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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 #439 Period ending 12 March 2012

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

Heaps of stories which have a policy aspect to them this week. In particular, a detailed paper analysing Intellectual Ventures. It should be cause for ministerial resignation, but fuding copyright numbers is so widespread that the Danish Minister admitting to doing so raises barely an eyebrow. Off topic, but still concerning, is the ability of Paypal to deny service to people it wants to censor, and to do so at the behest of third parties.

*From my blog:

Verbatim distribution with attribution ok.

Other distribution - email me.



Brendan Scott

Open Source Law

***** Other

Hacked school board election names drunken robot the winner in Washington DC

When Washington DC recently flipped the switch on a new e-voting option that it planned to use to tally absentee ballots for local elections, the experts' point was proven: a fictional, beer-guzzling robot was elected as the head of the DC school board.

***** Off Topic

Paypal Pressured To Play Morality Cop And Forces Smashwords To Censor Authors

We have become quite accustomed to Paypal arbitrarily deciding to shut down the payment services for a website with no warning and little recourse. Usually when it does so, it acts through its own volition. However, Paypal also has to deal with the whims of the credit card companies with which it is partnered. With that business arrangement, when a credit card company says to jump, Paypal must comply.

Judge says Google is ‘passive wall’ [UK]

Judge says Google is passive wall Google has pretty much got widespread immunity from English defamation laws after a ruling from Mr Justice Eady, who agreed with the notion that the search engine is merely a “platform provider” and “should not be regarded as a publisher, or even as one who authorised publication”. [OSL: The wall argument won't work in Australia]

Dear Big Newspapers: Keep Putting Up Silly Paywalls & Clear The Internet Field For Us 'Newco

I've spent years detailing why these kinds of paywalls don't work. The short version is that for most newspapers, they just can't sign up enough users to make it worthwhile.

***** Government/Policy

REVEALED: How Giant Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures Does Business


Feldman and Ewing compare IV's activities to "privateering," a now-abolished kind of warfare from the 1800s. Countries would encourage private sailors to attack their enemies' ships and auction off the proceeds.

Free Software: Why Do I Care

The solution is obviously not the prevalent antitrust litigation in the US and other countries, which has been nothing short of a colossal disaster; but when the government has unlimited power and businesses have the money to wield it, I get worried about which company I support by buying their stuff today. And the software I buy factors in on this decision.

Danish trade minister and ACTA booster apologise for bogus piracy numbers

Here's a clip of a Danish TV show discussing ACTA, which Denmark has fiercely advocated in favor of. It starts with the head of a rightsholder society and the Danish trade minister quoting dodgy statistics about the extent and cost of piracy, and then demonstrates that these statistics are patently false, and finally, brings out those responsible for quoting them and gets them to admit their errors.

The open source movement enlarges its shield

OIN has, therefore, acquired a defensive portfolio of strategic patents which it makes available, royalty free, to companies that commit not to assert their own patents against members of the Linux community.

Open source maps a new education future

This is where the SLC comes in. Using open source software, open standards, and open APIs, the SLC is working to create a single point of authentication and tracking for educators so that no matter what software tools they are using to track students' progress, the information will be gathered by the single common multi-tenant data store.

My View: Taxpayers subsidize universities’ ‘patent roulette’

Each year U. S. universities like Purdue apply for thousands of patents, spending up to $50,000 in legal fees per application, even though the technologies disclosed in a minuscule percentage will become products, let alone profitable ones.

Scaling the Patent System

Why do firms in some industries ignore patents when developing new products? This paper posits a simple but novel answer to this long-puzzling question: firms ignore patents because they are unable to discover the patents their activities might infringe. The costs of finding relevant patents, which we call discovery costs, are prohibitively high.

The U.S. Threat To Sue Apple And Publishers: What It Means

For practical purposes, this means that the parties agree to a set of conditions that often include codes of conduct and a fine. The fact that the government is talking about suing suggests that the parties were unable to come to such an agreement.

[How Software Licensing Destroys Innovation]

The violation Matz alluded to in general terms states that "customers that want to work with partners to have them host Windows 7 in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution on their behalf, can do so when the customer provides the partner licenses through the customers own agreements with Microsoft," and that "the hosting hardware must be dedicated to, and for the benefit of the customer, and may not be shared by or with any other customers of that partner. "

The Real Victims in the Patent Wars

The result has been an explosion of litigation. Large firms like Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung are suing one another over mobile phone patents. And as a recent episode of This American Life documented, there are entire office buildings full of "patent trolls" that produce no useful products but sue other companies that do.

