More July 2009

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July 14

Public Resource demands the source code to America's operating system

Public.Resource.Org has sent in 3 letters to the Administration to try and get Federal Law to become open source: 1. An appeal to the Executive Office of the President to help us make the Federal Register and the U.S. Patent databases available in bulk and for free. The letter is addressed to Aneesh Chopra and Vivek Kundra, the President's CTO and CIO. I've met both of them and they're both very good and I'm hoping they'll be able to help cut through the red tape. Full Story

Stephen Fry: Time For Politicians To Represent People's Interest On Copyright, Not Corporations

Stephen Fry is a very well known British actor, comedian and writer. He's also known as a real tech geek sorta guy -- who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty with new technologies to learn about them. He apparently gave a speech (made up on short notice) about copyright and the future of music, where he complained that politicians, such as those who created the Digital Britain report were clearly reflecting the views of various industries and not of the people. Fry made it clear that he doesn't endorse the idea of widespread file sharing -- and he warned against misinterpreting his speech that way -- but still admitted that he's been known to fire up BitTorrent himself to get the latest episodes of 24 or House. And he admits that he feels a bit guilty about it, but the reason is that he can't really get that content elsewhere. The fault is with the industry, and yet the gov't is trying to protect that industry, rather than recognize that the real problem is the industry not giving people what it wants. Having the gov't come up with a plan to try to stomp out file sharing misses the point. The problem isn't the file sharing -- it's the industry not responding to the market. [Full Story]

New Free/Open Source Software law journal launches

Andrew Katz of the new International Free and Open Source Software Law Review sez, "OK, so it's not going to appear in airport bookstalls any time soon, but we think that the launch of the Review is a pretty big step forward for openness, and a sign that (1) free and open source software is moving into the mainstream; and (2) even lawyers can adopt a collaborative model and create something both free as in freedom, and as in beer." [ Full Story

July 13

Publishers Want to Outlaw Unauthorized Web Links

"Newspapers and other media companies are muttering that they should have started charging Web visitors to view their content years ago. Now people expect Web content to be free, goddammit! Determined to make up for lost time, media companies want to convert the sharing culture of the Web into a regimented marketplace. Instead of celebrating the efficient, socially convivial ways that the Web generates value, publishers cling to their faded, 20th Century fantasies of reinventing a permission-only, cash-driven social order on the Web." Read More

The French Senate has approved an updated version of the "three strikes" online copyright infringement bill

"The French Senate has approved an updated version of the "three strikes" online copyright infringement bill aimed at taking repeat offenders offline. The approval comes exactly one month after the country's Constitutional Council ripped apart the previous version of the Création et Internet law. The nouveau version of the bill attempts to get around the constitutional limitations by moving the final decision to cut off users' Internet accounts to the courts." Full Story

FSFE Newsletter - June 2009

June has definitely been a thrilling month. Besides our ongoing activities with Fellowship meetings, participations to events such as the LinuxTag in Berlin, most of our energy and attention were directed at the General Assembly (GA) held in Miraflores de la Sierra. This has been an important event for our organisation since, for the first time, it included a representative of the Fellowship; it presented our new Spanish team and gave the chance for community building during the social event, but more importantly, it put in place our new Executive Team! Read more

July 10

Downloading Copyrighted Material Legal In Spain

Sqwuzzy notes a judge's ruling in Spain that makes that country one of the most lenient in the world as respects sharing copyrighted material over P2P networks. "The entertainment industries in Spain must be progressively tearing their hair out in recent months as they experience setback after setback. ... After Spain virtually ruled out imposing a '3-strikes' regime for illicit file-sharers, the entertainment industries said they would target 200 BitTorrent sites instead. Now a judge has decided that sharing between users for no profit via P2P doesn't breach copyright laws and sites should be presumed innocent until proved otherwise." This ruling occurred in a pre-trial hearing; the case will still go to trial. Full Story

Judge Invalidates Software Patent, Citing Bilski

"US District Court Judge Andrew Gilford (Central District of California) granted a summary judgment motion in DealerTrack v. Huber et al., finding DealerTrack's patent (US 7,181,427) — for an automated credit application processing system — invalid due to the recent In re Bilski court decision that requires a patent to either involve 'transformation' or 'a specific machine.' According to Judge Gilford's ruling, DealerTrack 'appears to concede that the claims of the '427 Patent do not meet the "transformation" prong of the Bilski test.' He then applied the 'specific machine' test and noted that, post-Bilski the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences has ruled several times that 'claims reciting the use of general purpose processors or computers do not satisfy the [Bilski] test.' Judge Gilford analyzes the claims of the '427 patent, notes that they state that the 'machine' involved could be a 'dumb terminal' and a 'personal computer,' and then concludes: 'None of the claims of the '427 Patent require the use of a "particular machine," and the patent is thus invalid under Bilski.' DealerTrack apparently plans to appeal the ruling. Interesting times ahead." Full Story

July 9

French Senate Finally Passes Three-Strikes Bill

"Just in time for Bastille Day, the French Senate has finally passed a reworded version of the controversial Creation Et L’Internet bill, which gives a state agency powers to warn, warn again and then disconnect illegal file-sharers. It was considered illegal and was blocked by France’s Constitutional Court but now, as AFP reports, the proposed Hadopi agency will have to get a court order before cutting anyone off… Full Story

Is Mono Now Safe?

