04.05.21

Techrights Commends US Supreme Court for Supporting Programmers by Defending Fair Use

Posted in Antitrust, Google, Intellectual Monopoly at 11:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court judge

Summary: Stephen Breyer (above), the author of the latest big decision after an 11-year legal battle, is once again doing the right thing from a software developer’s perspective; only two Justices opposed this decision or dissented

Copyright maximalists have suffered a blow; as it turns out, on a holiday, SCOTUS did the right thing by deciding that copyrights on APIs are a disservice to society. As LWN put it, a “long saga of Oracle’s copyright-infringement against Google, which copied much of the Java API for use in Android, has come to an end” (no appeals anymore).

“Although Google itself is a monopoly, a decision against Google in this case would have devastated software development in general, no matter if proprietary or Free software.”A law firms-funded site said “a 6-2 decision authored by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court has held that Google’s copying of the JAVA API naming convention was a fair use as a matter of law.” Another Oracle proponent said: “This decision was supportd [sic] by six of the nine justices.”

Slam dunk. Press coverage is starting to come out, e.g. HotHardware. Today isn’t just a bright sunny day but also a holiday and an epic milestone in the battle against copyright maximalists and software monopolists. Although Google itself is a monopoly, a decision against Google in this case would have devastated software development in general, no matter if proprietary or Free software.

04.04.21

Who Signed the Hate Letter Against Software Freedom (or Against FSF Bringing Back Its Founder)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD, GNOME, Google, IBM, OSI at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The concern trolls who are associated with FSF-hostile groups (sponsored by monopolies) didn’t manage to build enough momentum to sabotage the FSF; the media operatives on their side, however, try to tell us that the FSF is destroyed (monopolies pay them to say this, hoping for self-fulfilling prophecies)

NOW that the hate letter has reached a standstill (barely passed 3,000 signatures, whereas the response to that may soon reach 6,000 signatures) I’ve decided to record a quick video to explain who prepared and signed this letter (and why). Many of the names are very much expected (same as 2 years ago) and institutions are barely recognisable. Many have the strong conviction against the FSF because they’re BSD projects. Some have nothing whatsoever to do with code. In the case of the GNOME Foundation, they’ve attacked software freedom for many years (well over a decade!) and the OSI is a blatant attempt to steal the thunder from FSF. There should be no expectation of them supporting the FSF. They can only pretend.

“Many have the strong conviction against the FSF because they’re BSD projects.”The video above uses mostly polite language, unlike the letter that was signed. At the end they accomplished almost nothing. If anything, as people pointed out to me recently, the FSF became only more closely aligned with the uncompromising ideology of its founder. Some of the others left the FSF. Maybe that’s for the better.

Has CC Become a Google Drone?

Posted in EFF, Free/Libre Software, Google at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week: The Open Source Creative Commons: Code of CONduct

CC money
Full text of “Full Filing” for fiscal year ending Dec. 2018 (latest available in ProPublica)

CC funding
ProPublica’s archive on CC (IRS filings). Notice 2016.

CC wiki

An elephant in the room: Sharing is caring, Cancel FSF
Rather similar to what Google did to EFF

Summary: With financial losses but still many millions in the bank (owing to obscenely large contributions; see EFF) CC seems to be working against the people who played a role in its very existence

03.25.21

Monopolies in Pain, Free Software (Copyleft) Their Kryptonite?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 1:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Kryptonite of monopolies is a mere concept; if a person represents that concept, they will try to discredit the person and anyone else who embraces that same concept

THE profound issues of yesterday’s (or yesteryear’s) monopolies may help explain the sheer attacks on software freedom and attempts to ‘swallow’ all of Free software using monopolies like GitHub — an endeavour that has mostly failed.

“Corporate slush funds are not a charitable giving but an instrument of coercion.”A detailed response to the “coup” will likely to be published in the weekend, probably Sunday (our list is growing). In the meantime, the above just a little improvised rant about what’s happening or what has happened so far this week. Money divides people. Corporate slush funds are not a charitable giving but an instrument of coercion.

