April 2003 Archives
What a great week for a judge to rule that P2P client distribution is legal!
“A federal judge in Los Angeles has handed a stunning court victory to file-swapping services Streamcast Networks and Grokster, dismissing much of the record industry and movie studios’ lawsuit against the two companies.
In an almost complete reversal of previous victories for the record labels and movie studios, federal court Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that Streamcast–parent of the Morpheus software–and Grokster were not liable for copyright infringements that took place using their software. The ruling does not directly affect Kazaa, software distributed by Sharman Networks that has also been targeted by the entertainment industry.
“Defendants distribute and support software, the users of which can and do choose to employ it for both lawful and unlawful ends,” Wilson wrote in his opinion, released Friday. “Grokster and Streamcast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights.”
The court’s ruling applies only to existing versions of the Morpheus and Grokster software. Earlier versions of the software, which functioned slightly differently, could potentially leave the companies open to liability.”
However, the ruling appeared to state clearly that decentralized peer-to-peer software such as Gnutella is legal, in much the same way that the Sony VCR is protected by law. “
An article at Scientific American raises an interesting question: does the patent system create a backdoor to legislation? It contains a number of interesting points, as well as a few instances where this is already starting to happen.
I’ve been thinking along similar lines, but about a different “backdoor”. That backdoor I theorize is the DMCA. It allows someone to use (no matter how simple or weak) to be used to effectively “lock up” files and protocols, simply because it’s illegal to break that encryption. Imagine what would happen to OpenOffice and other open source office suites is Microsoft decided to use 1 bit encryption on their suit of file formats. If you’re interested in more thoughts on this subject, take a look at Lawrence Lessig’s Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace.
Do you think the patent system and DMCA allow “private regulation”?
p2p, linux client & open source? Whuffie +4 (of 5)
Help me like instant messaging (IM) again. I was an early adopter, but got burned.
Back when ICQ was still new I had adopted using it. It was fabulous and my friends & I had taken to using it instead of email. For each other anyway. Something bad happened though. Spam. By the bucketload. There were days when I’d here “Oh-uh!” twenty times a day with nothing but invitations to chat with someone cute and lonely. Right.
Despite clicking every checkbox in the preferences the spam didn’t stop. My friends & I eventually had to opt for using it less and less until we just couldn’t bother with it any longer. At least we had some spam prevention with out email clients or ISPs.
This week I was specifically asked to start an IM chat by a collegue. After all these years I figured, “why not?” So, I went searching for the iChat icon (which I had removed from the OS X dock bar) and went about getting an AIM account. It was nice to use IM again, but I’ve been waiting for the spam to start rolling in. How long could it take for AOL, owner of AIM, to sell my nick to spammers?
It’s been a couple of days & nothing uninvited has slipped in, but I wonder if I should append that statement with ‘yet’.
As an early adopter of IM did I just suffer the growing pains of a new technology or is it all still the same?
I’d like to get back into it, but am looking for some tips ‘n’ tricks. The most specific thing I want to know is your experience with spam. What’s the best way to stop it from a provider level, client level, personal hack level, etc. I run OS X on my daily work machine & have my own Linux server(s) so anything specific to that would be best.
Until then I’ll leave my AIM nick a secret.
Related link: http://emergentreport.com/archives/000061.html
The world surrounding digital music may be about to get a lot more interesting:
“Apple CEO Steve Jobs may once have dated Joan Baez, but is he really itching to become a music industry player? If a story in the LA Times is correct, that could well be what he achieves.
According to the paper, Apple is in talks to buy Universal Music, one of the world’s ‘big five’ record labels, from its troubled parent Vivendi. The Mac maker has yet to make a formal bid for the company, though negotiations have been continuing for the last couple of months. Apple is apparently looking to pay $5-6 billion. LA Times sources say Apple may make a bid on 29 April, when Vivendi’s board is next due to meet. “
Related link: http://radio.weblogs.com/0114726/2003/04/09.html#a391
What I found interesting here is that there are three distinct type of networks and what their network functions are. Here you’ll notice the mysterious number ‘150′ pertaining to a network whose function is social.
Further indication that a good ‘community’ takes place in units under 150.
My previous blog regarding ‘150′: Community<=150
Related link: http://iterm.sf.net/
iTerm is a program I had recommended back in Dec/02 that had introduced tabbed terminals to OSX, but was still a little shakey.
