Brendan Scott
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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 #358 Period ending 14 May 2010

OSWALD #358 Period ending 14 May 2010

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

An interesting off topic this week with the advent of "Malamanteau", and Wikipedia getting in a tizz about adding it! Further news about Novell and Red Hat staring down a patent non practising entity and invalidating their claims. It would be ironic if open source companies got a reputation for staring down patent infringement claims. Patent trolls have a lot to lose if their patents are invalidated. In fact, lots of patent related stories this week, with HTC suing apple, and details of software patentability in the EU and an annoying story about the increase in patents awarded in the US. The Government uses patents issued as a proxy for innovation so there is an anti-virtuous cycle where the government rewards increased patents awarded which leads to the patent office wanting to increase patents awarded.

So much other stuff as well, but I'll just have to let you browse it.

>From my blog:

Verbatim distribution with attribution ok.

Other distribution - email me.



Brendan Scott

Open Source Law

***** Open Standards/ODF

ODF at 5 Years

Five years ago today, on May 1st, 2005 OASIS approved Open Document Format 1. 0 as an OASIS Standard. I'd like to take a few brief minutes to reflect on this milestone, but only a few. We're busy at work in OASIS making final edits to ODF 1. 2. We're in our final weeks of that revision and it is "all hands on deck" to help address the remaining issues so we can send it out for final public review. But I hope I can be excused for a short diversion to mark this anniversary.

NEC announces video checking technology,nec-announces-video-checking-technology.aspx

NEC has announced that its video content identification technology has been incorporated in the upcoming Mpeg 7 video standard

***** Off Topic - Malamanteau

***** Off Topic

Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative

So in December, with the help of newly hired Beltway privacy experts, it reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you've signed onto.

Scribd Ditches Flash in Favor of HTML5

Site that lets anyone upload almost any document and publish it to the Web announces it is converting the millions of documents it hosts to HTML5.

Linux Under The Spotlight As We Prepare For A Chaos Bound National Elections

During the field-testing of several counting machines, it was uncovered that the votes were mistakenly counted in favor of the ruling party presidential candidate (intentional or not?). Other errors were also found while counting the local votes.

Big leap: Microsoft makes free version of Office, its cash cow

Because of Google, Microsoft has been forced to make a free ad-supported version called Office Web Apps.

***** Government/Policy

Universities, Congress push Open Access Research law

Now, a consortium of US research institutions is putting its weight behind an effort to turn the potential OSTP policy into law.

Open source is NASA's next frontier

And open source is a key element of Kemp's strategy. "We're actually creating a new Open Source Office under our Open Government Initiative under the Chief Technology Officer's office," he said. "We're really taking this seriously, and we've never had this sort of visibility and interest from headquarters before. "

Standing up to a patent bully

Red Hat and Novell stood up to a patent bully and got a favorable jury verdict in the IPI trial which invalidated some software patents that should never have been issued. It's hard to see how that's not a good thing for open source. It's also good that the particular battle has inspired discussion of the need for fundamental reform of the U. S. patent system.

Total victory for open source software in a patent lawsuit

The case was about allegations by IP Innovation, L. L. C. (a subsidiary of Acacia Technologies), along with Technology Licensing Corporation that Red Hat and Novell infringed four claims from U. S. Patents 5,072,412, 5,394,521, and 5,533,183. The patents share a common disclosure and are all titled titled "User interface with multiple workspaces for sharing display system objects. " The patents relate to a computer-implemented system and method for providing a graphical user interface with multiple workspaces.

European Commission Betrays Open Standards

Judging by the latest leak [. pdf] obtained by the French site PC Inpact, those forces have prevailed: what seems to be the final version of the Digital Agenda for Europe is an utter travesty of the original intent.

The Glass Box And The Commonplace Book

But you can’t actually copy the text, to paste it into your own private commonplace book, or email it to a friend, or blog about it. And of course there’s no way to link to it. What’s worse: the book in question is Penguin's edition of Darwin’s Descent of Man, which is in the public domain. Those are our words on that screen. We have a right to them.

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

Are Apple's Open Source Theora Claims Patent FUD?

HTC files patent complaint against Apple, asks for ban on iPhone, iPad, and iPod

HTC Corporation today took legal action against Apple Inc. , filing a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to halt the importation and sale of the iPhone, iPad and iPod in the United States.

