11.19.20

Dolby Patents Are Being Used in Patent-Trolling Activity Against GNU/Linux, But Dolby is Said to Be a GPL Violator

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Patents at 12:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We call you a violator because that's what we are

Summary: Dolby’s serial litigation strategy [1, 2] seems to have come into conflict with Free-as-in-freedom software — the very same software Dolby is happy to exploit without complying with the copyleft licence

SOMETIMES we sit on important stories for weeks, months, and even years (earlier this year we published a story more than a year after we had received it, purely for source protection reasons). Many things we expose about the patent system are also strategically timed and belatedly disclosed. Maximising the effect of a publication while minimising risk to a source is just the right thing to do.

StopEPO examiners who read this site (there are thousands of them) very well know we had been condemning software patents in Europe and berating autocrats who promoted this agenda almost a decade before we wrote about workplace scandals. We ridiculed bogus and abstract patents that ought not be granted, anywhere. In recent years we reduced the focus on patent policy somewhat; that’s a good decision in retrospect. This was mostly strategic and the same trend can be seen across patent blogs, the EFF, and various technology news sites. Patents, as a topic, seem to be waning, and it’s easily measurable using a number of different criteria (e.g., number of lawsuits, number of articles, and so on).

“Let Dolby understand that if it contributes to blackmail against GNU/Linux, there will be public shaming and maybe GPL enforcement as well.”Our growing concern about software patents in Europe wasn’t in vain. Earlier this year we wrote about developers of GNU/Linux distributions who had contacted us, having found and read our articles. They wanted to tell us about what kept them awake at night. They’re European, but somehow they’ve been receiving threatening letters regarding software patents they allegedly infringe. Some of those patents are Dolby’s. We think it’s safe to name the original recipient of these patents, even if they’re being asserted through parasites and proxies — not out of the ordinary in recent years. Dolby itself can be sued (counter-suits), proxies cannot, especially when they produce nothing at all.

Dolby is a parasite. The name “Dolby” may be visible in some frames in some films (a glorified brand), but Dolby isn’t actually doing or producing very much. The GPL violation angle might also be of interest, as we’re being told that they’re serial violators. As one developer told us:

I’m waiting for another email / message before doing so, as we have found a few GPL violations from Dolby, which seems to suggest some prior art.

If or once we have evidence of those violations, for we have no reason to believe otherwise, we can do a separate article about that. Let Dolby understand that if it contributes to blackmail against GNU/Linux, there will be public shaming and maybe GPL enforcement as well. What goes around comes around. Stay tuned.

11.02.20

The Software Freedom Conservancy Needs to Resign From Microsoft Before Telling Microsoft to Resign From RIAA

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software Freedom Conservancy on RIAA

Summary: The Software Freedom Conservancy, funded by some enemies of copyleft, is trying to lecture Microsoft (which pays the Software Freedom Conservancy) on morality and choices of where to funnel money

THE amount and/or the frequency of back-stabbing in the Free software community is astounding. Some of that isn’t even “community” but corporate-funded pseudo-community, which is what the Software Freedom Conservancy seems to have become (detrimental to the real community).

“Salesforce is to “community” what Microsoft is to law. It breaks it.”Months ago the person from the Software Freedom Conservancy who had raised money from Microsoft for two years became the GM of the OSI, alongside Salesforce employee as OSI President. And yes, that GM had also brought Salesforce money to the Software Freedom Conservancy.

Salesforce is to “community” what Microsoft is to law. It breaks it.

Salesforce staff is attacking Stallman, trying to gut the FSF whilst also publicly bashing copyleft and developing in Microsoft’s proprietary fortress, calling that “open”. All this while paying SFC to infiltrate something called “copyleft” conference and taking over OSI (from which to serve Microsoft and GitHub monopolisation). Like GitHub, they're working with and for ICE.

The Software Freedom Conservancy lacks legitimacy because it’s funded to amplify enemies of copyleft — the very thing it claims to be guarding. They took Microsoft money to sell them keynotes in a conference named after what Microsoft is attacking (copyleft). That’s how ridiculous things became before and after they also issued a press release attacking Stallman, who had authored or ‘invented’ copyleft.

A few days ago Denver Gingerich wrote for the Software Freedom Conservancy: “This is an important opportunity for Microsoft to stand up for the values of software freedom.”

What?

Are you drunk?

Microsoft actively attacks software freedom. This is why it bought GitHub. Yes, GitHub is an attack on software freedom and it’s not hard to see how (and why).