I ended up not using it opting for multiple termainal windows until it had advanced a bit more. I’m happy to report that I’ve been using it all this week without problems so if you were disappointed in my pointing it out the last time I hope I redeem myself in my pick now.
The DMCA seems to grant new powers to companies every day. DVDs and DVD players, links, sale prices, internet filters all seem to be the province of this wide reaching legislation.
The DMCA, like most laws, are reflective of the thoughts of those in power (and by power I don’t just mean government officials, but also large corporations).
The only problem with the DMCA (from their perspective) is that it only covers online activities. That still doesn’t stop the RIAA from suing college students who run legitimateLANs used to trade files.
But that’s not enough power, apparently. The PATRIOT act and the Total Information Awareness system aim to allow unprecedented surveillence in the “real world” as well as online.
Are you starting to see the trend? The US has imprisoned those who they simply suspect to have ties to terrorism (in apparent violation of Ammendment IV of the Bill of Rights).
The trend is clear. There is never too much power. As bad as the DMCA is, I fear that it was more or a less a test. A test to see how much the American people would allow their liberties to be taken online (look for a forthcoming blog on this topic). A test of what the Supreme Court would allow.
What do you think? Is there a trend toward increased power? What can be done?
Related link: http://freshmeat.net/articles/view/774/
There have been plenty of articles about Linux’s ease-of-use. Everyone from developers to end users to the ever-commenting media pundits has something to say about it. Of all the articles, it’s generally someone who has used Linux as an new user whose opinion needs to be given the most value. This isn’t to say developers opinions aren’t valuable, but most average users aren’t developers. And even some developers are frustrated.
So what’s all this frustration complaining about? I would hypothesize that it surrounds two thing: difficult software installation (which I’ll focus on today) and too much half-baked software. Bad software design is on every of course and even some platforms themselves are poorly designed, but it’s particularly frustrating when you just spent an hour trying to install it.
There are two basic ways to install software on Linux: building from source and installing from using a packaging system. They each have their faults:
Average users simple can’t/won’t install from source.
The packaging systems are too fragmented too provide a compelling anough experience for the end user. Most importantly, perhaps, is that almost all but the “really big” software developers don’t provide easily downloadable packages (I’m particularly speaking to rpms here, since RedHat is the distro most users will probably use, or at least start with).
So why can’t simple binaries be provided, which would seem to be the simplest way to install software? I came up with two possible answers:
Developers are too lazy/indifferent to compile software for the users (this obviously isn’t the case).
Developers can’t have access to and compile for every availible platform.
Developers can’t be sure that any one user has the libraries needed to use his software. Be sure to note that this problem also plagues packaging systems.
So what’s the solution? The answer is not another packaging system. I can only believe the solution lies in standards. Here’s an outline of what would happen:
There would be layered, cross-platform standards for different purposes. So there could be:
The GUI standard (where X and interfaces to GUI libraries were availible)
The Sound standard (where interfaces to sound libraries were availible)
The 3D standard (interfaces to 3D libraries)
and so on.
There already are example of this (such as ODBC).
There are already the beginnings of this type of system (LSB).
There are projects that would die.
There is a huge rift along the desktop environment lines.
But the end user would benefit.
Is software to hard to install on Linux? Are multi level standards a possible solution?
Related link: http://redhat.com/software/linux/download/
When Red Hat anounced Red Hat Linux 9, they also made another suprising announcement: no free downloads until 1 week after it was availible to paying Red Hat Network subscribers and boxed product buyers.
This alone might not be a cause for concern, but what about the Red Hat Network requirement each free “demo” account can only be used to manage a single computer? Sysadmins have pointed out the obvious problem: managing multiple machines is a choice between paying Red Hat and the hassle of having a unique email for each computer & needing to fill out a survey for each one every 69 days.
It seems that Red Hat’s trend is to require an ongoing paid subscription to Red Hat Network in order to easily get software Red Hat didn’t write in the first place. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that paid subscribers should get priority service during heavy server loads. But not making availible free ISOs for one week is different than giving RHN subscribers priority service.
Red Hat: Every tech company is hurting now, but not giving back to the community that gave you everything you (quite nearly) all your software will only upset people and hurt you in the long run.
What do you think? Do you subscribe to RHN? Is Red Hat following good community practices?