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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 #441 Period ending 28 March 2012

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

The big news this week is the decision of the US Supreme Court in Mayo v Prometheus, which wipes out a lot of spurious patents claims there. In the EU, legislation making copyright legislation more sane was blocked, but with more votes cast than there were people voting(?!). Iceland's public administration are starting to move onto open source. Interesting too is an article about another company suing Megaupload. Apparently they are looking to take the benefit of the legislative damages regime to inflate their losses, allowing them to get at more of the assets of Megaupload. Normal creditors will be the ones out of pocket if this is successful.

*From my blog:

Verbatim distribution with attribution ok.

Other distribution - email me.



Brendan Scott

Open Source Law

***** Open Standards/ODF

Mozilla Firefox Gives in on Web Video Patents

Mozilla had tried to get around using H. 264 by using and supporting open web video formats. The problem is that content providers haven't embraced the same model and more importantly, Google hasn't either (even though they champion WebM, H. 264 still runs on Android).

Mozilla on H.264: Mobile matters most

Ultimately, the decision by the Mozilla Corporation to pick up H. 264 support for the Firefox browser and other Mozilla projects lies in the mobile destiny Mozilla sees for itself and in the death of Flash on mobile devices.

"What's an open standard?" says ISO [International Standards Organization]

The International Standards Organisation has admitted it doesn't know what an open standard is, despite trying to have the UK's open standards policy quashed.

***** Off Topic

CEO dares Microsoft to sue him over virtual desktops that flout licensing

We recently told you about a virtual desktop service for iPads and other devices that seems to exist only because it breaks Microsoft's Windows licensing rules in order to provide an unbeatable price: free, with the option to upgrade to a more robust service for just $5 a month.

Einstein online archive expands

According to Caltech, which conducts the Einstein Papers Project, the site will ultimately hold all the documents held jointly by Caltech and the Einstein Archives at Hebrew University. There are more than 40,000 of Einstein’s personal papers, and more than 30,000 additional Einstein-related documents discovered since the 1980s.

***** Government/Policy

Icelandic government prepares switch to open source

The new policy is a continuation of efforts to migrate all public institutions to free and open source software – over the last four years many schools and other public bodies have already moved away from using proprietary software – originally instituted in response to a guideline released by Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir which charges the government to evaluate open source software on equal terms to proprietary software whenever software purchases are being made.

Interview: Richard Stallman

Others seemed to have a knee-jerk condemnation of criticizing someone who has died. One person told me it was unfair for me to criticize Jobs when he could not defend himself -- never mind that the entire PR staff of Apple was busy telling us how much the world had lost.

New OSI Directors

The OSI Board held a meeting on Friday to fill three vacancies on the Board. This was the first time we have had Affiliate Members, so we decided to ask them to nominate candidates to fill some of the vacancies.

Scott Turow on why we should fear Amazon

The Guild’s beefs with Amazon became pronounced over the issue of the resale of new titles some years ago. This was something that Amazon pioneered. They would sell you a [just-released] book on Day One, buy it back from you on Day Two, and then resell it to another customer on Day Three. This was legal, but certainly not what anybody ever intended. [OSL: Why not????]

Crowdfunding Becomes Crowdbuying: Why Kickstarter Will Power the Maker Economy

Whereas niche businesses were once dependent upon the density of cities or domestic mailorder, now you can find your community from across the world. Crowdfunding is simply asking these people to pay upfront.

The Software Patent War Escalates

The companies involved know what they are doing looks bad, so increasingly they work through proxies to try to hide their anti-competitive behaviour.

EU Parliament Blocks Copyright Reform With 113% Voter Turnout

There’s a problem with this. There are 24 seats in the committee, and one group (non-inscrits) was absent, lacking deputies to fill that person’s vote. So, there should have been 23 votes at the most. But we just counted 12 votes for reform and 14 against. That’s 26.

Nonprofit open source organizations booming

According to the latest publicly available financial information, the Linux Foundation pulled in just over $9. 6 million for their 2010 fiscal year, and after $9. 1 million in expenses, generated $537,958 in positive cash flow for the year.

Microsoft Censors Pirate Bay Links in Windows Live Messenger

While it’s not clear whether the above is related to copyright concerns, censorship is indisputably an up-and-coming tool to protect the interests of the entertainment industries. Taking away your freedom of speech one link at a time.

Open Rights Group's Submission to the IPO's Copyright Consultation (UK)

We broadly support the proposals made in the consultation. In this submission we highlight in particular our support for the broadening of copyright exceptions, especially those that promote freedom of expression such as a new exception for parody.

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

The Mayo v Prometheus Decision Was Unanimous

Holding: The process patent that Prometheus Laboratories had obtained for correlations between blood test results and patient health is not eligible for a patent because it incorporates laws of nature.

