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The Commons Clause causes open-source disruption

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OSS
Legal

Redis Labs tried to legally stop cloud providers from abusing its trademark, but found it difficult because of the legal resources and budgets these giant companies have.

So the company took another route and decided to change the licenses of certain open-source Redis add-ons with the Commons Clause. This change sparked huge controversy within the community with many stating that Redis was no longer open source.

“We were the first significant company to adopt this and announce it in such a way that we got most of the heat from the community on this one,” said Bengal.

The reason for the uproar is because the Commons Clause is meant to add “restrictions” that limit or prevent the selling of open-source software to the Open Source Initiative’s approved open-source licenses.

“ … ‘Sell’ means practicing any or all of the rights granted to you under the License to provide to third parties, for a fee or other consideration (including without limitation fees for hosting or consulting/ support services related to the Software), a product or service whose value derives, entirely or substantially, from the functionality of the Software. Any license notice or attribution required by the License must also include this Commons Clause License Condition notice,” the Commons Clause website states.

According to the OSI, this directly violates item six of its open-source definition in which it states no discrimination against fields of endeavor. “The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research,” the definition explains.

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Is the ‘commons clause’ a threat to open source?

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OSS
Legal

There are discussions on various forums regarding this clause with conflicting views. So, I will try to give my views on this.

Opposers of the clause believe a software becomes propriety on applying commons clause. This means that any service created from the original software remains the intellectual property of the original company to sell.

The fear is that this would discourage the community from contributing to open-source projects with a commons clause attached since the new products made will remain with the company. Only they will be able to monetize it if they choose to do so.

On the one hand, companies that make millions of dollars from open source software and giving anything back is not in line with the ethos of open source software. But on the other hand, smaller startups and individual contributors get penalized by this clause too.

What if small companies contribute to a large open source project and want to use the derived product for their growth? They can’t anymore if the commons clause is applied to the project they contributed to. It is also not right to think that a contributor deserves 50% of the profits if a company makes millions of dollars using their open source project.

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The Commons Clause doesn't help the commons

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OSS
Legal

The Commons Clause was announced recently, along with several projects moving portions of their codebase under it. It's an additional restriction intended to be applied to existing open source licenses with the effect of preventing the work from being sold[1], where the definition of being sold includes being used as a component of an online pay-for service. As described in the FAQ, this changes the effective license of the work from an open source license to a source-available license. However, the site doesn't go into a great deal of detail as to why you'd want to do that.

Fortunately one of the VCs behind this move wrote an opinion article that goes into more detail. The central argument is that Amazon make use of a great deal of open source software and integrate it into commercial products that are incredibly lucrative, but give little back to the community in return. By adopting the commons clause, Amazon will be forced to negotiate with the projects before being able to use covered versions of the software. This will, apparently, prevent behaviour that is "not conducive to sustainable open-source communities".

But this is where things get somewhat confusing.

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Microsoft-Connected Black Duck and Salil Deshpande With Their Attacks on Copyleft

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OSS
Legal
  • The Big Legal Issue Blockchain Developers Rarely Discuss [Ed: The latest FUD from Black Duck]
  • Commons Clause stops open-source abuse [Ed: Salil Deshpande trying to rationalise his attack on Free as in freedom software]

    There are two key reasons to not use AGPL in this scenario, an open-source license that says that you must release to the public any modifications you make when you run AGPL-licensed code as a service.

    First, AGPL makes it inconvenient but does not prevent cloud infrastructure providers from engaging in the abusive behavior described above. It simply says that they must release any modifications they make while engaging in such behavior. Second, AGPL contains language about software patents that is unnecessary and disliked by a number of enterprises.

    Many of our portfolio companies with AGPL projects have received requests from large enterprises to move to a more permissive license, since the use of AGPL is against their company’s policy.

FSF/FSFE/GNU: The Commons Clause Against Copyleft, GCC/Loongson and Sustainable Computing (FSFE)

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GNU
Legal
  • A Fresh Concern About Open-Source Software

    The issue came to a head last week due to two separate licensing decisions in the space. First, the database project Redis, which is known for its ability to store data in memory, announced it would use a new kind of license called “The Commons Clause,” which looks like open source (in that the source is available to use and modify) but doesn’t fully fit the standard because it allows the project to require that some commercial clients pay for use.

    The problem for Redis Labs, the maker of the software, was that many cloud providers, such as Amazon, use its software but don’t contribute to its upkeep.

    “Cloud providers contribute very little (if anything) to those open source projects. Instead, they use their monopolistic nature to derive hundreds of millions dollars in revenues from them,” the company wrote on its licenses page. “Already, this behavior has damaged open-source communities and put some of the companies that support them out of business.”

  • Loongson 3A1000/3A2000/3A3000 Processor Support For GCC

    A compiler engineer working for Loongson Technology Co is looking to land a number of improvements to these newer MIPS64 processors into the mainline GCC code-base.

    Paul Hua of Loongson Tech sent out a number of patches to improve the GNU Compiler Collection's support for these Chinese MIPS64 CPUs. In particular, the six patches officially add support for the 3A1000, 3A2000, and 3A3000 series processors. Also, there is support for the older Loongson 2K1000 processor series.

