Summary: How the General Public License can help fight the likes of Microsoft, whose only answer to GNU/Linux domination is now taxation of GNU/Linux (through patent extortion)
THE TABLET on which I’ll record Richard Stallman tomorrow dons a GPLv3 sticker. We wrote about the GPLv3 quite a lot back in 2007 when it was new. We needed the GPLv3 because of patent deals such as Novell’s. Microsoft was rapidly signing (or looking to sign) more extortion deals against Linux and in the middle of 2007 it announced a large-scale campaign to shake down all GNU/Linux vendors.
Towards the end of 2013 we have this moderate view from Dr. Glyn Moody. He explains today: “A theme that has re-appeared on this blog many times over the years is that of software patents. As I’ve noted before, they are perhaps the biggest single threat to free software, especially since the decline of Microsoft. Indeed, it’s not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.
“That’s already manifest in its Android licensing strategy. Note, in particular, that it refuses to discuss what exactly Android allegedly infringes upon. This means that it can sign secret deals with companies willing to go along with this ploy, giving the impression that there is a problem, without offering the slightest proof to that effect…”
“Indeed, it’s not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.”
–Glyn MoodyMoody’s analysis then proceeds to explaining how the GPLv3 relates to all this. Now that Microsoft’s super-trolls and other trolls such as Erich Spangenberg [1, 2, 3, 4] are going after legitimate companies we must recognise that fighting patents with patents (like OIN does) is not a solution. Trolls cannot be confronted by a reactionary lawsuit and here we have a story of a patent troll winning again. To quote TechDirt, where Moody is a writer: “There’s a reason why patent trolls love east Texas — and big part of that is that the juries there have a long history of favoring patent holders, no matter how ridiculous or how trollish. That was on display last night, when the jury in Marshall, Texas sided with patent troll Erich Spangenberg and his TQP shell company over Newegg. As we’ve been describing, Newegg brought out the big guns to prove pretty damn thoroughly that this guy Mike Jones and his encryption patent were both not new at the time the patent was granted and, more importantly, totally unrelated to the encryption that Newegg and other ecommerce providers rely on. Having Whit Diffie (who invented public key cryptography) and Ron Rivest (who basically made it practical in real life) present on your behalf, showing that they did everything prior to Jones’ patent, while further showing that what Newegg was doing relied on their work, not Jones’, should have ended the case.”
Recently, when big trolls like Microsoft were risking a loss to their patent leverage, lobbying/AstroTurfing from Microsoft paid off. So we are left in a situation where Microsoft’s extortion — not just patent trolls — is a real issue. The GPLv3 is a partial solution to that, if only more projects (like Linux) adopted it… █
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Brandon Bryant responsible for 1,626 assassinations without trial (many innocent civilians included)
Summary: How we can deal with problems of controversial or even criminal aggression when that aggression depends on Free software
SEVERAL software licences get notably criticised for having terms in them that explicitly ban use which may aid war/murder people. Linux uses the GPL, which has no such terms. The same goes for GNU.
We are increasingly made aware — even by the corporate press — of a previously-secret war waged by Linux-powered CIA-operated drones. This is one of the most disgusting wars in the world. People are being labeled based on electronic communications and then hunted down (without trial, without second assessment) by flying machines that shoot Hellfire missiles at cellphones owned by those people (so-called ‘militants’, which basically means adult males or old adolescents), never mind who’s around them at the time (just call them “human shields” after they’re dead). Nothing has increased doubt and hatred towards the United States like these dirty drone wars, which are about eliminating people almost autonomously rather than address the key issues (which may be ideological and thus addressable in other means). In Techrights alone, hundreds of daily links were posted to deal with this subject without delving into it so deeply. Contrariwise, a lot of the corporate press has helped cover up the atrocities (calling all who are killed “militants”) and parroted the Pentagon’s talking points, barely ever speaking to the people who are most affected by these drone strikes. Even this week — never mind the past few years — CNN tactlessly labels one of the murderers “American drone warrior” , even though he says his trainers reinforced the idea that this job was just “video game” (with real living targets).
After the war crimes in Iraq and beyond (Cheney is still not being arrested, let alone trialled ) we should know better the correlation between law and life. It’s not just about Arabs; the US did similar things to south Americans (see [3,4] in the news) when they had turf wars against the Soviets.