I killed the Internet

Every time someone installs such an app, they now move any sharing they do of stories from that site to the private silo of Facebook. Here, you are given two options when you click on a link: you can either install the app and therefore become a party to slowly dismantling the web, or you can decide that you don’t want to read that story. Facebook has successfully made the idea of sharing link outside of Facebook a large enough inconve- nience that it will ensure that traffic will grow for Facebook only.

Disruptions: No More Innovation for the Fun of It

Last week Apple also refused to allow “Stop Selling Dreams,” a new book by the writer Seth Godin, into the iBookstore. Apple’s reasoning: Mr. Godin’s book contains links in the bibliography, he said, which make it easy for readers to buy books from Amazon.

German Government Wants Google To Pay To Show News Snippets

Trying to get Google and others to pay for the privilege of sending more traffic to newspapers by including short snippets from their stories is one of them. Of course, logic would dictate that the newspapers should be paying Google for the marketing it provides, but unfortunately not everyone sees it that way.

EC Opens Interoperability Investigation against The MathWorks

In the case of MathWorks, it appears that a competitor has complained to the EC that it has been denied the right to take advantage of this mandate.

Open-Source Skype Effort Is Dormant Or Dead

Skype went after this work with DMCA take-down notices. When Skype informed me that they were going after those responsible for the work, it was described as "unauthorized use of our application for malicious activities" and "infringes on Skype's intellectual property. "

Canada's New Copyright Bill: The Good, The Bad and The Undecided

But it does include one big problem: an anti-circumvention clause that, like the DMCA in America, will make it illegal to break copy protection even for the purposes of legal copying. This makes no more sense under Canadian copyright law than it does anywhere else: if the act of copying is legal, why should the means to do so be illegal? The Canadian Library Association has proposed a common-sense amendment to the so-called "digital locks" provision, clarifying that circumvention is only infringing if it is "for the purpose of an act that is an infringement of the copyright". It makes no sense to exclude such a requirement.

Speculative invoicing 2: Golden Eye in court

This case is ultimately about the rules that allow rights holders, or those claiming to act on their behalf, to get the details of Internet subscribers so that they can pursue civil action. This procedure was used in the past few years in a way that led to lots of often innocent people face intimidating letters that overstated the case against them and which demanded £500, with threats of legal action to follow.

Little Free Libraries allow neighbors to share books and a bit of themselves

Usually planted near streets and seeded with their owners' books, the libraries can hold about two dozen volumes. Working on an honor system -- a sign on the side reads "Take a Book, Leave a Book" -- the boxes tend to stay stocked with contributions from those who happen upon them and find a book or three to take home.

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

Did Apple Steal Their New Map Software?

OpenStreetMap is, of course, open source software, so it isn’t illegal for Apple to use it in their program. In fact, it’s actually a real validation for the Open Street Maps Community that a company like Apple used their data over the traditional Google Maps. But the usage policy requires proper attribution, and it’s abominable netiquette to use open source software without crediting it.

For tablet computer visionary Roger Fidler, a lot of what-ifs

In 1994, while running a lab dreaming up the future of newspapers, Fidler starred in his own video demonstrating a prototype he cooked up that was remarkably like the iPad — black, thin, rectangular, with text and video displayed on-screen.

Analysis: Patent plaintiffs target Facebook as IPO approaches

Last year, Facebook was named as a defendant in 22 lawsuits accusing it of patent infringement, double the number from 2010, according to a Reuters analysis of court documents on legal database Westlaw, a Thomson Reuters unit.

Judge Says Apple Can't Pursue Patent Suit Against Kodak

A judge Thursday said Apple Inc. couldn't pursue patent infringement litigation against Eastman Kodak Co. over a patent the computer giant fears might be sold during Kodak's bankruptcy before an ownership dispute is resolved.

Samsung attacks Apple again in a Seoul court

Samsung says Apple violated patents it holds covering a way data is displayed on a mobile phone, “mobile terminal” and “method for outputting a short message on a mobile communication terminal. ”

Federal Circuit Continues Split on Patentable Subject Matter

The majority opinion here - penned by Judge Plager and joined by Judge Newman - argues that courts should avoid the metaphysical question of whether an invention is unpatentably abstract whenever possible and instead focus on the conditions of patentability found in §§ 102, 103, and 112 of the patent act.

