing it.

According to Roman Shaposhnik, member of the Apache Software Foundation board of directors, the license was created from a combination of business interests and a desire of the Apache Group (which later became the Apache Software Foundation) to ensure that the community around Apache httpd web server grew. That Apache web server was actually the first project to be licensed under the Apache License, Shaposhnik said.

“These licenses help us achieve our goal of providing reliable and long-lived software products through collaborative open source software development. In all cases, contributors retain full rights to use their original contributions for any other purpose outside of Apache while providing the ASF and its projects the right to distribute and build upon their work within Apache,” the Apache Software Foundation wrote on their website.

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Article 13 – An Existential Threat to Free Software

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OSS
Legal

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a letter from more than 70 leaders in the emerging meshed society (including me) which criticises Article 13 of the European Union’s proposed new copyright regulations. This Article starts from the assumption that the only role of an individual is to consume copyrighted works and hence deduces that any act of publication on the part of an individual must be infringing the copyrights of a corporation unless proven otherwise. The text doesn’t state things that clearly, but the effect is unmistakeable. It’s as if a politician was proposing to ban syringes because addicts use them, without considering that hospitals do too.

The regulations go on to use the power of “safe harbour” – an increasingly popular legislative device that grants delay or immunity from prosecution as a party to an offence to a company if it can demonstrate it has taken specified actions. For example. it’s “safe harbour” that induces YouTube to take down your videos when a copyright holder asserts the bird song in the background is in fact a song they published. Getting that video re-posted involves you, an individual, taking on terrifying potential liability in the event the copyright holder litigates so YouTube can be absolved of it.

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EU Law Threatens Free/Open Source Software

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • EU votes on copyright law that could kill memes and open source software

    The European Union has passed an initial vote in favour of the Copyright Directive, a legislation experts say "threatens the internet".

    As reported by Wired, the mandate is designed to update internet copyright law but contains two controversial clauses. Ultimately, it could force prominent online platforms to censor their users' content before it's posted—which could impact everyone from meme creators to open source software designers and livestreamers.

    Despite passing a vote yesterday—held by the EU's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI)—the directive needs parliamentary approval before becoming law.

  • The EU Parliament Legal Affairs Committee Vote on Directive on Copyright, David Clark Cause and IBM's Call for Code, Equus' New WHITEBOX OPEN Server Platform and More

    Yesterday the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee voted in favor of "the most harmful provisions of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market", Creative Commons reports. The provisions include the Article 11 "link tax", which requires "anyone using snippets of journalistic content to first get a license or pay a fee to the publisher for its use online." The committee also voted in favor of Article 13, which "requires online platforms to monitor their users' uploads and try to prevent copyright infringement through automated filtering." There are still several steps to get through before the Directive is completely adopted. See EDRi for more information.

  • GitHub: Changes to EU copyright law could derail open source distribution
  • The E.U. votes to make memes essentially illegal

    On Wednesday, European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs voted to essentially make memes illegal. The decision came as part of the approval process for the innocuously named “Article 13,” which would require larger sites to scan all user uploads using content recognition technology in an attempt to flag any and all remotely copyrighted material in photos, text, music, videos, and more. Meaning memes using stills from copyrighted films could be auto-blocked, along with remixes of viral videos, and basically anything that’s popular on live-streaming sites like Twitch.

  • Europe takes step towards 'censorship machines' for internet uploads

    A key committee at the European Parliament has voted for a new provision in a legislative act that forces tech giants and other online platforms to share revenues with publishers. It is known as Article 13, and is part of an updating of the Copyright Directive.

    Article 13 proposes that large websites use “content recognition technologies” to scan for copyrighted materials, though it doesn’t explain how this works in practice. This means texts, sounds and even code which get uploaded have to go through an automated filtering system, potentially threatening the creation of memes and open-source software developers.

