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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

Filed under
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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FOSS Licensing (and Lack Thereof)

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OSS
Legal
  • Portugal to harmonise usability of govt portals

    All of the code, information and tools are made available for reuse.

  • JRC: ‘Releasing code without a licence hinders reuse’

    Projects that publish source code without a licence weaken the reusability of their code, warns Stefano Gentile, a copyright and trademark specialist working for the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). Currently just 20 % of all projects published on GitHub, one of the most popular source code sharing platforms, have selected a licence for their work - down from about 60% in 2008, Gentile said, quoting numbers published in 2015 by GitHub.

  • React to React

    The Additional Grant of Patent Rights is a patent license grant that includes certain termination criteria. These termination criteria are not entirely unprecedented when you look at the history of patent license provisions in OSI-approved licenses, but they are certainly broader than the termination criteria [or the equivalent] in several familiar modern licenses (the Apache License 2.0, EPL, MPL 2.0, and GPLv3).

  • BetConstruct declares the source code for its front-end as open source

    The project is distributed under MIT license.

Why GPL Compliance Education Materials Should Be Free as in Freedom

Filed under
GNU
Legal

I am honored to be a co-author and editor-in-chief of the most comprehensive, detailed, and complete guide on matters related to compliance of copyleft software licenses such as the GPL. This book, Copyleft and the GNU General Public License: A Comprehensive Tutorial and Guide (which we often call the Copyleft Guide for short) is 155 pages filled with useful material to help everyone understand copyleft licenses for software, how they work, and how to comply with them properly. It is the only document to fully incorporate esoteric material such as the FSF's famous GPLv3 rationale documents directly alongside practical advice, such as the pristine example, which is the only freely published compliance analysis of a real product on the market. The document explains in great detail how that product manufacturer made good choices to comply with the GPL. The reader learns by both real-world example as well as abstract explanation.

However, the most important fact about the Copyleft Guide is not its useful and engaging content. More importantly, the license of this book gives freedom to its readers in the same way the license of the copylefted software does. Specifically, we chose the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 license (CC BY-SA) for this work. We believe that not just software, but any generally useful technical information that teaches people should be freely sharable and modifiable by the general public.

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Defending copyleft

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Legal

For some years now, Bradley Kuhn has been the face of GPL enforcement. At LibrePlanet 2017, he gave a talk about that enforcement and, more generally, whether copyleft is succeeding. Enforcing the GPL is somewhat fraught with perils of various sorts, and there are those who are trying to thwart that work, he said. His talk was partly to clear the air and to alert the free-software community to some backroom politics he sees happening in the enforcement realm.

Most of the work that Kuhn's employer, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), does is not dealing with licensing issues. But people love hearing about copyleft, he said. In addition, free-software developers like those at LibrePlanet have a right to know what's going on politically. There is a lot of politics going on behind the scenes.

Kuhn works for a charity, not a traditional company or a trade association. That means he has the freedom and, in some sense, the obligation to give attendees the whole story from his point of view, he said. He is lucky to be able to work in that fashion. Kuhn then took a bit of a spin through his history with copyleft and why he decided to step up for it.

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Also: Open Source Licenses: How They're Similar, How They're Different

Linux Foundation blocks access to open source risks article

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GNU
Legal

The Free Software Foundation's John Sullivan was one of the first to criticise the article, pointing out on Twitter, "There are many sites where I'd expect to see this article but not the Linux Foundation."

In reference to a claim in the article, he wrote, "Copyleft is not 'riskier'. Permissive licenses allow proprietary reuse, and *proprietary* licensing is far more complicated and risky."

And he added, "Copyleft is also not 'restrictive'. See above. Proprietary licensing is restrictive. Copyleft guarantees absence of restrictions."

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Do GitHub's updated terms of service conflict with copyleft?

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GNU
Legal

GitHub's updated terms caused a great deal of concern, but while they are confusing, they do not appear to be incompatible with copyleft. The Free Software Foundation (FSF), though, still recommends using other code hosting sites.

GitHub recently updated their terms of service (ToS). Users of the site are raising many concerns over the new terms, fearing that the ToS could be incompatible with the copyleft licenses on works uploaded to GitHub. In particular, section D of the new terms, which handles rights granted to GitHub and GitHub users, makes many hackers very uncomfortable.

