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Legal

The VMware Hearing and the Long Road Ahead

Filed under
GNU
Legal

On last Thursday, Christoph Hellwig and his legal counsel attended a hearing in Hellwig's VMware case that Conservancy currently funds. Harald Welte, world famous for his GPL enforcement work in the early 2000s, also attended as an observer and wrote an excellent summary. I'd like to highlight a few parts of his summary, in the context of Conservancy's past litigation experience regarding the GPL.

First of all, in great contrast to the cases here in the USA, the Court acknowledged fully the level of public interest and importance of the case. Judges who have presided over Conservancy's GPL enforcement cases USA federal court take all matters before them quite seriously. However, in our hearings, the federal judges preferred to ignore entirely the public policy implications regarding copyleft; they focused only on the copyright infringement and claims related to it. Usually, appeals courts in the USA are the first to broadly consider larger policy questions. There are definitely some advantages to the first Court showing interest in the public policy concerns.

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SCO vs. IBM looks like it's over for good

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The long-running SCO vs. IBM case looks like it might just be over.

A new filing (PDF) scooped up by the good folks at Groklaw sees both SCO and IBM agree to sign off on two recent decisions in which SCO's arguments advancing its claims to own parts of Unix were slapped down by the US District Court.

As The Register reads the PDF we've linked to above, and our informal legal counsel concurs, the new document describes IBM and SCO both signing off on the recent court orders. Those orders left SCO without a legal argument to stand on.

The new filing also points out that SCO remains bankrupt and has “has de minimis financial resources beyond the value of the claims on which the Court has granted summary judgment for IBM.”

Or in plain English, SCO is broke and the only asset it possess of any value is its claims against IBM, and now it doesn't even have those because it just lost a court case about them. That leaves SCO in no position to carry on.

“Accordingly,” the new filing continues, “the disposition of SCO’s appeal is the practical course most likely to conserve both judicial and private resources.” That's the legal sense of “disposition”, by the way, so what the document's saying is that SCO giving up its appeal is most likely to stop the courts spending any more time or energy on this matter. Courts don't like wasting resources. So this is both parties explaining that wrapping things up now is a desirable thing.

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Is SFLC Shooting Open Source in the Foot?

Filed under
OSS
Legal

The academic article by SFLC about ZFS is troubling and may unintentionally shoot free software licensing in the foot.

When I was at Sun (as part of the team that released the Java Programming Language by starting the OpenJDK project) I often heard community concerns about the CDDL license. At the time the big complaint was about the "Choice of Venue" clause.

I got involved because Sun had developed many essential Java libraries and distributed them under CDDL. The community requested a more permissive license and I was able to convince internal project leaders (and Sun's lawyers) to make a licensing change for a handful of these projects. And there was much rejoicing.

Based on my experience in helping Java to become open source I came to appreciate the legal hacks on copyright which make open source possible. It's the free software license which uses copyright to enable sharing (vs. the default of disabling sharing).

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The Linux Kernel, CDDL and Related Issues

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The license terms on the Linux kernel are those of GPLv2. This is the unanimous consensus of the extensive community of copyright holders. No other terms, or modifications of those terms, are represented in any document as the consensus position of the relevant parties.

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Also: SFC: GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

Winning the copyleft fight

Linux GPL Enforcement

Filed under
Linux
Legal
  • I’m Part of SFConservancy’s GPL Compliance Project for Linux

    I believe GPL enforcement in general, and specifically around the Linux kernel, is a good thing. Because of this, I am one of the Linux copyright holders who has signed an agreement for the Software Freedom Conservancy to enforce the GPL on my behalf. I’m also a financial supporter of Conservancy.

  • Report from the VMware GPL court hearing

    Today, I took some time off to attend the court hearing in the GPL violation/infringement case that Christoph Hellwig has brought against VMware.

    I am not in any way legally involved in the lawsuit. However, as a fellow (former) Linux kernel developer myself, and a long-term Free Software community member who strongly believes in the copyleft model, I of course am very interested in this case - and of course in an outcome in favor of the plaintiff. Nevertheless, the below report tries to provide an un-biased account of what happened at the hearing today, and does not contain my own opinions on the matter. I can always write another blog post about that Smile

    I blogged about this case before briefly, and there is a lot of information publicly discussed about the case, including the information published by the Software Freedom Conservancy (see the link above, the announcement and the associated FAQ.