  • Sustainable Computing

    Recent discussions about the purpose and functioning of the FSFE have led me to consider the broader picture of what I would expect Free Software and its developers and advocates to seek to achieve in wider society. It was noted, as one might expect, that as a central component of its work the FSFE seeks to uphold the legal conditions for the use of Free Software by making sure that laws and regulations do not discriminate against Free Software licensing.

    This indeed keeps the activities of Free Software developers and advocates viable in the face of selfish and anticompetitive resistance to the notions of collaboration and sharing we hold dear. Advocacy for these notions is also important to let people know what is possible with technology and to be familiar with our rich technological heritage. But it turns out that these things, although rather necessary, are not sufficient for Free Software to thrive.

Dutch government to remove legal barriers to sharing code as open source

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OSS
Legal

The Dutch government plans to remove legal roadblocks to allow public services to publish the source code of their ICT solutions. A pending proposal from the government to the parliament will change the country’s rules of conduct that minimise interference with the private sector. Next year, the government will begin encouraging public services to publish their source code publicly.

In recent months, the government has been working on a proposal to change itsrules of conduct. The proposal has not yet been submitted to the Dutch parliament, but the changes are anticipated in NL DIGIbeter, a brochure detailing the country’s digital agenda that was published in August. This week, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry referred to the brochure when asked about pending changes to the rules of conduct.

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Limiting Free Licences and New FUD From Veracode/CA

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OSS
Security
Legal
  • ​Javascript Tool Maker Relents After Mixing Immigration Politics with Open Source Licensing

    In very short order, Lerna, a company that offers some Javascript tooling, has learned the hard way not to mess with the integrity of an open source license. In other words, don’t decide you’re going to take an existing OSI-certified open source license, modify it to suit your agenda, license your code under the newly derived license, and still continue to refer to your offering as "open source.”

    First, this analysis piece is really just a follow up to my previous post about why it’s time to reject the latest attack on open source software (OSS). The main point of that post was to point out that all of us who have experienced the benefits of open source (ok, that’s nearly all human beings) should play a role in defending it. Otherwise, it will whither and so too will the benefits most of us have come to enjoy, blind to the fact that open source is playing such an important role in our lives.

  • Does Redis' Commons Clause threaten open-source software?
  • Get a Jump on Reducing Your Open Source Software Security Risks [Ed: Anti-FOSS firm Veracode/CA pays IDG for spam which stigmatises FOSS as lacking security]

It's Time To Reject The Latest Attack On Open Source Software

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OSS
Legal

Open source software is under attack. Again. And so it's beholden on all of us to take a stand before the current scourge marginalizes the wonderous benefits of open source (which accrue to every human) and the organization which looks after both the sanctity of the open source movement and the integrity of the licenses behind it: the Open Source Initiative.

Whether you know it or not, all humans are the beneficiaries of open source software in almost everything we do in our digital lives. Most of everything we use -- the smartphones, the cable modem routers, our desktops and laptops, the Web sites and services we access, the APIs at work under the hood of it all -- is built using open source software (in all or in part). It can be easily argued that all of our user experiences would be a lot suckier and slower were it not for the open source model and how it drives innovation (much of it charitable) which trickles into every digital moment without exception. Some experiences that add value to our lives might not exist at all were it not for open source.

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Also: Open Source Devs Reverse Decision to Block ICE Contractors From Using Software

Licensing/Legal: Public Money, Public Code and Linux Foundation Stuff

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OSS
Legal
  • Software created using taxpayers’ money should be Free Software

    It might seem obvious that software created using tax money should be available for everyone to use and improve. Free Software Foundation Europe recentlystarted a campaign to help get more people to understand this, and I just signed the petition on Public Money, Public Code to help them. I hope you too will do the same.

  • Major Open Source Project Revokes Access to Companies That Work with ICE [iophk: "former open source now ... however, it is their code and they can change the license"]

     

    On Tuesday, the developers behind a widely used open source code-management software called Lerna modified the terms and conditions of its use to prohibit any organization that collaborates with ICE from using the software. Among the companies and organizations that were specifically banned were Palantir, Microsoft, Amazon, Northeastern University, Motorola, Dell, UPS, and Johns Hopkins University.  

  • Solving License Compliance at the Source: Adding SPDX License IDs

    Accurately identifying the license for open source software is important for license compliance. However, determining the license can sometimes be difficult due to a lack of information or ambiguous information. Even when there is some licensing information present, a lack of consistent ways of expressing the license can make automating the task of license detection very difficult, thus requiring significant amounts of manual human effort. There are some commercial tools applying machine learning to this problem to reduce the false positives, and train the license scanners, but a better solution is to fix the problem at the upstream source.

    In 2013, the U-boot project decided to use the SPDX license identifiers in each source file instead of the GPL v2.0 or later header boilerplate that had been used up to that point. The initial commit message had an eloquent explanation of reasons behind this transition.

  • Arm and Facebook join Yocto Project

    Arm and Facebook have joined Intel and TI as Platinum members of the Yocto Project for embedded Linux development. Meanwhile, the Linux Foundation announced 47 new Silver members.

