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On the boundaries of GPL enforcement

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Last October, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) and Free Software Foundation (FSF) jointly published "The Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement". That document described what those organizations believe the goal of enforcement efforts should be and how those efforts should be carried out. Several other organizations endorsed the principles, including the netfilter project earlier this month. It was, perhaps, a bit puzzling that the project would make that endorsement at that time, but a July 19 SFC blog post sheds some light on the matter.

There have been rumblings for some time about a kernel developer doing enforcement in Germany that might not be particularly "community-oriented", but public information was scarce. Based on the blog post by Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler, though, it would seem that Patrick McHardy, who worked on netfilter, is the kernel developer in question. McHardy has also recently been suspended from the netfilter core team pending his reply to "severe allegations" with regard to "the style of his license enforcement activities".

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The Importance of Following Community-Oriented Principles in GPL Enforcement Work

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The GNU General Public License (GPL) was designed to grant clear permissions for sharing software and to defend that freedom for users. GPL'd code now appears in so many devices that it is fundamental to modern technology. While we believe that following the GPL's requirements is neither burdensome nor unreasonable, many fail to do so. GPL enforcement — the process to encourage those who fail to correct problems and join our open software development community — is difficult diplomacy.

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Linux Australia backflips on Appelbaum stance

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Linux
Legal

Linux Australia has done a backflip on its stance over privacy advocate Jacob Appelbaum who was recently thrown out of several software groupings following numerous accusations of sexual harassment.

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Remaining Articles About PS3 Settlement Over GNU/Linux

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GNU
Linux
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PS3 Settlement

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GNU
Linux
Legal

A Brief History of Free and Open Source Software Licensing

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Open source software licenses may not excite people as much as open source code, but they have been just as important in keeping software free. Open source licensing as we know it today didn't always exist, however. It evolved as programmers developed more sophisticated strategies regarding their intellectual property.

Below is a look at the major milestones in open source licensing history. It doesn't cover every twist and turn. That would take a book.

But it outlines the major arc in open source licensing strategies, from the days when free software promoters disdained licenses altogether through present-day battles about software licensing and the cloud.

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Also: Licensing resources series: A Quick Guide to GPLv3

Licensing and Compliance

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Legal
  • New API helps open-source developers 'become license-aware'

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD), announced today it has created a machine readable publication of OSI approved licenses.

    According to the organization, the API will allow third parties to "become license-aware", giving businesses everywhere the means to determine if a license is open source or not.

    The Open Source Initiative considers this the next "logical step" and quite important, knowing all the copyright and license legal battles going on nowadays, and how expensive they can be.

    Open Source Lead at GitHub, Brandon Keepers offered, "A canonical, machine-readable source of license metadata is a great step towards enabling developers to build tools around open source licensing and compliance. We can’t wait to see what the community does with it".

  • Oracle's Lead Lawyer Against Google Vents That The Ruling 'Killed' The GPL

    Except, of course, tons of copyright experts predicted exactly this result (and many more argued that APIs should not be subject to copyright at all). Famed copyright scholar Pam Samuelson has been writing extensively about the case, focusing both on why APIs should not be covered by copyright (and, why basically every other court has agreed) as well as why, even if it is covered, it's fair use. Hell, she even wrote a response to the Hurst piece, explaining why Hurst was wrong. It's weird for Hurst to take a position that actually seems at odds with a huge number of copyright experts, and then state that none would take the position that many did.

    [...]

    Once again, this shows a rather unfortunate ignorance of how coding works. It's not about a desire to "copy freely." It's about building amazing and innovative services, and making use of APIs to increase interoperability, which increases value. Copying an API structure is also just much more about making developers comfortable in using new environments. You know, like how Oracle copied SQL from IBM. Because lots of people understood SELECT-FROM-WHERE and it made little sense to create a relational database that didn't use that structure. It's not about copying freely. It's about interoperability.

    And, really, the idea that an Oracle lawyer is "concerned" about the future of the GPL is fairly laughable. Thankfully, many people have weighed in in the comments -- including plenty who are quite familiar with the GPL and software development to explain to Hurst why she's wrong. Somehow, I think she has some fairly strong reasons to ignore those responses.

Licensing and Coding

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Development
Legal
  • The Oracle v. Google Suit is Still an Anti-Open Move That Shouldn't Have Happened

    All the way back in 2010, when Oracle filed a complaint for patent and copyright infringement against Google regarding parts of the Java code found in Google's Android mobile OS, I wrote a post calling the move "the anti-open move of the year." Fast-forward to today, and in the Oracle v. Google trial that just concluded, a jury returned a verdict in Google's favor. It basically concluded that Oracle's suit against Google, claiming that the use of Java APIs in Android violated copyright law, was bunk.

    Now, in an op-ed piece for Ars Technica, Annette Hurst, an attorney who represented Oracle, equates the jury's decision with the death of open source.

    [...]

    Hurst makes a good point that dual licensing models are increasing, with many open source projects available for free, while commercial versions, often including support, come at a cost. But the Oracle suit originated because Oracle essentially perceived itself as owning a moat around Java that didn't really exist.

    [...]

    Indeed, one of the lasting images of this long running legal skirmish is going to be Oracle behaving in a decidedly anti-open fashion. It may have been wiser for Oracle to simply let this one go.

  • Here’s how to check if software license is open source

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD), announced today it has created a machine readable publication of OSI approved licenses.

    According to the Initiative, the API will allow third parties to ‘become license-aware’, giving businesses everywhere means to determine if a license is Open Source or not.

  • 3 Things Infrastructure as Code is Not

    The role of the network engineer is changing. This is not a result of DevOps, although some would claim it is. As DevOps takes center stage in organizations, it can seem like network engineers are being asked to become developers.

    There have been a number of talks discussing this, some of which have surfaced at Interop Las Vegas. The shift has been Infrastructure as Code (IaC), which was fundamental to the start of the DevOps movement. So maybe you could say this is caused by DevOps.

  • Introducing Blue Ocean: a new user experience for Jenkins

    While this project is in the alpha stage of development, the intent is that Jenkins users can install Blue Ocean side-by-side with the Jenkins Classic UI via a plugin.

    Not all the features listed on this blog are complete but we will be hard at work over the next few months preparing Blue Ocean for general use. We intend to provide regular updates on this blog as progress is made.

    Blue Ocean is open source today and we invite you to give us feedback and to contribute to the project.

Google and Oracle

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Security
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