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Xiaomi aims to release Kernel Source Code for new devices within 3 months after launch

Filed under
Linux
Legal

Xiaomi is a company that’s largely renowned for their devices that offer excellent specifications relative to price. Smartphones is just one of their many ventures, but it’s how the company has made its name known globally. The company’s rapid expansion in markets like India has brought millions of new users onto smartphones running Android, which has resulted in a wave of new users on our forums looking to customize their devices. Unfortunately, Xiaomi has a poor history of complying with open source licenses as they have shown time and time and time again that they are willing to violate the General Public License v2 (GPLv2) by failing to release kernel source code for their devices. The GPL is what makes the developer community on our forums possible, as all Android phones run on the Linux kernel and without access to the source code it would have been nearly impossible for custom AOSP-based ROMs to take off the way they’ve done on our forums.

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Also: Conservancy Welcomes the Common Workflow Language as a Member Project

​Symantec may violate Linux GPL in Norton Core Router

Filed under
GNU
Legal

For years, embedded device manufacturers have been illegally using Linux. Typically, they use Linux without publishing their device's source code, which Linux's GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) requires them to do. Well, guess what? Another vendor, this time Symantec, appears to be the guilty party.

This was revealed when Google engineer and Linux security expert Matthew Garrett was diving into his new Norton Core Router. This is a high-end Wi-Fi router. Symantec claims it's regularly updated with the latest security mechanisms. Garrett popped his box open to take a deeper look into Symantec's magic security sauce.

What he found appears to be a Linux distribution based on the QCA Software Development Kit (QSDK) project. This is a GPLv2-licensed, open-source platform built around the Linux-based OpenWrt Wi-Fi router operating system.

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How the EU's Copyright Reform Threatens Open Source--and How to Fight It

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Translated into practical terms, this means that sites with major holdings of material uploaded by users will be required to filter everything before allowing it to be posted. The problems with this idea are evident. It represents constant surveillance of people's online activities on these sites, with all that this implies for loss of privacy. False positives are inevitable, not least because the complexities of copyright law cannot be reduced to a few algorithmic rules that can be applied automatically. That, and the chilling effect it will have on people's desire to upload material, will have a negative impact on freedom of expression and undermine the public domain.

The high cost of implementing upload filters—Google's ContentID system required 50,000 hours of coding and $60 million to build—means that a few big companies will end up controlling the market for censorship systems. Their oligopoly power potentially gives them the ability to charge high prices for their services, which will impose burdens on companies in the EU and lead to fewer online startups in the region. Other problems with the idea include the important fact that it seems to go against existing EU law.

Article 13 has been drawn up mainly to satisfy the barely disguised desire of the European copyright industry to attack successful US companies like Google and Facebook. But the upload filter is a very crude weapon, and it will affect many others who—ironically—will be less able than internet giants to comply with the onerous requirement to censor. For example, it is likely that Wikipedia will be caught by the new rule. After all, it hosts huge amounts of "subject-matter" that is uploaded by users. As a post on the Wikimedia blog pointed out: "it would be absurd to require the Wikimedia Foundation to implement costly and technologically impractical automated systems for detecting copyright infringement."

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Keep the IoT Free (Patent Battles Not Welcome)

Filed under
OSS
Legal

While it has experienced nearly exponential growth, the successful adoption and use of open-source by banking networks, mobile phone manufacturers, telecom networks, smart cars, cloud computing and blockchain platforms, among numerous others, was not a foregone conclusion. In 2003, there was an IP-based attack on Linux, the most prevalent open-source software project.

While the claims underlying the litigation ultimately were found to be without merit in the court proceeding, it was a wake-up call to several IP-savvy companies as to the potential negative impact of patent aggression on the growth of Linux and open source software projects. IBM, Red Hat and SUSE (then Novell) coordinated an effort with Sony, Philips and NEC to conceptualize and implement a solution designed to create a patent no-fly zone around the core of Linux.

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​FOSSA: Open-sourcing open-source license management

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Kevin Wang, CEO of FOSSA, has a different approach. The 22-year-old founder told me at Open Source Leadership Summit in Sonoma, CA: "Code scanning is not enough anymore. FOSSA's approach to dependency scanning leverages both static and dynamic code analysis. Dynamic analysis allows FOSSA to get an accurate, live view of what dependencies are pulled into builds. Static analysis supplements the results with metadata on how dependencies are included to power deep intelligence features and recommendation engines. Both these approaches are used to build the most accurate, performant, and intelligent infrastructure for managing your open source."

