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IFOSSLR 4.1 available
Posted Jun 13, 2012 4:59 UTC (Wed) by geofft (subscriber, #59789)
In particular, that FAQ is about what does and doesn't count as distribution when someone is internally modifying GPL'd software under NDA, and that very much _can_ be a trap for the unwary, if "business expectations" are that a company and its contractors function as a single legal person. Quoting from the preceding sentence: "First, a practical problem: companies that hire consultants simply don’t distinguish between the business cases of in-house and contractor development. They do not expect to encounter a completely different GPL compliance landscape based on the distinction."
I would hope that most companies' legal departments don't count as unwary, but it's legitimate to argue that proprietary licensing agreements would typically include "and our contractors and business partners", and the GPL doesn't, and you should be aware of it.
It's also relevant -- as pointed out in the IFOSSLR article -- that GPLv3 avoids the word "distribute" _entirely because_ US copyright law already defines a meaning for that word. So claiming that GPLv2 is more legally ambiguous in the US because of its use of that term, which is a major thesis of the article, is actually in keeping with the FSF's own views. It's hard for me to believe that translates to it being anti-software-freedom propaganda. Free software as currently envisioned depends on strong and rigorous copyright law, and we should welcome rigor in interpreting copyright law and licenses.
Posted Jun 14, 2012 0:08 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653)
"a collaborative legal publication aiming to increase knowledge and understanding among lawyers about Free and Open Source Software issues."
Of course there will be opinions in it you might or might not agree with, because there simply are many subjects people don't agree on in this particular area. The whole purpose of this journal is to explore these issues in more depth.
If you don't agree with an article, you can send a rebuttal for inclusion in the next issue:
I am sure the editors are looking forward to an article from Bradley Kuhn or his lawyers about why Ms. Meeker is wrong.
PS: I am not affiliated with IFOSSLR, but I know most of the people involved and would *definitely* not describe them as anti-software freedom, on the contrary.
Posted Jun 14, 2012 10:18 UTC (Thu) by carlopiana (guest, #85127)
If anybody disagrees with one of the points expressed in a particular article, they are invited to spell out their arguments in a legal publication fashion, there or elsewhere. We can also host non-scientific arguments (platform articles) if the topic is of relevance.
IFOSSLR is a Free Speech zone but many positions expressed in it are to benefit GPL violators.
Posted Jun 14, 2012 14:27 UTC (Thu) by bkuhn (subscriber, #58642)
I believe completely that the Internet is a place for Free Speech, and I fully support Meeker's Free Speech rights to make her well-argued but ultimately anti-copyleft/anti-Free-Software statements.
I've read nearly all the articles IFOSSLR has ever published, and those about copyleft are generally variations on one theme: How to I make use of copyleft software without sharing the software that I write. I admit that I have very little patience for people who approach copyleft in that way. I believe that all software should be Free Software, and that those who keep software proprietary are actively working against the mission of software freedom.
How to I make use of copyleft software without sharing the software that I write
I agree completely that my original statement was poorly constructed; I've posted a clarification on identi.ca. My point in the original poorly-worded dent was that most of the articles in the publication are anti-software-freedom, because their goal is to help explore the question of how to avoid sharing your software. Remember that compliance with the GPL is completely trivial if you do all your work upstream and push every change you make to the entire public. In other words,there's no reason to explore the nuanced issues that are written about in IFOSSLR if your plan is to release all the software you write as Free Software.
I agree completely IFOSSLR's publishers seek to create a forum for everyone (both those pro- and anti-software freedom) to share their views equally. Thus, IFOSSLR is a Free Speech zone, which means it will be dominated by the views for the people who have the extensive resources — which big law firms do — to spend their time writing these intricate articles.
For my part, I'm sitting on a stack of 250 known GPL violations that need addressing, and lawyers like Heather Meeker work for some of these violators. I have to face Meeker regularly across the table to convince her that her clients should comply with the GPL when they don't want to. So, if I seem overly critical of her positions, it's because she's employed to waste the Free Software community's time by trying to push the envelope of what's the absolute bare minimum that my client has to do regarding the GPL to avoid being sued for copyright infringement. Lawyers like Meeker who work for violators would do better to teach their clients the value of working upstream.
what's the absolute bare minimum that my client has to do regarding the GPL to avoid being sued for copyright infringement
Some indeed do, but it's the exception, not the norm. Instead, they try every legal trick in the book to avoid complying with the GPL. To the extent that the IFOSSLR journal gives credibility to that way of operating, I find it problematic. However, I admit that there's nothing wrong with creating a Free Speech zone for people to air such views.
Posted Jun 16, 2012 21:54 UTC (Sat) by jtc (subscriber, #6246)
(I assume "How to" should be "How do".) Anti-free-software, to me, would be to be against the principles of FOSS to the extent that that such a person/organization would try to rid the world of such software and principles (impossible, of course), or would at least wish it would go away. The above ("How do I make use...without sharing..." [and, I assume, "without paying for it") sounds to me more like simple parasitism - i.e., wanting to exploit FOSS rather than wanting to get rid of it. Sure - Not a very helpful POV, but not anti-, IMO.
Posted Jun 17, 2012 9:31 UTC (Sun) by armijn (subscriber, #3653)
Posted Jun 19, 2012 0:02 UTC (Tue) by bkuhn (subscriber, #58642)
I agree with Armijn on that point. Folks should read the articles for themselves and decide for themselves if they feel they're biased. My main worry is that uninformed folks (and there are likely no uninformed folks reading LWN, actually) might thing IFOSSLR represents a full spectrum of views. It doesn't.
Posted Jun 19, 2012 0:01 UTC (Tue) by bkuhn (subscriber, #58642)
I realize that not many people agree with me, but I believe that creating more proprietary software works against Free Software. That's why I believe most lawyers working in the field are having a negative impact: because they seek to help their clients maximize how much they can keep proprietary.
I realize fully that most people don't think proprietary software is bad for society. Most of my points are predicated on that as an assumption. Obviously, if you disagree with my assumptions, you'll disagree with my conclusions. I think debate of that assumption is healthy, but it's somewhat off the point I was trying to make in this context.
If you think proprietary software is a good (or, at worst, a neutral thing) for society, you might not find issue with any IFOSSLR article.
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