Software licences are a form of law and life is impacted by it to a great extent. One can authorise murdering people — even US citizens — without a trial in the US. That’s because laws got rewritten. The government carries out the murders with approval that goes all the way to the top (the White House and the juridical cornerstones). Software licences can be used as a tool against brutes, or at least a deterrent. If Microsoft Windows crashes drones into the ground, as it did before the US Army switched them to Linux, then that’s a good thing. It probably saves innocent lives. Let the proprietary software EULAs do the killing; use Free software licences to limit the actions of the cowardly assassins who sit down in air-conditioned offices, with or without a joystick in their hand (running a lethal, weaponised Linux-powered toy via satellite). Don’t let any of them portray themselves as victims (e.g. of “trauma”). They should be brave enough to confront families whose loves ones (mostly innocent people) they were blowing to pertinent bodyparts because they were “following orders” from CIA/NSA (they were free to quit this ‘job’ all along, nobody pointed a drone to their heads). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The first time Brandon Bryant fired a Hellfire missile from his U.S. drone, it was a cold January day.
“His right leg was severed,” Bryant told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. “I watched him bleed out from his femoral artery.”
“It was shocking,” he said. “It’s pixelated, and it doesn’t really look real. But it was real.”
The “video game” aspect of his job was reinforced by his trainers, he said.
Richard Cheney, former Vice President of the United States of America is scheduled to speak in Toronto Ontario on 31 October 2013 at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Do the people of Honduras have the right to elect their own president and congress? That depends on whom you talk to. In 2009, the country’s left-of-center President Mel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup that was heavily supported (andaccording to Zelaya, organized) by the United States government. After six months and a lot of political repression, the coup government was re-established with an election that almost the entire hemisphere – except, you guessed it, the United States – rejected as illegitimate.
In an overwhelming UN vote, 188 countries have called on the US to lift its 53-year trade embargo on Cuba. Havana has slammed the financial sanctions as a flagrant violation of human rights and said they are tantamount to genocide.
The recording-breaking opposition to the embargo saw Israel isolated as the only country to vote in support of the US. Palau, the island nation that got behind the US last year, abstained in the 22nd UN annual vote, along with Micronesia and Marshall Islands.
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False red flags
Summary: Black Duck mentioned in the context of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) as FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) becomes somewhat of an industry standard
Some ‘former’ Microsoft employees saw potential in FOSS FUD and went on to initiate companies that monetise this. One such company is Black Duck and “someone pushing Black Duck,” iophk says, showing an article that speaks of IPO  for this firm.
Black Duck’s main product seems to be proprietary software (with software patents on it) that allegedly helps find GPL violations in proprietary software developed in proprietary software companies. Some FOSS, eh? Surely a friend of FOSS, no? Or just a fiend rather.
In other news that iophk shared with us, the GPL is being upheld again , making the world of software a freer place. As FOSS becomes more prevalent in this world we shall vigilantly track those who try to stand in its way. The most widely used/sold platform, namely Android, is showing how dominant FOSS has become so quickly.
Related/contextual items from the news:
The District Court of Hamburg, Germany, recently had the opportunity to review the conditions governing the use of Open Source software. In a decision that bolsters the enforceability of open source software licenses, the district court confirmed that the defendant had lost its right to use the software licensed under the General Public License (GPLv2) when it failed to fully reveal the underlying source code. The court rejected the defense argument that requiring the defendant company to comply with the conditions of the GPLv2 was unreasonable (decision of 14. June 2013, file no. 308 O 10/13, available in German here).
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The Software Freedom Conservancy did well
Summary: The fuller story behind Samsung choosing the GPL for a previously-proprietary piece of software that helps Microsoft
A few days ago we wrote about Samsung [1, 2, 3. 4] deciding to make it seem like it never violated the GPL licence, having done so before. Well, the group which years ago told us not to taunt Samsung over it claims to have just played a role. To quote:
Conservancy’s GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers worked collaboratively with Ibrahim Haddad, the Group Leader for Open Source at Samsung Research America, and fellow community leaders, throughout the process after this code first appeared on GitHub. Conservancy’s primary goal, as always, was to assist and advise toward the best possible resolution to the matter that complied fully with the GPL. Conservancy is delighted that the correct outcome has been reached: a legitimate, full release from Samsung of all relevant source code under the terms of Linux’s license, the GPL, version 2.
The Software Freedom Conservancy has announced that it has helped Samsung to release a version of its exFAT filesystem implementation under the GPL. This filesystem had previously been unofficially released after a copy leaked out of Samsung.
This is good work, but without the leak, would it have happened? Without some public shaming, would Samsung have cared? Sometimes there’s no choice but to be brave (blowing some whistles) and potentially rude/crude. █
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Microsoft’s hawkish patent extortion possibly jeopardised
Summary: Just like Microsoft after its unintended or secret GPL violations, code is being made GPL-licensed and the violations covered up as though they never happened
Over the past few weeks we have covered the latest noteworthy GPL violation by Samsung [1, 2, 3. 4].
“It looks like Samsung may have fixed the licensing problem,” said iophk. “Now how to put this in a positive light? It’s strange that the big companies act as if they are under no obligations to follow copyright and seem to do so only under duress.”