"With GNU/Linux Distros taking sides, this week’s announcement that Microsoft promises not to make Necessary Claims against anyone using their patented specifications adds to the confusion. At first glance, this looks like a safe passage for Mono, but as we delve in deeper, we see that not everything is legally in the clear." Full Story

July 8

Ogg Theora and HTML 5 Support

"HTML 5’s support of using the Ogg Theora video format in the upcoming <video> tag looked really promising for innovation in the web video area, but not everyone agrees on the new spec. The critical different between Ogg Theora and the competing H.264 formats are that Ogg carries no petent license fees, while H.164 requires anyone who implements it to pay a patent license. Because of this, Mozilla and Opera would prefer to use the Ogg Theora format, as planned" Full Story

Subtitle Applications & Tutorials for GNU/Linux

"Manipulating subtitles was for many years a difficult task to perform in GNU/Linux Operating Systems. Many steps in the process of ripping, editing and embedding subtitles on a video file were and still are quite complicated. Lots of users still complete many of the above steps using Microsoft Windows or running Windows applications with Wine." Full Story

GNU/Linux Tops TOP500 Supercomputers Again

"The fact that GNU/Linux totally dominates the top 500 supercomputing list is hardly news, but the fact that it has managed to *increase* its market share yet further is.

Here are the results for June 2009:

   GNU/Linux 443 (88.6%)
   Windows 5 (1.0%)
   Unix 22 (4.4%)" Full Story

Brazilian President Lula da Silva brings attention to Free Software

"In a symbolic show of support for Free Open Source Software and the OpenDocument Format, Brazilian President Lula da Silva recently attended the Linux-related FISL 10 conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where he gave an address underscoring the importance of Free Open Source Software to Brazilian national interests. He appears here wearing a hat with the ODF logo (the OpenDocument Format is a legally unencumbered document format upon which any company or community project can easily build.)" Full Story

July 7

VLC 1.0.0

"VLC media player, which we all know for simplifying the playback of pretty much any codec out there, has finally released version 1.0.0. Here's a quick list of improvements: live recording, instant pausing and frame-by-frame support, finer speed controls, new HD codecs (AES3, Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD, Blu-Ray Linear PCM, Real Video 3.0 and 4.0), new formats (Raw Dirac, M2TS) and major improvements in many formats, new Dirac encoder and MP3 fixed-point encoder, video scaling in fullscreen, RTSP Trickplay support, zipped file playback, customizable toolbars, easier encoding GUI in VLC-100-Released?from=rss Read more

'Monstrous' sized verdict in RIAA case

"Jammie Thomas-Rasset has made a motion for a new trial, seeking to vacate the $1.92 million judgment entered against her for infringement of 24 MP3 files, in Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset. Her attorneys' brief (PDF) argues, among other things, that the 'monstrous' sized verdict violates the Due Process Clause, consistent with 100 years of SCOTUS jurisprudence, since it is grossly disproportionate to any actual damages sustained. It further argues that, since the RIAA elected to offer no evidence of actual damages, either as an alternative to statutory damages, or to buttress the fairness of a statutory damages award, the verdict, if it is to be reduced, must be reduced to zero." Read more

Open Letter to Mozilla Regarding Their Use of HTML5 Video

'We're on the verge of a serious evolution on the web. Right now, the common way to include video on the web is by use of Flash, a closed-source technology that is a massive resource hog. The answer is the HTML5 video tag' read more

RIAA Seeks Web Removal of Courtroom Audio

"suraj.sun writes to tell us that the RIAA has asked a federal judge to order the removal of what they are calling "unauthorized and illegal recordings" by Harvard University's Charles Nesson of pretrial hearings and depositions in a file-sharing lawsuit. "The case concerns former Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum, who Nesson is defending in an RIAA civil lawsuit accusing him of file-sharing copyrighted music. Jury selection is scheduled in three weeks, in what is shaping up to be the RIAA's second of about 30,000 cases against individuals to reach trial. The labels, represented by the RIAA, on Monday cited a series of examples in which they accuse Nesson of violating court orders and privacy laws by posting audio to his blog or to the Berkman site." [Read More]

