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Legal

Startup Mycroft AI declares it will fight 'patent troll' tooth and nail after its Linux voice-assistant attracts lawsuit

Filed under
Linux
Legal

An AI startup is battling a patent-infringement lawsuit filed against it for building an open-source Linux-based voice-controlled assistant.

Mycroft AI first learned trouble was brewing when it was contacted by a lawyer at Tumey LLP, a Texas law firm focused on intellectual property, in December. In an email to the startup’s CEO Joshua Montgomery, the legal eagle claimed Mycroft AI's technology infringed two US patents – 9,794,348 and 10,491,679 – belonging to Tumey's client, Voice Tech Corp.

Voice Tech's patents described a system for handling “voice commands from a mobile device to remotely access and control a computer." Mycroft AI develops voice-assistant software that runs on Linux systems, including Raspberry Pis and its own standalone Mark I and II gadgets, and responds to spoken requests, such as setting alarms and reminders, searching the web, and so on. You can add more features by installing add-ons called skills.

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Microsoft flirts with new anti-trust challenge with new Start Menu-based Edge ads

Filed under
Microsoft
Moz/FF
Legal

Microsoft originally implemented the “Suggested” section on the Windows 10 Start Menu as a way to advertise its official apps; but in the latest listing, Microsoft has gone beyond self-promotion.

Microsoft’s recent extensive advertising is becoming hard to ignore, which has prompted many users to disable the ads. Those who haven’t done so may have noticed the most recent one takes a dig at a competitor browser.

The listing displays “Still using Firefox? Microsoft Edge is here”, to all users of the former- even with the latter already installed. The ad provides a link to download the chromium-based browser.

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Also: Windows 7: a major bug prevents turning off or restarting the PC

Maker of Linux patch batch grsecurity can't duck $260,000 legal bills, says Cali appeals court in anti-SLAPP case

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Legal

Open Source Security – the maker of the grsecurity patches that harden Linux kernels against attack – must cough up $260,000 to foot the legal bills of software industry grandee Bruce Perens.

So ruled California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today, affirming a lower court's ruling against Open Source Security (OSS).

In June 2017, Perens published a blog post in which he said that he believed grsecurity exposed users to potential liability under version 2 of the GNU General Public License because the grsecurity code states that customers will not get further updates if they exercise their right to redistribute the software, as allowed by the GPLv2.

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Licensing and FUD About Free Software

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • Open Source License Compliance: Raising the Bar [Ed: Spreading FUD about "risk" of Free software licenses... in order to sell one's own proprietary software 'solution']

    Question is, can you have true security without being a company that focuses on license compliance? I think not.

    Some companies count on using open source software with no regard for the licenses associated with the code they use. Open source licenses give others permission to modify, use, and distribute software, but under specific conditions and terms. And, every component may very well have a different license. With the volume of open source being used, you can see how quickly this can get out of hand and lead to IP, reputation, and subsequent litigation down the road.

    Another statement I use quite a bit, “It’s a must, not a maybe.” Development teams need to respect the legalities associated with source code licensing by passing along a copyright statement or a copy of license text, or by providing the entire source code for the company’s product. Licenses range from fairly permissive (allowing the licensee to use code without responsibilities) to highly restrictive (extremely limiting, even requiring you to make your proprietary project subject to the same licensing terms of the OSS used).

  • Open source licence series - Altus: open source is big business, get used to it

    The idea that open source developers are college students, creating some really cool software that big organisations then exploit and don’t give anything back may have been valid 20 years ago, but not today, it’s not how things work.

    Open source is now big, with major players driving innovation, like the OpenBank Project, the Banking API platform and OpenLogic.

    For a working example, AT&T is (obviously) a household name and very large quoted business. The organisation provides the majority of engineering, design and architectural resource for the ONAP open source project.

  • Open source licence series - Rancher Labs: Why vendor 'strip-mining' is an opportunity, not a threat
  • Open source licence series – Delphix: Rent vs buy, which fits your licencing cost model?
  • Open source licence series – Puppet: consumption without collaboration equals consternation
  • Open source licence series – Tidelift: Ethical source-available licenses challenge open source
  • Open-Source Software in Federal Procurements: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part 2 – The Bad

    In the first post of this series, we discussed “the good” of open-source software and why federal buyers should find it attractive. However, when it comes to the federal government accepting open-source code with open arms, the reality is certainly more mixed. Faced with changing and technical regulations, government contractors need to know the major drawbacks of using open-source code in government contracts. In this second entry to our open-source series, we explore “the bad” impacts of open-source use in government contracting.

