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News and e-press echos after EUPL v1.2 publication

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OSS
Legal

The publication of the new EUPL v1.2 has been echoed widely across Europe, starting with the official Europa.eu: “The European Commission has released a new version of the European Union Public Licence (EUPL), a tool for publishing any copyrighted work as open source. The licence is legally consistent with the copyright law of all EU countries and is especially well-suited for public administrations sharing IT solutions.”

If the licence is especially suited for public sector, it is also widely used by the private sector. In fact, the majority of the 15.000 EUPL licensed works are distributed by economic actors, developers and enterprises.

In Germany, the announcement was promptly commented by IfrOSS, the German Institute for legal questions on free and open source software (EU-Kommission veröffentlicht neue EUPL-Version). Pro-Linux.de focuses on the extended compatibility of the EUPL (i.e. with the GPL v3) and point out that in various European Member States like The Netherlands, France, Spain etc. the licence has been selected for distributing, when convenient and applicable, software applications made by governments.

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Also: Romania opens new procurement portal for testing

Getting Started with Open Source Licenses

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OSS
Legal

With proprietary software, it's easy for a developer to know where he or she stands. Unless you or the company for which you're working owns the copyright to the code, it's off limits -- end of story. There's usually not even any temptation to use the code, because the source code is usually not available.

Moving into open source opens up a whole new world that can make things a lot easier. Suddenly, you're not constantly having to reinvent the wheel by writing code for processes where there's code already written and waiting at the ready. In some circumstances, you can even use open source code inside a proprietary project.

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GPL Win in Court Explained

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GNU
Legal
  • US Court Upholds Enforceability Of GNU GPL As Both A License And A Contract

    Free software dominates modern computing, from smartphones to supercomputers -- only the desktop remains a stronghold of proprietary code. Most of that free software has the Linux kernel at its heart, and a key element in the success of Linux -- and of thousands of other coding projects -- is the GNU General Public License. Although the first version of the GNU GPL was released by Richard Stallman back in 1989, and version 3 was issued in 2007, there have been surprisingly few court cases examining it and other open source licenses, and whether they are legally watertight.

    A key case is Jacobsen v. Katzer from 2008. As a detailed Groklaw post at the time explained, the US appeals court held that open source license conditions are enforceable as a copyright condition. Now we have another important judgment, Artifex v. Hancom, that clarifies further the legal basis of open source licenses. It concerns the well-known Ghostscript interpreter for the PostScript language, written originally by L. Peter Deutsch, and sold by the company he founded, Artifex Software. Artifex was a pioneer in adopting a dual-licensing approach for Ghostscript. That is, you could either use the software under the GNU GPL, or you could avoid copyleft's redistribution requirements by taking out a conventional proprietary license.

  • The GNU GPL Is An Enforceable Contract At Last [Ed: Misleading headline; it was always valid and enforceable, tested in US courts too.]
  • Artifex Software v Hancom: Guidance from US District Court on enforcement of open source software licences

    Open source software is regularly used as a way of leveraging the collective knowledge of the software development community by allowing anyone to improve and contribute to the code, provided they ‘pay it forward’ and allow their improved code to be used by the community. Open source software is often incorporated into proprietary software to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’ – why develop from scratch what has already been prepared and improved upon by the collective wisdom of developers worldwide? This can, however, create a risk of “infection” (requiring the proprietary software to be released on open source terms) – the risk varies based on the terms of the open source licence under which the software is released.

GNU, GPL, and 'Contamination'

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GNU
Legal
  • GDB 8.0 Released, Adds Many New Features, Drops Java GCJ Support

    GDB 8.0 has been released as the newest feature release for this widely-used GNU Debugger.

  • [Older] Understanding the “GPL is a Contract” court case

    There’s been a lot of confusion about the recent Artifex v. Hancom case, in which the court found that the GPL was an enforceable contract. I’m going to try to explain the whole thing in clear terms for the legal layman.

  • [Older] Google's New Mobile OS Will Have a Distinctly Non-Linux Hue [Ed: less GPL]
  • Not Open, Not Closed: The Future of Hybrid Licenses

    With proprietary software pressured and giving ground to open source competition, however, the process for selling software has become more challenging. It is possible, of course, to monetize open source software directly. A variety of mechanisms have been tried, from dual licensing to support and service to open core. It is inefficient and significantly less profitable than selling proprietary software was, however. Even the best in the industry depended heavily on volume to make up for the difficulty in converting users of free software to paid customers. MySQL, for example, reportedly was at its peak able to convert one in a thousand users to a paid product. Combined with generally lower margins (though Pivotal might disagree) due to increased competition from other open source projects, and it’s not difficult to understand why it’s harder for commercial organizations to extract revenue relative to proprietary competitors. Red Hat, then, is the exception that proves the rule.