EPO rules own software patents review inadmissible

An unexpected, good result: after more than a year and a half of review (referral G3/08), the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal has declared that the four questions posed were all inadmissible. The patent office is thus does not have the power to decide for itself whether or not software should be patentable.

First, we kill all the patent lawyers

Why Our Civilization's Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA

"Let the best win", I kept thinking. But it wasn't until very recently when I was made aware that the problem is way deeper. No, my friends. It's not just a matter of just "picking Theora" to export a video to Youtube and be clear of any litigation. MPEG-LA's trick runs way deeper! The [street-smart] people at MPEG-LA have made sure that from the moment we use a camera or camcorder to shoot an mpeg2 (e. g. HDV cams) or h. 264 video (e. g. digicams, HD dSLRs, AVCHD cams), we owe them royalties, even if the final video distributed was not encoded using their codecs!

IP industry’s border control measures makes for scary stuff

What the WTO agreement did not provide, and what the IP industry now demands, is even tougher legal enforcement and border-control measures.

USPTO News: Patent Grants up 35% over 2009

In April 2010, the USPTO issued an average of 4385 patents per week. The April figure represents a more-than 35% increase from the 2009 weekly average. If the April 2010 figures hold for the rest of 2010, we should expect about 220,000 issued utility patents for the year. That 50,000 year-to-year increase in patent grants for 2010 would represent the largest single-year jump in history.

The Defensive Patent License makes patents less evil for open source

Two law professors from UC Berkeley have come up with a novel idea to protect open source developers from patent bullies. They call it the Defensive Patent License. They hope the DPL can address the objections FOSS developers have with patents the way the GPL addressed them for copyright.

Nokia broadens legal battle vs Apple, includes iPad

Nokia on Friday filed a complaint in the Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging Apple's iPhone and iPad 3G products infringe five of its patents.

The Problem with Software Patents

The system is asymmetrical, in the sense that it is very expensive to defend against a patent suit. At the same time, it is very easy to get a patent on almost anything, including things people have no business getting patents on. I have a friend who was given a patent on a number, for example.

Patenting by Small-Entities

The number of small-shop innovators continues to dwindle. In a sample of recently issued patents,* only 20% claim "small entity" status. Of those, 30% (6% of the total) are held by the original inventors. ** According to the PTO Rules, large universities and non-profits still qualify as for the small entity price-break so long as the patents-in-question have not be assigned or licensed to a non-qualifying entity.

Strangling the Net: Stripping DMCA Protections from YouTube

The negative implications of such a regime -- which would turn the entire concepts of free speech and the existing DMCA "safe harbor" on their heads, extend vastly beyond the scope of YouTube.

Eben Moglen's Speech: "Freedom in the Cloud"

In the talk Eben challenges the tech community to provide the public with the means to recapture its privacy from social media/cloud juggernaut through the development of personal social media servers operating in a robust distributed network.

Microsoft patents portable applications

On Tuesday, Microsoft was awarded a U. S. patent for "portable applications. " The description of this innovative technology? Running an executable file from a flash device.

Problems in Re Bilski for SCOTUS

During arguments, the justices demonstrated clear understanding of the issues, including that allowing business methods may include algorithms in a computer programme where quantities in the memory of a computer can represent real-world values that matter to business. This opens the whole can-of-worms that are software patents.

CopyWrong! Kimba Wood Squeezes the Juice Out of Limewire

In any event, Judge Wood's ruling granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs on a number of claims. She ruled that there was ample evidence that LimeWire's corporate parents and backers, Lime Wire LLC and Lime Group LLC, had violated common-law copyright laws, had induced users to infringe copyright law, and had committed "vicarious" copyright infringements.

SoftView files patent suit against Apple, AT&T

Software developer SoftView launched a suit against Apple and iPhone carrier AT&T on Monday, claiming the two are infringing on its patent covering the display of Web pages on mobile devices.

Another win for i4i in Microsoft dispute, as key patent is upheld

Microsoft isn't giving up just yet. "We are disappointed, but there still remain important matters of patent law at stake, and we are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court," said Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman, in a statement this morning on the USPTO ruling.

