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Legal

GPL Enforcement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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GNU
Legal

The revelation of this clause has confused our community, as it appears as if this provision, once adopted, might impact or restrict the international operation of copyleft licenses. Below we explain that, while everyone should reject and oppose this provision — and the rest of TPP — this provision has no dramatic impact on copyleft licensing.

First, as others have pointed out, Party is a defined term that refers specifically to government entities that sign the treaty. As such, the provision would only constrain the behavior of governments themselves. There are some obviously bad outcomes of this provision when those governmental entities interfere with public safety and ethical distribution of software, but we believe this provision will not interfere with international enforcement of copyleft.

Copyleft licenses use copyright as a mechanism to keep software free. The central GPL mechanism that copyright holders exercise to ensure software freedom is termination of permission to copy, modify and distribute the software (per GPLv2§4 and GPLv3§8). Under GPL's termination provisions, non-compliance results in an automatic termination of all copyright permissions. In practice, distributors can chose — either they can provide the source code or cease distribution. Once permissions terminate, any distribution of the GPL'd software infringes copyrights. Accordingly, in an enforcement action, there is no need to specifically compel a government to ask for disclosure of source code.

For example, imagine if a non-US entity ships a GPL-violating, Linux-based product into the USA, and after many friendly attempts to achieve compliance, the violating company refuses to comply. Conservancy can sue the company in US federal court, and seek injunction for distribution of the foreign product in the USA, since the product infringes copyright by violating the license. The detailed reasons for that infringement (i.e., failure to disclose source code) is somewhat irrelevant to the central issue; the Court can grant injunction (i.e., an order to prevent the company from distributing the infringing product) based simply on the violator's lost permissions under the existing copyright license. The Court could even order the cease of import of the infringing products.

In our view, the violator would be unaffected under the above TPP provision, since the Court did not specifically compel release of the source code, but rather simply ruled that the product generally infringed copyrights, and their distribution rights had fully terminated upon infringement. In other words, the fact that the violator lost copyright permissions and can seek to restore them via source code disclosure is not dispositive to the underlying infringement claim.

While TPP thus does not impact copyright holders' ability to enforce the GPL, there are nevertheless plenty of reasons to oppose TPP. Conservancy therefore joins the FSF, EFF, and other organizations in encouraging everyone to oppose TPP.

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TPP has provision banning requirements to transfer or or access to source code of software

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OSS
Legal

The TPP E-Commerce chapter has a provision banning requirements to transfer or provide access to software source code. This applies to "mass market software."

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OSI Joins Comment to FCC on ET Docket No. 15-170

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OSS
Legal

The signers respectfully request that the commission carefully balance the important work of protecting the radio spectrum with the immeasurable value in experimentation, innovation, and freedom for law-abiding users. Additionally, the signers invite the commission and other regulatory agencies to collaborate with industry; free, open source, and proprietary software developers; and device users on developing wireless device policies and recommendations that meet the needs of regulatory agencies and protect the ability of users to inspect, modify and improve their devices.

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Christoph Hellwig Continues VMware GPL Enforcement Suit in Germany

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Legal

The lawsuit continues to progress. VMware has filed a statement of defense, in which they assert arguments for the dismissal of the action. Christoph, with the assistance of his lawyer Till Jaeger, has filed his response to these arguments. Unfortunately, VMware has explicitly asked for the filings not to be published and, accordingly, Conservancy has not been able to review either document. With the guidance of counsel, Christoph was able to provide Conservancy with a high-level summary of the filings from which we are able to provide this update. VMware's statement of defense primarily focuses on two issues. First, VMware questions Christoph's copyright interest in the Linux kernel and his right to bring this action. Second, VMware claims vmklinux is an “interoperability module” which communicates through a stable interface called VMK API.

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GNU/FSF/SFLC News

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GNU
Legal
  • 30 Years of Free Software Foundation: Best Quotes of Richard Stallman
  • GNU Spotlight with Brandon Invergo: Sixteen new GNU releases!