EUPL Becomes GPLv3-compatible, GPL Defended by Courts

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GNU
Legal
  • European Commission updates EUPL open source licence

    The European Commission has updated the European Union Public Licence (EUPL). Version 1.2 has a wider coverage, making it easier to use the licence to publish data, documents, technical specifications and standards, as well as software source code. In addition, the new licence is compatible with a wider range of other free and open source software licences, including the GNU Public Licence v3.

  • 100 Million Reasons For Open Source Compliance

    CoKinetic Systems Corporation filed suit against Panasonic Avionics Corporation, seeking damages in excess of $100 million, in part, for violation of the GPL v2 open source license. CoKinetic alleged that Panasonic blocked competitors from having the ability to develop software for Panasonic’s In-flight Entertainment (IFE) hardware by refusing to distribute the source code for its open-source Linux based operating system. CoKinetic alleged that this software controls the basic functions of Panasonic IFE hardware systems. According to CoKinetic, this is a willful violation of the GPL License, exposing Panasonic as a willful infringer of the copyrights of thousands of software developers that have contributed to Linux. The suit includes other very interesting legal claims, detailed below.

  • Artifex v. Hancom: Open Source is Now an Enforceable Contract

    Today, as much as 50 percent of the code used in all software (including Internet of Things devices) is comprised of open source software. While open source provides a convenient short cut for software developers to be more agile and efficient – there’s also a hidden risk: The law. While open source components are by definition free and available for anyone to use – there are limitations and most open source components have licensing obligations that developers must comply with.

The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews AJ Jordon of gplenforced.org

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GNU
Legal

So basically Bradley Kuhn gave a talk at FOSDEM '17 about GPL enforcement and I was like, wow, it sucks how many companies and people think that enforcing the GPL is a bad idea. I mean, if you disagree with copyleft that's fine (though I personally would argue with that position), but then you should use a suitable license. Like MIT. The very idea that we shouldn't enforce the GPL just doesn't make sense to me because it suggests that the text of the license is watery and unimportant. I don't know about you, but when I say I want my programs to respect users' freedom, I mean it.

So GPL enforcement is important. It seemed to me that there are probably a lot of developers out there who want to support GPL enforcement but don't have a good way to voice that support. gplenforced.org is essentially a quick and dirty hack I wrote to make that dead-simple.

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A federal court has ruled that an open-source license is an enforceable contract

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GNU
Legal

When the South Korean developer of a suite of productivity apps called Hancom Office incorporated an open-source PDF interpreter called Ghostscript into its word-processing software, it was supposed to do one of two things.

To use Ghostscript for free, Hancom would have to adhere to its open-source license, the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GNU GPL requires that when you use GPL-licensed software to make some other software, the resulting software also has to be open-sourced with the same license if it’s released to the public. That means Hancom would have to open-source its entire suite of apps.

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No More MP3 (Software) Patents is Good News for GNU/Linux

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Red Hat
Legal

  • Full MP3 Support Being Added To Fedora Linux

    Fedora Workstation last year enabled support for MP3 decoding on this Red Hat Linux distribution while now they are enabling MP3 encoding support too.

    With the last of the MP3 patents expiring, there is MP3 encoding support being added to Fedora to finally provide a full MP3 support experience atop this distribution.

  • Full MP3 support coming soon to Fedora

    Both MP3 encoding and decoding will soon be officially supported in Fedora. Last November the patents covering MP3 decoding expired and Fedora Workstation enabled MP3 decoding via the mpg123 library and GStreamer. This update allowed users with the gstreamer1-plugin-mpg123 package installed on their systems to listen to MP3 encoded music.

Court Upholds Enforceability of Open Source Licenses

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GNU
OSS
Legal

The District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued an opinion that is being hailed as a victory for open source software. In this case, the court denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging violation of an open source software license, paving the way for further action enforcing the conditions of the GNU General Public License (“GPL”).

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Is The GPL Really Declining?

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GNU
Legal

At the huge FOSDEM developer meetup in Brussels in early February, I attended a panel where speakers discussed whether the use of “permissive” open source licenses like the Apache License is now outstripping use of “viral” licenses, such as the GPL. The discussion was spirited, with advocates associated with the Free Software Foundation pushing back on the assertion the GPL is “dying”.