Open Invention Network expands its Linux definition and coverage

Open Invention Network logo By adding more than 700 new software packages to its existing list of over 1000 packages that define a Linux system and are protected within their network of royalty-free cross licence deals, the Open Invention Network has announced that it aims to keep pace with the expanding technology base of a typical Linux system.

Microsoft and Nokia sue Apple for Patent Infringement (via a Holding Company)

Core Wireless obtained its portfolio of 2,000 patents and pending applications from Nokia and (apparently) Microsoft. In 2011, the patent licensing entity MOSAID purchased Core Wireless. MOSAID itself is owned by the US private equity firm Sterling Partners.

IBM's Patent Abandonment Strategy

Thus, under the current schedule, the first fee is $1,130, the second fee is $2,850, and the third fee is $4,730. In recent years, IBM has abandoned thousands of patents for failure to pay the fee due at 3½ years from issuance. IBM’s rate of abandonment is more than double that of other major patent holders.

***** Applications/Gadgets

Ninja Block Linux computer reaches $80k crowd-funding

The Ninja Block open source cloud automation device looks as if it could be heading into the development stage after attracting $50,000 of pledges in only a week on the Kickstarter crowd-funding website. Having set a funding goal of $24,000 to get the Ninja off the ground, as of 1 March its creators were approaching almost $80,000 in total pledges, with the cut-off set for 10 March.

MeeBlip SE: the affordable, Open Source DIY synth

The MeeBlip SE is digital rather than analogue, but $149. 95 ($139. 95 until 31 March) gets you a synth that you can build yourself with no soldering required. Alternatively, you can buy a kit that needs soldering in order to be assembled for $129. 95 ($119. 95 until 31 March).

Hadoop: How Open Source can Whittle Big Data to Size

Hadoop lets organisations "analyse much greater amounts of information than they could previously," says its creator, Doug Cutting. "Hadoop was developed out of the technologies that search engines use to analyse the entire Web. Now it's being used in lots of other places. "

CodeWeavers Releases New CrossOver XI for all Mac and Linux PC Users

Hardware Profile: exciTe 10 LE

The tablet is called the exciTe 10 LE, and will be available from March 6, just one day from today. The exciTe 10 LE is one sleek piece and the “LE” probably stands for “Lite Edition” because this tablet is just 0. 3″ thin and weighs a paltry 1. 2 lbs.

Zanata: Web-Based Translation Manager For Open Source Developer

If you are a open source software developer or a content writer you can use Zanata to translate your software strings, User interface text/String, software documentation and localized into any languages.

Talend Brings Premier Open Source Data Integration To Big Data

Talend first announced their entry into the big data market with the release of Talend Open Studio for Big Data. They licensed their product under an Apache license, the same as Hadoop itself. Talend also teamed up with Hadoop pioneer, Hortonworks announcing that Talend's Open Studio will now be bundled with the Hortonworks Data Platform.

PhoneGap 1.5 Released!

Microsoft open sources Windows scripting tool Mayhem

The program, called Mayhem, has been donated to the Outercurve Foundation. Developed by Microsoft's applied sciences research group, Mayhem allows people with no programming skills to link together different Windows programs to carry out tasks across programs.

***** Reports

Nigeria beats open source rhythm across Africa

"International experts will be coming to Nigeria; there will be free training for people on how to write code, protect a website, how to configure and manage a website and create sourcing. ''

Announcing: MIT App Inventor Open Beta Preview

Today, we’re taking the next step, and opening the MIT App Inventor service to everyone. All you will need is a Google ID for log-in (for example, a Gmail account).

How Pinweel Uses Linux to Power Group Photo Sharing

"We made the decision really early on to use a lot of open source technologies, Linux, of course, being front and center. We chose to standardize our servers with Ubuntu; all our servers now run on Ubuntu. We've started with very bare installations of Ubuntu and only added the packages each server needed to perform its function(s).

Netcraft: Open web platforms the winners

A new survey from Netcraft has Apache, Nginx, and Google's web servers all up, with Microsoft IIS market share dropping down, raising questions about the health of Microsoft's related offerings.

NVIDIA now a member of The Linux Foundation

Joining NVIDIA as new members are: Fluendo, one of the major companies behind GStreamer; Lineo Solutions, creator of embedded Linux systems; and Mocana, a security platform for mobile devices and apps. The Linux Foundation made this statement in their press release:

European Foundation Says Android Impinges on Freedom and Privacy

The foundation is encouraging community members to adopt numerous applications and services that it sees as preserving freedom, and encouraging developers to take Android alternatives to the next level.