    16 new GNU releases in the last month (as of September 24, 2015):

    autogen-5.18.6
    cpio-2.12
    ddrescue-1.20
    gdb-7.10
    gettext-0.19.6
    global-6.5.1
    gnupg-2.1.8
    gnutls-3.4.5
    help2man-1.47.2
    libgcrypt-1.6.4
    libmicrohttpd-0.9.43
    libtasn1-4.7
    linux-libre-4.2-gnu
    parallel-20150922
    sipwitch-1.9.10
    ucommon-6.6.0

  • [FSFE PR][EN] FSFE convinces 1125 public administrations to remove proprietary software advertisements

    The campaign began in 2009 with the intent of removing advertisements for proprietary PDF reader software from public institutions' websites. To start it all off, volunteers submitted 2104 "bugs", or instances of proprietary PDF software being directly promoted by public authorities, and the FSFE listed[2] them online. Since then, hundreds of Free Software activists took action by writing to the relevant public institutions and calling for changes to their websites. We received a lot of positive feedback from the institutions thanking us for our letters, and to date, 1125 out of the 2104 websites (53%) edited their websites by removing links to proprietary PDF readers, or adding links to Free Software PDF readers.

  • GLib now has a datagram interface

    For those who like their I/O packetised, GLib now has a companion for its GIOStream class — the GDatagramBased interface, which we’ve implemented as part of R&D work at Collabora. This is designed to be implemented by any class which does datagram-based I/O. GSocket implements it, essentially as an interface to recvmmsg() and sendmmsg(). The upcoming DTLS support in glib-networking will use it.

  • SFLC Files Comment with FCC Arguing Against Overbroad Rules Prohibiting User Modification of Software on Wireless Devices

    On Friday, October 9th, 2015 the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) submitted a comment with the United States Federal Communications Commission, which has proposed a number of revisions to its rules and regulations concerning approval of wireless devices. Notice of Proposed Rule Making, ET Docket No. 15-170. SFLC takes the position that the Commission does not possess the legal authority to adopt a rule that regulates the software running in devices that does not affect the operation of RF transmitters or create interference. SFLC further argues that, even within the scope of the Commission's regulatory jurisdiction, the Commission must tread carefully to avoid over-regulating radio frequency device software to the detriment of user innovation and after-market software modification. SFLC also urges the Commission to issue a policy statement (1) supporting the use of community developed or free software in networking devices; (2) recognizing the overwhelming social benefits generated from the high-quality software produced by non-profit communities; and (3) stating that preferring proprietary software over software whose source code is publicly available does not meaningfully enhance the security of software.

The importance of community-oriented GPL enforcement

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OSS
Legal

The Free Software Foundation and Software Freedom Conservancy have released a statement of principles on how GPL enforcement work can and should be done in a community-oriented fashion. The president of the Open Source Initiative, Allison Randal, participated as a co-author in the drafting of the principles, together with the leadership of FSF and Conservancy.

The Open Source Initiative's mission centers on advocating for and supporting efforts to improve community best practices, in order to promote and protect open source (founded on the principles of free software). While the OSI's work doesn't include legal enforcement actions for the GPL or any of the family of licenses that conform to the Open Source Definition, we applaud these principles set forth by the FSF and Conservancy, clearly defining community best practices around GPL enforcement.

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Open Access (Textbooks/Commons)

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OSS
Legal

Lawyers Versus FOSS Licensing

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OSS
Legal
  • Startups, Know This About Open Source Before Incorporating It into Your Products

    The use of open source to develop new software products is widespread among technology startups, to the point that there are over 25 million repositories on GitHub, over 430,000 projects on SourceForge and over 21 billion lines of indexed and searchable open source code on the Black Duck Open Hub. Technology startups use open source in three main ways:

  • Open source software: What you don’t know could hurt you

    The most significant aspect of the GPL is that it requires users of open source code who incorporate that code into their own programs and then distribute those programs, to make both the pre-existing source code and the source code for the new work available to recipients of the new software. This requirement arises when the new work is derived from or based upon the pre-existing code.

CC BY-SA 4.0 now one-way compatible with GPLv3

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GNU
Legal

Put simply this means you now have permission to adapt another licensor’s work under CC BY-SA 4.0 and release your contributions to the adaptation under GPLv3 (while the adaptation relies on both licenses, a reuser of the combined and remixed work need only look to the conditions of GPLv3 to satisfy the attribution and ShareAlike conditions of BY-SA 4.0).

