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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 #344 Period ending 3 February 2010

OSWALD #344 Period ending 3 February 2010

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

Late again this week. Agh. This Oswald is last week's and does not go up to today. My picks for big stories this week are HTML5, open formats in Denmark, and some of the follow on from Oracle-Sun. HTML5 in particular is turning into a big battleground, with patent holders trying to establish the patent encumbered H.264 codec as part of the HTML5 specification. The patent holders have recently extended the royalty free period for web streaming by five years. The good thing though is that W3C actually has openness as one of its core principles unlike, for example, ISO. The latest version of the IFOSSLR (also out this week!) has a story on HTML5 video codecs.

>From my blog:

Verbatim distribution with attribution ok.

Other distribution - email me.



Brendan Scott

Open Source Law

***** Open Standards/ODF

HTML5 video and H.264 – what history tells us and why we’re standing with the web

The players from Google and Vimeo do present a pretty serious problem, though. Each of these require a proprietary H. 264 codec to be able to view them. These codecs aren't compatible with the royalty-free web standards that the rest of the web is built on. The fact that they are being so unabashedly hyped along with the new darling of the web - HTML5 - means that most people don't understand that something very dangerous is taking place behind the scenes.

An update on document formats in Denmark

The following principles must be fulfilled before a standard can be on the list. The standard shall be: * Fully documented and publicly available. * Free implementable without economic, political or legal limitations on the implementation and use. * Approved by an internationally recognized standards organization, for example ISO, and standardized and maintained in an open forum through an open process. * It shall me demonstrated that the standard can be implemented by everybody direct in its entirety on multiple platforms. * Be interoperable within the functionality ceiling with other standards on the list.

Free and Open Source implementations of MPEG-4 Visual? Nope. Patent Licences Galore

In response to your specific question, under the Licenses royalties are paid on all MPEG-4 Visual/AVC products of like functionality, and the Licenses do not make any distinction for products offered for free (whether open source or otherwise).

IPad Can’t Play Flash Video, but It May Not Matter

In addition, the patents surrounding HTML5 are owned by a group of companies; Apple is a part of that group.

***** Other

Record-setting Linux

Recently, French software engineer Fabrice Bellard calculated the value of pi to 2. 7 trillion numbers -- with a souped-up but otherwise ordinary home PC running Red Hat's Fedora Linux.

***** Off Topic

Mr. Edison’s Kindle: Fifteen amazing gadget ideas that were way, way ahead of their time

...fifteen inventions-not that all of them ever got built-that were at least a decade ahead of their time. They're in chronological order, starting with the inspiration that gave this article its title.

Law Firm Sues Over Unauthorized Use of Web Site

Highlights of a Palm Beach Gardens law firm's Web site were bizarrely copied by someone posing as a British law firm while using the same text, design, logo and even photographs of the Florida attorneys.

***** Government/Policy

NZ school ditches Microsoft and goes totally open source

A New Zealand high school running entirely on open source software has slashed its server requirements by a factor of almost 50, despite a government deal mandating the use of Microsoft software in all schools.

Will Oracle control * more tightly than Sun?,2817,2358571,00.asp

Would the Java community thrive as well under Oracle's control as it did under Sun Microsystems'? Vendors of Java products seem split about the question.

The Fight to Save MySQL: Interview with Monty Widenius

"I will do everything that is possible to keep MySQL alive," says Michael (Monty) Widenius, the main developer of the well-known open source database. "I just hope it's enough. "

Tagging the Noosphere

With the advent of the Internet and the Web, though, de Chardin's noosphere seemed to have become real rather than abstract.

Publication of Second Issue - International Free and Open Source Software Law Review

Issue two is available without charge online at http://www. ifosslr. org and in PDF format. Background and Editorial Committee

Google wants to see client addresses in DNS queries

Late Wednesday evening, Google employees posted an "Internet-Draft" outlining proposed changes to the DNS protocol that allow authoritative DNS servers to see the addresses of clients.

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

ITC Judge Rules Against nVidia in Rambus Suit

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with the U. S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued a preliminary ruling in favor of Rambus against graphics vendor nVidia in three of five patent infringement allegations. Two allegations were declared invalid and unenforceable.

Obama on IP

And one of the problems that we have had is insufficient protection for intellectual property rights. That's true in China; it's true for everything from bootleg DVDs to very sophisticated software. And there's nothing wrong with other people using our technologies. We just want to make sure that it's licensed and you're getting paid....

So I've given instructions to my trade offices -- and we actually highlight this at the highest levels of foreign policy -- that these are issues that have to be addressed because that's part of the reciprocity of making our markets open.

Maybe Information Really Doesn't Want to Be Free

In a keynote address delivered today at an industry conference hosted by the Software and Information Industry Association in New York, Auletta argued that a strictly ad-supported business model for the media business is beginning to lose credibility.