  • EDRM Announces Newest Affinity Partner Merlin Legal Open Source Foundation and New Processing Specifications Project

    Setting the global standards for e-discovery, the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) is pleased to announce its newest affinity partner, the Merlin Legal Open Source Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve access to justice and make legal and regulatory compliance more efficient through the use of open source software and secure cloud computing. The Merlin Foundation was established in 2019 by John Tredennick, its executive director and a longtime industry expert and former CEO and founder of Catalyst Repository Systems, a leading search and technology-assisted review e-discovery platform.

It is time to end the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions process and put a stop to DRM

Filed under
GNU
Legal

Although it is accurate, there's one aspect of the process that is missing from that description: the length. While the process kicks off every three years, the work that goes into fighting exemptions, whether previously granted or newly requested, has a much shorter interval. As you can see from the timeline of events from the 2018 round of the exemptions process, the process stretches on for months and months. For each exemption we have to prepare research, documents, and our comments through wave after wave of submission periods. For the 2018 exemptions round, the first announcements from the United States Copyright Office were in July of 2017, on a process that concluded in October of 2018. Fifteen months, every three years. If you do the math, that means we're fighting about 40% of the time just to ensure that exemptions we already won continue, and that new exemptions will be granted. If the timeline from the last round holds up, then we're only a few short months away from starting this whole circus back up again.

Describing it as a circus seems an appropriate label for the purpose of this whole process. It's not meant to be an effective mechanism for protecting the rights of users: it's a method for eating up the time and resources of those who are fighting for justice. If we don't step up, users could lose the ability to control their own computing and software. It's like pushing a rock up a mile-long hill only to have it pushed back down again when we've barely had a chance to catch our breath.

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Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt Against Copyleft

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Legal
  • Why Open Source Licenses With A Commons Clause May Become Less Common

    The Commons Clause also is ambiguous in its prohibition against selling "hosting or consulting/support services related to the Software" for any product or service whose value derives entirely or substantially from the software's functionality. A plain reading of this provision suggests that a cloud service provider cannot host the licensed software for free and charge a fee for customer support or consulting relating to the software's functionality (e.g., how to use the software). The Commons Clause documentation refers to a discussion board suggesting that consulting may be permitted, but the language of the clause and the contents of that online discussion appear to suggest otherwise.

  • Manage Your OSS Security Using a Free Scanning Tool [Ed: "Enterprise License Optimization Blog" is Flexera marketing rubbish; it likes to talk all about "Open Source" (FUD), but its own stuff is 100% proprietary]
  • Sonatype: improving software with open source technology
  • Open source licence series - R3: The world needs audit licenses [Ed: Typical old nonsense of proprietary software firms, looking to portray a licensing question as pertaining only to FOSS]

    The so-called ‘open core’ model is hard to get right.

    [As we know, the open-core model primarily involves offering a “core” or feature-limited version of a software product as free and open-source software, while offering “commercial” versions or add-ons as proprietary software.]

Bruce Perens quits Open Source Initiative amid row over new data-sharing crypto license: 'We've gone the wrong way with licensing'

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Last year, lawyer Van Lindberg drafted a software license called the Cryptographic Autonomy License (CAL) on behalf of distributed development platform Holo – and submitted it to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for approval as an Open Source Definition-compliant (OSD) license.

The debate over whether or not to approve the license, now in its fourth draft, has proven contentious enough to prompt OSI co-founder Bruce Perens to resign from the organization, for a second time, based on concern that OSI members have already made up their minds.

"Well, it seems to me that the organization is rather enthusiastically headed toward accepting a license that isn't freedom respecting," Perens wrote in a missive to the OSI's license review mailing list on Thursday. "Fine, do it without me, please."

Perens, for what it's worth, drafted the original OSD.

Another open-source-community leader familiar with the debate – who spoke with The Register on condition of anonymity – claimed Lindberg lobbied OSI directors privately to green-light the license, contrary to an approval process that's supposed to be carried out in public.

