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Legal

The falsehoods of anti-AGPL propaganda

Filed under
GNU
Legal

Google is well-known for forbidding the use of software using the GNU Affero General Public License, commonly known as “AGPL”. Google is also well-known for being the subject of cargo-culting by fad startups. Unfortunately, this means that they are susceptible to what is ultimately anti-AGPL propaganda from Google, with little to no basis in fact.

[...]

The Google page about the AGPL details inaccurate (but common1) misconceptions about the obligations of the AGPL that don’t follow from the text. Google states that if, for example, Google Maps used PostGIS as its data store, and PostGIS used the AGPL, Google would be required to release the Google Maps code. This is not true. They would be required to release their PostGIS patches in this situation. AGPL does not extend the GPL in that it makes the Internet count as a form of linking which creates a derivative work, as Google implies, but rather that it makes anyone who uses the software via the Internet entitled to its source code. It does not update the “what counts as a ‘derivative work’” algorithm, so to speak — it updates the “what counts as ‘distributing’ the software” algorithm.

The reason they spread these misconceptions is straightforward: they want to discourage people from using the AGPL, because they cannot productize such software effectively. Google wants to be able to incorporate FOSS software into their products and sell it to users without the obligation to release their derivative works. Google is an Internet company, and they offer Internet services. The original GPL doesn’t threaten their scheme because their software is accessed over the Internet, not distributed to end-users directly.

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OSI Reviews Open, Free and Openwashing Licences

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • February 2020 License-Discuss Summary

    Statement that all major open source licenses rely on copyright for protection, none of them have severability clauses to address what happens if one or more clauses in the license cannot be enforced, and that works authored by the US Government (USG) does not have copyright attached in the USA. Concern that if standard licenses are used, it is not known if the license will be struck completely or if only portions would be, as well as whether it would expose the government if a standard license is used when some clauses don’t apply.

  • License Review Process Update

    We’d like to update you on some work we have underway on improving the OSI’s work on reviewing open source licenses. We’re working on two initiatives, one substantive and one process.

    First, on process, we know that an email list is a suboptimal way to perform the license review process. We have published a Request for Proposals for a contractor to, first, develop a set of requirements for an appropriate license-review vehicle and, second, implement the selected process. You can find the full RFP here. If you’re interested in participating as a stakeholder, stay tuned to this space for an announcement when we’ve started work on the project itself.

    Second, on substance, we are starting a License List Working Group. The mission will be to review, re-evaluate, and redefine current processes and standards for license review with a view towards ensuring that the OSI’s license list is appropriately comprehensive while also continuing to encourage the use of a smaller set of well-known, well-understood licenses. More information on the Working Group can be found here.

today's programming leftovers and licence lawsuit

Filed under
Development
Legal
Misc
  • Whiteboard Coding Stress Reduces Performance by More than Half

    A recent study by North Carolina State University researchers found that stress caused by whiteboard technical interviews significantly affected the performance of job candidates.

    Whiteboard tests are a common feature of the hiring process for software developers. During these sessions, candidates are expected to develop coding solutions on a whiteboard while describing their decision-making process to observers.

    In the study, half of the participants performed the typical whiteboard test with an interviewer looking on. The other half solved the problem on a whiteboard in a private room with no interviewer present. The private interviews also included a retrospective “think-aloud” session to discuss the solutions presented.

    [...]

    In the paper, the researchers noted that “a technical interview has an uncanny resemblance to the Trier social stress test,” a technique used by psychologists with the sole purpose of inducing stress. “Through a happy accident, the software industry has seemingly reinvented a crude yet effective instrument for reliably introducing stress in subjects, which typically manifests as performance anxiety,” they said. Additionally, “the unique combination of cognitive-demanding tasks with a social-evaluative threat (essentially being watched) is consistent and powerful,” they stated.

  • Address Sanitizer, Part 1

    Hello everyone. My name is Harshit Sharma (hst on IRC). I am working on the project to add the “Address Sanitizer” feature to coreboot as a part of GSoC 2020. Werner Zeh is my mentor for this project and I’d like to thank him for his constant support and valuable suggestions.

