Free Software News

From LibrePlanet
Jump to: navigation, search

News surrounding the free software world.



Oct 27

Apple's New Advertisement Features Trans-misogyny

GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has already formally requested Apple Inc to withdraw the advert (you can read the details here) which they describe as follows:

   The ad features model Gisele Bundchen, who is supposed to be the embodiment of a home movie made using iMovie. After the Mac presents Gisele, the PC presents a person wearing a dress identical to Gisele’s, in a wig, with no breasts, a five o’clock shadow and an abundance of exposed chest hair.
   The ad ends with the line:
       “Work in progress?”

For me, perhaps the worst thing about this is the perpetuation of a stereotype founded on pure ignorance. The point that so few cis people ever seem to understand is that transsexual women like me transition as a way of managing the intense morphic dissonance we experience. Do you not think that if we simply wanted to be cross-dressing caricatures as depicted in the Apple ad, then we would? Does it not occur to you that we turn our lives upside down, we lose families, friends, loved ones, jobs, houses, cars – everything – because that is what we need to do to survive? Do you really believe we “choose” to be transsexual, that transitioning is nothing more than a “lifestyle choice” that we could freely reverse if only we would see things your way?

Full Story

Aug 27

Windows 7 Sins campaign launched!

Increasingly, computers are expected to be useful tools in our children's education. But today, most children whose education involves computers are being taught to use one company's product: Microsoft's. Microsoft spends large sums on lobbyists and marketing to procure the support of educational departments. Full Story

Among them, says FSF: Taking away privacy, strong-arming into upgrades (see video, below)

The Free Software Foundation today launched a campaign against Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows 7 operating system, calling it "treacherous computing" that stealthily takes away rights from users. Full Story

Aug 19

Free Software Foundation Europe Newsletter

This month has been full of activity, but one bit of news has cast a shadow over it all. We have learned of the death of Richard Rothwell, who was a prominent and respected advocate for Free Software in education and a Fellow. We are saying farewell to him below. Major activities of the month were: the support of our German Chapter to OpenRuhr initiative, the participation to a Conference hosted by the WIPO, an interesting Fellowship meeting in Berlin, our presence to RMLL in Nantes, and the publishing of our statement about the latest developments in the EU browser case. Full Story

Warrants Required: EFF and Google's Big Disagreement about Google Book Search

The central question in the privacy debate that EFF and our partners at the ACLU of Northern California and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley have been having with Google about Google Book Search is whether this exciting new digital library/bookstore is going to maintain the strong protections for reader privacy that traditional libraries and bookstores have fought for and largely won. == That's it. All we want is for Google to promise to fight for the protections you already have when you walk into a bookstore or library. == Full Story

Aug 18

What does it mean to our cul­ture that we have imposed the most dra­conian restric­tions on the reuse of intel­lec­tual cre­ations than at any other time?

1. We are the first gen­er­a­tion to deny our own cul­ture to ourselves. 2. No work cre­ated during your life­time will, without con­scious action by its cre­ator, become avail­able for you to build upon. Full Story

The Canadian government is conducting ongoing public consultations on copyright reform

Needless to say, the entertainment industries are deeply involved, pushing for harsher legislation in an attempt to get more control over what the public does on the Internet. Full Story

Open Textbooks Win Over Publishers In CA

"Recently California's Governor announced a free digital textbook competition. The results of that competition were announced today. Many traditional publishers submitted textbooks in this digital textbook competition in CA as well as open publishers. An upstart nonprofit organization named CK-12 contributed a number of textbooks (all free and open source material). 'Of the 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science reviewed, ten meet at least 90 percent of California's standards. Four meet 100 percent of standards.' Three of those recognized as 100% aligned to California standards were from CK-12 and one from H. Jerome Keisler. None of the publisher's submissions were so recognized. CK-12 has a very small staff, so this is a great proof of the power of open textbooks and open educational resources."Full Story

Aug 12

Who Knows Where You Are, And Why?

"There are nifty new location-based technologies like electronic road-toll tags and cell-phone apps that alert you when your friends are nearby -- but these systems often create and store records of your movements," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley, one of the co-writers of the white paper. "This could make it possible for others to know when you visited a health clinic, what church or bar you spend time in, or who you go to lunch with. It is essential that privacy-protecting algorithms are built into these devices and services, so we can enjoy their convenience without making our private lives into open books." Full Story

August 2009

Aug 11

UK Music Study

UK Music CEO, Feargal Sharkey commented: “Clearly, the shape of our entire business will continue to evolve. However, we will achieve nothing if we do not work with music fans, and young music fans in particular. They are hugely demanding in their needs, but collectively we must rise to that challenge. We ignore engagement at our peril. That message is loud and clear.” Full Story

