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Legal

A referendum on GPL enforcement

Filed under
GNU
Legal

One of the key provisions of the GNU General Public License (GPL) is that derivative products must also be released under the GPL. A great many companies rigorously follow the terms of the license, while others avoid GPL-licensed software altogether because they are unwilling to follow those terms. Some companies, though, seem to feel that the terms of the GPL do not apply to them, presenting the copyright holder with two alternatives: find a way to get those companies to change their behavior, or allow the terms of the license to be flouted. In recent times, little effort has gone into the first option; depending on the results of an ongoing fundraising campaign, that effort may drop to nearly zero. We would appear to be at a decision point with regard to how (and whether) we would like to see GPL enforcement done within our community.

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German court addresses GPLv3 section 8 termination provisions

Filed under
OSS
Legal

GPLv2, first published in 1991, provides for automatic termination of the license in the event of violation, with no stated opportunity for cure. By the time of the drafting of GPLv3, the Free Software Foundation, steward of the GPL license family, had come to consider automatic termination to be an unduly harsh policy. GPLv3, introduced in 2007, formally retained automatic termination in its section 8 but moderated it in certain ways, including by providing for automatic reinstatement of the license for first-time GPLv3 violators who cure the violation prior to 30 days after receiving notice from the copyright holder. The precise wording of section 8 was drafted with German preliminary injunction procedure in mind.

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FOSS projects and their legal structures

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OSS
Legal

Free Software has been growing pretty much everywhere around the world, and so much so that we now face challenges nobody would have thought possible even ten years ago. One of these unexpected issues is the need for proper legal structures. Traditionally, only a handful of entities used to exist. They could be dedicated to one, large project or act as a hub for a “forge” or a set of more or less related projects: that’s the case with the Eclipse or the Apache Software Foundation. Others were one of kind: Software In the Public interest, SPI, is handling funds for large and small projects and has been doing so for well over 15 years. The Free Software Foundation both directly and through the Free Software Conservancy has also hosted many FOSS projects developments, infrastructure and financial resources.

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Leftovers: FSF/GNU

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Fighting For Social Justice Is a Major Contribution to Society

    I have something to say that I'm sure everyone is going to consider controversial. I've been meaning to say it for some time, and I realize that it's going to get some annoyance from all sides of this debate. Conservancy may lose Supporters over this, even though this is my personal blog and my personal opinion, and views expressed here aren't necessarily Conservancy's views. I've actually been meaning to write this publicly for a year. I just have to say it now, because there's yet another event on this issue caused yet another a war of words in our community.

  • Software Freedom Conservancy needs your support!

    Last August, Debian and Conservancy announced a partnership and formed the Copyright Aggregation Project where, among other things, Conservancy will be able to hold copyrights for some Debian works and ensure compliance with copyleft so that those works remain in free software.

  • The Free Software Foundation Updates Its Gift Giving Guide

Leftovers: FSF/GNU

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Software Freedom Conservancy Launches 2015 Fundraiser

    Today Software Freedom Conservancy announces a major fundraising effort. Pointing to the difficulty of relying on corporate funding while pursuing important but controversial issues, like GPL compliance, Conservancy has structured its fundraiser to increase individual support. The organization needs at least 750 annual Supporters to continue its basic community services and 2500 to avoid hibernating its enforcement efforts. If Conservancy does not meet its goals, it will be forced to radically restructure and wind down a substantial portion of its operations.

  • GIMP 2.8.16 Has Been Released
  • 20 Years of GIMP Evolution: Step by Step

    GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) – superb open source and free graphics editor. Development began in 1995 as students project of the University of California, Berkeley by Peter Mattis and Spencer Kimball. In 1997 the project was renamed in “GIMP” and became an official part of GNU Project. During these years the GIMP is one of the best graphics editor and platinum holy wars “GIMP vs Photoshop” – one of the most popular.

  • Infinity status

    I’m winding down for a month away from Infinity. The current status is that the language and note format changes for 0.0.2 are all done. Y

European Patent Office Threatens Blogger With Defamation Lawsuit For Criticism

Filed under
Legal
Misc

In fact, to argue that Schestowitz's post is defamatory is crazy. Threatening Schestowitz with a defamation claim is much crazier and dangerous than even Schestowitz's own interpretation of the EPO's memo. If you're working for a government agency, such as the EPO, you have to be willing to accept some amount of criticism, even if you disagree with it. To claim it's defamation and to threaten a lawsuit is really, really screwed up.

[...]

I'm having trouble thinking of any other governmental agency that has ever threatened a public critic with defamation. Basic concepts around free speech suggest that the EPO should suck it up. If it disagrees with Schestowitz's interpretation of what it's doing, then it can come out and explain its side of the story. Threatening him with defamation actually only makes me think that perhaps his interpretation hits closer to home than I originally believed.

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TPP Article 14.17 & Free Software: No Harm, No Foul

Filed under
GNU
Legal

The first official public release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (known universally as the TPP) on November 5, 2015 generated much heated speculation. The ideal of “open agreements, openly arrived at” remains regrettably unattainable in international affairs. “Fast track” trade negotiating authority in the US means that parties excluded from the negotiating process have a short time in which to mobilize for or against the treaty as a whole in light of their specific concerns. The premium on speed of response to a very lengthy and complex legal document—and the presence of intense public attention—guarantees that hasty judgment and occasional self-promotion will always outrun professional analysis; this is one of the inherent defects of secret legislation.

In this context, early commentary on the TPP draft included much speculation that one provision in the draft’s chapter on electronic commerce might have serious negative consequences for free software and open source licensing, distribution, or government acquisition. Some lay readers marched immediately to the conclusion that, in less than 200 words ostensibly about something else, the negotiators had (a) abolished free licensing; (Cool prohibited governments from acquiring, supporting or preferring free software; or (c) had interfered with the enforcement of free licenses. Other non-professional readers invented complex demonstrations that one or more of these catastrophes had not occurred.

