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Legal

Let's Pay for Open Source with a Closed-Source Software Levy

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OSS
Legal

This column has often explored ways in which some of the key ideas underlying free software and open source are being applied in other fields. But that equivalence can flow in both directions: developments in fields outside the digital world may well have useful lessons for computing. A case in point is a fascinating post by James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a non-governmental organisation concerned with public health and other important issues.

It is called "The value of an open source dividend", and is a discussion of the problems the world of pharma faces because of the distorting effect of patents - problems it shares with the world of computing...

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Patent trolls have one fewer legal loophole to hide behind

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Legal

Using this form, patent trolls can attack their victims without having to explain why they think the patent has been infringed. A similarly weak charge in any other lawsuit could be brushed aside early in the process. By using the approved, simple form, the attacker can ensure its victims are unable to successfully stem the attack in an inexpensive "motion to dismiss."

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What Google's petition to the Supreme Court really means

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Android
Google
Legal

Google makes a series of compelling points in its petition. The company asserts that there's split opinion on the applicability of copyrights to APIs in the circuit courts -- a classic cue to SCOTUS to intervene -- and the matter is "a recurring question of exceptional importance." These points alone seem strong to me. But Google also says CAFC has made a serious error that ignores the precedent of earlier SCOTUS decisions and violates the distinction between copyright and patent as monopolies.

On the first point, Google refers back to the SCOTUS Lotus v Borland case in 1996. Google points out that "methods of operation embodied in computer programs are not entitled to copyright protection," then asserts that the Java class APIs are a method of operating the Java class implementations. Since Android's implementations of the Java APIs are Google's original work, the company claims copyright does not apply.

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Free Software & Money

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OSS
Legal

In fact, it is not really that money and Free Software are strange bedfellows. Not only is there nothing prohibiiting anyone to generate revenues with Free Software, it is even encouraged. We have adopted a (sane) practice for years, which is to provide binaries and source code of entire Free Software stacks for free. Reading the GPL you may notice that this is not at all something to be expected; if anything, you may sell your binaries tomorrow, and only give away your source code. The unhealthy part comes when the expectation that not only all this should be free, but that your time, expertise and your entire work should always remain free.

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Google, Oracle Java API copyright battle lands at Supreme Court

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Android
Google
Legal

The legal fracas started when Google copied certain elements—names, declaration, and header lines—of the Java APIs in Android, and Oracle sued. A San Francisco federal judge largely sided with Google in 2012, saying that the code in question could not be copyrighted. But the federal appeals court reversed, and ruled that the "declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection.

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As patent trolls fade, a group formed to combat them thrives

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OSS
Legal

Remember the Open Invention Network (OIN)? That's the defensive software patent community set up to protect Linux against patent aggressors. Well, it recently passed 1,000 members, growing nearly 70 percent over the last year.

Growth of this order is an interesting phenomenon. At a time when the tide seems to be turning on patent trolls as a result of the Supreme Court's decision on Alice Corporation v CLS Bank, why are so many companies still seeking mutual protection in use of the Linux System (a term defined by OIN to indicate a vast range of open source software, not just Linux)? Maybe the small trolls aren't the only problem.

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Samsung didn’t pay Microsoft $1 billion for Android, or did they?

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Microsoft
Legal

Organizations like BloomBerg and ReCode are refraining from such misleading headlines. The court filing is available publicly which you can read on Scribd. Microsoft says in the document that Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion in second financial year of their patent deal. From what I understand that is *the* total amount Samsung paid Microsoft under the deal. What we don’t know is what all is covered in these patents. The court document doesn’t specifically says that ‘Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion for Android patents.

[...]

It seems to be nothing more than a PR stunt. Every-time someone creates such a headline, Microsoft scores a PR point. Microsoft drops the keywords Android, Chrome and Linux every-time it signs a deal with a company even if the deal is about using ancient technologies such as FAT 32 in devices running Linux.

"We never heard of any other deal between the two companies (Samsung and Microsoft) so it can be logically concluded that the deal also covers the use of Microsoft technologies in non-Android or non-Chrome devices such as point-and-shoot cameras, DSLRs, music players, photo-frames, BD/DVD players, TV sets and dozen of other things that Samsung sells

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Open source history, present day, and licensing

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OSS
Legal

Looking at open source softwares particularly, this is a fact that is probably useful to you if you are thinking about business models, many people don't care about it anymore. We talk about FOSS, Free and Open Source Software, but if we really are strict there's a difference between free software and open source software. On the left, I have free software which most typically is GPL software. Software where the license insures freedom. It gives freedoms to you as a user, but it also requires that the freedoms are maintained.

On the right-hand side, you have open source software which is open for all, but it also allows you to close it. So here we come back to the famous clause of the GPL license, the reciprocity requirement which says, "If I am open, you need to be open." So software that comes under the GPL license carries with it something that other people call a virus. I call it a blessing because I think it's great if all software becomes open.