Aug 10

NatrualNews Calls for Boycott of DRM Materials

Two weeks ago when remotely deleted copies of books that customers had purchased for their Kindle devices, it was a wake-up call for many consumer. "Huh? They can delete stuff I already bought?" Welcome to the world of DRM technology. Full Story

Aug 7

OSCON: Standing Out in the Crowd

Kirrily Robert gave the first keynote speech this morning, entitled "Standing Out in the Crowd." She spoke about the gender imbalance in open source and shared her experiences working on open source projects that have a higher-than-average percentage of women participants. She laid out statistics about the current gender balance of various projects, looked at trends in open source, and closed with a number of tips on how open source projects can get -- and keep -- more women contributors. Full Story

Microsoft Confirms Existence of Anti-GNU/Linux Teams

Using internal correspondence (Comes vs Microsoft), we were able to show that Microsoft creates anti-GNU/Linux 'hit teams' which it calls “taskforces”. We saw Microsoft using a “taskforce” to take GNU/Linux off the shelves at Wal-Mart and there is a reason to believe that similar tactics are used all the times, to this date. “We saw Microsoft using a “taskforce” to take GNU/Linux off the shelves at Wal-Mart…”Several years ago, Microsoft hired Kevin Turner from Wal-Mart to become the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). He is one of the pivotal people behind the Novell-Microsoft patent deal. Jason from found the following quote from Kevin Turner, which suggests that he publicly admitted what we saw in private E-mails. In 2006 he said: “[W]e are going to compete to win in the Linux and open source area. Tremendous progress has been made by the teams on open source and going against Linux” Full Story

Radiohead's Thom Yorke Explains How Recording Industry Milked CD Business

JJ sends in a short quote from Radiohead's Thom Yorke about the music business:

"There's a process of natural selection going on right now. The music business was waiting to die in its current form about twenty years ago. But then, hallelujah, the CD turned up and kept it going for a bit. But basically, it was dead." 

Bingo. The "recording industry" has basically been a "sell plastic discs" industry for way too long, and used the monopoly rents it received from the government to significantly overprice its products, and then lived fat and happy for many years. So, of course, when better, more efficient formats for distribution, recording, promotion and listening came along, it wanted absolutely nothing to do with them, because they didn't present the same sort of monopoly rents. Full Story

Remind Me: Why Do We Let Patent Lawsuits Go On Even As USPTO Has Doubts About The Patents?

While plenty of people are familiar with the fact that NTP got $612.5 million from RIM in a patent dispute a few years back (which drew tremendous scrutiny into the realm of patents), one of the most interesting details that many people didn't follow was that at the same time as the lawsuit was going on, the US Patent Office was re-examining those same patents, and issuing rejections of the very same patents. Despite the USPTO even rushing to announce its problems with the patents way ahead of schedule, the judge chose not to wait for the final rejections and pressured RIM into paying up. Full Story

Correcting A Few 'Facts' From The RIAA... For Which We Feel We Deserve Payment

After the Jammie Thomas ruling, the RIAA kept its typical gloating to a minimum, recognizing the PR disaster that the nearly $2 million judgment presented for its already widely disliked members. A few mistakes slipped through, but for the most part, the RIAA kept pretty quiet hoping that Thomas would settle rather than appeal (that didn't work). However, with the Joel Tenenbaum ruling, it appears the RIAA is going in a slightly different direction, posting a snarky blog post about Joel supposedly under the guise of "facts." Now, I've been clear that I think Tenenbaum never should have gone to trial and should have settled a while back. As more facts became clear in his case, it made little sense for him to fight against the RIAA. He broke the law and admitted it. You're not going to get very far fighting in court on that front. I think he's a bad test case (and had terrible legal representation). Full Story

EFF: The Kindle Lawsuit, Protecting Readers From Future Abuses

Not surprisingly, Amazon’s recent deletion of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from its customers' Kindle e-book readers has sparked a class action lawsuit by Kindle users. After all, not only was the remote deletion “stupid,” as CEO Jim Bezos admitted, it also appears to have been a violation of the terms of service for Kindle that Amazon itself drafted. We’d love to see what a judge or jury would have to say about the situation. Full Story

Aug 6

A few words about DRM

In the beginning, Sony and Amazon created their eBooks with proprietary reading software. If you owned a Sony you could only buy books from Sony. If you own a Kindle you can only buy a book from Amazon. The lack of a standard eBook format has been even more hampered by the way publishers think about copy protection and their decision to use Digital Right Management. Full Story

Aug 5

No Freedom To Tinker: Arrested For Modding Legally Purchased Game Consoles

This is hardly a new issue, but it's still troubling every time we hear a story like this. For years, there's been a fight over whether or not it should be legal to modify a legally purchased game console. Those in favor of the right point out that if you've legally bought something, you should always be free to tinker with it. That's just common sense. Those against it say that modifying a gaming console is done mainly to play pirated games or to cheat, which can cause problems for legit players. I find the latter responses unpersuasive, as those are technological or business model issues that can be solved in other ways, rather than a legal issue. But, thanks to that good old DMCA, that's now how the law works. Instead, we get stories about students getting arrested for "jailbreaking" a video game console. Full Story

Copyright Conundrum: Was 'Public Domain' Music Silenced On YouTube?