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Supercharging your router with third-party Wi-Fi firmware is just fine, says FCC

Filed under
OSS
Legal

LITIGATION VS FREE SOFTWARE

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Alice Corporation, a non-practice patent-holding entity, held patents on a method, system, and process for a particular type of financial risk hedging: namely, that one party to a set of financial transactions won’t pay at one or more stages in the set. This risk is known as “settlement risk”. Alice’s patents describe using a computer to keep track of the transactions between the parties. If the computer determines that a party does not have sufficient funds to pay their obligations to the other side, then the transaction is blocked. Litigation against CLS Bank International for alleged infringement of these patented ideas started in 2007, eventually winding its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Writing for a unanimous court, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas begins with a brief description of what the patents claimed. There are effectively three different types of claims made: “(1) the foregoing method for exchanging obligations (the method claims), (2) a computer system configured to carry out the method for exchanging obligations (the system claims), and (3) a computer-readable medium containing program code for performing the method of exchanging obligations (the media claims)” (page 3 of the ruling).

Thomas then goes on to cite the court’s recent ruling in Mayo vs Prometheus, which established a test to determine which inventions incorporating abstract ideas are patent-eligible: “First, we determine whether the claims at issue are directed to one of those patent-ineligible concepts” (page 7). If it is so directed, then the court looks at “the elements of each claim both individually and ‘as an ordered combination’ to determine whether the additional elements ‘transform the nature of the claim’ into a patent-eligible application” (page 7). This is what Thomas refers to as “a search for an ‘inventive concept’” (page 7).

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FCC: We aren’t banning DD-WRT on Wi-Fi routers

Filed under
Legal

Back in March, the FCC issued a Software Security Requirements document that said manufacturers applying for equipment authorizations should "Describe in detail how the device is protected from 'flashing' and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT." Applicants also had to answer the question, "What prevents third parties from loading non-US versions of the software/firmware on the device?"

Upon receiving criticism, the FCC insisted that there was no ban on software like DD-WRT and OpenWRT, saying instead manufacturers must prevent devices from working outside their allowed frequencies, types of modulation, and power levels so as not to interfere with other systems.

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Devices: Fairwaves, FriendlyElec, Ataribox and Tizen

  • Low-cost embeddable SDR occupies a mini-PCIe card
    The Fairwaves “XTRX” mini-PCIe SDR card is a low-cost embeddable SDR card aimed at high data rate apps including 4G/5G and “massive” MIMO. Fairwaves Inc.’s “XTRX” SDR mini-PCIe card, which launched on Nov. 30 at Crowd Supply, has earned more than 80 percent of its funding goal with one month remaining. The company claims the full sized mini-PCIe XTRX card (30 x 51mm) is the smallest commercially available SDR card. For comparison, the USB-interfaced LimeSDR Mini and RTL-SDR boards measure 69 x 31.4mm and 40 x 60mm, respectively.
  • Tiny quad-core Linux SBCs slim down and get an RPi-like carrier
    FriendlyElec has unveiled COM-like variants of its tiny, low-cost quad-core, Allwinner H3- and H5-based NanoPi Neo and Neo2 SBCs, plus an RPi style carrier. FriendlyElec’s new $8 “NanoPi Neo Core” and $25 “NanoPi Neo Core2” boards are low-profile variants of the company’s earlier 40 x 40mm NanoPi Neo and NanoPi Neo 2 SBCs, but with their large, topside USB and Ethernet connectors replaced by a third dual-row pin header. As a result, the new boards are more like computer-on-modules (COMs) than single-board computers (SBCs), in that they’re meant to be combined with off-the-shelf or custom carrier boards, such as FriendlyElec’s RPi 3-like Mini Shield (see farther below). [...] Operating system — Ubuntu Core; Armbian; U-boot bootloader
  • You Can Pre-Order Ataribox Very Soon, But The Thing Is Still Sort Of A Mystery
  • Sling TV now available on 2017 models of Samsung Smart TVs
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Security: Bolt, Updates, NIST, Starbucks

Software: Top 5 Linux Music Players, Udeler, and Thomas

  • Top 5 Linux Music Players
    No matter what you do, chances are you enjoy a bit of music playing in the background. Whether you’re a coder, system administrator, or typical desktop user, enjoying good music might be at the top of your list of things you do on the desktop. And, with the holidays upon us, you might wind up with some gift cards that allow you to purchase some new music. If your music format of choice is of a digital nature (mine happens to be vinyl) and your platform is Linux, you’re going to want a good GUI player to enjoy that music. Fortunately, Linux has no lack of digital music players. In fact, there are quite a few, most of which are open source and available for free. Let’s take a look at a few such players, to see which one might suit your needs.
  • Udeler – A Cross-Platform Udemy Course Video Downloader
    I assume many of our readers are familiar with a number of online study education centers. Some of them focus on programming and computer science related topics alone while others have a wider topic range. Some websites are completely free or paid, and other offer both paid and free courses. Just like Khan Academy and Code Academy, Udemy is no newcomer to this domain. It’s a website where you can learn a variety of courses online at your own pace with some of them being available for free.
  • Thomas – A Simple Pomodoro Timer App for Linux
    One of the best methods you can implement to be more productive is time management. It allows you to keep track of how much time it takes you to get work done and how often you exceed your deadlines. Timer apps these days seem to have chosen a favorite technique to help users stay sharp and productive as is evident in apps like Gnome Pomodoro and Take a Break. The Pomodoro technique is a common pick.

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