    It’s been a fun couple of weeks since I started working on this project. Though I found the initial few weeks quite challenging, I am glad that I was able to go past that and learned some amazing stuff I’d cherish for a long time.

    Also, being a student, I find it incredible to have got a chance to work with and learn from such passionate, knowledgeable, and helpful people who are always available over IRC to assist.

    [...]

    The design of ASan in coreboot is based on its implementation in Linux kernel, also known as Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN). However, coreboot differs a lot from Linux kernel due to multiple stages and that is what poses a challenge.

  • Etcd, or, why modern software makes me sad

    I talk a lot of shit about Google, but Facebook and Microsoft are nearly as bad at turning out legions of ex-employees who can't be left alone in the room with a keyboard lest they attempt to recreate their previous employer's technology stack, poorly.

  • EuroPython 2020: Find a new job at the conference

    Our sponsors would love to get in touch with you, so please have a look and visit them at their sponsor exhibit channel on Discord or contact them via the links and email addresses given on the page.

  • Check if incoming edges in a vertex of directed graph is equal to vertex itself or not

    Given a directed Graph G(V, E) with V vertices and E edges, the task is to check that for all vertices of the given graph, the incoming edges in a vertex is equal to the vertex itself or not.

  •        

  • Jelurida Files Lawsuit Against Apollo Blockchain For License Violations Over Nxt Code

Understanding Copyleft

Filed under
GNU
Legal

The concept of copyleft means making a software program or other work free to use and additionally requiring all modified and extended versions of that program to be free as well. It’s important to note that “free” in this sense refers to freedom – not cost – and you may hear the commonly used phrases “free as in speech” and “free as in beer” used to make this distinction.

According to the LINFO website, “the origin of the term copyleft is not certain. It may have first appeared in a message contained in Tiny BASIC, a free version of the Basic programming language that was written by Dr. Li Chen Wang in the late 1970s.”

[...]

As Joe Casad states in a Linux Magazine article, “The GNU General Public License was born of the simple idea that freedom matters. Yet this simple tool for protecting freedom has another important feature that makes it even more powerful, and that is the ability to build communities.” The amazing growth of projects and communities that make up the open source ecosystem stems in part from this ability to modify and extend tools to meet changing needs.

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Software patents are another kind of disease

Filed under
Legal

On Friday May 8th, the USPTO announced the COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. Doctored up to look like a helpful response to a global pandemic, it's actually the exact opposite. Under the program, the USPTO will waive some fees associated with accelerated application review for patents on works that require US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. They'll also work to try and get these applications granted within six months. These changes will make it easier and faster for people to gain patents on any technology related to the pandemic, including patents on software. It's not in our scope to determine the impact of other kinds of patents, but we know specifically that they are terrible for software, and at a time where software is critical to saving lives, expediting software patent applications will only cause harm.

To be clear, this program does not speed up FDA approval, or help to get lifesaving technology to the people who need it most. It doesn't create supply chains or help fund the development of medical technologies and software. All it does is make it easier for someone to "own" that technology, to make it quicker and cheaper to restrict others from implementing and sharing tools that people need to survive. It rushes the patent application process so that someone could be able to sue others trying to save seriously ill patients around the world before the global pandemic is over.

While the crisis was unfurling, the GNOME Foundation was still expending resources fighting off a patent suit started in 2019. On May 20, 2020, the GNOME Foundation succeeding in securing a release and covenant not to sue from the patent aggressor for all software released under a free license. This was a major win for software freedom that took months and months to realize. But the threat remains, and the only reason someone would need to get their patent granted sooner is because they want to start their lawsuits sooner, to disrupt the flow of medical technology in order to siphon off profits from those seeking to alleviate the worst pandemic in a century.

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Also: FSF Calls Software Patents A Disease Amid COVID-19 Crisis, USPTO A Super-Spreader

CEO of Open Technology Fund Resigns After Closed-Source Lobbying Effort

Filed under
OSS
Legal

In a resignation email sent to an OTF mailing list, Libby Liu, the inaugural OTF CEO, mentioned that the Trump administration had recently sworn in Michael Peck as the new head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which is the OTF's grantor. She said that she learned of lobbying efforts to push money to closed-source tools.

