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BMW Australia and GPL

Filed under
GNU
OSS
Legal

The VMware Hearing and the Long Road Ahead

Filed under
GNU
Legal

On last Thursday, Christoph Hellwig and his legal counsel attended a hearing in Hellwig's VMware case that Conservancy currently funds. Harald Welte, world famous for his GPL enforcement work in the early 2000s, also attended as an observer and wrote an excellent summary. I'd like to highlight a few parts of his summary, in the context of Conservancy's past litigation experience regarding the GPL.

First of all, in great contrast to the cases here in the USA, the Court acknowledged fully the level of public interest and importance of the case. Judges who have presided over Conservancy's GPL enforcement cases USA federal court take all matters before them quite seriously. However, in our hearings, the federal judges preferred to ignore entirely the public policy implications regarding copyleft; they focused only on the copyright infringement and claims related to it. Usually, appeals courts in the USA are the first to broadly consider larger policy questions. There are definitely some advantages to the first Court showing interest in the public policy concerns.

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SCO vs. IBM looks like it's over for good

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The long-running SCO vs. IBM case looks like it might just be over.

A new filing (PDF) scooped up by the good folks at Groklaw sees both SCO and IBM agree to sign off on two recent decisions in which SCO's arguments advancing its claims to own parts of Unix were slapped down by the US District Court.

As The Register reads the PDF we've linked to above, and our informal legal counsel concurs, the new document describes IBM and SCO both signing off on the recent court orders. Those orders left SCO without a legal argument to stand on.

The new filing also points out that SCO remains bankrupt and has “has de minimis financial resources beyond the value of the claims on which the Court has granted summary judgment for IBM.”

Or in plain English, SCO is broke and the only asset it possess of any value is its claims against IBM, and now it doesn't even have those because it just lost a court case about them. That leaves SCO in no position to carry on.

“Accordingly,” the new filing continues, “the disposition of SCO’s appeal is the practical course most likely to conserve both judicial and private resources.” That's the legal sense of “disposition”, by the way, so what the document's saying is that SCO giving up its appeal is most likely to stop the courts spending any more time or energy on this matter. Courts don't like wasting resources. So this is both parties explaining that wrapping things up now is a desirable thing.

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Is SFLC Shooting Open Source in the Foot?

Filed under
OSS
Legal

The academic article by SFLC about ZFS is troubling and may unintentionally shoot free software licensing in the foot.

When I was at Sun (as part of the team that released the Java Programming Language by starting the OpenJDK project) I often heard community concerns about the CDDL license. At the time the big complaint was about the "Choice of Venue" clause.

I got involved because Sun had developed many essential Java libraries and distributed them under CDDL. The community requested a more permissive license and I was able to convince internal project leaders (and Sun's lawyers) to make a licensing change for a handful of these projects. And there was much rejoicing.

Based on my experience in helping Java to become open source I came to appreciate the legal hacks on copyright which make open source possible. It's the free software license which uses copyright to enable sharing (vs. the default of disabling sharing).

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The Linux Kernel, CDDL and Related Issues

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The license terms on the Linux kernel are those of GPLv2. This is the unanimous consensus of the extensive community of copyright holders. No other terms, or modifications of those terms, are represented in any document as the consensus position of the relevant parties.

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Also: SFC: GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

Winning the copyleft fight

Linux GPL Enforcement

Filed under
Linux
Legal
  • I’m Part of SFConservancy’s GPL Compliance Project for Linux

    I believe GPL enforcement in general, and specifically around the Linux kernel, is a good thing. Because of this, I am one of the Linux copyright holders who has signed an agreement for the Software Freedom Conservancy to enforce the GPL on my behalf. I’m also a financial supporter of Conservancy.

  • Report from the VMware GPL court hearing

    Today, I took some time off to attend the court hearing in the GPL violation/infringement case that Christoph Hellwig has brought against VMware.

    I am not in any way legally involved in the lawsuit. However, as a fellow (former) Linux kernel developer myself, and a long-term Free Software community member who strongly believes in the copyleft model, I of course am very interested in this case - and of course in an outcome in favor of the plaintiff. Nevertheless, the below report tries to provide an un-biased account of what happened at the hearing today, and does not contain my own opinions on the matter. I can always write another blog post about that Smile

    I blogged about this case before briefly, and there is a lot of information publicly discussed about the case, including the information published by the Software Freedom Conservancy (see the link above, the announcement and the associated FAQ.

  • I bought some awful light bulbs so you don't have to

    Anyway. Next step was to start playing with the protocol, which meant finding the device on my network. I checked anything that had picked up a DHCP lease recently and nmapped them. The OS detection reported Linux, which wasn't hugely surprising - there was no GPL notice or source code included with the box, but I'm way past the point of shock at that. It also reported that there was a telnet daemon running. I connected and got a login prompt. And then I typed admin as the username and admin as the password and got a root prompt. So, there's that. The copy of Busybox included even came with tftp, so it was easy to get copies of tcpdump and strace on there to see what was up.

  • SFC: GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

The U.S. Copyright Office requiring proprietary software in DMCA anti-circumvention study

Filed under
OSS
Legal

In Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anti-circumvention study, the U.S. Copyright Office extends comment period and asserts that proprietary software is required for comment submission.

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Canonical accused of violating GPL with ZFS-in-Ubuntu 16.04 plan

Filed under
Ubuntu
Legal

The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) thinks Canonical, the curator of Ubuntu, has breached the Gnu Public Licence (GPL).

As the Conservancy explains, Canonical recently announced that Ubuntu 16.04 will “make OpenZFS available on every Ubuntu system. Canonical reckons that adding OpenZFS represents “one of the most exciting new features Linux has seen in a very long time.”