  • I bought some awful light bulbs so you don't have to

    Anyway. Next step was to start playing with the protocol, which meant finding the device on my network. I checked anything that had picked up a DHCP lease recently and nmapped them. The OS detection reported Linux, which wasn't hugely surprising - there was no GPL notice or source code included with the box, but I'm way past the point of shock at that. It also reported that there was a telnet daemon running. I connected and got a login prompt. And then I typed admin as the username and admin as the password and got a root prompt. So, there's that. The copy of Busybox included even came with tftp, so it was easy to get copies of tcpdump and strace on there to see what was up.

  • SFC: GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

The U.S. Copyright Office requiring proprietary software in DMCA anti-circumvention study

Filed under
OSS
Legal

In Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anti-circumvention study, the U.S. Copyright Office extends comment period and asserts that proprietary software is required for comment submission.

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Canonical accused of violating GPL with ZFS-in-Ubuntu 16.04 plan

Filed under
Ubuntu
Legal

The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) thinks Canonical, the curator of Ubuntu, has breached the Gnu Public Licence (GPL).

As the Conservancy explains, Canonical recently announced that Ubuntu 16.04 will “make OpenZFS available on every Ubuntu system. Canonical reckons that adding OpenZFS represents “one of the most exciting new features Linux has seen in a very long time.”

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GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux

Filed under
Legal

This post discusses an atypical GPL violation. Unlike most GPL violations Conservancy faces, in this case, a third-party entity holds a magic wand that can instantly resolve the situation. Oracle is the primary copyright holder of ZFS, and, despite nearly eight years (going back to the days of Sun's control of the code) of the anti-license-proliferation community's urging, Oracle continues to license their code under their own, GPL-incompatible license. While this violation has many facets, and Oracle did not themselves violate GPL in this specific case, they hold the keys to this particular kingdom and they forbid the Linux community to enter. While there are complexities that we must address, in this context, Oracle could make everyone's life easier by waving their magic relicensing wand. Nevertheless, until they do, since GPL-incompatible licenses are the root of all GPL violations, combinations of GPL'd code with Oracle's GPL-incompatible code yield GPL violations, such as the ongoing violation by Canonical, Ltd.

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Kuhn's Paradox

Filed under
OSS
Legal

I believe this paradox is primarily driven by the cooption of software freedom by companies that ostensibly support Open Source, but have the (now extremely popular) open source almost everything philosophy.

For certain areas of software endeavor, companies dedicate enormous resources toward the authorship of new Free Software for particular narrow tasks. Often, these core systems provide underpinnings and fuel the growth of proprietary systems built on top of them. An obvious example here is OpenStack: a fully Free Software platform, but most deployments of OpenStack add proprietary features not available from a pure upstream OpenStack installation.

Meanwhile, in other areas, projects struggle for meager resources to compete with the largest proprietary behemoths. Large user-facing, server-based applications of the Service as a Software Substitute variety, along with massive social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that actively work against federated social network systems, are the two classes of most difficult culprits on this point. Even worse, most traditional web sites have now become a mix of mundane content (i.e., HTML) and proprietary Javascript programs, which are installed on-demand into the users' browser all day long, even while most of those servers run a primarily Free Software operating system.

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ZFS Licensing Issues

Filed under
Ubuntu
Legal
  • Canonical Says There Is No ZFS and Linux Licence Incompatibility

    Canonical announced that support for the ZFS (Z File System) will be available in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, but a lot of users have been asking about a possible license conflict. Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland explained why that’s not a problem.

    ZFS (Z File System) is described as a combination of a volume manager (like LVM) and a filesystem (like ext4, xfs, or btrfs), and it’s licensed under CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License). Don’t worry if you didn’t hear about it. It’s not something that’s commonly used.

  • ZFS Licensing and Linux

    We at Canonical have conducted a legal review, including discussion with the industry's leading software freedom legal counsel, of the licenses that apply to the Linux kernel and to ZFS.

    And in doing so, we have concluded that we are acting within the rights granted and in compliance with their terms of both of those licenses.

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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software

