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FSFE Meeting in Frankfurt with talk about Free Software licenses

Last Wednesday, we met in the “Zentrale Coworking” in Frankfurt for the first time as a regular FSFE meeting. We’ve been there numerous times before to support cryptoparties, but this time we listened to the talk about Free Software licences by lawyer and legal network member, Michael Stehmann.

I’ll present a few bullet points of my notes as a brief summary of the event until the slides will be avialable someday under the appropriate wiki entry.

As we gathered together, Jenny informed us about her experiences at airports through the last year when she consequently used her right to say no to body scanners. Many just don’t know that you don’t have to go through them in Europe. Although no effort is shown to educate the passengers about this fact. Security staff rather intimidate reluctant passengers.

MPL 2.0, copyleft, and license compatibility

Combining licenses

The Talk about Free Software Licenses

We were lucky that Michael could combine it with another Free Software advocacy talk in the Rhine/Main area on that day. But on the other hand we didn’t have much time to promote the talk very much. Despite this and flue season we gathered eleven people who followed the talk and the discussions thereafter.

I didn’t take many notes as a lot was known to me and my interest was kind of focused on liability questions for official agencies. (somebody who couldn’t attend asked that question beforehand.

  • basis for liability is the HGB (Commercial Law) in Germany
  • FS licences are seen as “gratuitous” which makes them special in regards to liability concerns
  • Status of contractual partners matters
  • deliberately adding malware is punishable in any case
  • licence audits in companies costs money and nerves
  • Liability in proprietary software

One argument against Free Software is that nobody can be held liable for it, but how much does it differ from proprietary software?

One participant once checked on exactly that and said that the max amount e.g. Microsoft would pay is five thousand US$.

Insurance policies for software liability quesions can be bought and are quite common.

  • the “bus factor” (how many developers may get hit by a bus until the project stalls?)
  • EUPLand liability (again)
    • EUPL does not hinder agencies to make their own liability contracts
  • FLAMain purpose for new projects as permission of all contributors is hard to get after the project is already mature and “old”.

After the talk, we had the following subjects:

  • ZFS and the Linux kernel
  • getting Sun/Oracle libraries free?
  • Helpfulness in Ubuntu forum (“they even read out the manpages for you”)
    • Debian-Forum is also quite good
  • Ubuntu only provides security updates for packages in Main, although most software is in universe
  • Ubuntu PPAs that may only be self signed
  • Future of Mozilla Thunderbird
    • Softmaker pays two deveopers for it
    • there is a vivid community
    • Mozilla pays one developer as well
  • Thunderbird ESR
  • There is interest in the group for an update on the current affairs in Munich/Limux. I’ll check with our fellows in Munich.
  • There is a tool (by Deutsche Telekom) that allows to check for compatible licenses
  • Apache introduced one-sided compatibility with the GPL in their latest license neuer Version eingebaut
  • There is also demand for an easy guide wich licenses are compatible and why you should take licence X rather than Y. I thought that’s already available. How about Wikipedia?

There is of course also:

Well, that’s it for now. See you next time in Darmstadt on April 6! Further details about our meetings can be found in the Wiki.

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