03.19.21

Perception Management and Reality Distortion in EPO Coverage, Sometimes Subsidised by the EPO and Typically Funded by Litigation Giants

Posted in Deception, Europe, Google, Patents at 12:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The World Wide Web/Internet monopolies are encouraging people not to explore negative views regarding Europe’s second-largest institution, the EPO, and a lot of that is to do with money (how it’s used to shape the media)

SEVERAL years ago we explained that a lot of so-called ‘news’ about patents tends to come directly from law (or litigation) firms, their front groups, media they subsidise for bias/agenda, and sometimes the EPO, its front groups (associated institutions), media that EPO pays for puff pieces and so on. That can easily cloud people’s judgement and sooner or later that bias is taken for granted and is considered “normal”; people refer to any patent as “property” (it is not), people who share become “pirates”, algorithms are “hey hi” (AI), and EPO is presumed European (even if the EU adds up to about 30% of European Patents, i.e. less than a third).

To make my point a little more clear and concrete I’ve decided to show what happens when one searches Google News for “EPO” (at least here in the UK/GB). This is the kind of thing British delegates who ‘attend’ next meeting may see as a little bit of ‘research’; it’s not news, it’s paid-for perception management and shameless self-promotion wrapped/dressed up as “news”.

Has anyone other than us even mentioned the EPO outsourcing to Microsoft? No. Never mind if staff representatives have spoken a lot about it (since last year).

Man holding dog but cat is sad: EPO examiners and Mr. Rowan

In the video I said I’d make suggestions of sites to follow directly, over RSS feeds. Many good sites/blogs have perished or vanished completely. But Patent Progress (CCIA) is possible to follow on http://www.patentprogress.org/feed/, Kinsella is on http://www.stephankinsella.com/feed/kinsella-on-liberty/, Unified Patents is on https://www.unifiedpatents.com/insights?format=rss, FFII is on https://ffii.org/feed/, and FOSS Patents is on http://www.fosspatents.com/feeds/posts/default. You would likely need an RSS reader (Google does not like RSS feeds, so browsers based on Chromium would not cope well); I recommend QuiteRSS and our own feed is on http://techrights.org/feed/.

03.18.21

Trolling Community Developers of GNU/Linux Via Patent Trolls — Part III: The Technical and Legal Burden as Weapon Against the Community

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Patents, Red Hat at 6:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Community-led and Free software-based GNU/Linux distributions (“distros”) are under attack from software patents; the monopoly wannabes of GNU/Linux (companies like IBM) contribute to the problem with their awful and self-serving patent policies

TODAY we continue a series that was started earlier this month (background in Part I and Part II is essential albeit summarised in the video above; more background information was published here last year [1, 2]). The short story is, community-led distros of GNU/Linux are under attack and methods are split among two main categories: technical and legal.

To put it in simple terms, those looking to monopolise the GNU/Linux market (in effect turning it into the “new UNIX”) make it hard to catch up with technical developments and releases (technical barrier). On top of that, they support software patents, which become a legal threat (legal barrier, also financial).

“Where’s IBM in all this? Nowhere. IBM is busy trying to get itself another monopoly.”Notice how much of the GNU/Linux stack IBM/Red Hat hopes to dominate, how frequent releases of systemd have become (the same is true for Chrome; Google uses similar tactics and has recently made Chrome releases even 50% more frequent than before while shutting out derivatives from its ‘disservices’).

We need to talk about those things. The community isn’t assisted but obstructed by some companies. OIN won’t help us; OIN works for companies like IBM.

“Via said that as administrators of the patent pool, they will now take [legal] action,” one community distro recently told us, “but this was some time ago and I haven’t heard from them since.”

They keep threatening distro developers with patent litigation. Even just to scare them, perhaps hoping they would abandon development altogether and move on to something else in their lives.

“I’m now aware of what got the attention of Via Licensing,” the distro source told us. “We requested specs for Dolby Vision from Dolby a few years ago. That fell on deaf ears, but we recently got a response stating that if we want to license Dolby Vision, we’ll need to fix our licensing for AAC, AC3 (thought that had expired), TrueHD etc etc. That doesn’t sound FRAND to me — but who knows.”