Section D.4 states, "You grant us and our legal successors the right to store and display your Content and make incidental copies as necessary to render the Website and provide the Service. " At first glance that might appear to grant permissions on your work without the concomitant protective guarantees found in copyleft licenses like the GNU General Public License (GPL). Users who care about ensuring that their software never becomes proprietary would not want to give such unconditional permission. And those uploading works that incorporate third-party copylefted code may not even be able to grant such permissions.

But licenses like the GNU GPL already give the necessary permissions to make, use, and modify local copies of a work. Are the new GitHub ToS asking for more than that? It's not fully clear. While the grant language could fit within the scope of the GPL, other words used in the section like "share" or "distribute" could be understood to mean something that wouldn't line up with the GPL's terms.

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BSD and GPL

Filed under
GNU
BSD
Legal
  • Booting FreeBSD 11 with NVMe and ZFS on AMD Ryzen

    We recently took one of our test systems and tried an experiment: could we boot FreeBSD 11 from a NVMe SSD using ZFS root file system using AMD Ryzen. At STH we have many FreeBSD users and developers so when there is a new hardware class out, we tend to try it in FreeBSD and sometimes popular FreeBSD appliance OSes such as pfSense and FreeNAS. You can see an example with our Knights Landing Xeon Phi x200 system booting FreeBSD OSes. In our recent testing with AMD Ryzen we found major installers with the latest CentOS 7.3 and also had issues with Ubuntu crashing using current LTS image kernels. We wanted to see how FreeBSD would fare given it normally lags in terms of hardware support.

  • VMware becomes gold member of Linux Foundation: And what about the GPL?

    As we can read in recent news, VMware has become a gold member of the Linux foundation. That causes - to say the least - very mixed feelings to me.

    One thing to keep in mind: The Linux Foundation is an industry association, it exists to act in the joint interest of it's paying members. It is not a charity, and it does not act for the public good. I know and respect that, while some people sometimes appear to be confused about its function.

    However, allowing an entity like VMware to join, despite their many years long disrespect for the most basic principles of the FOSS Community (such as: Following the GPL and its copyleft principle), really is hard to understand and accept.

    I wouldn't have any issue if VMware would (prior to joining LF) have said: Ok, we had some bad policies in the past, but now we fully comply with the license of the Linux kernel, and we release all derivative/collective works in source code. This would be a positive spin: Acknowledge past issues, resolve the issues, become clean and then publicly underlining your support of Linux by (among other things) joining the Linux Foundation. I'm not one to hold grudges against people who accept their past mistakes, fix the presence and then move on. But no, they haven't fixed any issues.

    They are having one of the worst track records in terms of intentional GPL compliance issues for many years, showing outright disrespect for Linux, the GPL and ultimately the rights of the Linux developers, not resolving those issues and at the same time joining the Linux Foundation? What kind of message sends that?

Should the U.S. Army Have Its Own Open Source License?

Filed under
OSS
Legal

This question has generated many pixels’ worth of traffic on the OSI License discuss email list. This post is just a brief summary of a little of the discussion, which has been going on for some weeks and shows no sign of slowing down.

There are currently 80 Open Sourse Initiative-approved open source licenses. It’s nice that the Army (I’m a veteran) wants to not only write software licensed as open source, but OSI-approved open source software. (Go Army!)

But does the Army really need its own special OS license? Should the Air Force have a different one? Will the Navy want a Coastal Combat Open Source License, along with a separate Blue Water Open Source License? That might sound far-fetched, but Mozilla has three separate open source licenses, Microsoft has two, and Canada’s province of Québec also has three. So why shouldn’t the U.S. Department of Defense have a whole slew of open source licenses?

There are five different GPL licenses alone, and I assure you that even the Coast Guard dwarfs the Free Software Foundation in both personnel and resources.

