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Maker of Linux patch batch grsecurity can't duck $260,000 legal bills, says Cali appeals court in anti-SLAPP case

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Legal

Open Source Security – the maker of the grsecurity patches that harden Linux kernels against attack – must cough up $260,000 to foot the legal bills of software industry grandee Bruce Perens.

So ruled California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today, affirming a lower court's ruling against Open Source Security (OSS).

In June 2017, Perens published a blog post in which he said that he believed grsecurity exposed users to potential liability under version 2 of the GNU General Public License because the grsecurity code states that customers will not get further updates if they exercise their right to redistribute the software, as allowed by the GPLv2.

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Appeals Court Win for Open Source Advocate Speaking Out...

  • Appeals Court Win for Open Source Advocate Speaking Out on Licensing Restrictions

    An Open Source advocate and blogger criticizing a company, Open Source Security Inc. (OSS), has successfully defended a defamation lawsuit after an appeals court found that the company’s accusations against the blogger were baseless.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) represented Bruce Perens, a founder of the Open Source movement, in this appeal. The case started in 2017, when Perens posted a blog entry denouncing restraints that OSS placed on customers of its security patch software for the Linux Operating System. OSS sued Perens in response, despite the fact that Perens was merely exercising his First Amendment right to express his opinion about a matter of public concern to the worldwide Open Source community.

Linux kernel patch maker's appeal against Perens' legal costs

  • Linux kernel patch maker's appeal against Perens' legal costs thrown out

    Open source advocate Bruce Perens has prevailed in a legal stoush with Open Source Security, the company that offers a patch known as Grsecurity for the Linux kernel, with a court ratifying that OSS must pay Perens' legal costs as awarded in June 2018.

    Perens was sued by OSS and its owner, Brad Spengler, in August 2017 over remarks he made about the Grsecurity patch, characterising OSS' efforts as presenting "a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk".

    Perens issued a statement on 28 June 2017, detailing his reasons why users should avoid using the Grsecurity patch. "It (the patch) is a derivative work of the Linux kernel which touches the kernel internals in many different places. It is inseparable from Linux and cannot work without it," he wrote.

    "It would fail a fair-use test (obviously, ask offline if you don’t understand). Because of its strongly derivative nature of the kernel, it must be under the GPL version 2 licence, or a licence compatible with the GPL and with terms no more restrictive than the GPL. Earlier versions were distributed under GPL version 2."

Linux kernel patch maker says court case was only way out

  • Linux kernel patch maker says court case was only way out

    The case ended last week with Perens coming out on the right side of things; after some back and forth, a court doubled down on its earlier decision that OSS must pay Perens' legal costs as awarded in June 2018.

    The dispute began in August 2017 over remarks that Perens made about the OSS patches, collectively referred to as Grsecurity. In those remarks, Perens described OSS' efforts as presenting "a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk".

    The issue centres around the General Public Licence version 2 under which the Linux kernel is distributed. It specifies that if anyone distributes any software covered by this licence, then source code has to be offered as well. Exceptions are made for code that is not a derivative of the original software.

Grsecurity Breaks its Silence on Defamation Lawsuit

  • Grsecurity Breaks its Silence on Defamation Lawsuit

    Open Source Security, Inc. (OSS), makers of grsecurity, have finally broken their silence over their recently concluded defamation lawsuit. In a series of blog posts, OSS details the origins of the claims made against it, the history of controversy of the defendant of the suit, and the effects on the wider Open Source community.

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