7 days in the cloud. Or so was my intention...

I have to be honest here and admit that my intention for this article was to spend 1 week using and solely relying online and cloud applications for my work and productivity. But only 2 days in to my experiment, things changed and many things become apparent to me.

Improving Hardware Support in Ubuntu

Canonical has been working closely with many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for several years in shipping Ubuntu on laptops, desktops and servers. Lots of hardware issues have been found and fixed so that all the major hardware in the machines can be operated correctly.

X Server 1.12 gets multi-touch support

X. org logo The X. org developers have released version 1. 12. 0 of X Server. The update adds support for multi-touch, allowing it to recognise and manage input from multiple fingers on touch screens and touchpads;

Mozilla Doesn't Want Pepper for Linux Flash

Eich added that, Mozilla's position is to avoid proprietary large APIs and instead improve the standardized Web APIs. Going a step further, in Eich's view, the Linux Pepper-integrated Flash for Chrome is from Google and for Chrome only.

The Longterm Linux Kernel Cabal

"We all agreed, informally, to push for a specific kernel release within our communities/companies that I would then maintain in the kernel. org community in the same way I had done for the 2. 6. 16 kernel release," Kroah-Hartman wrote in a blog post.

The New York Times joins Mozilla and Knight Foundation to drive open innovation in news

OpenNews will award eight new fellowships this year, embedding fellows in these partner news organizations to spend a year writing code in collaboration with reporters and newsroom developers.

Apple May Collect $5 To $15 For Each Android Handset Sold

That's according to Dow Jones Newswire, which reports that Apple is not particularly interested in earning money from Android. It mainly wants to make Android more expensive for resellers.

Why the Next Steve Jobs Needs a Raspberry Pi, Not Patents

Computing for everyone, starting with children, was the idea behind OLPC. And while the Raspberry Pi does target students, which is the most admirable of goals, it also puts a lot of computing power into the hands of anyone looking to create something interesting. $25 for a computing device is just incredible.

Microsoft’s smartphone share slips: Apple, Google gain steam

Google remains at the top of the heap, with growth of 2. 3 percent and market share of 48. 6 percent. That was followed by Apple, which saw growth of 1. 4 percent and market share of 29. 5 percent. ComScore also found that Samsung was the No. 1 smartphone maker, showing 25 percent.

CeBIT 2012: Commercial open source companies

The two companies jointly announced an open source integration solution called Zarafa4UCS for connecting version 7. 0 of the Zarafa Collaboration Platform with Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 3. 0.

***** Snippets

Oracle Linux Release 5 Update 8 for x86 (32 bit) and x86_64 (64 Bit) architectures

What Ubuntu Can Take Away From The Raspberry Revolution

The LilyPond Report #24 has been released

Linux Faithful Author Writes Novel Entirely In Tweets

Github Security is Broken

The number one mobile Web browser: Google's native Android browser

Raspberry Pi gets Arch Linux

Is Ubuntu 12.04 a Linux Game Changer?

Chrome 17 Bug Finders Get Pay Raise

The growth of LibreOffice over Microsoft Office

To win desktop, Canonical changes the rules

Clouds push Linux server sales in Q4

Which Open Source CMS Is Right for Your Business?

Mozilla Firefox 13 Set to Improve Security with ASLR

… for human beings (aka Shuttleworth's own review of Ubuntu 12.04)

Debian: kFreeBSD 9.0 Kernel Competing Against Linux 3.2

Kernel Log: Coming in 3.3 (Part 3) – Architecture and infrastructure

The GNOME 2 Zombie

Linux patent defense group expands open-source protection

Knoppix 7.0 release begins now

Audience: A Slick, Minimalistic Linux Media Player

How Can We Convince Game Engine Developers to Add Linux Support?

Linux Top 3: Next Gen Linux Distros Hit Milestone Releases

The new iPad's great but what's wrong with a good, inexpensive Android tablet?

KDE 4.8.1 Released

CentOS 5.8 Has Been Officially Released

Ubuntu One Gets Redesigned in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Java won't curl up and die like Cobol, insists Oracle

Jeff Jaffe lights a fire under Web standardization

Open-source Translation Database: Interview With Andrew Smith

The 2.6.32 Linux kernel

New stable series for Canonical's Bazaar version control

Ray Ozzie says world is over the PC
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