Apple iPad Has a Little Trademark iProblem

Japanese electronics giant Fujitsu released a product in 2002 called the iPad, a Windows CE-based handheld device used by shop clerks for doing store inventory. It applied for a U. S. trademark on the name in March 2003, but that stalled because of an earlier trademark filing by Mag-Tech, an IT security company.

Labels offer to settle Thomas-Rasset case for $25,000 donation to charity

But less than an hour after receiving the offer, Thomas-Rasset's attorney Joe Sibley rejected the offer -- and indeed any offer that involves the defendant paying money: [Ouch: the labels are under pressure to get this case off the agenda]

iPad is iBad for freedom

With new tablet device, Apple's Steve Jobs pushes unprecedented extension of DRM to a new class of general purpose computers

Is IP another bubble about to burst? A view from another civilization.

One of my favorite stories illustrates the importance accorded to the sharing of knowledge. After the brutal battle of Kalinga, the Emperor Ashoka was so overcome with remorse that he renounced bloodshed and embraced Buddhism. As part of his penance, Ashoka went to monasteries across the country. At each monastery, he would leave munificent donations of gold coins. At one monastery, the emperor left behind one solitary gold coin. When his perplexed followers asked him to explain, Ashoka said that the abbot of the monastery was a great man but he did not share his knowledge with others.

For the Love of Culture

Her project faced two challenges, one obvious, one not. The obvious challenge was technical: gathering fifty years of film and restoring it digitally. The non-obvious challenge was legal: clearing the rights to move this creative work onto this new platform for distribution. Most people might be puzzled about just why there would be any legal issue with a child restoring her father's life's work.

Internet companies voice alarm over Italian law

Internet companies and civil liberty groups have voiced alarm over a proposed Italian law which would make online service providers responsible for their audiovisual content and copyright infringements by users.

Amazon Removes Macmillan Books

A person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute, which has been brewing for a year, said Amazon was expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books. The person did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter. Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of e-books to around $15 from $9. 99.

Apple's unhackable system...;col1

We don't yet know what else is in the A4 chip. My guess is that there is a bunch of hardcore digital rights management (DRM) hardware on the chip. It's essentially a large security dongle that happens to have its own processing and video/graphics capabilities.

Apple and Oracle on way to do what IBM and Microsoft could not: Dominate entire markets;col1

The iPad is a red herring, almost certainly a loss leader, like Apple TV. The real business is brokering a critical mass of music, spoken word, movies, TV, books, magazines, and newspapers.

2009 patent litigation study

***** Applications/Gadgets

CounterPath Introduces Bria for Asterisk

CounterPath and Digium recently launched Bria for Asterisk, a co-branded VoIP softphone solution that's pre-integrated with the open source Asterisk platform.

Enna – A New and Exciting Linux Media Center

These days, buying a decent plasma is often a lot more expensive than building your own media center. If you've been living under a rock for the past few years, a media center is basically a PC that's focused solely on media playback.

Anything the iPad can do, Linux can do better.

But it won't just be the Apple iPad that does them in. I foresee a rollout of dozens of Linux-powered devices by the end of the year. In part, that may be because the content on Linux devices won't come saddled with Apple's DRM (digital rights management). But the real reason why Linux devices should win is price. If the vendors can't beat the bottom-end iPad's list price of $499, then they're not really trying. [OSL: this overlooks the application support through iTunes]

Apple’s iPad vs Notion Ink’s Adam tablet with Ubuntu: battle of two

MSI ready to launch iPad alternative

The iPad runs iPhone OS while the MSI runs Android. That means the MSI will multitask of course, and Flash support in Android should be a given by launch time (though that isn't certain). It has a camera. It's running on an Nvidia Tegra2 chip which Ars Technica suggests puts it on par with the iPad's A4 as far as computing horsepower. And of course Android doesn't live in a walled garden. On the other hand, it doesn't have the iTunes App Store, nor does it have the media partners that Apple has lined up for the iPad.

High-end NAS device runs Linux

Enhance Technology announced an eight-disk, Linux-based network-attached storage (NAS) device, offering up to 16TB of SATA storage.

***** Reports

Why There is no Kernel Hacker Sell-Out

In my view, this 75% figure indicates two things. First, that *most* of the top kernel hackers are being paid to code. That's really great news, because it means that people can earn money doing what they love, and aren't obliged to starve in garrets. Secondly, it means that very large computer companies regard the kernel as so important that they are prepared to pay these people good salaries to work on it.

Linux Foundation Launches Free Training to Meet Growing Demand for Linux Professionals

"The Linux Foundation's Training Program connects developers and users with the rock-stars of Linux in a vendor-neutral forum to expand the talent pool for Linux," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation.