The EC’s Expected Decision Against Android Is an Unfortunate Attack on Open Source Software

Filed under
Android
OSS
Legal

The European Commission (“EC”) is preparing to release its decision against Android, and its framing of the issues makes clear that successful open source software will have a hard time in Europe. In its Statement of Objections, the Commission signaled that Apple’s iOS, Android’s fiercest rival, would be excluded from the market definition because it is closed source and not available to other hardware makers. The decision is expected to declare unlawful strategies to monetize a free product, provide a consistent user experience to customers expecting the Google brand, and to maintain code consistency to minimize problems for developers using the platform. The decision is not expected to contain any indication on how open source platform developers can solve these problems that are fundamental to their success.

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Zapcc Liberated, HMM and GPL

Filed under
Development
OSS
Legal
  • Zapcc high-speed C++ compiler now open source

    Zapcc, a caching C++ compiler built for speed, has gone open source.

    Ceemple Software, Zapcc’s builder, claims the compiler offers dramatic improvements in both incremental and full builds compared to building with Clang 4.0 and Clang 5.0. Based on heavily modified code from the Clang compiler project, Zapcc uses an in-memory compilation cache in a client-server architecture. All compilation information is remembered between runs.

  • Heterogeneous memory management meets EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL()

    One of the many longstanding — though unwritten — rules of kernel development is that infrastructure is not merged until at least one user for that infrastructure exists. That helps developers evaluate potential interfaces and be sure that the proposed addition is truly needed. A big exception to this rule was made when the heterogeneous memory management (HMM) code was merged, though. One of the reasons for the lack of users in this case turns out to be that many of the use cases are proprietary; that has led to some disagreements over the GPL-only status of an exported kernel symbol.

    The HMM subsystem exists to support peripherals that have direct access to system memory through their own memory-management units. It allows the ownership of ranges of memory to be passed back and forth and notifies peripherals of changes in memory mappings to keep everything working well together. HMM is not a small or simple subsystem, and bringing it into the kernel has forced a number of low-level memory-management changes. After a multi-year development process, the core HMM code was merged for the 4.14 kernel, despite the lack of any users.

Making Free Software Suffer Using New Laws

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • Free software is at risk in the EU -- take action now

    Members of the European Parliament want to turn upload platforms like GitLab into "censorship machines" that require user-uploaded materials to be monitored and automatically filtered, a process which would prevent modified and reused code from being uploaded. This provision is covered under Article 13 of the Copyright Directive.

    If Article 13, embedded within the proposal, becomes official policy, it will be impossible for developers to build off of one another's code -- which is not only a blow to the collaborative development of free software, but a push against the basic freedoms of free software. Software isn't free unless it can be modified and shared. Article 13 will affect all users of free software -- as development of free software suffers, the quality and availability of updates, new features, and new programs will also suffer.

  • Open Source Industry Australia Says Zombie TPP Could Destroy Free Software Licensing

    Without the ability to enforce compliance through the use of injunctions, open source licenses would once again be pointless. Although the OSIA is concerned about free software in Australia, the same logic would apply to any TPP-11 country. It would also impact other nations that joined the Pacific pact later, as the UK is considering (the UK government seems not to have heard of the gravity theory for trade). It would presumably apply to the US if it did indeed rejoin the pact, as has been mooted. In other words, the impact of this section on open source globally could be significant.

    It's worth remembering why this particular article is present in TPP. It grew out of concerns that nations like China and Russia were demanding access to source code as a pre-requisite of allowing Western software companies to operate in their countries. Article 14.17 was designed as a bulwark against such demands. It's unlikely that it was intended to destroy open source licensing too, although some spotted early on that this was a risk. And doubtless a few big software companies will be only too happy to see free software undermined in this way. Unfortunately, it's probably too much to hope that the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade will care about or even understand this subtle software licensing issue. The fate of free software in Australia will therefore depend on whether TPP-11 comes into force, and if so, what judges think Article 14.17 means.

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Amid the 20th anniversary of open source, Tim O’Reilly warns that platform companies built on open-source software have lost their way

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