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A decade of Linux patent non-aggression: The Open Invention Network

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Linux
OSS
Legal

One reason why Linux weathered patent attacks and trolls to become today's dominant server and cloud operating system is because the Open Invention Network united its supporters into a strong patent consortium.

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More in Tux Machines

Red Hat pilots new leadgen program in Canada targeting the mid-to-high market

Fedora: The Latest

  • Fedora’s Love For Python Continues
    In this digital age, there is still some use for having messaging that is easy to distribute and consume. While it may seem quaint and old-fashioned, hard-copy content is a useful way to deliver information at events like conferences and meetups.
  • Fedora account system and FreeIPA
    Over the years, a number of times, people have asked us about migrating from our own custom Fedora Account System (FAS) to FreeIPA.
  • Testing FreeIPA in openQA
    openQA has some integration with Open vSwitch and it’s what the SUSE folks use, so I went with that. You basically have to create a tap device for each worker instance and use something like OVS to connect those devices together with a virtual bridge or whatever so the test VMs can communicate. The VMs also need to access the per-job web server that os-autoinst runs for the worker to upload logs to and download scripts to run from (in some cases), so in the reference set up you have that bind to the bridge interface and ensure the firewalling is set up so the VMs can reach it. And if you need the VMs to have access to the external network, as we do for FreeIPA testing (dnf and rolekit just do not want to work without access to the repositories), you have to basically set up NAT routing for the traffic from the VMs. It’s lots of network configuration fun!

Leftovers: Debian

  • The Pyra - handheld computer with Debian preinstalled
    The machine is a complete ARM-based PC with micro HDMI, SATA, USB plugs and many others connectors, and include a full keyboard and a 5" LCD touch screen. The 6000mAh battery is claimed to provide a whole day of battery life time, but I have not seen any independent tests confirming this. The vendor is still collecting preorders, and the last I heard last night was that 22 more orders were needed before production started.
  • New sources for contributors.debian.org
    Many people might not be aware of it, but since a couple of years ago, we have an excellent tool for tracking and recognising contributors to the Debian Project: Debian Contributors Debian is a big project, and there are many people working that do not have great visibility, specially if they are not DDs or DMs. We are all volunteers, so it is very important that everybody gets credited for their work. No matter how small or unimportant they might think their work is, we need to recognise it!
  • What's new since Jessie?
    Jessie was released one year ago now and the Java Team has been busy preparing the next release.