It seems like pressure and leaks have worked in the same way that Snowden’s leaks led to bogus government and NSA “transparency” (making public what’s already leaked). Based on Michael’s report, Samsung makes the code GPL-licensed all of a sudden.
Back in June, Phoronix was the first to report of a native exFAT file-system implementation for Linux that appeared on GitHub. It later turned out that Samsung accidentally leaked their exFAT source code. The solution has now been corrected with Samsung formally open-sourcing their exFAT source code.
The exFAT driver talked about in June was modified from an accidental Samsung source code leak that the independent developer found on GitHub. It was a confusing situation and he removed references to the original Samsung source code and it led to a confusing situation in the weeks that followed with tons of comments in the forums.
This was reported to GPL-violations and gave Samsung bad publicity, so they released it as Free software. As for what it means to patents on FAT, I am not qualified to say. It’s not GPLv3 though.
“This was reported to GPL-violations and gave Samsung bad publicity, so they released it as Free software.”In the past, GPL violations by Microsoft were also handled in this way. Microsoft decided to pretend the violation was open-sourced to rewrite history. iophk calls it spin, noting that “‘accidentally leaked’ == Samsung got caught ripping off kernel code” (indeed).
iophk quotes: “While Samsung accidentally put out the source code in the first place, they have now formally released the code under the GPL after it was discovered they violated the GPL in the first place. Samsung was shipping this closed-source exFAT driver on a tablet yet they were relying upon GPL-only symbols.”
iophk says that “all that aside, it’s an improvement that they have properly licensed the code finally… too bad it took all that trouble… Their image got tarnished a bit and that could have been avoided if they had just respected copyright from the start. It was also a bit of necessary extra work.”
This resolves the problem/dilemma for the leakers. Without them, this would not have happened. What does all this mean to Tuxera, Paragon, and patents on exFAT in general? Lawyers might tell. █
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Quick Guide of license compatibility with GPL
Summary: A call for advice on how to handle another Samsung violation of the GPL and betrayal of the community
As a quick reminder, over 6 years ago we called for a boycott of Samsung, which proved that it didn’t care about freedom and actively worked against it. In 2 posts [1, 2] from the past few weeks we covered yet another violation of the GPL by Samsung. This one required a leak to be shown and we spoke to the leaker, who prefers to remain anonymous. We consulted internally to see how this can be dealt with.
“Not enough data to do more than guess,” iophk wrote, “I do recall that the SFLC disapproved of the ‘robin hood’ approach to freeing code that had been ripped off.
“This one required a leak to be shown and we spoke to the leaker, who prefers to remain anonymous.”“I guess it depends on the provenance of the code. If it is ripped off from the kernel then it comes under GPLv2 or later (IIRC). Then it comes down to v2 or v3. I like what v3 accomplishes, but I do not. like mixing copyright with patents in the same license. Can v3 provide any protection if Microsoft starts to claim to have patents on *FAT?”
This is an interesting possibility that we are exploring. Samsung’s GPL violations are in an implementation of exFAT, a very common extortion tool against Linux distributors. “Here is the latest info from the most recent kernel,” writes iophk. “It is v2 only.”
It is v3 which deals with patent provisions. iophk continues: “Linus likes v2 very much but seems to have removed the “or later” clause that I vaguely recollect being there. Can rxrz [the leaker] say which version of the kernel exfat-nofuse came from? If it is a later one, then maybe v2 is the only option. If it is an earlier one, there might be a choice between v2 and v3.”
He later, upon further investigation, adds: “Here’s the oldest commit in Git, which has the same preamble. So I’m not sure under which circumstances v3 could be used. It is certainly a safe bet with v2.”
“We could like to relay the leaker’s question to the wider community.”We spoke with the leaker of this code, who wrote: “I just wanted to do a good thing.
“But now I have decided to put the LICENSE file there, containing GPLv2, since Samsung has stolen that code initially from the Linux kernel tree. (I believe it fits this code the best, v3 may be better though, I don’t know)”
We could like to relay the leaker’s question to the wider community. To quote her, the leaker: “Could you please help the project and make up a LICENSE file content for it? It happens that I’m not too good with legal things myself…”
I promised to work with our community at Techrights or anyone else who reads this to address this issue. Any suggestions of ways forward from here? Or licensing? █
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Summary: The kernel debate that’s really worth having, not some storm in a teacup over feminism
The other day we wrote about the latest Samsung scandal [1, 2, 3] which looks like another GPL violation (not the first). Just like LG and smaller players such as TomTom, Samsung pays Microsoft for FAT patents. We need to stop this.
“Honestly,” says one person who took action, “I don’t understand how it’s even possible to patent any filesystem. It’s not a concept, it’s a variation of having a structured array of bytes on a block device.”