ValCom sues Megaupload for up to $900 million in damages

This means that, if you do the math, ValCom is seeking anywhere between $4. 5 million (6,000 titles * $750) and $900 million (6,000 titles * $150,000). This figure, of course, suggests that nearly all of the company’s products were infringed upon. We’ll have to wait and see what is determined in court. [This raises the interesting problem of how to asssess such inflated damages when there is a limited pool to pay them from.]

Oracle's Google Android patent lawsuit cut down to size

Oracle’s case quickly started to go wrong. Google asked the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to re-examine Oracle’s patents and Oracle withdrew most of its patent claims after receiving the PTO make it clear that the patents weren’t going to stand up. Today, only two patents remain on the docket.

MPAA Wants Megaupload User Data Retained for Lawsuits

“The reason we did that filing [was] that there is a possibility that litigation might be pursued against Megaupload or various intermediaries involved in Megaupload’s operation. We’re not talking about individual users,” Gantman said.

Facebook buys 750 patents from IBM: source

The 750 patents from IBM cover a broad range of technology, ranging from search to semiconductors, according to a person familiar with the matter. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company had no comment, and an IBM representative could not immediately be reached.

Court’s biotech case sends stern warning to Federal Circuit and software designers

Though most of the attention to yesterday’s decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories Inc. has focused on its immediate implications for medical providers, the broader effect of the case probably will be on the software industry.

Google Again Opposes Movie Industry in a Copyright Fight

Last week, the search giant filed an amicus brief in the MPAA's lawsuit against Hotfile, a cyberlocker that the studios recently labeled "more egregious" than Napster and "indistinguishable" from Megaupload.

Google takes aim at MPAA in Hotfile case

Hotfile has gained a somewhat unexpected ally against the MPAA’s demand that the company be shut down without a lengthy trial or investigation into its alleged illegal practices or business conduct: Google.

Google, Apple and Nintendo Sued for Patent Infringement

The complaints, filed on March 15 by Washington-based electronics company Trans Video Electronics Inc. , accuse the three companies of infringing on two patents related to their video distribution services.

Samsung and RIM sued for infringing lol-worthy emoticon patent

In an apparent quest to make the patent system look even more ridiculous, a firm on Thursday sued Samsung and Research in Motion for allegedly infringing a patent titled "emoticon input method and apparatus. "

Anti-piracy movement in India gains heat: Cause for concern or justified response?

Unsatisfied with the court order it recently obtained from the Calcutta High Court, granting an ex-parte injunction against the website www. songs. pk, the Indian Music Industry (‘IMI’) has gone all out against more than a hundred websites alleged to have been indulging in piracy of Bollywood music tracks.

Suing Facebook

Mitel Networks claims Facebook violates two of its patents, including an "automatic web page generator," in Federal Court.

Motorola, HTC, Samsung and others face antitrust suit

Cascades has a difficult battle ahead, but if it succeeds, it could make joint defense agreements, which are increasingly used by technology companies, illegal, said Jay Levine, an antitrust litigator with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.

Chinese author group sues Apple in piracy row

A group of 22 Chinese authors are suing Apple over claims their work is being sold without a licence in the App Store.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich fight Facebook suit

The lawsuit alleges that 4 million Facebook users are violating EveryMD’s patent, but Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are the only named plaintiffs.

8,200+ Strong, Researchers Band Together To Force Science Journals To Open Access

Academic research is behind bars and an online boycott by 8,209 researchers (and counting) is seeking to set it free…well, more free than it has been. The boycott targets Elsevier, the publisher of popular journals like Cell and The Lancet, for its aggressive business practices, but opposition was electrified by Elsevier’s backing of a Congressional bill titled the Research Works Act (RWA).

Sharing Patents Encourages Innovation

...according to a new study by a University at Buffalo economist, the practice of free-licensing important patents can sometimes profit patent holders even more. (The study will be published this summer in Economics Letters. )

Facebook asserts trademark on word "book" in new user agreement

"You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission. "

AOL Said to Hire Evercore to Find Patent-Portfolio Buyer

AOL Inc. (AOL) hired Evercore Partners Inc. (EVR) to find a buyer for its more than 800 patents and explore other strategic options, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

How Chicago Is Beating Silicon Valley At The Patent Game

So where does Chicago fit into all this? The answer is that it’s behind the “liquid market” theory of patents that gives a gloss of legitimacy to what many people would call extortion.

Google Defends The DMCA's Safe Harbors Against The MPAA's Attempts To Reinterpret Them In Hotfil

It's as if the MPAA believes that if it just screams "but. . . but. . . piracy!" loud enough, the judge will forget to look at the actual law.

***** Applications/Gadgets

Dell teams up with Canonical to put OpenStack in the cloud

During World Hosting Day in Germany today it was revealed that Canonical has struck up a partnership with Dell to start delivering, and supporting, OpenStack Clouds for businesses in the UK, Germany, and China.

DRONE: an open source Bluetooth controller for smartphones and tablets

Called an open source Bluetooth controller, it is a gamepad designed to work with your smartphones and tablets.