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EUPL planned actions

Filed under
OSS
Legal

A revised set of guidelines and recommendations on the use of the open source licence EUPL v1.2 published by the Commission on 19 May 2017 will be developed, involving the DIGIT unit B.3 (Reusable Solutions) and the JRC 1.4 (Joint Research Centre – Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer). The existing licence wizard will be updated. New ways of promoting public administrations' use of open source will be investigated and planned (such as hackathons or app challenges on open source software). The target date for the release of this set of guidelines on the use of the European Public Licence EUPL v1.2, including a modified Licence Wizard, is planned Q2 2018.

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FOSS Licensing: Good Compliance Practices and "Do I Have to Use a Free/Open Source License?"

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • Good Compliance Practices Are Good Engineering Practices

    Companies across all industries use, participate in, and contribute to open source projects, and open source compliance is an integral part of the use and development of any open source software. It’s particularly important to get compliance right when your company is considering a merger or acquisition. The key, according to Ibrahim Haddad, is knowing what’s in your code, right down to the exact versions of the open source components.

  • Do I Have to Use a Free/Open Source License?

    That, as we all probably already know, is not the case. The only licenses that can be called "open source" are those that are reviewed and approved as such by the Open Source Initiative (aka OSI). Its list of OSI-Approved licenses allows developers to choose and apply a license without having to hire a lawyer. It also means that companies no longer need to have their own lawyers review every single license in every piece of software they use. Can you imagine how expensive it would be if every company needed to do this? Aside from the legal costs, the duplication of effort alone would lead to millions of dollars in lost productivity. While the OSI's other outreach and advocacy efforts are important, there's no doubt that its license approval process is a service that provides an outsized amount of value for developers and companies alike.

Microsoft Openwashing and Revisionism

Filed under
GNU
Microsoft
Legal
  • Microsoft joins effort to cure open source license noncompliance [Ed: Pushing Microsoft lies under the false pretenses that Microsoft plays along with the GPL (it violates, smears and undermines it)]
  • Microsoft joins group working to 'cure' open-source licensing issues [Ed: Mary Jo Foley uses this initiative to whitewash Microsoft after it repeatedly violated the GPL and attacked it publicly, behind the scenes etc. And watch the image she uses: a lie.]

    It's kind of amazing that just over a decade ago, Microsoft was threatening Linux vendors by claiming free and open-source software infringed on 235 of Microsoft's patents. In 2007, Microsoft was very openly and publicly anti-GPLv3, claiming it was an attempt "to tear down the bridge between proprietary and open source technology that Microsoft has worked to build with the industry and customers."

  • Today's channel rundown - 19 March 2018

    The six have committed to extending additional rights "to cure open source license noncompliance".

    The announcement was made by Red Hat, which says the move will lead to greater cooperation with distributors of open source software to correct errors.

    In a statement, Red Hat referenced widely used open source software licenses, GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License, which cover software projects including the Linux kernel.

    GPL version 3 offers distributors of the code an opportunity to correct errors and mistakes in license compliance.

  • Tails Security Update, Companies Team Up to Cure Open Source License Noncompliance, LG Expanding webOS and More

    According to a Red Hat press release this morning: "six additional companies have joined efforts to promote greater predictability in open source licensing. These marquee technology companies—CA Technologies, Cisco, HPE, Microsoft, SAP, and SUSE—have committed to extending additional rights to cure open source license noncompliance. This will lead to greater cooperation with distributors of open source software to correct errors and increased participation in open source software development."

What legal remedies exist for breach of GPL software?

Filed under
Legal

Last April, a federal court in California handed down a decision in Artifex Software, Inc. v. Hancom, Inc., 2017 WL 1477373 (N.D. Cal. 2017), adding a new perspective to the forms of remedies available for breach of the General Public License (GPL). Sadly, this case reignited the decades-old license/contract debate due to some misinterpretations under which the court ruled the GPL to be a contract. Before looking at the remedy developments, it’s worth reviewing why the license debate even exists.

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CLA vs. DCO: What's the difference?

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Legal

In your open source adventures, you may have heard the acronyms CLA and DCO, and you may have said "LOL WTF BBQ?!?" These letters stand for Contributor License Agreement and Developer Certificate of Origin, respectively. Both have a similar intent: To say that the contributor is allowed to make the contribution and that the project has the right to distribute it under its license. With some significant projects moving from CLAs to DCOs (like Chef in late 2016 and GitLab in late 2017), the matter has received more attention lately.

So what are they? The Contributor License Agreement is the older of the two mechanisms and is often used by projects with large institutional backing (either corporate or nonprofit). Unlike software licenses, CLAs are not standardized. CLAs can vary from project to project. In some cases, they simply assert that you're submitting work that you're authorized to submit, and you permit the project to use it. Other CLAs (for example the Apache Software Foundation's) may grant copyright and/or patent licenses.

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