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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 #359 Period ending 24 May 2010

OSWALD #359 Period ending 24 May 2010

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

The big news this week is the release by Google of its VP8 video codec under an open source licence, buttressed by a patent licence. A madness portending the End of Days in Germany as a householder is held liable for not putting encryption on their wireless router *and* the German court has upheld a software patent. Look for signs of cats and dogs lying together.

Apparently Android is making strong gains in the mobile area. In Australia Telstra has signed an exclusivity deal with HTC for (at least some of) its android phones and are actively marketing them. Also Novell seems to be looking to sell itself...

>From my blog:

Verbatim distribution with attribution ok.

Other distribution - email me.



Brendan Scott

Open Source Law

***** Open Standards/ODF

Introducing WebM, an open web media project

To that end, we are excited to introduce WebM, a broadly-backed community effort to develop a world-class media format for the open web. WebM includes: * VP8, a high-quality video codec we are releasing today under a BSD-style, royalty-free license...

XKCD on Open Formats

[Read it, you'll like it]

The EU Commission's Digital Agenda Plan

Meanwhile, ECIS has issued a statement, commending the EU Commission on its Digital Agenda, particularly the part about interoperability

***** Off Topic

BBC News: Hack attacks mounted on car control systems

"We are able to forcibly and completely disengage the brakes while driving, making it difficult for the driver to stop," wrote the researchers. "Conversely, we are able to forcibly activate the brakes, lurching the driver forward and causing the car to stop suddenly. "

Chomp! Pac-Man, the arcade classic, turns 30

The pop-culture sensation, released in Japan 30 years ago this week, created millions of glazed-eye addicts and spawned more than 400 products, including a cartoon, a breakfast cereal and a hit song.

***** Government/Policy

Over $50 Billion NOT Lost due to Software Piracy

Piracy is obviously a huge concern in pretty much every function of IT, and to make matters worse report released this week claims that over $50 billion was lost due to piracy last year, and includes piracy rates broken down by location with Asia unsurprisingly leading the pack when it comes to software counterfeiting.

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

Why I Steal Movies… Even Ones I'm In

Like a billion other people, I download things illegally. I'm also an actor, writer and director whose income depends on revenue from DVDs, movies and books. This leads to many conflicts in my head, in my heart, and in bars.

BBC News: Wi-fi owner fined for lax security in Germany

The owner had proof that the householder was on holiday at the time but the court ruled that the network should have been password-protected.

German high court declares all software potentially patentable

Basically, Germany has now had its own Bilski case -- with the worst possible outcome for the opponents of software patents.

The Statutory Damages Regime of Copyright Law: The Non-Commerical User [PDF]

Historically, copyright has been protected for the benefit of the public. Currently the predominant view in the courts places the author or rights holders' interests above society's interests. The issue is whether this view violates the historical policy behind the Copyright Act.

Microsoft settles with VirnetX, to pay $200 million

The settlement calls for Microsoft to take a license to VirnetX patents for Microsoft products. Other aspects of the settlement and license are not being disclosed.

Patenting Computer-Implemented-Inventions (CIIs) in the EPO

In the outcome, the doubts proved well-founded and the referral was rejected as inadmissible. The views of the Enlarged Board are summarised in the official headnote:

IP Innovation v. Red Hat/Novell - The Prior Art They Used at Trial

I know the first thing you wanted to know after you heard that Red Hat and Novell had prevailed and the jury had found that IP Innovation's patents were worthless was this: did we at Groklaw help when we did prior art searching?

The DPL and the "Fair Trolls" Business Model: Make Money Fighting Patents with Patents

Previously I published a first set of thoughts on the Defensive Patent License (DPL), which is currently being developed by two law professors at UC Berkeley. The more I think about that initiative, the more interesting it looks to me, even though its exact content isn't known yet and its future adoption remains to be seen.

Worst Week For Album Sales Since 1991

Without any major releases and amid overall decreasing record sales, this past week has the dubious distinction of seeing the fewest number of total album sales in a single week -- 5. 3 million -- since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking in 1991.

Chien: Recent History Suggests that Supreme Court will Rule Bilski's Claim Unpatentable

Over the 20 years studied, every single amicus brief authored by the US Government in a Supreme Court patent case except one predicted the case outcome.

Dept. of Justice, FTC, USPTO to Hold Workshop on Patents and Innovation

The Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today that they will hold a joint public workshop on the intersection of patent policy and competition policy and its implications for promoting innovation.

MobileMedia's Unusual Patent Infringement Campaign

What is unusual is who owns MobileMedia: MPEG-LA, the private company that oversees a total of eight patent pools covering important digital video standards--MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 being the most common--used in DVD players and pretty much every other device that supports digital video.

