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Legal

Announcing the Open Source License API

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OSS
Legal

Over the last 19 years, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has been the steward of the Open Source Definition (or OSD), establishing a common language when discussing what it means to be an Open Source license, and a list of licenses which are known to be compatible with the OSD.

This is taken to its logic next step this year, with the OSI providing a machine readable publication of OSI approved licenses at api.opensource.org. This will allow third parties to become license-aware, and give organizations the ability to clearly determine if a license is, in fact, an Open Source license, from the authoritative source regarding Open Source licenses, the OSI.

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Win for APIs and FOSS (Android Case)

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Android
Google
Legal
  • Google beats Oracle at trial: Jury finds Android is “fair use”

    Following a two-week trial, a federal jury concluded Thursday that Google's Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use." The verdict was reached after three days of deliberations.

    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, listen to your verdict as it will stand recorded," said the court clerk, before polling each of the ten men and women on the jury.

    There was only one question on the special verdict form, asking if Google's use of the Java APIs was a "fair use" under copyright law. The jury unanimously answered "yes," in Google's favor. The verdict ends the trial, which began earlier this month. If Oracle had won, the same jury would have gone into a "damages phase" to determine how much Google should pay. Because Google won, the trial is over.

    "I salute you for your extreme hard work in this case," said US District Judge William Alsup, who has overseen the litigation since 2010. "With the thanks of your United States District Court, you are now discharged. I would like to come in the jury room and shake each of your hands individually."

    Four of the ten jurors declined to comment to reporters gathered in the hallway. The other six went out through a back exit.

    "We're grateful for the jury's verdict," said Google lead lawyer Robert Van Nest before getting into the elevator with Google's in-house lawyers. "That's it." Oracle attorneys had no comment.

  • Google wins Oracle copyright fight over Android code

    Today, a jury in California's Northern District federal court declared that Google's use of copyright-protected code in Android was fair use, freeing it of any liability. Oracle, which controls the copyright on the code, had been seeking $9 billion for the use of the code.

    The case centers around an API developed by Java and owned by Oracle, which allows outside programs to easily interact with Java programs. Android uses the same API, and in 2014 a federal appeals court ruled that Oracle has a valid copyright claim on the API code, potentially putting Google on the hook for billions of dollars in damages. (The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.) In the latest round, Google argued that Android's reimplementation of the API constituted fair use, which would allow use of the code without invalidating Oracle's copyright. Ultimately, the jury found that case convincing.

German experts update free software legal review

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OSS
Legal

Two German legal experts have published the fourth edition of their review of legal issues regarding the use of free software. The book by Till Jaeger, a Berlin-based lawyer specialised in legal issues concerning open source software, and Axel Metzger, professor at the Humboldt University in the same city, appeared in March.

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Linux ZFS Compatibility

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Linux
Debian
Legal
  • ZFS comes to Debian, thanks to licensing workaround

    The ZFS file system has come to popular Linux distribution Debian, but in a way the distro's backers think won't kick up another row over compatibility of open source licences.

    Ubuntu 16.04 added ZFS, despite pre-release grumblings from Richard Stallman to the effect that anything licensed under the GNU GPL v2 can only be accompanied by code also released under the GNU GPL v2. ZFS is issued under a Common Development and Distribution License, version 1 (CDDLv1).

  • Skirting The Hole In The Ice Of ZFS

    The muddy part is how building and running a ZFS module with Linux is not a violation of copyright when a combined derivative work of Linux+ZFS is created. Making even one copy is probably a violation of both CDDL and GPL., so keep on skating.

  • What does it mean that ZFS is included in Debian?

    Petter Reinholdtsen recently blogged about ZFS availability in Debian. Many people have worked hard on getting ZFS support available in Debian and we would like to thank everyone involved in getting to this point and explain what ZFS in Debian means.

Debian Project Clarifies the Implementation of ZFS for Linux in Debian GNU/Linux

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Debian
Legal

We reported the other day that Debian developer Petter Reinholdtsen informed the community about the implementation of ZFS filesystem support in the Debian GNU/Linux operating system.

While the Debian community welcomed the native ZFS for Linux implementation in the acclaimed and widely-used GNU/Linux operating system, some were wondering how this stands from a legal point of view, as the license under which the ZFS for Linux project is distributed does not comply with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

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FSF/GNU

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Development
GNU
Legal
  • GCC 6.1 Compiler Optimization Level Benchmarks: -O0 To -Ofast + FLTO

    Here are some extra GCC 6.1 compiler benchmarks to share this weekend, complementing the recent GCC 4.9 vs. GCC 5 vs. GCC 6 comparison and the GCC 6.1 vs. Clang 3.9 compiler comparison.

  • LinuxFest Northwest 2016: From TPP to saving WiFi, the FSF fights for you
  • Savannah suffering networking problems

    Last Friday May 6th Savannah was moved to new hosting in the same datacenter with many various assorted related and unrelated changes. Since that time there have been wide spread reports of networking problems. The FSF admins are aware of the problem and are trying to resolve it.

  • Enforcement and compliance for the GPL and similar licenses

    The Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW) is a three-day event held every year for legal professionals (and aficionados) who work in the realm of free and open-source software (FOSS). It is organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and, this year, the event was held in Barcelona (Spain), April 13-15. The topics covered during the event ranged from determining what constitutes authorship, how to attribute it, and what is copyrightable, to the complexity of licenses and how to make them more accessible for potential licensees lacking in legal background. In addition, license enforcement and compliance were discussed, with a particular focus on how the GPL and related licenses have done in court.

FRAND Is Not A Compliance Issue

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OSS
Legal

The European Commission has been persuaded by lobbyists to change its position on standards to permit the use of FRAND license terms for patents applicable to technologies within those standards. This is a massive mistake that will harm innovation by chilling open source community engagement.

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EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing

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OSS
Legal

On 19 April, the European Commission published a communication on "ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market" (hereinafter 'the Communication'). The Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy intends to digitise industries with several legislative and political initiatives, and the Communication is a part of it covering standardisation. In general, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) welcomes the Communication's plausible approach for integrating Free Software and Open Standards into standardisation but expresses its concerns about the lack of understanding of necessary prerequisites to pursue that direction.

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Also: A fresh look at the U.S. draft policy on 'federal sourcing'

A perfect marriage: YOU and Ubuntu 16.04

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GNU
Ubuntu
Legal

Canonical claims it has taken legal advice and that it is allowed to ship OpenZFS with its Linux.

What ever the legal rights and wrongs, Ubuntu's support is clearly aimed primarily at the server use case. ZFS is not an option within the installer. In fact you'll need to install the userland parts of ZFS yourself before you can format disks and get everything working. Still, if you're interested in trying Ubuntu atop ZFS, Canonical has a guide to using ZFS.

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Anti-innovation: EU excludes open source from new tech standards

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OSS
Legal

It's no surprise that the Commission was trying to keep that particular detail quiet, because FRAND licensing—the acronym stands for "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory"—is incompatible with open source, which will therefore find itself excluded from much of the EU's grand new Digital Single Market strategy. That's hardly a "balanced IPR policy."

The problem for open source is that standard licensing can be perfectly fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, but would nonetheless be impossible for open source code to implement. Typically, FRAND licensing requires a per-copy payment, but for free software, which can be shared any number of times, there's no way to keep tabs on just how many copies are out there. Even if the per-copy payment is tiny, it's still a licensing requirement that open source code cannot meet.

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