So it is a form of blackmail. People who care about the law, including copyright (basis of copyleft) law, are being bullied. “I haven’t reached out to OIN/Unified Patents yet,” the source noted, “and won’t do so until I get a legal threat in writing.”

We won’t name the distro or any persons, but Dolby and Via Licensing would likely know or can speculate about identities.

“We sell our own device based on AMLogic SoCs and have access to AMLogic BSPs,” the source said. “AMLogic’s SLA and NDAs permit redistribution of GPLv2 code — but prevent access to Git history, which I suppose is no different to what Red Hat did years ago to slow down CentOS progress. It goes without saying that we do not ship these files as part of our open source platform.”

For those who missed it, we wrote about a GPL violation, as specified in Part II.

In the next part we’ll talk about reverse engineering efforts and what sort of huge burden (e.g. re-implementation) serves to slow down the evolution of community-led distros. This teaches us about the great harm of European software patents being granted by the EPO. People who fight for other people’s rights, e.g. privacy, are coming under vengeful and retaliatory attacks. Where’s IBM in all this? Nowhere. IBM is busy trying to get itself another monopoly.

EPO and Microsoft Collude to Break the Law — Part XIII: A Global ‘IP’ Player

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previous parts:

Microsoft monopolies
Microsoft patent families worldwide by filing year from 1999 to 2018

Summary: “Although the company’s own proprietary Windows Phone operating system was a complete commercial flop, it was reported in 2013 that Microsoft was in line to make as much as USD 3.4 billion from patent licenses relating to Android phones.”

In this part we will focus our attention on one specific aspect of Microsoft’s activities which is a cause for concern in relation to its newly-acquired role in driving the EPO’s “digital transformation process”.

To cut directly to the chase, what we are talking about here is Microsoft’s prominent position as a global IP player, in particular in the area of patents.

“Back in those days Bill Gates liked to tell his staff and anybody else who cared to listen that software patents are typically used as anti-competitive devices by large corporations like IBM to reinforce their dominant position in the face of the threat posed by smaller companies.”It wasn’t always like that.

In the early 1990s, when the company’s annual revenues had just crossed the billion-dollar threshold, Microsoft held around five patents.

Back in those days Bill Gates liked to tell his staff and anybody else who cared to listen that software patents are typically used as anti-competitive devices by large corporations like IBM to reinforce their dominant position in the face of the threat posed by smaller companies.

Before long Microsoft’s revenues and profits had started to rise dramatically. By the mid‑1990s its annual revenues were USD 8.7 billion, and profits had risen to USD 2.2 billion.

By then, Microsoft owned about 100 patents, still a tiny number compared to IBM’s tens of thousands.

The patents which Microsoft held at that time were not really the foundation of its commercial success. The company only started to build up a patent portfolio in a gradual manner after it had come to regard patenting as a business “necessity” and had acquired the financial resources to be able to afford it.

At some point in time that is difficult to pinpoint from the outside, Microsoft radically changed its policy on patents, upgrading them from a mere “necessity” to a major “strategic opportunity”.

According to Florian Müller, author of “No Lobbyists As Such – The War over Software Patents in the European Union”, this change in policy was primarily due to the perceived threat of Free and open-source software, especially the GNU/Linux operating system.

To see how things stand with Microsoft these days it is helpful to turn to the statistics published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva for the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) procedure, a unified procedure for filing patent applications and which offers the possibility to seek the grant of a patent in each of the 153 PCT contracting states.

Microsoft ranking
WIPO figures for US-based PCT applicants

The figures published by WIPO for the US put Microsoft in third place in the list of the top 10 US applicants using the PCT procedure. In recent years, the software behemoth from Redmond has been filing well over a thousand PCT applications annually: 1,476 in 2018, 1,370 in 2019 and 1,529 in 2020.

It’s no big surprise to find that Microsoft is also a leading player in the patents game on its home turf in the US.

USPTO 2020
Microsoft ranked fourth in the list of top 10 US patent recipients in 2020

For example, at the start of this year it was reported that Microsoft was ranked fourth in the list of top 10 US patent recipients in 2020 with 2,905 granted patents. This was slightly less than the figure for 2019 when Microsoft received 3,083 granted patents from the USPTO.

