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Legal

FOSS Licensing: Good Compliance Practices and "Do I Have to Use a Free/Open Source License?"

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • Good Compliance Practices Are Good Engineering Practices

    Companies across all industries use, participate in, and contribute to open source projects, and open source compliance is an integral part of the use and development of any open source software. It’s particularly important to get compliance right when your company is considering a merger or acquisition. The key, according to Ibrahim Haddad, is knowing what’s in your code, right down to the exact versions of the open source components.

  • Do I Have to Use a Free/Open Source License?

    That, as we all probably already know, is not the case. The only licenses that can be called "open source" are those that are reviewed and approved as such by the Open Source Initiative (aka OSI). Its list of OSI-Approved licenses allows developers to choose and apply a license without having to hire a lawyer. It also means that companies no longer need to have their own lawyers review every single license in every piece of software they use. Can you imagine how expensive it would be if every company needed to do this? Aside from the legal costs, the duplication of effort alone would lead to millions of dollars in lost productivity. While the OSI's other outreach and advocacy efforts are important, there's no doubt that its license approval process is a service that provides an outsized amount of value for developers and companies alike.

Microsoft Openwashing and Revisionism

Filed under
GNU
Microsoft
Legal
  • Microsoft joins effort to cure open source license noncompliance [Ed: Pushing Microsoft lies under the false pretenses that Microsoft plays along with the GPL (it violates, smears and undermines it)]
  • Microsoft joins group working to 'cure' open-source licensing issues [Ed: Mary Jo Foley uses this initiative to whitewash Microsoft after it repeatedly violated the GPL and attacked it publicly, behind the scenes etc. And watch the image she uses: a lie.]

    It's kind of amazing that just over a decade ago, Microsoft was threatening Linux vendors by claiming free and open-source software infringed on 235 of Microsoft's patents. In 2007, Microsoft was very openly and publicly anti-GPLv3, claiming it was an attempt "to tear down the bridge between proprietary and open source technology that Microsoft has worked to build with the industry and customers."

  • Today's channel rundown - 19 March 2018

    The six have committed to extending additional rights "to cure open source license noncompliance".

    The announcement was made by Red Hat, which says the move will lead to greater cooperation with distributors of open source software to correct errors.

    In a statement, Red Hat referenced widely used open source software licenses, GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License, which cover software projects including the Linux kernel.

    GPL version 3 offers distributors of the code an opportunity to correct errors and mistakes in license compliance.

  • Tails Security Update, Companies Team Up to Cure Open Source License Noncompliance, LG Expanding webOS and More

    According to a Red Hat press release this morning: "six additional companies have joined efforts to promote greater predictability in open source licensing. These marquee technology companies—CA Technologies, Cisco, HPE, Microsoft, SAP, and SUSE—have committed to extending additional rights to cure open source license noncompliance. This will lead to greater cooperation with distributors of open source software to correct errors and increased participation in open source software development."

What legal remedies exist for breach of GPL software?

Filed under
Legal

Last April, a federal court in California handed down a decision in Artifex Software, Inc. v. Hancom, Inc., 2017 WL 1477373 (N.D. Cal. 2017), adding a new perspective to the forms of remedies available for breach of the General Public License (GPL). Sadly, this case reignited the decades-old license/contract debate due to some misinterpretations under which the court ruled the GPL to be a contract. Before looking at the remedy developments, it’s worth reviewing why the license debate even exists.

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CLA vs. DCO: What's the difference?

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Legal

In your open source adventures, you may have heard the acronyms CLA and DCO, and you may have said "LOL WTF BBQ?!?" These letters stand for Contributor License Agreement and Developer Certificate of Origin, respectively. Both have a similar intent: To say that the contributor is allowed to make the contribution and that the project has the right to distribute it under its license. With some significant projects moving from CLAs to DCOs (like Chef in late 2016 and GitLab in late 2017), the matter has received more attention lately.

So what are they? The Contributor License Agreement is the older of the two mechanisms and is often used by projects with large institutional backing (either corporate or nonprofit). Unlike software licenses, CLAs are not standardized. CLAs can vary from project to project. In some cases, they simply assert that you're submitting work that you're authorized to submit, and you permit the project to use it. Other CLAs (for example the Apache Software Foundation's) may grant copyright and/or patent licenses.

