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posted by janrinok on Sunday December 24 2017, @07:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the opinions-are-like-noses:-everybody-has-one dept.

El Reg reports

Linux kernel security biz Grsecurity's defamation lawsuit against open-source stalwart Bruce Perens has been dismissed, although the door remains open for a revised claim.

In June, Perens opined in a blog post that advised companies to avoid Grsecurity's Linux kernel security patches because it might expose them to claims of contributory infringement under the Linux kernel license, GPLv2.

Grsecurity then accused Perens of fearmongering to harm the firm's business, and sued him in July.

On [December 21], the judge hearing the case, San Francisco magistrate judge Laurel Beeler, granted [Perens'] motion to dismiss the complaint while also denying--for now--his effort to invoke California's anti-SLAPP law.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, and describes legal complaints aimed at silencing public discourse and free speech. In 1992, California passed its anti-SLAPP statute to provide a defense against such legal bullying. Many other states and countries have similar laws.

In addition, Beeler denied Grsecurity's motion for summary judgment, which amounts to asking the judge to agree that the facts are so clear a ruling can be rendered without a trial.

"The court holds that Mr Perens's [sic] statements are opinions that are not actionable libel, dismisses the complaint with leave to amend, denies the anti-SLAPP motion without prejudice, and denies the motion for summary judgment", Judge Beeler ruled.

The page links to another article where Torvalds' opinion (similar in nature to Perens', but more colorful, as usual) was discussed in June.

Previous: Linux Kernel Hardeners Grsecurity Sue Open Source's Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens Warns of Potential Contributory Infringement Risk for Grsecurity Customers


Original Submission

Related Stories

Bruce Perens Warns of Potential Contributory Infringement Risk for Grsecurity Customers 55 comments

Bruce Perens warns of potential contributory infringement and breach of contract risk for customers of GRSecurity:

Grsecurity is a patch for the Linux kernel which, it is claimed, improves its security. It is a derivative work of the Linux kernel which touches the kernel internals in many different places. It is inseparable from Linux and can not work without it. 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 license, or a license compatible with the GPL and with terms no more restrictive than the GPL. Earlier versions were distributed under GPL version 2.

Currently, Grsecurity is a commercial product and is distributed only to paying customers. My understanding from several reliable sources is that customers are verbally or otherwise warned that if they redistribute the Grsecurity patch, as would be their right under the GPL, that they will be assessed a penalty: they will no longer be allowed to be customers, and will not be granted access to any further versions of Grsecurity. GPL version 2 section 6 explicitly prohibits the addition of terms such as this redistribution prohibition.

By operating under their policy of terminating customer relations upon distribution of their GPL-licensed software, Open Source Security Inc., the owner of Grsecurity, creates an expectation that the customer’s business will be damaged by losing access to support and later versions of the product, if that customer exercises their re-distribution right under the GPL license. This is tantamount to the addition of a term to the GPL prohibiting distribution or creating a penalty for distribution. GPL section 6 specifically prohibits any addition of terms. Thus, the GPL license, which allows Grsecurity to create its derivative work of the Linux kernel, terminates, and the copyright of the Linux Kernel is infringed. The contract from the Linux kernel developers to both Grsecurity and the customer which is inherent in the GPL is breached.


Original Submission

Linux Kernel Hardeners Grsecurity Sue Open Source's Bruce Perens 37 comments

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/03/linux_kernel_grsecurity_sues_bruce_perens_for_defamation/

In late June, noted open-source programmer Bruce Perens warned that using Grsecurity's Linux kernel security could invite legal trouble.

"As a customer, it's my opinion that you would be subject to both contributory infringement and breach of contract by employing this product in conjunction with the Linux kernel under the no-redistribution policy currently employed by Grsecurity," Perens wrote on his blog.

The following month, Perens was invited to court. Grsecurity sued the open-source doyen, his web host, and as-yet-unidentified defendants who may have helped him draft that post, for defamation and business interference.

Grsecurity offers Linux kernel security patches on a paid-for subscription basis. The software hardens kernel defenses through checks for common errors like memory overflows. Perens, meanwhile, is known for using the Debian Free Software Guidelines to draft the Open Source Definition, with the help of others.

Linus Torvalds, who oversees the Linux kernel, has called Grsecurity's patches "garbage".

... (read the rest at the register)


Original Submission

Court Orders Payment of $259,900.50 to Bruce Perens' Attorneys 10 comments

Bruce Perens has a blog post on his site stating that the court has ordered Open Source Security, Inc. and Bradley Spengler to pay $259,900.50 to his attorneys. At issue was Bruce getting sued for pointing out that Grsecurity and their customers are involved in contributory infringement and breach of contract by deploying their product in conjunction with the Linux kernel under the no-redistribution policy employed by Grsecurity.

The court has ordered Open Source Security, Inc, and Bradley Spengler to pay $259,900.50 in legal fees to my attorneys, O’Melveny and Meyers. The court awarded about half what we asked for, courts usually do reduce awards. There is no new comment at this time, but please see my comment upon asking for the award of legal fees.

Here are all of the case documents.

Earlier on SN:
Bruce Perens Wants to Anti-SLAPP GRSecurity's Brad Spengler With $670,000 in Legal Bills (2018)
Grsecurity's Defamation Suit Against Bruce Perens Dismissed (2017)
Bruce Perens Warns of Potential Contributory Infringement Risk for Grsecurity Customers (2017)


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @08:06AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @08:06AM (#613820)

    What does it matter that anti-SLAPP was not granted?