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Another Open-Source Developer Claims Hyperkin is Illegally Using Code for Retro Console System

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GNU
OSS
Legal

The makers of the open-sourced emulation software program, RetroArch are the latest to say that video games accessories company Hyperkin is using its program in violation of the GPL license. RetroArch uses a development interface called "libretro" that allows for the "easy creation of emulators and games that can plug straight into this program called RetroArch." It supports 15 different hardware platforms including Android.

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Alice is killing the trolls -- but expect patent lawyers to strike back

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Legal

Open source software developers rejoice: Alice Corp. v CLS Bank is fast becoming a landmark decision for patent cases in the United States.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all appeals for patent cases in the United States, has often been criticized for its handling of these cases -- Techdirt describes it as "the rogue patent court, captured by the patent bar." But following the Alice decision, the Court of Appeals seems to have changed.

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Leftovers: Gaming

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  • What is open source software?
    The term open source when connected to software may today seem like it’s been around forever, but you would be surprised how new of a concept it is. The transformational nature of the telecommunication industry’s march towards a software future should not be under estimated. What for most of its history has been an industry based on live, physical hardware is quickly turning into a future where hardware will still be there, but it will be the software inside that is truly running the game.
  • Get to know Tuleap for project management
    Tuleap is a unique open source project management tool with great momentum right now, ever month they have one major release. It's also been listed it in both the Top 5 open source project management tools in 2015 and the Top 11 project management tools for 2016. "Tuleap is a complete GPLv2 platform to host software projects. It provides a central place where teams can find all the tools they need to track their software projects lifecycle successfully. They will find support for project management (scrum, kanban, waterfall, hybrid, etc.), source control (git and svn) and code review (pull requests and gerrit), continuous integration, issue tracking, wiki, and documentation," said Manuel Vacelet, co-founder and CTO of Enalean, the company behind the Tuleap project.
  • ATTYS Open-Source Biosignal Acquisition Device Helps Developers Build Wearable Gadgets
    The software within the ATTYS is open source and the idea for the device came out of Dr. Bernd Porr who has devoted his efforts to education the public about applications and techniques for measuring various biosignals. In the process he decided to build a manufactured device that can help developers bypass the difficult step of building such component themselves.
  • Be a force for good in your community
  • Deepgram open sources Kur to make DIY deep learning less painful
    Deepgram, a YC backed startup using machine learning to analyze audio data for businesses, is open sourcing an internal deep learning tool called Kur. The release should further help those interested in the space get their ideas off the ground more easily. The startup is also including 10 hours of transcribed audio, spliced into 10 second increments, to expedite the training process. Similar to Keras, Kur further abstracts the process of building and training deep learning models. By making deep learning easier, Kur is also making image recognition and speech analysis more accessible.
  • Mozilla Dinosaur Now Extinct as Curl-like Logo Debuts
    Mozilla officially debuted its new logo, after an intensive open process that helped to select the new brand. Surely the new logo is a step forward away from the archaic dinosaur, but it's not entirely a unique type of brand-mark either.
  • Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) added support for Intel-backed Clear Linux distribution
  • Microsoft’s new Linux option for Azure is Clear in the cloud
  • Microsoft adds Intel backed Clear Linux to Azure public cloud
  • Wintel part deux? Microsoft Azure first for Intel Clear Linux
  • Open source organizations can now apply for Google Summer of Code 2017
    Open source ideology is changing the world. What was once (wrongfully) viewed as something just for hobbyists, is now a billion dollar industry. In other words, closed source is not the only way to make profits. Open source code is found in many places, including mainstream consumer electronics -- look no further than Android smartphones. Speaking of Android, its creator -- Google -- is a huge proponent of open source. In fact, every summer, the search giant holds its "Summer of Code" program. This initiative partners inspiring developers (in college, age 18+) with organizations as a way to further the open source movement. Today, Google announces that organizations can begin applying for the program.
  • SugarPill, Substantial create open-source designs for civic action
    SugarPill owner Karyn Schwarz is used to customers coming in and asking for help with depression and anxiety. After Donald Trump won the presidency, she said she realized what she wanted to prescribe were ways to take effective action against intolerance and injustice.
  • Brush Up on Your Big Data Skills, Including Free Training Options
    In the tech job market race these days, hardly any trend is drawing more attention than Big Data. And, when talking Big Data, the subject of Hadoop inevitably comes up, but Spark is becoming an increasingly popular topic. IBM and other companies have made huge commitments to Spark, and workers who have both Hadoop and Spark skills are much in demand.With all this in mind, several providers are offering free Hadoop and Spark training.
  • Java Performance Monitoring: 5 Open Source Tools You Should Know
    One of the most important things for any application is performance. We want to make sure the users are getting the best experience they can, and to know that our app is up and running. That’s why most of us use at least one monitoring tool. If you’re looking for something a little different in the performance monitoring market, one option you can choose is going for an open sourced tool. In the following post we’ve gathered some open source APM tools that are available today as an alternative to the paid tools, so you’ll be able to see if it’s the right choice for you.