New Commodore AMIGA mini is a modern PC that comes with Linux

Both boxes come with HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort out, as well as USB 2. 0 and 3. 0 ports. There’s also Wi-Fi and LAN, and as standard a 1 TB Hard Drive. Prices start pretty high though – $995 (£630) for the VIC mini and $2990 (£1900) for the AMIGA mini.

***** Reports

Linux 3.3 eats Android

Nonetheless, the upshot is the possibility of cheaper Android devices with a broader potential developer audience to release apps.

Joomla Jumps to the Enterprise

Today, Joomla—the name is a phonetic spelling for the Swahili word "Jumla," which means "as a whole"—is one of the most popular open source content management systems (CMS), claiming that 2. 7 percent of the Web is Joomla-based sites.

How important is software compliance?

With one open source monitoring vendor is repeating calls that nearly 71 percent of open source mobile apps are out of license compliance, the question of what actual priority free and open source license compliance gets continues to elude the community.

Cutting Off The Root: The Future Of Community Developed Android

The CyanogenMod team made news last week when they announced that future versions of their venerable Android build would no longer include root-level access by default, a massive departure from essentially every other custom Android ROM. Some have questioned the move, claiming that removing root undermines the very idea of running a custom ROM.

Does the Average CIO Know Enough About OpenStack?

Without a doubt, OpenStack has become one of the most influential and heavily backed cloud computing efforts ever. In the past month alone, IBM, Red Hat, Deutsche Telecom, Ericsson and other companies have joined OpenStack, which already has a huge laundry list of companies backing it. In fact, OpenStack is one of the most influential open source projects of any kind.

How to develop open-source software within any kind of company

Strategizing to yield the greatest ROI in using OSS demands a high-level awareness of how, why, and where OSS is used, along with consistent knowledge of OSS benefits, risks, and policies.

Samsung opens up the Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung has posted the source code for its Ice Cream Sandwich, Android version 4 for the Galaxy SII, opening the way for hackers to create their own Android spin.

Sony Caters to Open Source Community with Android Code

That situation improved a tad bit March 20, 2012, however, when Sony made the source code for the Xperia S publicly available, expanding the selection of code already offered for other devices. Importantly, documentation for using the software components is also being provided — a sign of real commitment on Sony’s part to the developer community.

Eucalyptus, OpenStack dogfight in cloud war

The dogfight for the cloud is getting more intense, as competitors Eucalyptus and OpenStack swoop and dodge as they try to take control of the private and hybrid cloud sky.

GCC 4.7 Compiles Open Source History

In the pantheon of Free Software, one program stands at the base of (nearly) all others: GCC. First release all the way back in 1987, by Richard Stallman it has been the compiler of choice for the last 25 years.

***** Snippets

Wine 1.5.0 Fixes Flaws

What's new in Linux 3.3

The Children of Linux

Abhishek Arora wins Google's open source competition

An Interview with Franz Reiter, lead developer of gCAD3D

Open Source Cloud: Amazon EC2 Console Adds Ubuntu Support

Ubuntu Linux and Canonical Moving Forward, Two Years After Leadership Change

X.Org Was Not Accepted To GSoC 2012

OpenStack: The Cloud Computing Answer for Dell, HP and IBM Partners?

Smart Access Control with Apache

A Peek Behind the Curtain at Puppet Labs

openSUSE 12.2 Milestone 2 Screenshot Tour

Linpus Lite Desktop 1.7 review


Greg KH Readies for Collaboration Summit, Talks Raspberry Pi

Linus Torvalds: The King of Geeks (And Dad of 3)

KDevelop 4.3.0 Final Released With Basic C++11 Support

Fedora 16 And GNOME Shell: Tested And Reviewed,3155.html

Big data enters open-source hype cycle

Exploring DIY Linux Router Distros

Six Open-Source Recommendations Every Enterprise Should Know in 2012

Chrome: The people’s Web browser choice

Drupal's Plan for Open Source CMS Success

Bodhi Linux, the Beautiful Configurable Lightweight Linux

GNOME Classic in Ubuntu 12.04: It’s Like Nothing Ever Changed

Enforcing the GPL with Judo moves

Linux and Android, together at last

Say hello to Canonical's new Linux desktop: Ubuntu 12.04 beta review

PlayOnLinux 4.0.16 now can start exe from terminal, support for Desura and more

Eventbrite: Hadoop isn't for everybody

New Nvidia Video Driver Supports Linux Kernel 3.3

GNOME 3.4 Release Candidate Is Available for Download

Life without Netflix, streaming on Linux can be awesome!

Canonical's Ubuntu System Management Service Landscape become default in Ubuntu 12.04

Dell, Ubuntu Team for Updated Linux Cloud Platform

GNOME 3.4 Release Candidate Finalized

Why Linux on the Desktop Is Dead

Linux Kernel 3.2.13 Is Available for Download

XBMC 11.0 Has Support for iOS Devices

Linux 3.3: Finally a little good news for bufferbloat
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