Leftovers: OSS

  • The New Kingmakers and the Next Step for Open Source
  • Puppet Rebrands, Launches Numerous New Projects
    Folks who are focused on container technology and virtual machines as they are implemented today might want to give a hat tip to some of the early technologies and platforms that arrived in the same arena. Among those, Puppet, which was built on the legacy of the venerable Cfengine system, was an early platform that helped automate lots of virtual machine implementations. We covered it in depth all the way back in 2008. Fast-forward to today, and Puppet Labs is changing its name to mark a new era, and is out with several new product initiatives. The organization, now known as just Puppet, has also named its first president and COO, Sanjay Mirchandani, who comes to the company from VMware, where he was a senior vice-president.
  • Tracing Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference
    After taking a break in 2015, Tracing is back at Plumbers this year! Tracing is heavily used throughout the Linux ecosystem, and provides an essential method for extracting information about the underlying code that is running on the system. Although tracing is simple in concept, effective usage and implementation can be quite involved.
  • Jeremy Sands: Southern Fried College Football and Down-Home Linux
    This is a “Meet the Man Behind the Curtain” interview. It’s more about Sands than about either csnbbs.com or the LinuxFest he spends so much of his time organizing. But at the end of the interview, he talks about how the LinuxFest can always use more volunteers, even if all you can do is woman or man the registration desk for an hour. And sponsors? It’s a pretty healthy operation financially, but more sponsors are always welcome — especially ones from the Southeast, because this conference is proudly regional, not something identical to what you might find in, say, Los Angeles or Washington State.
  • A daughter of Silicon Valley shares her 'nerd' story
    In the end, I had to leave my job at ISC. Luckily, my work and my values brought me to Mozilla, where I've been both perseverant and lucky enough to have several meaningful roles. Today, I'm the senior program manager of diversity and inclusion. I work full-time on building a more diverse and inclusive Mozilla, standing on the shoulders of giants who did the same before me and in partnership with many of the smartest and kindest people I know. I've followed my passion for empowering people to find meaningful ways to contribute to the Internet I believe the world needs: an expansion of the one that excited me so long ago. And I get to see a lot of the world while I do it!
  • Waiting for Plugins: The Nylas N1 Email Client
    I wish the Nylas N1 team the best. I love that they took the time to build a Linux client. I love the idea of a hackable email client. But Nylas N1, as it stands now, is very limited. If you happen to like the defaults, you’re in for a treat. But if you’re looking for an email client that bends to your will and that you can easily customize as a non-developer, you’re probably better off with Thunderbird (especially now that people are thinking about its future). Thunderbird isn’t pretty—certainly not as pretty as Nylas N1—but it lets you build it into whatever email client you want it to be.
  • RightScale, Focused on the Cloud, Delivers Docker Container Management
  • Drupal developer on how to make your website more accessible
    For open source developer Mike Gifford, founder and president of OpenConcept Consulting Inc., any mention of Drupal accessibility after his name is redundant. He has spent the better part of 10 years improving and cementing accessibility in Drupal, enough to earn the role of official core accessibility maintainer for the project. Accessibility awareness has grown considerably in the Drupal community, but the Internet changes rapidly and the software needs to keep up to remain relevant. Recent press on the trend of decoupling Drupal—including the milestone post by project founder Dries Buytaert himself—tends to skirt the issue that so-called headless configurations can blot out accessibility functions designed for the theme layer.
  • DuckDuckGo Gives $225,000 to Open Source Projects
    It appears as if people have been using DuckDuckGo’s privacy centered search enough to make the company successful. Certainly not we-control-the-world successful like Google, but successful enough to give it some cash-on-hand breathing room. Also successful enough for the company to give back to the community by handing out $225,000 to some free and open source projects.
  • DuckDuckGo's 2016 open source donations
  • H2020 submission is rather 'anti-open'
    So what's the EC's current stand with forcing citizens to use Adobe's proprietary, closed technology and only Windows or Mac for submission of H2020 projects? With Adobe retiring Linux versions of Acrobat a couple of years ago (yes you can still download an obsolete version for Linux from Adobe's FTP but it won't work with ECAS "A forms"), this is a very "anti-open" situation.
  • It's Time to Open Source Moving Vehicles
    Open source software has made its mark on desktop computing, mobile phones, and the internet of things. But one area yet to be cracked wide open with freely distributed software is mobility: from autonomous cars, software-assisted driving, to connecting vehicles to other devices. On Wednesday, Arthur Taylor, chief technology officer at Advanced Telematic Systems, presented an open-source platform that he hopes will be the start of more innovation in software development for mobility technologies. But he also argued for the merits of open source software in a space pretty much dominated by the closed-off products of large corporates, such as Google and Uber.
  • Next Phase of Development Begins for The Hovalin, An Open Source 3D Printed Violin
    The Hovalin, developed by Matt and Kaitlyn Hova, is a open source 3D printed violin that has received much attention since the first version was released. Now the next phase of development has begun for the Hovalin 3.0, and Matt Hova has posted a blog entry and started a Reddit thread about the project that always keeps improving in a collaborative effort by many Hovalin fans. In the Hovalin website blog post, Hova explains what the most recent plans are for the latest version. First, version 3.0 will “move away from the current carbon fiber rectangle to an 8 mm rod.” Also, a lock will be created that will be used to keep the top and bottom pieces together. Custom brims to prevent warping will be added, as well as possible chin and shoulder rests. Finally, Hova wants to “work out a new system for distributing multiple options for the .stls including files with brim, files without brim, pre-sliced files with supports for the middle piece.” There are many changes in the works here, as you can see from just this list alone.