Microsoft vs Amazon
US Patents granted to Microsoft: 3,083 in 2019 and 2,905 in 2020

Over on the other side of the Atlantic, official figures from the EPO confirm that Microsoft is also quite active as a patent applicant in Europe.

For example, figures released in March 2020 reveal that Microsoft tied with Apple for first place in the list of the EPO’s top 10 applicants in the field of computer technology.

Microsoft EPO patents

In the list of the EPO’s 25 largest applicants (by number of patent filings) across all technical fields Microsoft came in at number 14.

EPO applicants

It hardly needs to be pointed out that a multinational corporation like Microsoft is not engaged in the patents game just for fun.

There is serious “moolah” involved as can be seen from Microsoft’s lucrative Android patent licensing agreements, including its “billion dollar a year” deal with Samsung.

Although the company’s own proprietary Windows Phone operating system was a complete commercial flop, it was reported in 2013 that Microsoft was in line to make as much as USD 3.4 billion from patent licenses relating to Android phones.

In addition to Samsung, Microsoft also managed to get Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics OEM, Nikon, ZTE , and numerous other Android OEMs to pony up by persuading them that it would be preferable to pay patent royalty “Danegeld” to the software Vikings of Redmond than to risk being overwhelmed by potentially ruinous litigation.

It’s no coincidence that the term “patent troll” has cropped up from time to time in reports about Microsoft’s aggressive approach to “monetizing” its Android patent portfolio.

In 2011 a technology analyst at Citigroup estimated that Microsoft was getting USD 5 per Android handset sold by phone maker HTC under a patent agreement, and that it was looking for up to USD 12.50 per phone from other handset makers in deals still under negotiation.

Microsoft never confirmed those estimates, but neither did it publicly question them.

However, not everybody was convinced that the licencees and their customers were getting value for money from these deals.

In October 2014, Florian Müller expressed scepticism about the quality of Microsoft’s Android patent portfolio suggesting that only a relatively small number of the patents which it held were likely to be sufficiently robust to stand the test of litigation.

Shortly afterwards a dispute between Microsoft and Samsung concerning the “billion dollar a year” Android deal became public when it was revealed that Microsoft was suing Samsung for USD 6.9 million in unpaid interest.

Samsung initiated arbitration proceedings and in February 2015 it was reported that both parties had reached an amicable settlement.

The facts outlined above leave no room for doubt that the patent royalties game is a lucrative business for multinational corporations like Microsoft.

And it is also quite clear that the software behemoth from Redmond is a serious player in this arena both on its home turf in the US and on a global level.

This in turn raises the question as to whether it is appropriate for a company with a profile like this to be allocated a key role in providing IT services to a major regional patent examination and granting authority such as the EPO.

We will consider this question in more detail in the next and penultimate part of the series.

03.14.21

What It Means to be a Free Software Operator, Not a User or Consumer

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft at 4:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital Dream

Summary: A lot of people lack control over computers (or small computing devices) that they purchase and it’s getting worse over time

THE word “user” (in relation to software, not drugs) has long been mildly problematic because it lessens the role of a person operating some piece of software. Or sometimes a whole computing device. Large technology firms, typically monopolists in some respective domain, try to tell us “master” is a highly offensive word (an opportunistic distortion of this word's meaning and origin) but the word “master” accurately describes what they are to those so-called ‘users’ of their so-called ‘products’, ‘solutions’, ‘suites’ etc.

“It’s about social control, ‘dressed up’ or spun as safety (or health, more so during a pandemic).”First, let’s examine a little bit of background and recapitulate. It’s important to understand the extent to which “users” or “consumers” (who merely buy things) lose control of what otherwise can be general-purpose computers. It gets worse rather rapidly, over time…

Nowadays it’s no longer clear who truly owns a device. Is there a right to repair? To modify? If a buyer of some device lacks the freedom to do as he/she pleases with that device, is that buyer merely footing the bill for a device otherwise truly owned and controlled by the seller, the manufacturer (or the firm putting its brand on the device)? To use a more practical example, when one buys a “Chromebook” (a ChromeOS-running laptop, with an OS based on Gentoo GNU/Linux but controlled remotely by Google), is that just a laptop of Google whose production cost is partly covered by the buyer? Or even wholly by some ‘consumer’ that consumes ads and provides Google with personal data?