    The Linux Foundation’s seven-year old Yocto Project was originally an Intel project, and the chipmaker has continued to nurture it over the years. Yet, the Yocto Project’s collection of open source templates, tools, and methods for creating custom embedded Linux-based systems was quickly embraced by the Arm world as well as x86. Now, the technology’s presence in Arm Linux has been reinforced at the membership level with Arm and Facebook joining Intel and Texas Instruments as Platinum members. In other news, the Linux Foundation announced 51 new Silver and Associate members (see farther below).

  • Google Hands Off Kubernetes to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Kinetica Joins Automotive Grade Linux, NordVPN Releases NordVPN Linux App, Storj Labs Announces The Open Source Partner Program and Update on Librem 5 Phone

    Google is handing over control of the Kubernetes project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. According to the TechCrunch post, Google is providing the foundation $9 million in Google Cloud credits to help cover the costs of building, testing and distributing the software.

Redis modules and the Commons Clause

Filed under
OSS
Legal

The "Commons Clause", which is a condition that can be added to an open-source license, has been around for a few months, but its adoption by Redis Labs has some parts of the community in something of an uproar. At its core, using the clause is meant to ensure that those who are "selling" Redis modules (or simply selling access to them in the cloud) are prohibited from doing so—at least without a separate, presumably costly, license from Redis Labs. The clause effectively tries to implement a "no commercial use" restriction, though it is a bit more complicated than that. No commercial use licenses are not new—the "open core" business model is a more recent cousin, for example—but they have generally run aground on a simple question: "what is commercial use?"

Redis is a popular in-memory database cache that is often used by web applications. Various pieces of it are licensed differently; the "Redis core" is under the BSD license, some modules are under either Apache v2.0 or MIT, and a handful of modules that Redis Labs created are under Apache v2.0, now with Commons Clause attached. Cloud services (e.g. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and other smaller players) provide Redis and its modules to their customers and, naturally, charge for doing so. The "charge" part is what the adoption of the clause is trying to stamp out—at least without paying Redis Labs.

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KDE and GNOME: KDE4, Krita and GNOME.Asia

  • Everything old is new again
    Just because KDE4-era software has been deprecated by the KDE-FreeBSD team in the official ports-repository, doesn’t mean we don’t care for it while we still need to. KDE4 was released on January 11th, 2008 — I still have the T-shirt — which was a very different C++ world than what we now live in. Much of the code pre-dates the availability of C++11 — certainly the availability of compilers with C++11 support. The language has changed a great deal in those ten years since the original release. The platforms we run KDE code on have, too — FreeBSD 12 is a long way from the FreeBSD 6 or 7 that were current at release (although at the time, I was more into OpenSolaris). In particular, since then the FreeBSD world has switched over to Clang, and FreeBSD current is experimenting with Clang 7. So we’re seeing KDE4-era code being built, and running, on FreeBSD 12 with Clang 7. That’s a platform with a very different idea of what constitutes correct code, than what the code was originally written for. (Not quite as big a difference as Helio’s KDE1 efforts, though)
  • Let’s take this bug, for example…
    Krita’s 2018 fund raiser is all about fixing bugs! And we’re fixing bugs already. So, let’s take a non-technical look at a bug Dmitry fixed yesterday. This is the bug: “key sequence ctrl+w ambiguous with photoshop compatible bindings set” And this is the fix.
  • GNOME.Asia 2018
    GNOME.Asia 2018 was co-hosted with COSCUP and openSUSE Asia this year in Taipei, Taiwan. It was a good success and I enjoyed it a lot. Besides, meeting old friends and making new ones are always great.

Top 5 Open Source Data Integration Tools

Businesses seeking to improve their data integration know that today's data integration software perform complex tasks. They enable applications to access data associated with other applications, and also to migrate data from one platform to another, transforming it as necessary. Given this sophistication, selecting the best data integration tool is far from easy. Adding to the complexity of the selection process: early data integration tools focused on ETL – extract, transform, and load processes. However, most of today's data integration products have much more advanced capabilities and can generally connect both on-premises and cloud-based data. Many also integrate with other data management products, such as business intelligence (BI), analytics, master data management (MDM), data governance and data quality solutions. To help sort through the complex options, the list below highlights five of the best open source data integration tools, based on vendor profile and completeness of their data integration tool set. Read more

What’s New in Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS

Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS is the latest release of Ubuntu budgie. As part of Ubuntu 18.04 flavor this release ships with latest Budgie desktop 10.4 as default desktop environment. Powered by Linux 4.15 kernel and shipping with the same internals as Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), the Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS official flavor will be supported for 3 years, until April 2021. Prominent new features include support for adding OpenVNC connections through the NetworkManager applet, better font handling for Chinese and Korean languages, improved keyboard shortcuts, color emoji support for GNOME Characters and other GNOME apps, as well as window-shuffler capability. Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS also ships with a new exciting GTK+ theme by default called Pocillo, support for dynamic workspaces, as well as a “minimal installation” option in the graphical installer that lets users install Ubuntu Budgie with only the Chromium web browser and a handful of basic system utilities. Read more