Here is who’s behind the code leak, which seems to reveal GPL violation and is therefore whistleblowing (protected by law):
A student and programmer using the name “rxrz” has posted a large chunk of a proprietary Microsoft file-system software to GitHub, claiming that she’s liberating it for the open source world. She says that the software was leaked from Samsung, and that it also contains some code from the Linux kernel. That, she argues, makes it de facto open source under the terms of the Gnu General Public License.
“All I’ve done is given the community of open source developers and linux/android users a way to finally share data between all major OS’s without any excessive impact on the performance,” she wrote on GitHub.
In an email interview, rxrz wouldn’t give her name, but said that she was a nineteen year old female student from the European Union.
She posted the code last month, but only gained widespread notice on Linux discussion forums this week.
This debate needs to go mainstream. Instead of debating a gender war on the Linux development lists (no, we won’t entertain this flamebait here) we should speak about GPL violations. It involves a female leaker showing code from a female developer at Samsung and it is about justice, not some self-inflicted offence over ‘rude’ words. Yes, Torvalds needs to tone down his language, but this has already mushroomed to become some distracting storm involving militant feminists (including an employee of a criminal company) and opportunistic misogynists, which just helps discredit Linux in the same way some tried to discredit GNU several years ago. Let’s talk about patents and technical issues, not some distracting gossip. █
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From a patent with Joosun Hahn on it…
Summary: Samsung and its developers appear to be helping Microsoft’s patent war on Linux and also violating the GNU GPL at the same time
The mischievous role played by Samsung in advancing Microsoft’s Linux tax is nothing new. It turns out to be not only proprietary but quite likely a GPL violation. Companies like Tuxera are working for Microsoft by spreading exFAT to manufacture more victims like TomTom, a FAT scapegoat. Microsoft most routinely uses FAT-related patents to tax users and distributors of GNU/Linux (users are being silently taxed through secret deals). It is hard to work around these traps.
Samsung, a patent friend of Microsoft which we reported for GPL violations in the past, pays Microsoft for FAT and then spreads this patent trap further. We recently wrote about some mysterious code from Korea (more details are in IRC logs) and we studied the author of this code in order to better understand her interests and to find out why she may be promoting exFAT. Now there is clarification. Michael Larabel explains: “Last month there was news of a native Linux driver for Microsoft’s exFAT file-system. It turns out that the driver wasn’t developed through any clean-room reverse-engineering but was rather the apparent rebadging of a Samsung exFAT driver for Linux.
“After being informed via email by a user today with this open-source Linux exFAT driver appearing on GPL-Violations.org, the exFAT Linux driver comes with nefarious intentions.
“A lot of people have berated the alleged leaker, but if it proves GPL violations, then it may as well justify the leak and serve as a case of whistleblowing”“It appears (and evidently its “developer” is admitting it) that the exFAT Linux kernel module was based upon source-code found from a Samsung developer for their exFAT driver. The code likely leaked out of Samsung accidentally by a developer pushing their Linux kernel source tree externally to GitHub when it should have been made private.”
Now, the main question is, was the code modified before being uploaded? If so, whose GPL violation is it (assuming it has not been tampered with)?
The developer, Joosun Hahn, has almost nothing on the Web about her (at least not in English) but has various publications (connected Seongsoo Hong in some publications) in decent journals and also patents like this one. Assuming it’s the same person, a 2009 paper describes her as someone who “received her B.S. degree in Computer Science from Soongsil University, Seoul, Korea, in 1994. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Engineering from Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea, in 1996 and 2004, respectively. She is currently a research professor in the Department of Computer Engineering at Hongik University, Seoul, Korea. Her research interests include computer architecture, real-time computing, embedded systems, and wireless sensor networks.”
To quote Phoronix Forums (last page), “This source code is not under GPLv2. This source code cannot be redistributed. This code contains Microsoft’s IP. It cannot even be made publicly available – that’s a direct violation of the law.”
In a later thread someone points out: “I’d rather see exFAT burn in hell with its patents, it’s sad that we see this attempt instead.”
As pointed out here, “I examined exfat_super.c and compared it to fs/fat/misc.c, fs/fat/dir.c, fs/fat/namei_vfat.c, and fs/fat/file.c. I will avoid sharing my conclusions here, but any one else is free to look.”
exFAT needs to be killed at all costs. This is poison and those who develop it, be it a person or a brand (Samsung) needs to find other things to do. Right now it’s helping patent terrorists. GPL violations aside (the guilt cannot be established based only on allegations*, but Samsung has poor history when it comes to GPL compliance), the main issue here should be patents.
A lot of people have berated the alleged leaker, but if it proves GPL violations, then it may as well justify the leak and serve as a case of whistleblowing. We shall wait and see how this story evolves. █
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