A lot of people never think about those things. They ought to.

Years ago, Microsoft and Intel plotted to make it even harder to boot on a computer any operating system other than “approved” ones (approved by them, not the person who supposedly owns the computer). Then, last week, Google and Red Hat (IBM), which played a big role in the Microsoft and Intel plot, worked to achieve the same at a software level. Fronting or relaying their malicious and self-serving intent through a thing misleadingly named Linux Foundation, they took a step towards that goal. Remember this is the same Red Hat which works for and with the NSA. And Google which famously (or infamously/notoriously) put ‘weakened’ – i.e broken — NSA encryption inside the Linux kernel. Google recently pretended to be championing security in Linux, but don’t fall for it. As a famous book puts it, “Google Is Not What It Seems” (it’s vastly worse; it’s also a trolling operation which bribes people).

“Nowadays it’s no longer clear who truly owns a device.”Notice we’ve not yet even mentioned Apple and Microsoft. We assume readers are already aware of the problems associated with them. They even deny users' right to repair their own devices/computers (which they paid for).

Suffice to say, moving away from Apple and Microsoft operating systems may not be enough; there are many operating systems out there that do not respect users’ freedom (or, they treat owners and buyers as mere “users”). We’ve already mentioned ChromeOS, but the most widely user-side (yes, user) operating system is Android. Unless devices are ‘jail-broken’, they will only operate within the artificial limits imposed by Google and its “store” monopoly (Apple’s is even worse and a lot more restrictive in that regard).

Digital DreamSo what does that mean to free (as in liberate) oneself from all those limitations? Being able to boot one’s operating system of choice, install and use one’s software of choice, repair one’s machine, modify/enhance it etc.

National security, often abbreviated as just “security” (to confuse us, conflating one thing with another — a contradictory concept), is a pretext for back doors, surveillance, and censorship. It’s about social control, ‘dressed up’ or spun as safety (or health, more so during a pandemic).

Based on what we’re hearing, the EPO‘s management now uses the pandemic to impose more oppressive (and sometimes illegal) software on staff. Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos, the real criminals, are promoting fake encryption. Together with Microsoft they break the law, not just when it comes to granting European software patents (we already leaked evidence of favourable treatment for Microsoft) but also when it comes to violating privacy of EPO workers, as well as everyone those workers interact with.

“National security, often abbreviated as just “security” (to confuse us, conflating one thing with another — a contradictory concept), is a pretext for back doors, surveillance, and censorship.”Based on what we’ve read, it’ll get a lot more difficult for EPO workers to not use Microsoft malware inside their homes, which they share with other tenants. Usually loved ones, such as close family…

But we may have digressed somewhat.

To use a less specific example, many people out there are still under the false illusion of freedom or free will. Their world is superficially being limited, e.g. by what Microsoft considers to be “legal” code in GitHub (i.e. not harmful to Microsoft’s business agenda), what Twitter and Facebook consider to be ‘permissible’ viewpoints (something advertisers benefit from or at least tolerate), what Google and Apple consider to be “good” software (or apps), and what Amazon deems “good actors” (they deplatformed Wikileaks for exposing US crimes a decade before doing the same to Parler for other reasons).

Technology should be and remain decentralised to the degree which is possible. Anything else is ripe or destined for abuse. A lot of people overlook all those issues until it’s too late to do something about them. Even Let’s Encrypt poses such a dilemma [1, 2]. It creates a sort of monopoly and it’s indebted to imperialistic hands.

“Let’s help or at least strive to free as many people as we can, turning so-called ‘users’ into operators of their own machines.”If you are reading this on a “Mac” or a “Chromebook” or some sort of “PC” (this is a euphemism for a computer controlled by Microsoft; it’s typically possible to liberate such a computer without buying a new one), look at gnu.org and study the historical importance of digital/computing freedom. It predates “Linux” by nearly a decade and still pitches the right principles/philosophy. A lot of what was written back in the 1980s is still highly relevant today.

Let’s help or at least strive to free as many people as we can, turning so-called ‘users’ into operators of their own machines.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts