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Legal

FCC: We aren’t banning DD-WRT on Wi-Fi routers

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Legal

Back in March, the FCC issued a Software Security Requirements document that said manufacturers applying for equipment authorizations should "Describe in detail how the device is protected from 'flashing' and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT." Applicants also had to answer the question, "What prevents third parties from loading non-US versions of the software/firmware on the device?"

Upon receiving criticism, the FCC insisted that there was no ban on software like DD-WRT and OpenWRT, saying instead manufacturers must prevent devices from working outside their allowed frequencies, types of modulation, and power levels so as not to interfere with other systems.

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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
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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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More in Tux Machines

New CloudLinux 7 Kernel Released, Rebased to Red Hat's OpenVZ Linux 3.10 Kernel

CloudLinux's Mykola Naugolnyi announced the general availability of an updated kernel package for the enterprise-ready CloudLinux 7 operating system based on the freely distributed sources of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. CloudLinux is the operating system of choice for hosting providers and data centers, powering over 20 million websites. It's a super-platform designed for stability, security, and efficiency in shared hosting by isolating each occupant and giving them allocated server resources. A new kernel version, tagged as build 3.10.0-427.36.1.lve1.4.26, has been announced earlier for those who are using the CloudLinux 7 release on their server infrastructures, and it's now available for installation from the updates-testing repository. It's been rebased on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7's OpenVZ rh7-3.10.0-327.36.1.vz7.18.7 kernel. Read more

Leftovers: OSS

  • Dutch govt should consider sharing all its software
    The Dutch government is to create a vision document on how all software developed for and by public administrations can be made available as open source. On Tuesday, the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament agreed that sharing software developed for or by the government has significant benefits, including information security, efficiency and openness.
  • Communicating To The World: Why Open-Source Could Help Your Small Business
    Just as groundbreaking advancements in technology in the ‘90s and 2000s have fundamentally changed the way film, music and television are produced and distributed today, more recent tech innovations have also provided entrepreneurs with the tools they need to compete in the global marketplace. Here is a look at some of the open-source solutions that you can use in order to realize your entrepreneurial ambitions. [...] The rise of high quality open-source web utilities has made it possible for anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of web design to make a quality site. In fact, open-source content management systems like WordPress are so easy to use and comprehensive, companies like Best Buy and Xerox use them to maintain their web presences. Additionally, open-source business management and accounting program Solegis, customer relationship management app ConcourseSuite and e-commerce solution Zen Cart all exist to empower entrepreneurs with limited resources.
  • What lies ahead for open source technology in 2017?
    2016 has been a polarising year. A year when the unexpected and largely unpredicted has occurred, shocking people worldwide. We have lurched into a post-truth era, where emotion transcends logic, and maintaining the status quo is no longer a given. Change is inevitable and there are vast swathes of global society who are disappointed and apprehensive about what lies ahead. In times of uncertainty, an increased focus on collaboration and community is appealing and desirable. The internet has long been a polarising force, a connecting platform that allows individuals to find kindred spirits they might not have been able to find before, regardless of their allegiances and views.
  • Financial tech-ops chief: open source is a recruitment talent imperative
    Developers don’t want to take what companies tell them at face value: they want to look under the bonnet, and assess the quality and design of the code for themselves. If you want to win credibility among the developer community and encourage the right people to your brand, you need to share your work and demonstrate best practice, not just talk about it. The benefits to an open source approach don’t end with the positive impression it can help foster among developers.
  • Speaking in Tech: Did an open source guru just ask us to join Amazon?
  • Family Farming and Open Source Wireless Networking
    Open source methods are being covered more often on television and radio these days, as witnessed by this recent story posted Monday on YouTube by CNBC that mentions Drupal-based Farm OS and covers the story of Dorn Cox, an organic grain grower at Tuckaway Farm in Lee NH; the Director of Green Start, an organization working towards food and fuel security; and co-founder of Farm Hack, an open source community for resilient agriculture.
  • WordPress 4.7 Provides Improved Customization
    WordPress 4.7 was released on December 6, providing the tens of millions of internet users that rely on it, with a long list of new features. As always with every new major WordPress milestone, there is a new theme. For WordPress 4.7 the new theme is Twenty Seventeen, which provides users with video headers and features images.
  • Open Compliance in the Enterprise: Why Have an Open Source Compliance Program?
    Traditionally, platforms and software stacks were implemented using proprietary software, and consisted of various software building blocks that originated as a result of internal development or via third-party software providers with negotiated licensing terms. The business environment was predictable and companies mitigated potential risks through license and contract negotiations with the software vendors. It was very easy to know who was the provider for every software component.
  • Why You Should Have a Personal CI Server
    As a developer, I rely on a CI server to take care of the day-to-day routine of building, testing and deploying software...so much so that I often find myself committing code after every new class or group of methods as a “fire and forget” signal to the CI server to go ahead and run my tests, check my code for style violations, and push a new version to the dev server. When I have finished my train of thought, I can jump into the CI server and either be greeted with a green tick or have a handy (and more importantly authoritative) list of issues to be addressed. However, for all the convenience that a central CI server brings, there are times when this environment lets me down. Maybe my jobs are at the end of the queue, I can’t deploy to the dev servers during a certain time frame, or the configuration of the build just doesn’t quite do what I want it to do but I don’t have the authority to change it.