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Sunday December 24 2017, @10:47AM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 24 2017, @10:47AM (#613832) Journal

      I kinda think the judge kicked the can down the road on that. GPL and similar licenses are still rather new, as licenses go. They've not had thousands of cases decided, or tens of thousands. The judge didn't want to set a precedent in this case. He probably should have granted it, IMO, but I don't feel real strongly about it. In effect, someone offered an opinion that a violation of the GPL was taking place, and that person was sued in an attempt to stifle him from voicing his opinion. And, that's what SLAPP is all about, isn't it? To protect dissident voices from being financially destroyed with frivolous cases?

      Had the judge granted the SLAPP request, we would be less likely to see this same thing happen again. The best outcome for open source licensing in this case now, is for someone to file suit against GRC for violating the GPL, and win. But, the SLAPP will have to be decided with some other case, in some other venue. And, it may be decided wrong. Our politicians and judges seem to have little problem with deep pockets dragging the little man through the courts and bankrupting him.

      --
      Hawking believes that alien life forms will likely be simple and primitive, or, as they’re known on Earth, Democrats.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25 2017, @07:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25 2017, @07:39PM (#614130)

        In many jurisdictions, anti-SLAPP claims can only be a counterclaim and given the weak claims and the fact this was a FRCP 12(b) motion, denial of the anti-SLAPP isn't completely surprising, despite the fact that the MSJ by the plaintiff would tend to tip it more towards granting the anti-SLAPP.

        The real question right now is what GRSecurity does. The judge followed the standard procedure of giving the plaintiff another attempt at coming up with an actionable claim and basically outlined what they would have to be in order to have it survive. It also indirectly baited the plaintiff because if he really believes his claims, GRSecurity would try again or ask for a declaratory suit against all licensees. But, the judge made crystal clear that the former would run the great risk of anti-SLAPP sanctions. Furthermore, the latter is a great way for a business to commit suicide if they can't get all licensees on board.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by sjames on Sunday December 24 2017, @05:18PM

      by sjames (2882) on Sunday December 24 2017, @05:18PM (#613895) Journal

      Had anti-SLAPP been granted, Grsecurity would have to pay Perens' legal expenses.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by KritonK on Sunday December 24 2017, @11:05AM (15 children)

    by KritonK (465) on Sunday December 24 2017, @11:05AM (#613835)

    The court holds that Mr Perens's [sic] statements

    From Strunk and White [wikipedia.org], third edition, Chapter 1 (Elementary Rules of Usage), Paragraph 1 (i.e., the most elementary of elementary rules):

    1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.

    Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

    Charles's friend.

    Burns's poems

    the witch's malice

    [also sic]

    Not quite what I was taught, when learning English as a foreign language, but valid English none the less.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by coolgopher on Sunday December 24 2017, @11:49AM (8 children)

      by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 24 2017, @11:49AM (#613839)

      But what about the exceptions? You can't have rules without exceptions. Except if you're German in which case you mostly have exceptions *cough *

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @01:22PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @01:22PM (#613845)

        Every language seems full of exceptions huh?
        Here, let me coin a new, totally legit English word:
        Oureliac.

        It is spelled exactly like the word "ORC".

        Why?
        No reason at all. A mere conventional spelling out of my arse. Same method employed for all the other English words.

      • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Sunday December 24 2017, @03:13PM (5 children)

        by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 24 2017, @03:13PM (#613871) Journal

        You want an exception? no problem! If the s is not pronounced then you only add an apostrophe with nothing after it. source: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/06/forming-possessives-with-singular-names.html [apastyle.org]

        • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Sunday December 24 2017, @10:11PM (2 children)

          by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 24 2017, @10:11PM (#613962) Journal

          That is only for Greek or Latin names, where there is a perfectly cromulent genitive case to denote possession. Engish could do this as well, but usually marks case with prepositions; e.g.: "Bruce's dog" as opposed to "dog of Bruce".

          --
          #freearistarchus!!!
        • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Monday December 25 2017, @12:01AM (1 child)

          by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 25 2017, @12:01AM (#613986)

          At least down here, another major exception seems to be with non-names: https://www.ef-australia.com.au/english-resources/english-grammar/forming-possessive/ [ef-australia.com.au]

          Maybe the "always 's" is an Americanism? It is Strunk & White after all... Ah English, you're always so consistent and easy to predict <3

          • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Monday December 25 2017, @04:04AM

            by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 25 2017, @04:04AM (#614009) Journal

            It's the C++ of languages. It started out simple and had a bunch of stupid shit bolted on as it grew.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by KritonK on Sunday December 24 2017, @05:52PM

        by KritonK (465) on Sunday December 24 2017, @05:52PM (#613902)

        But what about the exceptions?

        They do mention exceptions, but they don't apply in this case. So, it's still "Perens's", according to Messrs. Strunk and White.

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Sunday December 24 2017, @01:25PM

      by Bot (3902) on Sunday December 24 2017, @01:25PM (#613847)

      English is cacophonic already, what's a s's going to make worse.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @02:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @02:45PM (#613864)

      I'm now remembering now how someone here busted me on that before.
      Apparently, the lesson didn't take the first time.

      Not quite what I was taught

      Yeah. Same here.

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday December 24 2017, @07:06PM (3 children)

      by sjames (2882) on Sunday December 24 2017, @07:06PM (#613919) Journal

      That's the thing about prescriptive guides to English, they're just opinions. They may be good opinions. They may lend clarity, but they do not make anyone doing something different "wrong".

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @10:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @10:15PM (#613964)

        Kinda like neo-Nazism, and whit-supremacy. Just different opinions. Not very good opinions, but opinions none the nevertheless irregardless-ly.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @11:05PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24 2017, @11:05PM (#613977)

        Unless your English or journalism teacher subscribes to one of these opinions.

        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday December 25 2017, @07:27AM

          by sjames (2882) on Monday December 25 2017, @07:27AM (#614042) Journal

          In which case it will hold true until next year's professor holds to a different guide.

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