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OSS Leftovers

  • Sunjun partners with Collabora to offer LibreOffice in the Cloud
  • Tackling the most important issue in a DevOps transformation
    You've been appointed the DevOps champion in your organisation: congratulations. So, what's the most important issue that you need to address?
  • PSBJ Innovator of the Year: Hacking cells at the Allen Institute
  • SUNY math professor makes the case for free and open educational resources
    The open educational resources (OER) movement has been gaining momentum over the past few years, as educators—from kindergarten classes to graduate schools—turn to free and open source educational content to counter the high cost of textbooks. Over the past year, the pace has accelerated. In 2017, OERs were a featured topic at the high-profile SXSW EDU Conference and Festival. Also last year, New York State generated a lot of excitement when it made an $8 million investment in developing OERs, with the goal of lowering the costs of college education in the state. David Usinski, a math and computer science professor and assistant chair of developmental education at the State University of New York's Erie Community College, is an advocate of OER content in the classroom. Before he joined SUNY Erie's staff in 2007, he spent a few years working for the Erie County public school system as a technology staff developer, training teachers how to infuse technology into the classroom.

Mozilla: Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society, New AirMozilla Audience Demo, Firefox Telemetry

  • Net Neutrality, NSF and Mozilla's WINS Challenge Winners, openSUSE Updates and More
    The National Science Foundation and Mozilla recently announced the first round of winners from their Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges—$2 million in prizes for "big ideas to connect the unconnected across the US". According to the press release, the winners "are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack" and that the common denominator for all of them is "they're affordable, scalable, open-source and secure."
  • New AirMozilla Audience Demo
    The legacy AirMozilla platform will be decommissioned later this year. The reasons for the change are multiple; however, the urgency of the change is driven by deprecated support of both the complex back-end infrastructure by IT and the user interface by Firefox engineering teams in 2016. Additional reasons include a complex user workflow resulting in a poor user experience, no self-service model, poor usability metrics and a lack of integrated, required features.
  • Perplexing Graphs: The Case of the 0KB Virtual Memory Allocations
    Every Monday and Thursday around 3pm I check dev-telemetry-alerts to see if there have been any changes detected in the distribution of any of the 1500-or-so pieces of anonymous usage statistics we record in Firefox using Firefox Telemetry.

Games: All Walls Must Fall, Tales of Maj'Eyal

  • All Walls Must Fall, the quirky tech-noir tactics game, comes out of Early Access
    This isometric tactical RPG blends in sci-fi, a Cold War that never ended and lots of spirited action. It’s powered by Unreal Engine 4 and has good Linux support.
  • Non-Linux FOSS: Tales of Maj'Eyal
    I love gaming, but I have two main problems with being a gamer. First, I'm terrible at video games. Really. Second, I don't have the time to invest in order to increase my skills. So for me, a game that is easy to get started with while also providing an extensive gaming experience is key. It's also fairly rare. All the great games tend to have a horribly steep learning curve, and all the simple games seem to involve crushing candy. Thankfully, there are a few games like Tales of Maj'Eyal that are complex but with a really easy learning curve.

KDE and GNOME: KDE Discover, Okular, Librsvg, and Phone's UI Shell

  • This week in Discover, part 7
    The quest to make Discover the most-loved Linux app store continues at Warp 9 speed! You may laugh, but it’s happening! Mark my words, in a year Discover will be a beloved crown jewel of the KDE experience.
  • Okular gains some more JavaScript support
    With it we support recalculation of some fields based on others. An example that calculates sum, average, product, minimum and maximum of three numbers can be found in this youtube video.
  • Librsvg's continuous integration pipeline
    With the pre-built images, and caching of Rust artifacts, Jordan was able to reduce the time for the "test on every commit" builds from around 20 minutes, to little under 4 minutes in the current iteration. This will get even faster if the builds start using ccache and parallel builds from GNU make. Currently we have a problem in that tests are failing on 32-bit builds, and haven't had a chance to investigate the root cause. Hopefully we can add 32-bit jobs to the CI pipeline to catch this breakage as soon as possible.
  • Design report #3: designing the UI Shell, part 2
    Peter has been quite busy thinking about the most ergonomic mobile gestures and came up with a complete UI shell design. While the last design report was describing the design of the lock screen and the home screen, we will discuss here about navigating within the different features of the shell.