Eben Moglen on what it takes to keep defending FOSS

Eben Moglen's keynote address at LinuxCon last week, "Doing What it Takes: Current Legal Issues in Defending FOSS," called for a strategic shift in the free software movement. Moglen, the founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and one of the principal drafters of the GPLv3, said the economy of sharing and the economy of ownership are not mutually hostile, but mutually reinforcing, then outlined three steps for ensuring the continued coexistence between the free software and business communities. » Read more

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Lawrence Lessig’s new journey (part one)

Maybe you’ve heard of Lawrence Lessig. Maybe as Larry Lessig. Then again, maybe you haven’t. But perhaps you’ve heard of free culture as a movement or Creative Commons or DRM, or copyright law. How about freedom? » Read more

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A weak case for software patents

For all the debate and litigation around software patents, I thought that there was at least one point on which all sides could agree: the objective of the U.S. patent system is to stimulate innovation.  A recent IP blog takes issue with that premise, and proposes an alternative objective: making money.  The blog gives a distorted view of  Red Hat's patent portfolio program in support of this argument.  The argument is interesting, and suggests that there's still a steep hill to climb to get to a rational patent policy for software. » Read more

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Trademarks – the good, the bad and the ugly

By Harvey Anderson

Trademarks used for open source projects–like for the Mozilla Firefox browser–will often be misused. It can take the form of a website selling open source software that is normally distributed for free, using the trademark to promote other products and services, or using modified versions of the trademark. The problem is that these activities are deceptive, harm users, cause consumer confusion, and jeopardize the identity and meaning of the brand–not to mention being illegal. » Read more

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iPhone jailbreaking decision is temporary relief

While the decision by the US Library of Congress to create exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for unlocking cellphones and jailbreaking iPhones (among other things) in the USA are very welcome, the reaction has been just a touch too euphoric. Not by everyone, mind you. » Read more

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New Zealand rejects software patents

Recently the NZ govt announced that it was to remove software from the list of items that can be patented. This decision came after hectic lobbying from the open source community on one side and the proprietary vendors on the other side. » Read more

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Collaborating on patent examinations

The willingness to collaborate brought us free and open source software.  Now we continue to see that willingness to collaborate permeate our government agencies.  A prime example is the Peer To Patent program developed at New York Law School by Prof. » Read more

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Bilski and software patents

The Supreme Court case of Bilski v Kappos was billed as a case over business methods, but at its core it was over an application for a patent on software, and the denial of that application sets a good example that may lead to the denial of other software patents. » Read more

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Legal foundations of the open source way

I had the opportunity to participate as a speaker in the first Open Your World forum.  My presentation, "Open Source License Compliance", was an adaptation of a talk I've previously given to lawyers with varying levels of experience in the legal issues surrounding open source software.  It is always challenging to speak on this sort of subject when you aren't sure who your audience is, and I worried that the topic may have seemed relatively dry.  Nevertheless, I believe it is worthwhile to accompany discussions of applying open source principles to a wide range of non-technic » Read more

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Initial thoughts on Bilski

The Supreme Court finally issued a decision in the Bilski case today [PDF]. For those troubled by the problems surrounding software patents, the opinion will be disappointing, because it does not resolve those problems. But it would be a mistake to view the opinion as a victory for the proponents of expanding software patents. In fact, there are some aspects of the opinion that auger well for the future. » Read more

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