As we begin our second decade of working as counselors and advocates for software freedom, SFLC invites counsel, developers, enterprise users and other members of FOSS communities to join us at a free conference exploring legal issues surrounding FOSS, present and future, held at Columbia Law School on Friday, October 31, 2014.
Today, in its unanimous decision in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank, the Supreme Court took one more step towards the abolition of patents on software inventions. Upholding its previous positions, the Court held that abstract ideas and algorithms are unpatentable. It also emphasized that one cannot patent “an instruction to apply [an] abstract idea … using some un-specified, generic computer.”
If you get The Guardian delivered you may have already seen a piece in today’s edition by Eben Moglen entitled “Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats to democracy”. This new piece is the essay version of the “Snowden and the Future” series of talks given this fall at Columbia Law School. Print subscribers will find the second and final portion of the essay in tomorrow’s paper and everyone can read the whole piece online today.
Today, SFLC filed a brief (pdf, html, epub) amici curiae in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank before the United States Supreme Court. Filing on behalf of itself, the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative, SFLC argues that the “machine or transformation” inquiry employed by the Court in Bilski v. Kappos is the correct, and exclusive, bright line test for patent eligibility of computer-implemented inventions. Our Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank resource page contains highlights of the briefs so far and will be updated as the remaining briefs are posted.
This Thursday, December 12th, join us at Columbia Law School as renowned security expert Bruce Schneier talks with Eben Moglen about what we can learn from the Snowden documents, the NSA’s efforts to weaken global cryptography, and how we can keep our own free software tools from being subverted.
The talk is open to the public and will take place in Columbia Law School’s Jerome Greene Hall on Amsterdam Avenue and 116th street in New York City. The talk begins at 6:30pm EST (UTC-5).
This fall Eben Moglen will be giving a series of public talks entitled “Snowden and the Future”. These talks will address the following questions:
What has Edward Snowden done to change the course of human history? How does the evolution of surveillance since World War II threaten democracy? What does it mean that information can be both so powerful and so easily spread? In a network embracing all of humanity, how does democracy survive our desire for security?
Today, the Software Freedom Law Center published Managing Copyright Information within a Free Software Project, a guide to help developers maintain the license and copyright notices associated with their projects.
From the guide’s introduction:
Nearly every free software project includes two types of legal information with its source code: the license(s) of the code and the copyright notices of contributing authors. As important as it is to maintain this information, it’s not always easy in a collaborative development process. With multiple developers contributing regularly to the code, some information can be left out or buried, and other information can be retained after it is no longer accurate. We wrote this guide to help projects minimize the problems and improve the usefulness of their legal information. It explains the purpose of license and copyright notices, the legal requirements behind them, and the current best practices for maintaining this information in a free software project’s source distribution.
Managing Copyright Information within a Free Software Project is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.
Aaron Williamson testified before the U.S. Copyright Office on Tuesday, in support of SFLC’s proposed exemption to the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The exemption, if granted, would make it legal for owners of personal computing devices to circumvent DRM for the purpose of installing alternative operating systems and applications.
The Software Freedom Law Center responded on Friday to comments submitted in the DMCA exemption rulemaking process by the Business Software Alliance, Recording Industry Association of America, Motion Picture Association of America, and several other content industry groups. SFLC’s full reply is here; it begins with this summary:
The Software Freedom Law Center submitted comments yesterday to the U.S. Copyright Office proposing an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions. If granted, the exemption would ensure that owners of personal computing devices have the right to install whatever software they choose on their devices.