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The Open Source Law Weekly Digest or OSWALD first launched late in 2002. Since then it has been regularly providing updates on all things open source related. The focus of this newsletter is on business, rather than technical developments in open source. Another strong component of the newsletter is IP news, as it is of interest to me and has an effect on open source.

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OSWALD #343 Period ending 26 January 2010

OSWALD #343 Period ending 26 January 2010

Welcome to the Open Source Law Weekly Open Source Digest (OSWALD)

With LCA this week there have been a lot of Linux and open source related stories, particularly with a policy bent. In particular, interesting articles include: patent problems with Moonlight, patent problems with HMTL5/H.264, electronic health records and a (bit OT) story from Bruce Schneier alleging a backdoor for spooks in Gmail.

>From my blog:

Verbatim distribution with attribution ok.

Other distribution - email me.



Brendan Scott

Open Source Law

***** Government/Policy

EHR is health care reform we call all agree on

You think you have trouble reading Word 2007 files with Word for Mac or Office 2003? Try reading an EHR with a program that didn't create it. You can't do it.

Health Check: Moonlight

The problem with Moonlight (and Mono) for most advocates of free software is quite simple. Silverlight/Moonlight is intended to replace existing Web technology with another set of proprietary codecs and protocols, and Moonlight, like Mono, is patent encumbered.

CSIRO seeking Linux cluster for SKA high performance computer

CSIRO will spend up to $5 million on a Linux-based high performance computing system to help boost research efforts at the Pawsey Centre for SKA Science in Perth.

Commission clears Oracle's proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "I am now satisfied that competition and innovation will be preserved on all the markets concerned. Oracle's acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalise important assets and create new and innovative products. "

Tim Berners-Lee unveils government data project

A new website, data. gov. uk, will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use.

BAE Systems uses MontaVista Linux in gun systems

BAE Systems Bofors (Karlskoga, Sweden) has selected MontaVista Linux to power its latest naval and artillery gun systems.

Why Open Source is the New Software Policy in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge image This guest post was written by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was elected to the position in 2003 and reelected in 2007. In this guest post, Mayor Newsom announces a new open source software policy for San Francisco and discusses the benefits of choosing open source technology.

Video, Freedom And Mozilla

So why doesn't Mozilla just license H. 264 (like everybody else)? One big reason is that that would violate principles of free software that we strongly believe in. In particular, we believe that downstream recipients of our code should be able to modify and redistribute it without losing any functionality. This is freedom that copyleft licenses such as the GPL and LGPL (which we use for our code) are intended to ensure. It is possible to obtain patent licenses in a way which works around the letter of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2, but honoring the letter while violating the spirit is not a game we are interested in playing.

LCA 2010: Kiwis to give FOSS desktop a go

Don Christie told iTWire today that 14 government agencies had joined the project which looked for an alternative desktop solution, with each providing some financial input. The council in question is in the middle of the North Island. Additionally, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and New Zealand Post will be part of the trial.

Calls to end Feds’ $500m IT addiction

Canberra Times, Thursday, January 21, 2010, Page 1

Greens communication spokesman Scott Ludlam said the benefits of publicly owned software were more than economic.... Technology lawyer and former director of Open Source Industry Australia Brendan Scott said governments needed to consider how their software decisions affected the community.

U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google

The news here isn't that Chinese hackers engage in these activities or that their attempts are technically sophisticated -- we knew that already -- it's that the U. S. government inadvertently aided the hackers. In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access.

China Details Homemade Supercomputer Plans

It's official: China's next supercomputer, the petascale Dawning 6000, will be constructed exclusively with home-grown microprocessors. Weiwu Hu, chief architect of the Loongson (also known as "Godson") family of CPUs at the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also confirms that the supercomputer will run Linux.

***** Patent/CR/DRM News+Policy

Are Patents Impeding Medical Care and Innovation? [Hat tip to Tim C]

Many commentators argue that patents are stifling biomedical research, for example by preventing researchers from accessing patented materials or methods they need for their studies. Patents have also been blamed for impeding medical care by raising prices of essential medicines, such as antiretroviral drugs, in poor countries. This debate examines whether and how patents are impeding health care and innovation.

RIAA tells FCC: ISPs need to be copyright cops

Internet service providers should have authority to block subscribers from sharing music and other files without permission of the copyright owner, the RIAA said.

Adding up the explanations for ACTA's "shameful secret"

Why is an intellectual property treaty being negotiated in the name of the US public kept quiet as a matter of national security and treated as "some shameful secret"?