***** Applications/Gadgets

wearable linux computer, makes you feel like cap'n crunch

Depicted here with windows CE, but it's available running Linux. The ultra rugged version is Linux only.

Video: A Peek Inside the HTC Incredible Phone

HTC's small yet power-packed Incredible phone has already bagged a rave review from us. If you want to see more of the phone, here's a cool stop-motion animation video, via Engadget, that shows the unboxing of the Incredible.

Goggles turns Android into pocket translator

The mobile application for Android got updated today with the ability to snap a picture of some words and instantly translate them into the language of the owner.

pico projector running linux, small and portable but big in features

A Linux powered pico projector, this could be my next preferred traveling companion. Watching the movies I want while traveling, on a 70 inch projection, sounds right.

Cute Linux powered humanoid robot, speaks, listens and knows your face

It has face recognition for 10 faces and understands 10000 words. It's powered by Linux and it's developed by mitsubishi.

Ryzom becomes Free Software

Ryzom is now the first commercial MMORPG completely Open Source and the Free Software Foundation joins us in this initiative.

Linux software manages updates for remote embedded devices

Lineo Solutions, Inc. announced Linux-based server and client software enabling remote updates of embedded devices over the web.

Pandora-ready Internet tuner costs $105

Grace Digital Audio is shipping a Linux-based Internet tuner that offers Pandora access and costs only $105.

Linux Ice maker and vending machine, Cool!

This is MooBella a Ice Machine creating your ice cream while you wait, ... The machine runs Linux, which makes it even more interesting. It would be great if they could supply us with a mini version of this beauty for at home.

***** Reports

The Appalling Reaction to the Apple iPhone Leak

Remember when reporters had guts?

Red Hat, Novell Win Open Source Patent Case

For Linux's supporters, the win is a proof point that open source OS vendors can work together on legal issues and face down patent lawsuits.

Is the Android truly open source?

The Open Handset Alliance isn't so open, nor is it too much of an alliance among Android device makers. It is about handsets, though, so there's that.

LOVEFiLM's love affair with open source

In the case of LOVEFiLM, now a well-known name in the DVD and digital film market, open source has underpinned much of the company's work thus far.

Why the fall of Explorer matters

The idea of an open source codec would not be open if Firefox were not such a player in browsers. Since it is a player its support of Ogg Theora matters, while Microsoft's decision to go only with H. 264 matters less.

Diaspora: Freedom in the Cloud?

That makes Moglen's latest warning all-the-more timely. You can either watch him giving a talk on the subject, with his customary rhetorical brilliance, or read this interview I conducted with him on the subject (or, ideally, both).

Open Source R Language Undergoes a Commercial Revolution

Commercial R vendor Revolution Computing has been in the market for the past two years and is now rebranding itself as Revolution Analytics. The company is also rolling out a new roadmap for its R tools that it hopes will expand the market.

Canonical explains Ubuntu unfree video choice

That doesn't mean, though, that all PCs with Ubuntu pre-installed are covered by Canonical's H. 264 license. "The vendor may have opted not to include it", Kenyon said, as the PC maker decides what additional software and codecs they want included on the machine.

Motorola snaps up a mobile OS software firm

Azingo has a number of mobile oriented products on its books, however one, its Mobile 2. 0 operating system is sure to raise eyebrows. The Linux based operating system seems to go head to head with Google's Android operating system that has been embraced so successfully by Motorola.

Talend Shows That Open Source Success is Not Just About Low Price

Talend is an open source data integration company that is a poster child for successful open source business models. In just a few short years they have risen to be one of the up and coming stars in a 13b dollar market. In spite of the open source character of their product the key to their success is not being a low price choice either.

Nokia and Intel defensive on MeeGo Linux patents

"Both Nokia and Intel have a huge patent portfolio and we have put our investment into the standard Linux-based platform. That's a guarantee and promise that it's safe for anyone to take this platform because we will look after your investment with our patent platform," Jaaksi said.

Fedora, Mozilla, and trademarks

Martin Stransky, one of the Fedora Mozilla maintainers, noted that "we're patching mozilla packages only for really critical issues because of mozilla trademarks", which caused concern that the trademarks were causing Fedora to ship a buggy Thunderbird.

