International FOSS News : May 2014

Microsoft Launches .NET Foundation, Releases .NET-Related Software Under Open Source License


Microsoft, the company many view as the antithesis of the Open Source movement, released a significant portion of its .NET framework under the popular Apache 2.0 license. This April, at Microsoft’s Build 2014 developer conference held in Francisco California Microsoft announced the formation of a new independent organization dedicated to the open source future of .NET technologies. The .NET framework is the core of Microsoft’s development ecosystem and is estimated to be in use on over 1.8 billion computer systems across the globe.

The .NET Foundation’s current project list includes 24 projects:

.NET API for Hadoop WebClient .NET Compiler Platform (“Roslyn”)

.NET Map Reduce API for Hadoop .NET Micro Framework



Composition (MEF2) Entity Framework

Linq to Hive MEF (Managed Extensibility Framework)

OWIN Authentication Middleware Rx (Reactive Extensions)

Web Protection Library Windows Azure .NET SDK

Windows Phone Toolkit WnsRecipe

Couchbase for .NET Mailkit

Mimekit Xamarin.Auth
Xamarin.Mobile System.Drawing

Microsoft’s adoption of FOSS licensing in this area is a strong sign of the consensus amongst global companies that FOSS is not only a viable option for businesses in today’s market place but has now become a necessity.

Linux Foundation Organizes Core Infrastructure Initiative alongside Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Others

In the wake of the Heartbleed OpenSSL crisis last month, the Linux Foundation has organized an effort to support Free and Open Source projects that are central to the operation of the modern Internet. That effort — the Core Infrastructure Initiative — will work to identify highly important projects and provide those projects with the financial backing necessary for the continued maintenance and improvement of their exemplary works.

FOSS serves as a critical foundational component to many aspects of the network of networks upon which the global economy depends. Recent analyses demonstrate that FOSS is generally of higher quality than proprietary code. However, as FOSS software is asked to perform increasingly complex tasks while need for its reliability continues to grow, substantial support for the developers that sustain these projects has become all the more essential.

“The Linux Foundation, and the companies joining this Initiative,” said Eben Moglen, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and Founding Director of the Software Freedom Law Center, “are enabling these dedicated programmers to continue maintaining and improving the free and open source software that makes the Net work safely for us all.” Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, Rackspace, VMware and The Linux Foundation are among the initial backers of the Core Infrastructure Initiative.

The Core Infrastructure Initiative has a multi-million dollar budget that will be administered by a steering group comprised of open source developers, respected industry stakeholders and the initiative’s backers. The initiative plans to achieve its goal of supporting the development of core FOSS infrastructure through means such as funding fellowships for key developers to work full-time on their FOSS projects, security audits, development and testing facilities, travel, face-to-face meeting coordination.

Oral Arguments in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc.


The United States Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in the case of American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc.. The case centers around a question of copyright law raised by Aereo’s particular business model. Aereo provides users with access to television content via the Internet. Aereo obtains this content from free-of-charge wireless broadcasts. Although users of Aereo’s service are entitled to receive the same signals via a television receiver they often find that it is more convenient and more cost effective to do so via the Internet connected devices they already use. Aereo charges it customers a small fee in exchange for access to this broadcast content.

Aereo is not the first company in the United States to charge customers for access to content which they could obtain elsewhere free of charge. A significant portion of the population of the United States access broadcast television content through a satellite or wired (“cable”) television service which provides this content in addition to their own premium television offerings. The premium television service providers are required to pay licensing fees to the copyright holders for permission transmit their content; re-broadcasting their works would otherwise infringe on copyright holders’ exclusive right to public performance. Aereo, on the other hand, refuses to pay licensing fees for this content because they argue that that, unlike the traditional satellite and cable providers, they do not publicly perform the works.

While the cable and satellite services offer customers streams of the signal recorded from a single antenna, Aereo’s implementation takes a different approach; Aereo provides each of its customers with her own dedicated “cloud antenna”. Therefore, Aereo argues, it is not publicly broadcasting but is instead engaged in private transmission on a mass scale.

Whether or not the Court will accept this argument is uncertain but many commentators seem to believe the question is not if Aereo will loose its case but rather on what grounds the court will decide against Aereo. Many fear that a broad decision in this case has the potential to fundamentally disrupt much of the cloud computing ecosystem by subjecting cloud service providers to broad copyright infringement liability.

A decision in the case is expected by the end of this term.

Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit declares Java API packages to be copyrightable in Oracle America v, Google Inc.

The CAFC reversed the district Court ruling in Oracle V. Google and declared that the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection. The accused product involved in the case was Android, Google’s extremely popular mobile platform and the copyright dispute involved 37 Java API packages present in Android. This decision reverses the May 2012 decision delivered by Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California on copyright ability. The court remanded Google’s fair use defense for further proceedings consistent with its current decision to the lower court

The case is not over yet, as Google may appeal to the Supreme Court. In any event, this is a a crucial case in the field of software copyrights and must be watched carefully.


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