“If you work at Microsoft (including for its GitHub subsidiary),” he said, “we call on you to petition your employer to resign immediately from the RIAA. We suggest that you raise these concerns directly with your manager or other management, or (even better) by starting an internal email petition with other employees.”

So you tell Microsoft employees that their employer does bad things whilst at the same time raising money from Microsoft?

Unbelievable.

Sam Varghese took note of it today. He wrote:

The Software Freedom Conservancy, an organisation that helps promote, develop, improve and defend free and open source software, has asked Microsoft to resign from the Recording Industry Association of America after the RIAA forced the takedown of youtube-dl, a popular command-line script that can be used to download videos from YouTube and many other videos from the Internet, from GitHub, a code repository owned by Microsoft.

Microsoft already chose RIAA, as we noted in this meme.

For the Software Freedom Conservancy to claim some sort of moral authority while pocketing Microsoft money (to help Microsoft’s agenda) takes some nerve. Sort out your own issues first.

10.21.20

Ways and Means to Reduce One’s Dependency on Google’s Various Monopolies and Near-Monopolies

Posted in Antitrust, Free/Libre Software, Google, GPL, Microsoft, Servers at 10:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LibertyBits 2019 - 18 - Richard Stallman - Mass Surveillance
Richard Stallman just weeks before he was pushed out of his office to help MIT save face

Summary: Getting rid of Google means a lot more than embracing DumbDumbGo (DDG) or some other sites that spy just like Google; we’re taking stock of some options

THE legal action against Google wasn’t misguided. It was likely selective, however, guided in part by Microsoft lobbyists (years in the making). Putting Microsoft’s role aside, Google is a problem. Monopolies are a problem. Market dominance reduces the incentive to improve and can harm people in a variety of ways.

Maybe by mere coincidence, only hours before the lawsuit was unveiled Planet OpenSUSE had this post entitled “Migrating away from Google services” (we’ll come back to it later).

“One popular alternative to Google or rather a YouTube sieve (offering the same material sans the surveillance and ads) recently shut down.”Now, let’s consider practical solutions to the Google problem. Monopolies like YouTube for instance…

Yesterday Debian announced its “donation for Peertube development,” noting that “[t]his year’s iteration of the Debian annual conference, DebConf20, had to be held online, and while being a resounding success, it made clear to the project our need to have a permanent live streaming infrastructure for small events held by local Debian groups. As such, Peertube, a FLOSS video hosting platform, seems to be the perfect solution for us.”

One popular alternative to Google or rather a YouTube sieve (offering the same material sans the surveillance and ads) recently shut down. APIs and lawyers had also similarly killed Scroogle (not to be mistaken for Microsoft’s rogue AstroTurfing campaign). We’re talking about invidio.us here, being a YouTube alternative. But it was Free software-based (GNU Affero General Public License, version 3.0), so other instances of it still exist. It should be noted that some are unsavoury and are linked to bad people, some are not.

yewtu.be is one alternative of interest — at least until Google’s lawyers shut it down using threats. In yewtu.be one can escape annoying Google ads, spying (JavaScript) and spurious pop-ups urging viewers to “log in” (it got a lot worse recently). yewtu.be also supports embedding videos, searching (however limited, better insert direct YouTube URLs into the search box as a starting point).

Scroogle screenshotRegarding search, the decentralised approach works better because Startpage turned into a scam; along with other so-called ‘private’ search engines it was quietly passed into the claws of surveillance giants. The same is true for DumbDumbGo (DDG), where many people still dumbly go to spew/infuse personal information (because of empty promises and plenty of misleading marketing campaigns). SearX instances keep going up and down, but the one which nowadays works reliably (and has worked for months) is searx.feneas.org (not recommended on the basis of deep research into how they handle their data).

Google News is a near-monopoly when it comes to indexing news in (almost) real-time. I’ve never managed to find a solid and reliable alternative to it. Google News isn’t consistent either (more and more spammy results in it over time), so I rely on it a lot less. Google News is pretty much the only Google service I cannot fully get rid of.

Apparently many people out there still rely a great deal on Blogspot, GMail and various other non-essential ‘services’ (to which plenty of good alternatives exist). People who can’t figure out how to get rid of Blogspot and GMail are probably a ‘lost cause’ when it comes to ridding them of Google. Seriously, how hard can it be to just open an E-mail account somewhere like GMX or ProtonMail? Then telling people, over time, about the new address? I myself haven’t had such issues since 2003 when I registered my own domain and managed all my mail there (about 20 E-mail accounts to separate the wheat from spam/chaff, mostly with aliases).