Google patents Map/Reduce

Google has told US media that "Like other responsible, innovative companies, Google files patent applications on a variety of technologies it develops. While we do not comment about the use of this, or any part of our portfolio, we feel that our behaviour to date has been in line with our corporate values and priorities".

Patent Damages Handbook:

A committee of patent professionals and judges formed at the behest of Chief Judge Michel recently released their "Patent Damages Handbook. " The 34 page handbook is intended as a "resource for judges and lawyers" in understanding the damages phase of patent litigation "under current law. " Download it for free.

Verizon Terminating Copyright Infringers’ Internet Access

All the while, the United States has been privately lobbying the European Union to "encourage" so-called three strikes policies, according to leaked documents surrounding a proposed international intellectual property accord.

10 Problems with the New Moonlight Covenant

Now let's look at a few of the issues - I'm sure many more will turn up as more people analyze this "covenant".

We need an independent invention defense to minimize the damage of aggressive patent trolls

Almost a third of our portfolio is under attack by patent trolls. Is it possible that one third of the engineering teams in our portfolio unethically misappropriated technology from someone else and then made that the basis of their web services? No! That's not what is happening. Our companies are driven by imaginative and innovative engineering teams that are focused on creating social value by bringing innovative new services to market.

CBS uncovers rare Jack Benny treasures, puts them back and tosses out the key

But CBS balked again, citing unspecified "issues" (presumably potential copyrights in the score or other materials). Basically, CBS has decided that it could cost too much to pay a lawyer to figure out if they can release these films -- or even turn them over to Benny's fans and family for release -- and so it has decided to simply abandon them, sealing them back up in the vault forever.

Judge lowers Jammie Thomas' damages to $54,000

Last June, a federal jury in Minnesota found Jammie Thomas-Rasset liable for willful copyright infringement and ordered her to pay nearly $2 million. Michael Davis, chief judge for the U. S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, chopped the amount to $54,000, or $2,250 per song. [From a wildly ridiculous amount to one that is just plain vanilla ridiculous]

Microsoft cites Apple Macs as a defense in Xbox antitrust case

If Apple can prevent another computer maker from selling unauthorized Mac OS X machines, then Microsoft should be able to stop another accessory vendor from selling unauthorized Xbox 360 plugins loaded with video-game cheats.

O'Reilly drops ebook DRM, sees 104% increase in sales

It's been 18 months since O'Reilly, the world's largest publisher of tech books, stopped using DRM on its ebooks. In the intervening time, O'Reilly's ebook sales have increased by 104 percent.

Microsoft and Funai sign patent deal

Funai, which makes TVs sold in the U. S. under the brands Philips, Magnavox, Sylvania, and Emerson, will gain access to Microsoft's exFAT file system, an enhanced version of the company's older FAT (file allocation table) used to store and organize data on a disk.

The Likely Victims of This Year's BSA raid: Internet Cafe's and Other Computer Rental Businesses

For according to the EULA, all internet cafe's are illegal businesses -- you hear it right -- even if you have already paid for the licenses for all copies of Windows and Offices on your computers. T

***** Implementations

London Stock Exchange begins migration to Linux-based trading platform

"The London Stock Exchange has begun a twelve-month migration to its new trading platform, based on Linux, as trading fell sharply.

***** Applications/Gadgets

5 Great OEM Linux Servers

HTC Tattoo reviewed

The Tattoo combines Android and Sense in a package which is a mite less expensive than other SIM free options. It runs Android 1. 6 too, which is an advance on most other handsets as we write. There are quite a few tweaks including a useful battery use indicator.

High-end NAS device runs Linux on dual-core Pineview Atom

Synology announced it is shipping a Linux-based network-attached storage (NAS) device called the DiskStation DS1010+, offering a dual-core Intel Atom D510 and up to 10 drive bays.

Misa Digital Guitar Makes Your Rock Band Peripherals Feel Inadequate (Linux guitar!)

The Misa guitar is actually an advanced type of MIDI controller that is powered by a 500MHz AMD Geode CPU and runs Linux under the hood (but don't worry; you don't need Linux to use the guitar). The Linux firmware code is open source, which allows programmers to modify it to their liking. While MIDI controllers and guitar-emulating synthesizers are nothing new to the music world, the Misa guitar is not your average key/knob/fader MIDI controller.

***** Reports

The Most Important Events in Open Source History

We have narrowed the list down to what we consider the nine most important events that shaped open source into what it is today.

Meet Your Makers

Maker Culture? It's people taking things -- food, entertainment, technology, politics, and even science -- into their own hands.