Acacia Subsidiary Enters into License Agreement with Microsoft Corporation

Acacia Research Corporation announced today that its subsidiary, IP Innovation, LLC, has entered into a license agreement with Microsoft Corporation covering patents that apply to technology for enhancing image resolution. The agreement resolves a lawsuit that was pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.'s Benioff likens Microsoft to patent 'alley thug'

I should just say right off the bat, we can't comment on pending litigation. ...

Looking at 'Love Letters' From Both Sides: Panelists Discuss Patent License Demands

Intellectual property lawyers and corporate and university licensing executives traded ideas at a Licensing Executives Society conference about how to handle what they jokingly call "love letters" -- patent holders' demands for license fees.

***** Implementations

How BMW virtualised with SuSE Linux and Xen

BMW is using the Xen para virtualisation tool in SuSE Linux Enterprise Server to run test and development production systems. The company has deployed Xen to replace its ageing PA-Risc, Sun Sparc and IBM Power 4/5 Unix server hardware with industry-standard PC servers.

***** Applications/Gadgets

Michael Dell whips out his Streak tablet

The 5-inch device features a 800X480 touch display, along with a customized version of Google's Android OS.

Network video recorder, powered by Linux, ultra stable and loaded with features

QNAP VS-5020 VioStor NVR (Network Video Recorder) is a high performance network video surveillance system for high-end IP-based real-time monitoring and video recording. Powered by Intel 1. 6GHz CPU and 1GB DDRII memory, the Linux-embedded NVR supports 20-channel H. 264, MxPEG, MPEG-4 and M-JPEG recording

Teo, the New Tough Linux Netbook From ZaReason

Of course the idea was easier than the execution, and it took time for the technology to make it possible. And so, here we are with the Teo, which is one of the nicest netbooks available.

Qbo, Based On Linux, To Join Growing Field Of Open Source Robots

Now, one of the more interesting new open source robots is Qbo (shown), a Linux-based robot from the folks at thecorpora. com.

Google TV Platform introduced

Google TV is based on the Android platform and runs the Google Chrome web browser. Users can access all of their usual TV channels as well as a world of Internet and cloud-based information and applications, including rich Adobe Flash based content - all from the comfort of their own living room and with the same simplicity

***** Reports

Microsoft Cross-Licensing Tactic May Get Teeth Pulled Soon

While you roll your eyes about this, take heart in that fact that this tactic, while aggravating, demonstrates another great advantage of Linux being open and diverse: it helps keep Linux vendors from getting sued. To me, that's the best reason to explain why Microsoft keeps insinuating there's patent infringement going on within Linux, and yet to date they've failed to successfully sue any Linux company directly for said infringements.

Microsoft Deal With HTC Could Slow Android's Adoption

Under terms of their deal, HTC will pay Microsoft an undisclosed royalty to use the software maker's intellectual property in its Android phones. Implicit in the agreement is Microsoft's position that Android infringes its patented technology in areas ranging from the user interface to the underlying operating system. "

Steve Jobs Spars With Valleywag Editor By E-Mail

Steve Jobs has gone rogue. Taking the bait on a late-night e-mail from Valleywag Editor Ryan Tate, Jobs defended Apple's App Store for offering "freedom from porn," among other things.

If You Want Freedom, Don’t Use Proprietary Software (video)

If you prefer convenience -- well, best to stop complaining about your loss of freedom and/or privacy.

Google, Flush with Android Success, Plans New Computing Platform

Androids popularity has ratcheted quickly, particularly in the United States. NPD Group reported May 10 that in the first quarter of 2010, Android nabbed the No. 2 OS market share position in the United States, bumping the iPhone OS to number three. BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion holds the No. 1 spot, with 36 percent market share.

A conference on software patents and free software

On April 29, the University of Colorado held a conference on patents and free software. Your editor, having spent the morning getting some significant dental work done, figured that an afternoon devoted to software patents would appropriately continue the day in the same theme - only without the anesthetic.

Open Facebook Alternatives Gain Momentum, $115K

Now, a group of four New York University students -- who were working on just what we called for -- have harnessed that dissatisfaction in the form of more than $115,000 in crowdsourced funding for their distributed, social networking system called Diaspora.

Ubuntu open to greater touch

Canonical is looking at Ubuntu for in-car systems, tablets, set-top-boxes, and what director of business development Chris Kenyon called "the digital home or something you carry around".

Google To Shutter Nexus One Store

Google's experiment as an Android phone retailer has come to an end with the announcement it plans to shut down the Nexus One Android Web store and will sell its HTC-designed phone in the retail outlets of the two carriers it has left.