Going back to the post from Planet OpenSUSE, it says this:

My inbox tells me I started using GMail around 2004. The oldest mail I can find in my archive is from 16 years ago. After Gmail, Google Photos, Keep, Docs, Drive and Fit followed.

I have reasons to stop. Whether your reasons are privacy, the U.S. as a data harbor, GMail becoming sluggish, karma for killing Inbox, fear about getting your account locked, or you found a better email provider, the objective of this post is not to convince you about my reasons but to help you with a migration plan and showing you alternatives.

Breaking the dependency on Google services is really hard. This dependency was a showstopper and motivator at the same time. If you are locked-in at this level, something is wrong.

This is correct. Take time and invest effort to become technically and technologically independent, or at least less prone to abuse (censorship, surveillance and so on).

Google isn’t the most harmful company to us GNU/Linux/BSD users who value software freedom. But Google poses a great threat to privacy — probably a more potent and long-lasting threat (in that particular domain/aspect) than Microsoft ever will.

Like we’ve said countless times before, getting rid of Microsoft isn’t enough. If we get rid of one brand only to be abused by another, then we’re simply not aiming correctly. To a lot of people out there, their ‘activism’ (or principle) boils down to “I’ll swap Microsoft with Apple” (basically defecting between brands). Right now in Manchester they have a massive marketing campaign (billboards and all) associating iPhone with “privacy”; we always get a kick out of it, as if iPhone users covering their faces with a tracking device (with microphone and multiple cameras, not to mention back doors) is “privacy”… Apple is just ‘pulling a DumbDumbGo’.

Image credit: By Ewald, Fair use

09.18.20

Richard Stallman Has Not Changed His Tune at All

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Videos at 2:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NumbersFull video: Hackers – Wizards of the Electronic Age

Summary: Richard Stallman’s (RMS) principled views regarding software go back to the days of zeroes and ones; his position 35 years ago was almost indistinguishable from today’s position

FISHED or extracted from very old archives (thanks, figosdev) are a couple of little segments — among several more — of an early RMS back when GNU was just getting started. The GNU Project is nowadays ubiquitous (even if so many people refer to GNU programs as "Linux") and copyleft is widely adopted in spite of corporate FUD from the likes of Google and Microsoft.

To give just a little outline, here’s RMS about 8 minutes in. He starts his day at 5 with dinner, then works until the morning, in effect working all night long while living at the lab (MIT).

On why Free software is important to him:

He shows up a number of times throughout this programme, typically insisting that his purpose as a hacker is to make all programs free. He has barely changed his vision and his goal since; he’s very, very consistent. Being stubborn when you’re right about something isn’t a weakness but a virtue. Even his sceptics came around to embrace his philosophy.

“He has barely changed his vision and his goal since; he’s very, very consistent.”figosdev, who found this old video, was responding to Somebody Needs to Talk About Free Software Politics (which he called a “nice article”) ans said that “one thing you notice from the hackers video is that we are talking about the same things now that they were talking about in 1985. Woz was saying that source should be free. Of course he was in the same room as RMS. Another way saying that source often was free — sitting on a tape in the same desk as the computer, because sometimes you needed the programs on that tape in order to run your own programs.”

Keith Packard: Richard Stallman Was Right (About the GPL)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Videos at 2:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Full talk: “A Political History of X” – Keith Packard (LCA 2020)

Summary: A 2020 video (before lock-downs) from the brain behind X11 and various lesser-known projects

Further to Somebody Needs to Talk About Free Software Politics,” here’s a portion from this year’s talk given by the venerable Keith Packard. “A Political History of X” was the talk’s title and a portion is dedicated to Free software.

“Packard has a number of good things to say about the GPL, which he’s choosing for his latest projects (GPLv3 or later).”The interesting part, which figosdev gave us a tip about, regards the choice of licence and software freedom. After speaking about X11 and the challenging person (“challenging individual to get along with”) who Richard Stallman was, Packard said about Stallmsn that “he really was right, we have to remember that…” (regarding the GPL).

Packard has a number of good things to say about the GPL, which he’s choosing for his latest projects (GPLv3 or later).