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​Linux beats legal threat from one of its own developers

Filed under
Linux
Legal

In a German court earlier this week, former Linux developer Patrick McHardy gave up on his Gnu General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) violation case against Geniatech Europe GmbH. Now, you may ask, "How can a Linux programmer dropping a case against a company that violates the GPL count as a win?"

It's complicated.

First, anyone who knows the least thing about Linux's legal infrastructure knows its licensed under the GPLv2. Many don't know that anyone who has copyrighted code in the Linux kernel can take action against companies that violate the GPLv2. Usually, that's a non-issue.

People who find violations typically turn to organizations such as the Free Software Foundation, Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), and the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) to approach violators. These organizations then try to convince violating companies to mend their ways and honor their GPLv2 legal requirements. Only as a last resort do they take companies to court to force them into compliance with the GPLv2.

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Black Duck Still FUDing, Licenses and Contracts Debate at FOSDEM

Filed under
Legal
  • Building Open Source Security into DevOps [Ed: The Microsoft-connected liars from Black Duck are still at it]
  • Licenses and contracts

    Some days it seems that wherever two or more free-software enthusiasts gather together, there also shall be licensing discussions. One such, which can get quite heated, is the question of whether a given free-software license is a license, or whether it is really a contract. This distinction is important, because most legal systems treat the two differently. I know from personal experience that that discussion can go on, unresolved, for long periods, but it had not previously occurred to me to wonder whether this might be due to the answer being different in different jurisdictions. Fortunately, it has occurred to some lawyers to wonder just that, and three of them came together at FOSDEM 2018 to present their conclusions.

    The talk was given by Pamela Chestek of Chestek Legal, Andrew Katz of Moorcrofts, and Michaela MacDonald of Queen Mary University of London. Chestek focused on the US legal system, Katz on that of England and Wales, while MacDonald focused on the civil law tradition that is characteristic of many EU member states. The four licenses they chose to consider were the "Modified" or "three-clause" BSD, the Apache License, the GNU General Public License (their presentation was not specific to GPLv3, but the passage they quoted to make a point was from GPLv3), and the Fair License. The first three are among the most common free-software licenses currently in use. The latter is the shortest license the Open Source Initiative has ever approved, and though it is used by hardly any free software, it was included as an example of the maximum possible simplicity in a license.

Top 10 open source legal stories that shook 2017

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Like every year, legal issues were a hot topic in the open source world in 2017. While we're deep into the first quarter of the year, it's still worthwhile to look back at the top legal news in open source last year.

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How to make sense of the Apache 2 patent license

Filed under
Red Hat
OSS
Legal

In essence, when a software developer contributes code to a project (i.e., the Work under the license), he or she becomes a Contributor. Under the above term, Contributors are granting permission to use any of their patents that may read on their contribution. This provides peace of mind to users since the Contributor would likely be prevented from pursuing patent royalties from any users of the software covering that contribution to the project.

Complexities arise when the software developer contributes code that is not claimed by any of the Contributor's patents by itself, but only when combined with the Apache 2.0 licensed open source program to which the contribution was made (i.e., the Work under the license). Thus, the Contributor owning such a patent could pursue patent royalties against a user of that revised Work. The authors of the Apache 2.0 license were forward thinking and account for this scenario. Section 3 states that the license applies to "patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed... by a combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such Contributions was submitted."

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Bruce Perens Suffers for Copyleft Defense, Microsoft Still Openwashing

Filed under
Legal

Free Electrons becomes Bootlin (After Trademark Bullying/Trolling by FREE SAS)

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The services we offer are different, we target a different audience (professionals instead of individuals), and most of our communication efforts are in English, to reach an international audience. Therefore Michael Opdenacker and Free Electrons’ management believe that there is no risk of confusion between Free Electrons and FREE SAS. However, FREE SAS has filed in excess of 100 oppositions and District Court actions against trademarks or name containing “free”. In view of the resources needed to fight this case, Free Electrons has decided to change name without waiting for the decision of the District Court. This will allow us to stay focused on our projects rather than exhausting ourselves fighting a long legal battle.

[...]

Nothing else changes in the company. We are the same engineers, the same Linux kernel contributors and maintainers (now 6 of us have their names in the Linux MAINTAINERS file), with the same technical skills and appetite for new technical challenges.