75% of Linux code now written by paid developers

Forget lofty ideals about the open-source community: most Linux kernel code is written by paid developers at major corporations. [OSL: That code is written by paid developers is entirely consistent with the ideals of the open source community. It is in some ways the aim of the community].

Canonical to bundle CodeWeavers CrossOver?

In a official post on the Ubuntu Forums, user Matthew Helmke asks users to complete a survey with the applications they would like to see in the upcoming versions of Ubuntu.

Digium Launches Asterisk 'Marketplace,' Upgrades Switchvox UC Solution

Taken together, the pair of announcements would seem to confirm the common perception of Asterisk as a fast-growing force in the VoIP ecosystem.

Commercial open source had very good 2009

Red Hat argues that the bad economy has been good for open source. The evidence above, while hardly conclusive, indicates that the open-source bellwether could be right.

Windows Update Does Not Like GRUB,1000000567,10014915o-2000498448b,00.htm

It's not possible that even Microsoft is this stupid, that a Win7 upgrade on an essentially untouched Windows installation doesn't work. So what could be the problem? I finally realized that the only thing that had changed was the bootloader. So I restored that, ran the Win7 upgrade again, and this time it worked!

Illuminating the elephant in the open source room

Microsoft is an elephant that needs to be turned to stop it trampling the open source community, according to a vocal critic of the software giant's approach to software patents.

Android, Linux & Real-time Development for Embedded Systems

Android is an application framework on top of Linux. We will look at the details of the layers of the framework, shortly. It is supplied as open source code, but does not bind the user with the constraints of the GPL " there is no requirement for developers to make public any code developed using Android.

Selenium Gets Some Sauce for Open Source Testing

As increasing numbers of applications move online, the need for functional cross-browser testing continues to grow, which is good news for the open source Selenium project--a popular automated application testing tool with nearly 3 million downloads to date.

The Open-PC: one step closer to open-hardware

This is a community project set up because parts of "the community" got fed up with having to compromise their free desktops with non-free drivers. It's also an experiment in community-driven hardware. The major design decisions for this project and also things like price, the level of online integration, recovery media etc. have been made collectively via on-line polls.

'Microsoft-free' virtual desktop startup gets $4m funding

Virtual Bridges, founded in 2006, is part of IBM's attempt to undercut Microsoft's Windows 7 with a set of cloud - and Linux-based desktop packages.

Google's Chrome OS: Tomorrow's Desktop Today?

You won't be able to run Photoshop, Gimp, or other heavy duty programs on it. Or, rather, since it's Linux I'm sure someone will work out a way to do it, but that's not, in big capital letters, the point. The point isn't to run normal desktop applications on top of it, the point is to run Web-enabled applications.

Why Microsoft Suddenly Wanted to Be More Interoperable

But the purpose of developing greater interoperability at the request of Intel, according to this exhibit, was so that Microsoft could get Intel to switch its development environment from Linux to Windows. Intel's Paul Otellini had reportedly asked his people to figure out how to do that. But in 1999, Microsoft and Intel had cooperatively done a comparison test project, testing Windows and Linux against each other, and Linux performed better. Way better. And so after identifying 100 or so Microsoft work items, Intel decided to go with Linux. The email thread is about whether Intel could now switch back.

***** Snippets

Back Home, with Debian!

Should Ubuntu include proprietary software?

The rising importance of cross-platform applications

ReactOS May Begin Heavily Using Wine Code

Mozilla Firefox 3.6 and Its Multiple Personas

LCA 2010: Spreading the FOSS message to the masses

Open Solaris 2009.06 - Slowly getting there

LCA 2010: an encounter with the other Andrew

10 Blockbusters Made with the Help of Linux

Kernel contributor says Linux community 'can be intimidating'

LCA 2010: How FOSS spreads to the home

Novell slapped for impersonating Red Hat

The Importance of Legal Innovation

Are you ready for an open source car?

Digium Updates Switchvox 4.5

10 Years of IBM Linux: Embracing Customer Choice

Selecting OSS Software: 10 Questions Answered for Sonatype Nexus

Canonical shines its Ubuntu light on consumers

Firefox 3.6 Boosts Speed, Tabs, HTML 5 and CSS

Microsoft to Mobile Customers: Choice is a Bad Thing (and Linux will Lose)

Make the right browser update: Firefox 3.6

The Grumpy Editor's Tomato review

Will video games make desktop Linux into a killer consumer platform?

LinuxCertified Announces its next "Linux Fundamentals" Course

Microsoft Sues TiVo - The Why of It

Ubuntu, you blew your chance to go mainstream
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