09.07.20

Debian-Private Teaches Us GNU and Linux History, Based on Words and Actions by Prominent Developers and Project Administrators

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, GPL at 10:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Honest Abe

Summary: What we learn and what everybody else can learn about the point where GNU (or GNU/Linux) became just “Linux”, as revealed or illuminated by newly-disclosed private mailing lists of Debian

THE Debian-Private archive that we’ve been studying for about 10 days is interesting because of the many E-mails that allude to kernel development, the FSF, and Richard Stallman. There are also many discussions about licensing, the GPL in particular, and inclusion of non-free (or partly free, i.e. still proprietary) software in Debian.

“Transparency isn’t to be feared and and “public interest” (as in SPI) projects need to be understood, if not at present, then at least historically.”As we said before, we choose not to highlight too many pertinent messages because that would harm privacy of people who have long not been involved in Debian; many of them are no longer alive, either (some E-mails turn 25 years very soon). The conclusion I’ve reached, having gone through a couple thousand of these messages (not at random), is that many people are supportive of Stallman (RMS), GNU, and the FSF. There are also some who are hostile towards RMS and the FSF, alleging that they try to micro-manage Debian (the same accusation with the same wording persists to this very day; some GNU developers too have made complaints to that effect). Bruce Perens routinely spoke to RMS and received backlash for it; he called that “politics” and alleged that it had interfered with technical (development) work. He noted that RMS annoyed many kernel developers (when he stated that Linux itself was not an operating system) and also noted that Ian Murdock had enjoyed the FSF’s backing — financial included — at the earlier days of the project. One can often relate to Perens, who certainly received a share of abuse (despite his very hard work and dedication if not sacrifice) from fellow developers. Some did not want him to speak to RMS and the FSF at all. Some resigned in protest, some flamed him on- and off-list. It’s not pretty, but at least now we can see the naked truth. Transparency isn’t to be feared and “public interest” (as in SPI) projects need to be better understood, if not at present, then at least historically. We’re talking about the 1990s here!

Henry this or that: It's called GNU/Linux. Can't I just call it 'Linux'?

There’s that certain sadness/melancholy going through all these messages, putting aside nostalgic aspects. Back then FSF was big and mighty; many spoke of “GNU”, not “Linux”. Some said “GNU/Linux”; RMS was only starting to more emotionally (albeit factually) complain about misattribution. It didn’t take long before just about everyone simply called the entire thing “Linux”. In that respect, RMS lost the cause. His movement was barely recognised anymore and only a couple of years later there was this thing called “OSI” (founded at least partly by those looking to elbow RMS out of the picture) and some junk called “Open Source”, which right now in 2020 is a farce.

“There’s that certain sadness/melancholy going through all these messages, putting aside nostalgic aspects. Back then FSF was big and mighty; many spoke of “GNU”, not “Linux”. Some said “GNU/Linux”; RMS was only starting to more emotionally (albeit factually) complain about misattribution.”So what can we do about the whole thing? For starters, speak about software freedom and remind people why Free software matters; terms like “Open Source” mean different things to different crowds, but to a lot of people it means “code on GitHub” (proprietary) and “Summer of Code” (Google, surveillance).

The world deserves better than subjugation and abduction. If we truly wish to regain control of computing (us controlling computers rather than computers controlling us), we ought to change the conversation.

“RMS has long read Techrights and it’s nice to know that Torvalds too reads it sometimes.”A couple of hours ago Linus Torvalds responded to an article we had published earlier this month. He had nothing negative to say about that article; “Honestly,” he said, “I think those emails are more about Debian culture than they are about me, and you should probably ask the Debian people about them rather than me…”

RMS has long read Techrights and it’s nice to know that Torvalds too reads it sometimes. We wish to see a strong and durable GNU/Linux system (we have nothing against Linux as a kernel; the Linux Foundation isn’t the kernel but an aberration working against the kernel, helping to put DRM and stuff inside it) and reconcile all or at least most of those differences, as witnessed in the Debian-Private archive (even in the mid-nineties).

09.03.20

Linus Torvalds is Wrong on Some Technical and Legal Issues, Set Aside All the Political Correctness ‘Hooey’

Posted in GPL, Kernel, Videos at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some people would rather talk about words, not code; and the aim seems to be removing lots of people who actually do all the coding, not much of the talking

UNLIKE some people, I sympathise with Linus Torvalds and I mostly view him as ‘oppressed’ by the Linux Foundation (which he may find hard to leave because of his salary, now approaching 2 million dollars a year, including compensation/bonuses). Torvalds may not be a very likeable and amicable person (speak to people whom he blasted or rejected, such as Con Kolivas), but let’s face it — he gets the job done. Well, he used to anyway.