"As you all know, OTF's flexible, transparent, and competitive funding model has been essential to our success in supporting the most secure and effective internet freedom technologies and innovative projects available," she wrote. "I have become aware of lobbying efforts to convince the new USAGM [U.S. Agency for Global Media] CEO to interfere with the current FY2020 OTF funding stream and redirect some of our resources to a few closed-source circumvention tools."

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Licensing: Qt Online Installer 3.2.3 Released

Filed under
Development
Legal
  • Qt Online Installer 3.2.3 Released

    We are happy to announce Qt Online Installer / Maintenance Tool 3.2.3 has been released.

    We have fixed a few translation issues. Please read the details in ChangeLog.

    The page, introducing Qt Open Source usage, has been slightly modified. The goal has been to clarify the Qt Open Source usage.

  • Qt Updates Its Online Installer To Clarify Open-Source Obligations

    Following yesterday's release of Qt 5.15 LTS as the last series before Qt 6.0, The Qt Company has now released a new Qt Online Installer.

    Qt Online Installer 3.2.3 is out with a few translation fixes and they have reworked their "Qt Open Source usage" page. The page lays out the open-source usage obligations for the toolkit under the GPLv2/GPLv3/LGPLv3. The page also allows users to buy Qt or choose the right license and lays out the various obligations when using the open-source version.

Patent case against GNOME resolved

Filed under
GNOME
Legal

Today, on the 20th of May 2020, the GNOME Foundation, Rothschild Patent Imaging, and Leigh M. Rothschild are pleased to announce that the patent dispute between Rothschild Patent Imaging and GNOME has been settled.

In this walk-away settlement, GNOME receives a release and covenant not to be sued for any patent held by Rothschild Patent Imaging. Further, both Rothschild Patent Imaging and Leigh Rothschild are granting a release and covenant to any software that is released under an existing Open Source Initiative approved license (and subsequent versions thereof), including for the entire Rothschild portfolio of patents, to the extent such software forms a material part of the infringement allegation.

Neil McGovern, Executive Director for the GNOME Foundation said “I’m exceptionally pleased that we have concluded this case. This will allow us to refocus our attention on creating a free software desktop, and will ensure certainty for all free and open source software in future.”

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FSFE calls for a more inclusive competition law in Europe

Filed under
OSS
Legal

In order to contribute to the EU Commission assessment of the Market Definition Notice, the FSFE has taken part in the public consultation to call for more attention to smaller stakeholders and civil society in topics of EU competition law.

The European Commission has launched an evaluation of some central concepts of EU competition law. The so-called EU Market Definition Notice (the "Notice") enables the Commission to identify actual competitors of relevant products and geographic markets to enforce prevailing competition policy and law. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether the Notice, introduced in 1997, remains fit for its purpose in light of recent developments. This is especially necessary when we also consider the dramatic digitalisation of the European markets that has occurred in the past 23 years.

In order to contribute to a fair and inclusive assessment, the FSFE took part in the public consultation to highlight the necessity of having the experience of grassroot organisations and civil society actors heard by the Commission. Notwithstanding the deep expertise in competition law in the software and telecommunications field these smaller stakeholders have, they might be disadvantaged in raising attention to essential competition topics, since the Commission might hear a biased account of the needs of the market when only large and well-funded business organisations have sufficient resources to effectively provide feedback in consultation procedures.

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FSFE nudges emergency ventilator project towards a Free Software License

Filed under
Legal

After a nudge by the FSFE, the Dutch OpenAIR initiative has provided licenses on their material to support reuse.

In the Netherlands an initiative has started to cope with COVID-19 by developing an easy producible emergency ventilator for which parts could mainly be sourced locally: OperationAIR. This project was started on 16 March by professor Harlaar and students of the Department of BioMechanical Engineering of Delft Technical University in order to ensure enough ventilator capacity for treating COVID-19 patients. The team intended their design to be publicly available for reuse. To adhere to the principles of Open Science all documentation, technical design and source code was published in a coherent fashion on their website.

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