More than ever, we remain united by the passion we all share in the company since the beginning: working with hardware and low-level software, working together with the free software community, and sharing the experience with others so that they can at least get the best of what the community offers and hopefully one day become active contributors too. “Get the best of the community” is effectively one of our slogans.

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More in Tux Machines

Servers: Kubernetes, Oracle's Cloudwashing and Embrace of ARM

  • Bloomberg Eschews Vendors For Direct Kubernetes Involvement
    Rather than use a managed Kubernetes service or employ an outsourced provider, Bloomberg has chosen to invest in deep Kubernetes expertise and keep the skills in-house. Like many enterprise organizations, Bloomberg originally went looking for an off-the-shelf approach before settling on the decision to get involved more deeply with the open source project directly. "We started looking at Kubernetes a little over two years ago," said Steven Bower, Data and Infrastructure Lead at Bloomberg. ... "It's a great execution environment for data science," says Bower. "The real Aha! moment for us was when we realized that not only does it have all these great base primitives like pods and replica sets, but you can also define your own primitives and custom controllers that use them."
  • Oracle is changing how it reports cloud revenues, what's it hiding? [iophk: "probably Microsoft doing this too" (cloudwashing)]
     

    In short: Oracle no longer reports specific revenue for cloud PaaS, IaaS and SaaS, instead bundling them all into one reporting line which it calls 'cloud services and licence support'. This line pulled in 60% of total revenue for the quarter at $6.8 billion, up 8% year-on-year, for what it's worth.

  • Announcing the general availability of Oracle Linux 7 for ARM
    Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux 7 for the ARM architecture.
  • Oracle Linux 7 Now Ready For ARM Servers
    While Red Hat officially launched RHEL7 for ARM servers last November, on Friday Oracle finally announced the general availability of their RHEL7-derived Oracle Linux 7 for ARM. Oracle Linux 7 Update 5 is available for ARM 64-bit (ARMv8 / AArch64), including with their new Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 5 based on Linux 4.14.

Graphics: XWayland, Ozone-GBM, Freedreno, X.Org, RadeonSI

  • The Latest Batch Of XWayland / EGLStream Improvements Merged
    While the initial EGLStreams-based support for using the NVIDIA proprietary driver with XWayland was merged for the recent X.Org Server 1.20 release, the next xorg-server release will feature more improvements.
  • Making Use Of Chrome's Ozone-GBM Intel Graphics Support On The Linux Desktop
    Intel open-source developer Joone Hur has provided a guide about using the Chrome OS graphics stack on Intel-based Linux desktop systems. In particular, using the Chrome OS graphics stack on the Linux desktop is primarily about using the Ozone-GBM back-end to Ozone that allows for direct interaction with Intel DRM/KMS support and evdev for input.
  • Freedreno Reaches OpenGL ES 3.1 Support, Not Far From OpenGL 3.3
    The Freedreno Gallium3D driver now supports all extensions required by OpenGL ES 3.1 and is also quite close to supporting desktop OpenGL 3.3.
  • X.Org Is Looking For A North American Host For XDC2019
    If software development isn't your forte but are looking to help out a leading open-source project while logistics and hospitality are where you excel, the X.Org Foundation is soliciting bids for the XDC2019 conference. The X.Org Foundation is looking for proposals where in North America that the annual X.Org Developers' Conference should be hosted in 2019. This year it's being hosted in Spain and with the usual rotation it means that in 2019 they will jump back over the pond.
  • RadeonSI Compatibility Profile Is Close To OpenGL 4.4 Support
    It was just a few days ago that the OpenGL compatibility profile support in Mesa reached OpenGL 3.3 compliance for RadeonSI while now thanks to the latest batch of patches from one of the Valve Linux developers, it's soon going to hit OpenGL 4.4. Legendary open-source graphics driver contributor Timothy Arceri at Valve has posted 11 more patches for advancing RadeonSI's OpenGL compatibility profile support, the alternative context to the OpenGL core profile that allows mixing in deprecated OpenGL functionality. The GL compatibility profile mode is generally used by long-standing workstation software and also a small subset of Linux games.