His job is being further complicated by people who push crappy code and then complain about the response to that crappy code. Can teachers be reprimanded by parents for grading their children’s exams to the point where these children cry? Omitted from the above video is the somewhat rudely framed question (given its context). It was a so-called ‘question’ (more like an attack) that feels a bit like an ambush, in effect inviting Torvalds for a long-winded Q&A in a Debian event only to greet him with grilling and rather impolite accusations ‘at the altar’ — within minutes of him stepping on the podium. Notice how Torvalds responds to the applause. What the heck was that? After this sort of ‘entrapment’ they tried to ‘cancel’ him, as this morning's leaks show. There’s no way to ‘win’ such ‘arguments’; it’s more like a ‘set-up’. Jono Bacon did this to me 11 years ago on live TV. I never forgot that; he tried to hold me accountable for things said by some person whom I merely exchanged a couple of E-mails with (and did so without even knowing that person!).

The Free software community is clearly under some form of sophisticated attack and we do, over time, improve our general understanding of it (more on that later, maybe a separate post some other day). A lot of that comes from moneyed interests, nothing idealistic or a legitimate difference in ideology (unless money itself is officially an “ideology” now).

What we’ve been seeing is a bunch of people whose technical skills boil down to removing a line from a “Planet” syndication list (i.e. censorship) or passing some “code of conflict” (censorship guidelines), which has nothing to do with code but social policing for the most part. Tinkering with people and gossip rather than something of a truly technical nature. Like arguing over which filesystem beats others, based on particular merits.

There’s much to be said about the diversion of discussion to shaming and patronising tones. We really should be talking about issues such as copyrights and patents, not some choice of words in a mailing list few people bother reading.

Several hours ago Ryan reminded us that with WSL, for example, Microsoft distributes Linux (or even through Novell in 2007 if not 2006; then there’s the whole Azure thing) the patent issue is being mostly removed, but Linux is GPLv2, not v3.

In Ryan’s words: “GPL 3 significantly interfered with more Microsoft-Novell style deals. Ironically, it dealt with one of the issues Torvalds called bullshit on. “We own everything and there’s 217 patents Linux infringes on, but we won’t show them to you.”. Putting a big chunk of the OS that would be difficult if not impossible to replace under the GPL 3 stopped one particularly nasty way that Microsoft was going to the sleazier “Linux” companies and entering into secretive deals. We don’t know what the deal with “Linspire” and “Xandros” were. They might have paid THEM to make it look like companies had settled.”

Microsoft paid Michael Robertson a lot of money to change the name of Lindows to Linspire, recognising that Windows was a weak trademark Microsoft would likely lose if a legal battle went ahead. We know this based on people close to Linspire and Robertson (former employees). They recently told us about it in the IRC channels.

“It was impossible for anyone to miss how corrupt Michael Robertson was,” Ryan noted. “I laughed that while he was putting that MP3 locker thing into bankruptcy he was still selling annual subscriptions and the site didn’t mention the bankruptcy. Unexpired subscriptions to a service that goes bankrupt is like HH Gregg gift cards.”

The name “Linspire” is still around, but not the same people. Linspire — like Novell — we used to fight fiercely after it had joined Microsoft patent/FUD attack on GNU/Linux in 2007. Those are the sorts of things we ought to be discussing, not some CoC enforcement nonsense (because some people feel hurt when other people dislike them or can’t stand their code/program). The Debian-Private mailing list archives from 1996-1997 contain many examples of banishment and expulsions, as well as a lot of apologies and cases of amicable reconciliation (we won’t cite examples because of people’s dignity/privacy, but we’ve already spotted about half a dozen, often boiling down to misunderstandings). Thought-policing in the Free software community is an impediment to Free speech rights; we cannot have software freedom if we cannot learn to tolerate opinions we strongly disagree with. Bombings and blackmail are a lot more objectionable (or “offensive”) than the F word in some mailing list (not even an article, just some E-mails few people read).

08.31.20

Key Parts of the Latest Talk From Bruce Perens, Who Seemingly Wants to Go Back to Freedom (Because ‘Open’ Became Increasingly Meaningless and Users Are Harmed)

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Patents, Videos at 11:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Inspired by this very good and thought-provoking talk from Bruce Perens (published about a week ago), we’ve cropped the relevant parts, which we think help narrow down a one-hour talk into a few minutes (00:01:00 – 00:12:20). Notice to what degree Mr. Perens shares our views and interpretations, e.g. regarding the Linux Foundation and OIN.

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