Today We Are Seven

Here's how we began [except for some early articles and drafts I deleted when Groklaw was young and so was I, back when I had no idea Groklaw would become Groklaw], and here's the very first article about SCO, SCO Falls Downstairs, Hitting its Head on Every Step. Heh heh.

Can Froyo 2.2 Save Linux-Based Android From Fragmentation?

As Google prepares to kick off its annual Google I/O developer conference Wednesday, the wireless industry -- including many open source mobile app developers -- are anticipating the Android 2. 2 release, dubbed Froyo, not only because of its faster processing features but also for its potential to mitigate the nascent OS's fragmentation issue.

New Hampshire Libraries Band Together for their Implementation of Koha

ByWater Solutions, an open source community supporter and official Koha support company, announced today that The Monadnock Library Community of New Hampshire has partnered with them for the installation and support of the community version of the Koha integrated library system.

Zend Raises Another $9 million - For What?

Zend, one of the lead commercial PHP vendors, today announced that they have received another $9 million in venture capital funding, led by Greylock Partners.

I could license you to use this software, but then I’d have to kill you

Well over 60% are GPL. So, the vast bulk of projects are under a small number of well-known licenses, and that's a good thing. But the other 3% of projects and 1980-odd licenses (and there are some odd ones!) clearly constitute a "long tail. " Join me, won't you, for a journey to the outer reaches of that tail.

Please don't port philosophy with code!

All I ask is, don't mess with my system and don't ask me to trust you more than you trust me!

The Price of that Tech Gear Is ... Wrong!

You need a spreadsheet to figure out what you are going to pay. Now, granted, there are some complex software products out there and you don't want to leave money on the table and charge fairly for your product. But five different knobs to turn before you can calculate a price? Not good.

Sintel Open Movie Trailer Is Released And It Looks Promising

The guys behind such amazing works like Elephants Dream, Big Buck Bunny and Yo Frankie! is yet again in the news. Blender foundation recently released the trailer of their next open movie, Sintel. And it looks super hot. Watch and enjoy.

Novell seeks rich suitors

It looks like Novell has formally put itself up for sale after rejecting the entreaties of a hedge fund two months ago.

LiMo expects major operators to sign on with handsets

"The first one was Vodafone and three other carriers will follow this year," Morgan Gillis, executive director at LiMo foundation, said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

HP Wants to Bring webOS to Printers

This decision highlights the scalability of Linux, which webOS is based on, as HP plans to use the operating system in one form or another from its simple commercial devices all the way up to its tablets.

Google announces Font API and Font Directory

Google IO At this year's Google I/O developer conference, currently taking place in San Francisco, Google announced the availability of a collection of high quality open source fonts for the web. The company has been working with a number of font designers to create the a range of new fonts, which are available to everybody on the web via Google's new Font Directory and Font API services.

Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

Google's WebM, launched at Google I/O yesterday, is the first direct challenge to the Veto launched by a tech company in a decade. The open source, royalty free codec formerly known as VP8 has been met by a full-on FUD attack, but rather than back down Google has pushed forward.

How Linux Saved A Fast Food Giant.

What does it say to you that you have to stumble around to achieve in Windows what can be easily done in Linux? What about vice versa for me with regards to how my co-worker skillfully scripted out an entire deployment and verification process when I had no idea how to even do so? I knew what needed to be done in theory, but no idea how to execute it.

Has ASUS abandoned netbook Linux?

I found out about this annoying development when some readers wrote to me to say that they'd been trying to get new Asus Linux-powered netbooks and that they'd gotten no-where. Some of the more persistent ones kept pestering Asus and this is what they heard from Asus sales:

Red Hat Commercializes deltaCloud, Eyes a More Open Cloud

"We're creating a Cloud management engine based on the open source deltaCloud project," Scott Crenshaw, vice president and general manager of Red Hat's Cloud business, told InternetNews. com. "We haven't yet issued a delivery date for that product, but it will be sometime next year.

***** Snippets

Jonathan Schwartz taking the high road after public tongue lashing from Larry Ellison

Stephen Walli, Open Source and Standards Veteran, Named Technical Director of The CodePlex Found

How to Become Linus Torvalds

Heroes Of Newerth Gone Retail !

Blender and Stephen Hawking

The great irony of Linux desktops in Australia

Linuxcare Returns

Epic Games Provides No Hope For UT3 On Linux

The end of the (Linux) desktop as we know it ?

Why some open source crosses the chasm and some falls in

Novell launches SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP 1

OpenSolaris and its killer features. Coming to a GNU/Linux near you?

Gartner: Android leapfrogs Linux and Windows Mobile

Ubuntu _ open or not?

Linux: The Final Frontier?

Which policy setters should see Patent Absurdity?

Google beats Microsoft in smartphones, catching Apple

NVIDIA 256 Beta Linux Driver Released
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