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GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

Filed under
Legal

This post discusses an atypical GPL violation. Unlike most GPL violations Conservancy faces, in this case, a third-party entity holds a magic wand that can instantly resolve the situation. Oracle is the primary copyright holder of ZFS, and, despite nearly eight years (going back to the days of Sun's control of the code) of the anti-license-proliferation community's urging, Oracle continues to license their code under their own, GPL-incompatible license. While this violation has many facets, and Oracle did not themselves violate GPL in this specific case, they hold the keys to this particular kingdom and they forbid the Linux community to enter. While there are complexities that we must address, in this context, Oracle could make everyone's life easier by waving their magic relicensing wand. Nevertheless, until they do, since GPL-incompatible licenses are the root of all GPL violations, combinations of GPL'd code with Oracle's GPL-incompatible code yield GPL violations, such as the ongoing violation by Canonical, Ltd.

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Kuhn's Paradox

Filed under
OSS
Legal

I believe this paradox is primarily driven by the cooption of software freedom by companies that ostensibly support Open Source, but have the (now extremely popular) open source almost everything philosophy.

For certain areas of software endeavor, companies dedicate enormous resources toward the authorship of new Free Software for particular narrow tasks. Often, these core systems provide underpinnings and fuel the growth of proprietary systems built on top of them. An obvious example here is OpenStack: a fully Free Software platform, but most deployments of OpenStack add proprietary features not available from a pure upstream OpenStack installation.

Meanwhile, in other areas, projects struggle for meager resources to compete with the largest proprietary behemoths. Large user-facing, server-based applications of the Service as a Software Substitute variety, along with massive social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that actively work against federated social network systems, are the two classes of most difficult culprits on this point. Even worse, most traditional web sites have now become a mix of mundane content (i.e., HTML) and proprietary Javascript programs, which are installed on-demand into the users' browser all day long, even while most of those servers run a primarily Free Software operating system.

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More in Tux Machines

LWN (Now Open Access): Kernel Configuration, Linux 4.14 Merge Window, Running Android on a Mainline Graphics Stack

  • A different approach to kernel configuration
    The kernel's configuration system can be challenging to deal with; Linus Torvalds recently called it "one of the worst parts of the whole project". Thus, anything that might help users with the process of configuring a kernel build would be welcome. A talk by Junghwan Kang at the 2017 Open-Source Summit demonstrated an interesting approach, even if it's not quite ready for prime time yet. Kang is working on a Debian-based, cloud-oriented distribution; he wanted to tweak the kernel configuration to minimize the size of the kernel and, especially, to reduce its attack surface by removing features that were not needed. The problem is that the kernel is huge, and there are a lot of features that are controlled by configuration options. There are over 300 feature groups and over 20,000 configuration options in current kernels. Many of these options have complicated dependencies between them, adding to the challenge of configuring them properly.
  • The first half of the 4.14 merge window
    September 8, 2017 As of this writing, just over 8,000 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline kernel repository for the 4.14 development cycle. In other words, it looks like the pace is not slowing down for this cycle either. The merge window is not yet done, but quite a few significant changes have been merged so far. Read on for a summary of the most interesting changes entering the mainline in the first half of this merge window.
  • Running Android on a mainline graphics stack
    The Android system may be based on the Linux kernel, but its developers have famously gone their own way for many other parts of the system. That includes the graphics subsystem, which avoids user-space components like X or Wayland and has special (often binary-only) kernel drivers as well. But that picture may be about to change. As Robert Foss described in his Open Source Summit North America presentation, running Android on the mainline graphics subsystem is becoming possible and brings a number of potential benefits. He started the talk by addressing the question of why one might want to use mainline graphics with Android. The core of the answer was simple enough: we use open-source software because it's better, and running mainline graphics takes us toward a fully open system. With mainline graphics, there are no proprietary blobs to deal with. That, in turn, makes it easy to run current versions of the kernel and higher-level graphics software like Mesa.

Beautify Your KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Environment with Freshly Ported Adapta Theme

Good morning! It's time to beautify your KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment, and we have just the perfect theme for that as it looks like the popular Adapta GTK theme was recently ported to Plasma 5. Read more

Roughing it, with Linux

I have been traveling for about two weeks now, spending 10 days camping in Iceland and now a few days on the ferry to get back. For this trip I brought along my Samsung N150 Plus (a very old netbook), loaded with openSUSE Linux 42.3. Read more

Red Hat: Ansible Tower, Patent Promise, and Shares Declining

  • Red Hat’s automation solution spreading among APAC enterprises
    Red Hat recently shared revealed its agentless automation platform is spreading among enterprises in APAC countries like Australia, China, India and Singapore. The company asserts its Ansible Tower helps enterprises cut through the complexities of modern IT environments with powerful automation capabilities that improve productivity and reduce downtime. “Today’s business demands can mean even greater complexity for many organisations. Such dynamic environments can necessitate a new approach to automation that can improve speed, scale and stability across IT environments,” says head of APAC office of technology at Red Hat, Frank Feldmann.
  • Red Hat broadens patent pledge to most open-source software
    Red Hat, the world's biggest open source company, has expanded its commitment on patents, which had originally been not to enforce its patents against free and open source software.
  • Red Hat expands Patent Promise
    Open-source software provider Red Hat has revised its Patent Promise, which was initially intended to discourage patent aggression against free and open-source software. The expanded version of the defensive patent aggregation scheme extends the zone of non-enforcement to all of Red Hat’s patents and all software under “well-recognised” open-source licenses. In its original Patent Promise in 2002, Red Hat said software patents are “inconsistent with open-source and free software”.
  • Red Hat Inc (RHT) AO Seeing a Consistent Downtrend
  • Red Hat, Inc. (RHT) noted a price change of -0.14% and RingCentral, Inc. (RNG) closes with a move of -2.09%