But the bigger issue may be how this (once again) shows how out of sync copyright law is with what people think is reasonable or fair. If you found out a piece of music was in the public domain, it's natural to assume that a recording of that same piece of music is in the public domain. And to make things more confusing, that's absolutely true (in the US at least) of a photograph of a public domain painting. But making a new recording of a public domain song? Bam. A new monopoly created. Unfortunately for Guertin, the track he used probably is not in the public domain, even if the music is (yes, that's confusing). That's why, these days, it's probably more reasonable to search out Creative Commons-licensed music than public domain music -- because you can't be as sure whether the PD part covers the recording as well as the music. To some of us, that seems like a problem with current copyright laws, while others appear to view it as a feature. Full Story

Petition for a DRM-free Kindle

Holmes sez, "After Jeff Bezos's public apology for the remote deletion of books, Amazon still has total control over peoples' virtual libraries-- a kind of control that has no place in a free society. The Free Software Foundation is calling them out, joining with readers, academics, librarians and authors (including Lawrence Lessig, Clay Shirky and BB's own Cory Doctorow) in a petition against Amazon's ebook DRM. The petition opens: 'We believe in a way of life based on the free exchange of ideas, in which books have and will continue to play a central role. Devices like Amazon's are trying to determine how people will interact with books, but Amazon's use of DRM to control and monitor users and their books constitutes a clear threat to the free exchange of ideas.'" Full Story

Aug 4

Group Calls On Amazon To End Kindle DRM

The Free Software Foundation has launched an online petition to convince to drop its use of digital rights management (DRM) technology on its Kindle. Full Story

DivX lands two more Hollywood studios

Continuing its slow march to acceptance in Hollywood, DivX Inc. has persuaded two more studios -- Paramount and Lionsgate -- to use its compression and antipiracy technologies on the movies they make available for downloading.Full Story

August 3

Associated Press will sell you a license to quote the public domain

The Associated Press -- which thinks you owe it a license fee if you quote more than four words from one of its articles -- doesn't even care if the words actually came from its article. They'll charge you anyway, even if you're quoting from the public domain. I picked a random AP article and went to their "reuse options" site. Then, when they asked what I wanted to quote, I punched in Thomas Jefferson's famous argument against copyright. Their license fee: $12 for an educational 26-word quote. FROM THE PUBLIC FREAKING DOMAIN, and obviously, obviously not from the AP article. Full Story

Reasons Why Copyright On Art And Music Could Be Deemed Unconstitutional

I've often discussed the original constitutional reasoning behind patents and copyright law, specifically the phrase we all know in Article 1, Section 8: The Congress shall have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; From this, I still believe it's quite clear that if copyright or patents are used in a way that does not "promote the progress" of those things, then it is unconstitutional to use copyright or patent law in that way. Full Story

GNU Emacs 23.1 Provides Anti-Aliasing

Emacs, the extensible editor of the GNU project, is available in version 23.1. The release adds countless modernizations to the traditional program, such as font anti-alising and support for D-Bus and zeroconf. Full Story

Tenenbaum Dinged $22,500 Per Song; $675,000 Total

After admitting flat out yesterday that he downloaded and distributed songs using file sharing software, and that he lied about it, there wasn't a question of whether or not Joel Tenenbaum would be found guilty. In fact, the judge even said that the question wasn't even at issue. The only thing the jury had to work out was how much the damages would be, and they didn't take long at all, awarding $22,500 per song, or a total of $675,000. While a lot less than what the Jammie Thomas jury awarded, it's still a hefty chunk of change. Full Story

Exploding iPods

Apple attempted to silence a father and daughter with a gagging order after the child’s iPod music player exploded and the family sought a refund from the company. The Times has learnt that the company would offer the family a full refund only if they were willing to sign a settlement form. The proposed agreement left them open to legal action if they ever disclosed the terms of the settlement. Full Story

At the expense of GNU/Linux

This article is based on a true story. The names have been changed to protect the individuals involved. It all occurred in a government department where an IT lady had a great idea about converting their computers to GNU/Linux. Let's call her Gillian. Gillian was assigned to research GNU/Linux and found out that it would meet all the needs her department required and could be easily used instead of Microsoft Windows. Full Story

July 2009

Fee Software new For July 2009

June 2009

Free software news for June 2009

May 2009

Free software news for May 2009

April 2009

Free software news for April 2009