Use of copyright today far exceeds the ways its framers imagined. We need reform, not just adjustments.
Copyright is back in the news in Europe. In the UK, the Digital Economy Bill proposes to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years. Meanwhile, an extensive modernisation of copyright for the EU is also in progress, with a goal of making the treatment of copyright the same across Europe, especially in relation to digital media. Continue reading
Facebook’s BSD+Patent license combo fails not because of the license itself but because it ignores the deeper nature of open source.
In July 2017, the Apache Software Foundation effectively banned the license combination Facebook has been applying to all the projects it has been releasing as open source. They are using the 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3), a widely-used OSI-approved non-reciprocal license, combined with a broad, non-reciprocal patent grant but with equally broad termination rules to frustrate aggressors.
The Apache Software Foundation has moved the “Facebook BSD+Patent grant” license combination (FB+PL) to its “Category X” licensing list, effectively banning inclusion of any software under FB+PL from Apache projects. That included RocksDB, which has consequently just dropped FB+PL and added the Apache License v2 on Github, and React.JS which does not look like it will resolve the issue so fast.
Here’s what we know so far (subject to updates, last day’s in green, latest marked 🆕): Continue reading
Individual judgement about the presence of software freedom in a license is not the same as community consensus expressed through OSI approval.
Does it really matter if a copyright license is OSI Approved or not? Surely if it looks like it meets the benchmark that’s all that matters? I think that’s the wrong answer, and that OSI license approval is the crucial innovation that’s driven the open source revolution. Continue reading
In pursuit of market control now, deployers of DRM are robbing us of our culture in perpetuity by enclosing the future commons.
Ancient dry stone enclosure wall in Cornwall, England
It’s possible that you think that unauthorised use of copyrighted music, films and books is such a serious problem that it’s worth giving away a little of your convenience and freedom in exchange for stopping it. If you do, I’d like to suggest you think again – and time is running out. Continue reading
Maybe if we stopped saying “copy” everywhere we’d find a way to fix copyright?
- Why is a song that I play digitally or a book I read electronically subject to extensive controls that are not considered appropriate to physical records or books? It’s because they are subject to licenses that can’t be applied by the seller to the physical works.
- Why can those licences be imposed on digital works? Because the use of digital works is considered subject to copyright, whereas the use of physical works is not because of a legal doctrine called “copyright exhaustion”.
- Why is that? Because the act of instantiating the work for use has been described as “copying”, allowing the rules surrounding copyright to be used as a threat to back up arbitrary license terms controlling use.
A key value of open source is the ability to switch to a different supplier if your first becomes unavailable or unattractive. Forgerock is apparently withdrawing that value, on which it relied itself for its inception.
After leaving Sun I was pleased that a group of former employees and partners chose to start a new company. Their idea was to pick up the Sun identity management software Oracle was abandoning and continue to sustain and evolve it. Open source made this possible. Continue reading