Leftovers: Software

  • grep-2.27 released
    There have been 40 commits by 4 people in the 9 weeks since 2.26. Note that there were many additional important changes via gnulib.
  • GCC 6.3 Should Be Here By Christmas
    For those looking toward the next maintenance release of GCC 6, the GNU Compiler Collection 6.3 is aiming to be out by Christmas.
  • Yum! GNOME Recipes is a New Cooking App for Linux
    Do you like to cook? No, me neither. And that’s largely because I don’t know how to cook. Could a desktop cooking app help? GNOME’s Matthias Clasen is hoping so, and has started work on a brand-new desktop recipe app that you — and anyone you know — can help contribute to.
  • Heron Animation, Free Stop Motion Software for Linux
    Looking for free stop motion animation software? If so, you’ll definitely want to check out Heron Animation. A free program, Heron Animation lets you take a series of pictures from a connected webcam and assemble each shot into a real moving animation. The tool, which is written in web technologies, pitches itself as ‘perfect for beginners and more experienced animators alike’. That sort of balance is notoriously hard to achieve.
  • EasyTAG 2.4.3 Audio Tag Editor Supports MP4 Files with the .aac File Extension
    EasyTAG, an open-source, simple, free, and cross-platform application for viewing and editing tags in audio files, supporting MP3, MP4, FLAC, Ogg, MusePack, Monkey's Audio, and WavPack files, was updated to version 2.4.3. It's been more than nine months since EasyTAG 2.4.2 was released, and we're now finally able to update the software on our GNU/Linux or Windows operating systems. Version 2.4.3 is out as of December 5, 2016, bringing support for MP4 files that use the .aac file extension, as well as Adwaita-style artist and album icons.
  • FSF Blogs: Seventeen new GNU releases in November
  • IceCat 45.5.1 release
    GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.
  • Permabit Hits New Milestone in 2016 by Delivering the First Complete Data Reduction for Linux
  • FOSS DOS for 21st Century Hardware
    The founder and coordinator of the FreeDOS Project writes about FreeDOS 1.2, which is scheduled for a Christmas Day release. There is good news for classic gamers and nostalgia buffs: this one’s got games.
  • A Look At Async/Await JavaScript For Firefox 52
    While Chrome 55 has JavaScript async/await support, the Firefox support isn't coming until the Firefox 52.0 stable release in March while currently it's available in the latest Firefox Developer Edition and early alpha builds. Mozilla developer Dan Callahan wrote a post today on hacks.mozilla.org for the async/await support in Firefox and can be used if you are running the latest Firefox Developer Edition. Check it out if you're interested in JavaScript async await support for more asynchronous programming for the web.
  • Chrome bug triggered errors on websites using Symantec SSL certificates
  • Announcing openSUSE’s GPG Key Server – keyserver.opensuse.org
    Does it happen to you, too, that there are moments where you ask yourself why others want something from you that is there already since a while? Exactly this happened with https://keyserver.opensuse.org/: the original machine was set up a long time ago to make it easier for people attending the openSUSE GPG key-signing parties, but it looks like nobody officially announced this “new service” for our users… …and so here we are: the openSUSE Heroes team is pleased to announce that keyserver.opensuse.org is up and running as public GPG keyserver. We are of course also part of the official keyserver pool, which means that some people might already noticed us, as they got redirected to our server with their requests. (And for those who are interested to setup their own SKS keyserver: we have also written a nice monitoring plugin that helps you keeping an eye on the pool status of your machine and the ones of your peers.)

Office Suites

  • Microsoft Office, Google Docs beware: This open-source startup is after your users
    "That was one of the reasons why we chose an open-source model. We want be open, want people to trust us, want to overcome that barrier they have in mind, those strong beliefs that there's nothing but Microsoft Office, that nothing better could be created. We won't change our mind about open source." Bannov says he ultimately sees OnlyOffice becoming a firm that provides consulting, technical support and remote managed services to companies using its open-source products.
  • Collabora Online 2.0 Puts LibreOffice In the Cloud, Adds Collaborative Editing
    Today, December 7, 2016, Collabora Productivity, through Michael Meeks, is proud to inform Softpedia about the general availability of the long anticipated Collabora Online 2.0 office suite based on the LibreOffice, Nextcloud, and ownCloud technologies. After being in development for the past six months, Collabora Online 2.0 is finally here as the powerful cloud-based office suite that promises to protect users' privacy and freedom of expression while editing various documents formats online. Collabora Online is mainly targeted at the enterprise world, hosting and cloud businesses.