  • [Video] Linux Audio Programs Compared 2017
    I made this video for those that are new to, or just interested in making music on the Linux OS. I go over the features, goods and bads of Rosegarden, LMMS, Ardour, Mixbus, and EnergyXT, as well as touch on Qtractor. I don't don't go much into details of the particular versions I am using, but the video was made in the early part of 2017 and I'm running Ubuntu 16.04LTS.
  • Green Recorder: A Simple Desktop/Screen Recorder for Linux
    Green Recorder is a simple, open source desktop recorder developed for Linux systems built using Python, GTK and FFmpeg. It supports most of the Linux desktop environments such as Unity, Gnome, Cinnamon, Mate, Xfce and so on. Recently it has been updated to work with Wayland too in Gnome session.
  • Komorebi: A New Way To Enhance Your Desktop Using Animated/Parallax Wallpapers
    In past there were applications that allowed us to run videos/Gif as wallpaper on the desktop and make desktop look much cooler but than all of sudden the development of such Apps stopped and I can't name any App that exist for this purpose. Komorebi is fairly new application designed to make your desktop experience much better and make desktop cool as well, we can say it is kind of 'live wallpaper' situation here or 3D wallpaper. It is developed by Abe Masri and available under GPL license for free.
  • Stacer Sytem Optimizer: A Must Have Application For Ubuntu/Linux Mint
    There are multiple ways to optimize your Linux, the most geeky way is using Terminal, there are also applications available that performs such actions like Bleachbit, Ubuntu cleaner and so on. Stacer is simple, open-source, quick and new application designed to offer you all-in-one optimizer for your Ubuntu/Linux Mint (It's alternative to CCleaner but only for Linux).
  • Qtox: Open Source and Fully Secure Skype Replacement for Linux
    Long years ago, we've talked about a Skype alternative called Tox which was still in its early developmental stages. Tox was supposed to become the anti-thesis of Skype by being a fully open-source video and voice chat client that placed user privacy and security at its center. Well, guess what, there are now fully active and well-maintained chat clients that are built on top of Tox protocol. qTox is one of them.
  • Rclone 1.36 Released With SFTP And Local Symlinks Support, More
    Rclone 1.36 was released recently, bringing support for SFTP, local symbolic links support, mount improvements, along with many other new features and bug fixes. For those not familiar with Rclone, this is a cross-platform command line tool for synchronizing files and folders to multiple cloud storages, which supports Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Amazon Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Yandex Disk, and more. It can be used to sync files either from your machine or from one cloud storage to another.
  • Streamlink Twitch GUI 1.2.0 Adds Support For Communities And Team Pages, Basic Hotkeys
    Streamlink Twitch GUI (previously Livestreamer Twitch GUI) is a multi-platform Twitch.tv browser. The application is powered by Node.js, Chromium and Streamlink, though it can still use Livestreamer (which is no longer maintained) too.
  • Code Editor `Brackets` 1.9 Released, Available In PPA
    Brackets is a free, open source code editor focused on front-end web development (HTML, CSS and JavaScript).
  • Terminix Terminal Emulator Renamed To Tilix, Sees New Bugfix Release
    [Quick update] Terminix, a GTK3 tiling terminal emulator, has been renamed to Tilix due to some trademark issues.

today's howtos

Games and CodeWeavers/Wine

  • A Snapshot of Linux Gamers, Just One Year Ago
    It’s about time we share the analysis of that Q1 2016 survey (fielding occured in March last year), especially as we are about to launch the Q1 2017 one pretty, pretty soon. That way we will be able to compare how things have changed over the course of 12 months. As usual, the whole disclaimer about online surveys is valid here (data is only as good as your n size, the appropriateness of your sampling, and the quality of the responses, etc…), but assuming it’s not all that bad and all that unreliable, let’s dig in the results. As a reminder, most of the respondents for this survey were recruited through the r/linux and r/linux_gaming subreddits, as well as the readership of BoilingSteam. This is not our first survey, and you can see our previous ones done in the second quarter of 2015, and the following one in the last quarter of 2015.
  • Slime-san Coming To PC, Mac and Linux
    Headup Games and Fabraz proudly announce their upcoming action-platformer Slime-san for PC, Mac and Linux via Steam & Humble Bundle. Console releases will follow soon after. Jump and slime your way through 100 levels in a unique 5-colored, pixelated world and escape from a giant worm’s innards. Get your shopping done in Slumptown, a town full of survivors within the worm. Unlock different play styles, outfits, shaders and even multiplayer mini-games! Slime-san is developed by Fabraz, an independent development studio that also released the critically-acclaimed games Cannon Crasha and Planet Diver. Slime-san was minding his own business, sliming around in a peaceful forest when suddenly…A giant worm appeared and gobbled him up! Now deep within the worm’s belly, Slime-san has to face a decision: Be digested by the incoming wall of stomach acid... Or jump, slide and slime his way through the worm's intestines and back out its mouth!
  • CodeWeavers Announces CrossOver 16.2.0
  • The Wine Revolution is ON!
    As you know Codeweavers (and other WINE contributors) have been working on DX11 support for a while – they were supposed to have DX11 support by the end of 2016, but as with all complex projects, timelines tend to slip and only very DX11 titles could run a few months ago. Since then, there was no major announcement, but it seems that the progress has been very significant in the recent WINE versions (2.3 is already out).

Leftovers: KDE