Read more

Also: US Department of Defense Launches code.mil Open Source Effort

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More in Tux Machines

Mozilla: Rust, Security, Things Gateway, Firefox and More

  • Rust pattern: Precise closure capture clauses
    This is the second in a series of posts about Rust compiler errors. Each one will talk about a particular error that I got recently and try to explain (a) why I am getting it and (b) how I fixed it. The purpose of this series of posts is partly to explain Rust, but partly just to gain data for myself. I may also write posts about errors I’m not getting – basically places where I anticipated an error, and used a pattern to avoid it. I hope that after writing enough of these posts, I or others will be able to synthesize some of these facts to make intermediate Rust material, or perhaps to improve the language itself.
  • This Week in Rust
  • Mozilla publishes recommendations on government vulnerability disclosure in Europe
    As we’ve argued on many occasions, effective government vulnerability disclosure (GVD) review processes can greatly enhance cybersecurity for governments, citizens, and companies, and help mitigate risk in an ever-broadening cyber threat landscape. In Europe, the EU is currently discussing a new legislative proposal to enhance cybersecurity across the bloc, the so-called ‘EU Cybersecurity Act’. In that context, we’ve just published our policy recommendations for lawmakers, in which we call on the EU to seize the opportunity to set a global policy norm for government vulnerability disclosure.
  • Testing Strategies for React and Redux
  • K Lars Lohn: Things Gateway - a Virtual Weather Station
  • Firefox DevEdition 60 Beta 14 Testday Results
    As you may already know, last Friday – April 20th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox DevEdition 60 Beta 14. Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: gaby2300, micde, Jarrod Michell, Thomas Brooks.
  • Supporting Same-Site Cookies in Firefox 60
    Firefox 60 will introduce support for the same-site cookie attribute, which allows developers to gain more control over cookies. Since browsers will include cookies with every request to a website, most sites rely on this mechanism to determine whether users are logged in. Attackers can abuse the fact that cookies are automatically sent with every request to force a user to perform unwanted actions on the site where they are currently logged in. Such attacks, known as cross-site request forgeries (CSRF), allow attackers who control third-party code to perform fraudulent actions on the user’s behalf. Unfortunately current web architecture does not allow web applications to reliably distinguish between actions initiated by the user and those that are initiated by any of the third-party gadgets or scripts that they rely on.
  • Enterprise Policy Support in Firefox
    Last year, Mozilla ran a survey to find out top enterprise requirements for Firefox. Policy management (especially Windows Group Policy) was at the top of that list. For the past few months we’ve been working to build that support into Firefox in the form of a policy engine. The policy engine adds desktop configuration and customization features for enterprise users to Firefox. It works with any tool that wants to set policies including Windows Group Policy.
  • any.js
    Thanks to Ms2ger web-platform-tests is now even more awesome (not in the American sense). To avoid writing HTML boilerplate, web-platform-tests supports .window.js, .worker.js, and .any.js resources, for writing JavaScript that needs to run in a window, dedicated worker, or both at once. I very much recommend using these resource formats as they ease writing and reviewing tests and ensure APIs get tested across globals.
  • Alex Gibson: My fifth year working at Mozilla
    Today marks my fifth year working for Mozilla! This past year has been both fun and frantic, and overall was a really good year for both Mozilla and Firefox. Here’s a run down a few of the things I got to work on.

Fedora Workstation 28 Coming Soon

  • Warming up for Fedora Workstation 28
    Been some time now since my last update on what is happening in Fedora Workstation and with current plans to release Fedora Workstation 28 in early May I thought this could be a good time to write something. As usual this is just a small subset of what the team has been doing and I always end up feeling a bit bad for not talking about the avalanche of general fixes and improvements the team adds to each release.
  • Fedora Workstation 28 Is Shaping Up To Be Another Terrific Update
    Fedora Workstation 28 is shaping up to be another compelling update for those that are fans of this bleeding-edge Red Hat sponsored Linux distribution. I've been running Fedora Workstation 28 snapshots on a few laptops and test machines here and am quite happy with how it's shaped up as another Fedora release that delivers not only the latest features, but doing so in a seemingly sane and stable manner: I haven't encountered any problems unlike some of the past notorious Fedora releases from years ago. Overall, I am quite excited for next month's Fedora 28 release and will be upgrading my main production system to it.

Android Leftovers

Configuring local storage in Linux with Stratis

Configuring local storage is something desktop Linux users do very infrequently—maybe only once, during installation. Linux storage tech moves slowly, and many storage tools used 20 years ago are still used regularly today. But some things have improved since then. Why aren't people taking advantage of these new capabilities? This article is about Stratis, a new project that aims to bring storage advances to all Linux users, from the simple laptop single SSD to a hundred-disk array. Linux has the capabilities, but its lack of an easy-to-use solution has hindered widespread adoption. Stratis's goal is to make Linux's advanced storage features accessible. Read more