Software, KDE and GNOME Leftovers

  • Drawing Feynman Diagrams for Fun and Profit with JaxoDraw
    When first developed, theoretical physics was mostly done either with pen and paper or on a chalkboard. Not much thought was given as to how you could render these drawings within a document being written on a computer. JaxoDraw is meant to help fill in that gap in document layout and provide the ability to render these drawings correctly and give output you can use in your own documents. JaxoDraw is written in Java, so it should run under almost any operating system. Unfortunately, it isn't likely to be in the package repository for most distributions, so you'll need to download it from the project's website. But, because it's packaged as a jar file, it's relatively easy to run.
  • Kodi v18 Leia - Alpha 2
    We have been relatively quiet for a while and several months have past since the first pre-release Alpha build. Today we present you the second official Alpha build in this pre-release trilogy. It is a continuation of the first one which was released beginning of March and contains our continous battle against the dark side that consist of bugs and usability problems.
  • Kodi 18 Alpha 2 Released With Stability & Usability Improvements + New Wayland Code
    It's been a few months since the Kodi 18 Alpha while available today is the second alpha release of this major update to the open-source, cross-platform HTPC software. Kodi developers have been spending the past few months working on a range of stability and usability enhancements to this software formerly known as XBMC. Kodi 18's latest additions include live TV viewing improvements, Windows support improvements, continued Android integration enhancements, re-introducing Wayland protocol support, video player enhancements, and more.
  • LibreOffice color selector as GTK widgets
    Here's what the native GTK widget mode for the color picker looks like at the moment under Wayland. A GtkMenuButton displaying a color preview of the currently selected color and a GtkPopover containing the color selection widgetry.
  • TenFourFox FPR8 available
    TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 8 final is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). There are no changes from the beta except for outstanding security patches. As usual, it will go live Monday night, assuming no changes.
KDE:
  • Latte Dock, Beta 1 for v0.8 (v0.7.95)
    Hello everyone Latte Dock v0.7.95 which is the first beta of v0.8 is here. Latte v0.8 is a huge release and one of its main goals is to make the user feel with it very natural and comfortable. [...] Important for contributors: Beta1 will last 10 days, during these days translators will be able to report string improvements at bugs.kde.org. English isnt my native language, (proof reading / simpler expanations) might be necessary. When Beta2 is released around 3 to 5 July the string freeze will take place. Beta2 period will last 10 more days. So v0.8 is scheduled for 13 to 15 Jully. During all these days improvements and fixes can be landed through review process at kde phabricator.
  • Musing About Communities Size And Activity
    If you remember my previous installment I raised a couple more questions which I pointed out as tougher to address and I'd keep on the side for a while. Well, I decided to look at something simpler in the meantime... which unexpectedly took more time than expected. First I thought I'd try to reproduce the cohesion graph from Paul's Akademy 2014 talk... but it looks like we have a reproducibility issue on that one. However hard I try I don't manage to reproduce it. What I get is very different, so either there's a bug in my tentative script or there was a bug in Paul's script or somehow the input data is different. So one more mysteries to explore, I'm at a loss about what's going on with that one so far.
  • Second Post and First Weekly
    Because of the last one, I have been refactoring related code in the last month. The refactoring is generally completed, with KisDlgInternalColorSelector being the last dependency that haven’t been moved to enable KisPaletteView to be used everywhere needed.
GNOME:
  • Ubuntu Developers Working On Improvements To GNOME Software Store
    Canonical/Ubuntu developers are working on improvements to the GNOME Software "app store" and recently held an in-person design sprint along with one upstream GNOME developer for coming up with improvements. The Ubuntu developers working on improvements to GNOME Software were joined by prolific GNOME contributor Richard Hughes for brainstorming improvements to better GNOME Software over the months to come.
  • App Launching From GNOME Shell Now More Robust Under Memory Pressure & Faster
    Right now on systems with low amounts of available system memory, GNOME Shell can sometimes fail to launch applications due to an error over not being able to allocate memory in the fork process. With the latest rounds of Glib optimizations, this should no longer be the case.
  • GNOME Web Browser is Adding a Reader Mode
    An experimental reader mode will ship in the next version of GNOME Web, aka Epiphany. The feature is already available to try in the latest development builds of the GTK Webkit-based web browser, released this week as part of the GNOME 3.29.3 milestone.

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