Simon Phipps:Software freedom matters, and I intend to prove it

ForgeRock will do the same for a range of other open source projects that build an overall platform. They will provide support, fix bugs, implement new features and give the code a new future - all based on the open source license under which it was released. The company is off to a fast start, with companies like Betfair and NSB (the Norwegian railway system) signing up as customers.

Android Outsells Apple iPhone At Last, Says NPD

Android sales accounted for 28 percent of smartphone sales last quarter, NPD reports. That puts Android ahead of the iPhone's 21 percent, and within striking distance of Research in Motion's BlackBerry, which took 36 percent.

FSF launches free software extension listing for

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced a project to assemble a replacement extension library for OpenOffice. org, which will list only those extensions which are free software, at http://www. fsf. org/openoffice.

Hands-on with Ubuntu's new Unity netbook shell

...Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth unveiled a new lightweight user interface shell called Unity. The new shell is designed to use screen space more efficiently and consume fewer system resources than a conventional desktop environment. It will be a key component of the Ubuntu Netbook Edition and a new instant-on computing platform called Ubuntu Light.

GNU Project appoints director of access technology software;publishes Accessibility Statement

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced the appointment of Chris Hofstader as director of access technology software for its GNU Project, and the publication of the GNU Accessibility Statement.

Mozilla and the Shuttleworth Foundation seek fellowship applicants

The two organisations are asking those interested in turning their good ideas into successful initiatives to submit a Drumbeat project proposal. Fellows will receive a grant worth the equivalent of a year's salary with access to travel allowance.

Open source hardware is making big bucks

This year there are over 200 OSHW projects and Torrone and Fried claim OSHW products will be a billion dollar business by 2015.

Confirmed: Mandriva in Acquisition Talks

"After years of fiscal ups and downs, it now appears Mandriva S.A., makers of the Mandriva Linux distribution, may be up on the seller's block."

Biz Linux needs Office license to run MS web apps

Microsoft's man said businesses using Office Web Apps will need a full license for each and every user, whether they're on Windows or Linux. Licensing will be extended to Linux users under Microsoft's standard volume program.

Microsoft is Committed to Open Source

The irony is the fact that this email came out around the same time as Microsoft decided to utilize closed source patents in IE9 instead of public domain codices such as Theora.

Four Nerds and a Cry to Arms Against Facebook

The Diaspora* group was inspired to begin their project after hearing a talk by Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University, who described the centralized social networks as "spying for free," Mr. Salzberg said.

It's Official: Valve Releasing Steam, Source Engine For Linux!

Valve Corporation has today rolled out their Steam Mac OS X client to the general public and confirmed something we have been reporting for two years: the Steam content delivery platform and Source Engine are coming to Linux.

Socrates on sharing knowledge

"If you have problems in understanding the substance of Free Software, read the following dialogue between Socrates and Antiphon (Xenophon, Memoires A, 6).

Air Force may suffer collateral damage from PS3 firmware update

The Air Force is one example. The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York picked up 336 PS3 systems in 2009 and built itself a 53 teraFLOP processing cluster. Once completed as a proof of concept, Air Force researchers then scaled up by a factor of six and went in search of 2,200 more consoles (later scaled back to 1,700). The $663,000 contract was awarded on January 6, 2010, to a small company called Fixstars that could provide 1,700 160GB PS3 systems to the government.

Koha community squares off against commercial fork

The first signs of trouble began to appear in mid-2009, when LibLime announced that it would be providing its customers with a version of Koha built from a private Git repository, instead of the public source code maintained by the community as a whole.

***** Snippets

Linux users contribute twice as much as Windows users

No More Cheap Supercomputers? Sony Blocks Linux on PS3

Linux Versus E. coli

OpenSUSE Says Farewell To RadeonHD Driver

Likewise, I'm Sure

HP's Linux OS Alternative Gets a Face Lift

Firefox and the open web

'We positioned Ubuntu as a version of Linux that was personal and non-technical'

Organizations Learning to Contribute to FOSS “The Right Way”

Review: Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud

Obama: iPod, iPad, XBOX, Playstation, put pressure on democracy

Fedora Dropping Official PowerPC Support

Why there is a Market for Linux Games

What is the cloud ... without its marketing tag?

Migrating from Windows to GNU/Linux

Small Business Software: vs. Google Docs

Pentaho: Open Source BI Sales Soar

Adventures in Linux gaming
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