"I don't think that's an appropriate characterization," said Lindberg, of law firm Dykema, in a phone interview with The Register. "I think there are number of people who from the beginning made up their minds about the CAL. You'll see a lot of people jumping onto any pretext they can find in order to oppose it."

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Allison Randal Joins Conservancy Board

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Legal

We're very excited to welcome Allison Randal to Conservancy's Board of Directors. When it comes to free and open source software, there are few people who have had so much experience in so many different ways. Over the last 30 years, she has taken on projects that became instrumental in welcoming more people to the software freedom cause. She's made numerous critical technical contributions in addition to her impressive leadership contributions. She's also worked hard to get folks from very different organizations to collaborate on languages, licensing and events. We're very lucky that Randal has chosen to bring her uniquely broad and historical perspective to her work as a Conservancy Director.

Randal is a board member at the Perl Foundation, a board member at the OpenStack Foundation, and co-founder of the FLOSS Foundations group for free software community leaders. At various points in the past she has served as president of the Open Source Initiative, president of the Perl Foundation, board member of the Python Software Foundation, chairman of the Parrot Foundation, chief architect of the Parrot virtual machine, Open Source Evangelist at O’Reilly Media, conference chair of OSCON, Technical Architect of Ubuntu, Open Source Advisor at Canonical, Distinguished Technologist and Open Source Strategist at HP, and Distinguished Engineer at SUSE. She collaborates in the Debian project, and is currently taking a mid-career research sabbatical at the University of Cambridge. While on sabbatical, she has been teaching computer science.

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A Brief History of Open Source Software, Part 2: OSS Licenses and Legalities

Filed under
GNU
Legal

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the magic of open source software (OSS) is based as much on legal innovation as it is on collaboration. Indeed, the essential innovation that launched free and open source software was not Richard Stallmans GNU Project, but his announcement of a revolutionary new licensing philosophy, and the actual license agreements needed to put that philosophy into effect. Only later did global collaboration among developers explode, riding the wave of Stallman's licenses, Linus Torvald's pioneering work in creating the distributed development process, and rapidly increasing telecommunications bandwidth.

In this installment, we'll explore how Stallman's philosophy spread and forked, and where it has taken us to today.

The legal theories, agreements, and documentation that relate to OSS, and its precursor, Free and Open Source Software (for convenience, in this installment I'll refer to both types collectively as FOSS), are far too complex to explore more than superficially in an article of this type. But for current purposes, it is less important to acquire a deep knowledge of FOSS legal terms than it is to gain insight into why the legalities of FOSS are so important.

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Nginx/Rambler Dispute Over Code

Filed under
Development
Server
Legal
  • What’s yours is ours Rambler Group claims exclusive rights to world’s most popular web-server software, six months after it's sold to U.S. company for 670 million dollars

    On Thursday, December 12, Russian law enforcement raided the Moscow office of the IT company “Nginx,” which owns the eponymous web-server used by almost 500 million websites around the world. According to several reports, Nginx co-founders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov spent several hours in police interrogation. The search is part of a criminal case based on charges by a company tied to the Russian billionaire and Rambler Group co-owner Alexander Mamut, whose businesses believe they own the rights to the Nginx web-server because Sysoev started developing the code while working for Rambler in 2004. Meduza’s correspondent Maria Kolomychenko looks at how Sysoev and his partners spent 15 years creating the world’s most popular web-server before selling it to an American firm for $670 million, and how Rambler decided, half a year later, that it owns the technology.

  • ‘A typical racket, simple as that’ Nginx co-founder Maxim Konovalov explains Rambler's litigation against his company, which develops the world’s most popular web-server

    Russia’s IT industry is in the midst of a major conflict between businesses belonging to “Rambler Group” co-owner Alexander Mamut and the company “Nginx,” created by Igor Sysoev and his partner Maxim Konovalov. Nginx’s key product is the eponymous web-server used by more than a third of the world’s websites. Sysoev first released the software in 2004, while still an employee at Rambler, which is now claiming exclusive rights to Nginx, based on its interpretation of Russian law. The police have already joined the dispute, launching a criminal investigation and searching Nginx’s Moscow office. In an interview with Meduza, Nginx co-founder Maxim Konovalov described the police raid and explained why he thinks it took Rambler 15 years to claim ownership over the coveted web-server technology, which recently sold to the American corporation “F5 Networks” for $670 million.

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