The Replicator, No Longer a Star Trek Dream

Neil Gershenfeld has been known to make some bold predictions about the future. But even by his standards, this one was a doozy. "Twenty years from now," he told a 2006 conference in Berkeley, "we'll have Star Trek replicators that can make anything. "

Yahoo Pays Canonical, Now They're The Ubuntu Default

Google has always been the default search engine in Ubuntu's Firefox, but now it's changing to Yahoo beginning with Lucid Lynx. This doesn't have to do with Google's work on Chromium OS or the Chrome/Chromium web-browser, but rather a business arrangement between Yahoo and Canonical.

Novell Updates SUSE Appliance Toolkit For ISVs

"Studio on-site is about providing a local, theoretically more secure approach. But with over 55,000 users and over 250,000 appliances built online, we're not really worried about it. "

The Free Software Way, by Richard Fontana, Esq.

Necessary, but not sufficient. Indeed, a flaw in the term "open source" is that it seems to place sole emphasis on source code availability per se.

Zoho Opens up Zoho Discussions for Open Source

Zoho recently announced that they are making Zoho Discussions available for free to open source projects. Zoho Discussions is an online forum tool that provides a way for people to discuss various aspects of a project.

LCA: Cooperative management of package copyright and licensing data

As such, she has a basic customer service problem to solve: people who buy a board from Freescale would like to have some sort of operating system to run on it. That system, of course, will be Linux; satisfying this requirement means that Freescale must operate as a sort of Linux distributor. At her linux. conf. au talk, Kate talked about a new initiative aimed at helping distributors to ensure that they are compliant with the licenses of the software they are shipping.

Alfresco to drop GPL, goes LGPL

Alfresco Logo Alfresco has announced that it is changing the licensing of the community edition of its enterprise content management system from GPL to LGPL.

Could open source abandon the Google train?

Mozilla and Canonical represent the heart of the open-source community. If they move from Google, it paves the way for other communities to do so, too.

LCA: How to destroy your community

Josh Berkus is well known as a PostgreSQL hacker, but, as it happens, he also picked up some valuable experience during his stint at "The Laboratory for the Destruction of Communities," otherwise known as Sun Microsystems. That experience has been distilled into a "patented ten-step method" on how to free a project of unwelcome community involvement.

Canonical offers dedicated support program for Lotus Symphony

Canonical today announced a dedicated support program for Lotus Symphony, the no-charge office productivity alternative which is a core component of IBM Client for Smart Work (ICSW) on Ubuntu.

Study: 21% of German PCs run OpenOffice, StarOffice, Lotus

According to Webmasterpro. de, a German IT service provider, the open source OpenOffice suite and its derivatives, such as StarOffice or IBM's Lotus Symphony, are installed on more than 21% of German PCs.

The real value of FOSS to business – A personal example

I contacted my provider to report the bug but unfortunately they could do nothing about it. Not soon enough at least. So it was up to me to fix the problem. Luckily the particular library is very well written so I was able to modify it in order to handle the malformed package.

Facebook rewrites PHP runtime

Facebook has rewritten the PHP runtime from scratch. This coming Tuesday, they will make a big announcement around this project, and will make it available as open source software.

Microsoft/Novell: Breaking Down the Coupon Numbers

This struck me as a very interesting figure, because after firing up XCalc, I figured out that if indeed just 475 customers have received these coupons, then Microsoft has essentially subsidized SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) deployments an average tune of US$505,263. 16 per customer.

Not All Copyright Assignment is Created Equal's quite disingenuous for companies to point to the long standing tradition of copyright assignment to the FSF as a justification for their own practices. There are two key differences that people like Shuttleworth constantly gloss over or outright ignore:

***** Snippets

Android will soon trail only Symbian, says IDC

Is Linux too hard?

Too Many Linux Distributions?,1000000567,10014954o-2000498448b,00.htm

Red Hat launches community site

Chrome 4: King of the Web browser hill?

SourceForge blocks Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan and Cuba

Bacula Surpasses One Million Downloads

Linux on the move: the future of portable distros

Best Smartphone for IT: Blackberry vs. iPhone vs. Android

Linux performance: is Linux becoming just too slow and bloated?

KDE 4.4 Kreeps Kloser to Komplete

Farewell To Solaris Express Community Edition

Does Ubuntu Need Server Hardware Partners?

Installing the Elgg Social Networking CMS

The choices inside Ubuntu

Petition to Netflix to make a Linux compatible feature

The Importance of Fitting In Extensions for Business Users

EFF Reveals How Your Digital Fingerprint Makes You Easy to Track

Canonical copyright assignment policy 'same as others'

The Importance of Legal Innovation

Clarifying’s denial of site access for certain persons in accordance with US la

The ACTA Guide, Part One: The Talks To-Date

When is it worth saying it's Linux?

Machine Embroidery Management is coming to Linux!

Windows 7 sales deal Linux a winning hand

Linux made me feel dumb

Firefox Mobile Is Out But Only For Maemo

AT&T Next Up for Google's Nexus One
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