Debian developer "clarifies" Mono position

"Alexander Reichle-Schmehl, a Debian developer who stated Debian's position on Mono in the default Debian install last week, has clarified his statement on the issue in a new posting. Reichle-Schmehl, also known as "Tolimar", pointed out that what he wrote reflected the current, rather than the future, state of Debian and noted that since Debian 5.0, Lenny, the installer installs the "gnome" metapackage which includes the Mono based Tomboy, rather than the "gnome-desktop-environment" which does not. Although the latter package is more popular in terms of users, the switch in Lenny does mean the "gnome" package will be installed more often in the future" Read More

Subtitle Applications & Tutorials for GNU/Linux

"In this post I tried to gather programs and tutorials written for GNU/Linux that manipulate subtitles (rip, edit, embed subs and more) as simply as possible, through a friendly Graphic User Interface (GUI)". Read More

Ogg Theora and HTML 5 Support

HTML 5's support of using the Ogg Theora video format in the upcoming tag looked really promising for innovation in the web video area, but not everyone agrees on the new spec read more

July 6

The FSF Introduces Holmes Wilson, the new campaigns manager.

Hello everyone. My name's Holmes and I just started at the Free Software Foundation as a campaigns manager. I'm still getting set up, so I'll hold off on a longer post. But here's a quick introduction to me and what I'm hoping to focus on in my work here. Full Story

Microsoft’s Anti-competitive Dumping of Software Faces Challenges in Africa and in Indiana

"Microsoft has been criticized for committing African governments into purchasing its software, denying them the chance to explore other alternatives...Arizona has just been concluded with more coverage here, in addition to a press release. Last week we wrote about Illinois and Indiana falling victim to Microsoft's dumping and there is more new coverage from Illinois, as well as vocal resistance in Indiana." Full Story

July 5

Free software movement launched with grand show

"FOSS 2009, the mega IT Talent Search and LINUX or Free and Open Source Software gathering organized by Linux Manipur, in association with Department of Computer Science, Manipur University (MU) concluded today with more than 300 students and teachers participating from various school across the state including from Arunachal Pradesh and the day began with IT Talent Search examination." Full Story

July 4

I Met Richard Stallman

An amusing blog post written by a person who was very excited to meet Richard Stallman. "Yes, I seriously did have the opportunity to meet him personally, and listen to his speech on the Free Software Movement. Let me attempt to explain the experience, and how it came to be." Full Story

July 3

Source Code of Several Atari 7800 Games Released

"Remember Dig Dug or Centipede or Robotron? They used to be favorites when Atari's 7800 series was still around. Since the era of those consoles is over, and a different world of interactive reality gaming has taken over, Atari has unofficially released source code of over 15 games for the coders and enthusiasts to admire the state-of-the-art (because this is what it was back then). During those times, nobody would have imagined in their wildest dreams the games that Atari's developers floated into the gaming thirsty market and instantly swept across continental boundaries. But things changed soon after that and a company once regarded as one of the most successful gaming console manufacturers and developers faded away in the pages of our technology's hall-of-fame." Full Story

Your Rights Online: Copyright Should Encourage Derivative Works

"Techdirt has an interesting look at copyright and the idea that an author is the originator of a new work. Instead, the piece suggests that all works are in some way based on the works of others (even our own copyright law), and the system should be much more encouraging of "remixing" work into new, unique experiences." Full Story

New Release of Wine

Wine 1.1.25 was released. Read the details.

July 2

Fellowship interview with Smári McCarthy

"Smári McCarthy is a thoughtful anarchist and practical chaos technician - with a deep interest in Free Software and democracy. Currently serving as project manager for the Icelandic Innovation Center, Smári works on digital fabrication and peer-to-peer education, while spending his spare time breaking the fundamental assumptions of how we organise society. I sat down for an interesting interview with Smári, in which he explained his projects and how they can contribute towards a more sustainable world." Full Story

Why don't more people know about GNU/Linux?

If you ask random people on the street about Linux they will say that they have never heard of the company or the project. Then, if you do explain something short about this great project then they ask how come Linux does not advertise. Linux is free for the most part and there is very little money to fund the development of GNU/Linux and its software. Majority of people who are working on open source software are volunteers or part time. However, some do get paid to work on GNU/Linux and its software full time but there are very few of them. The sad truth is that because GNU/Linux does not have a lot of money to advertise to the masses most people have never heard of it. Full Story

July 1

More people say No to Mono

In an essay last Friday entitled Why free software shouldn’t depend on Mono or C#, RMS argued a key point that I agree with: the software freedom community should minimize its use of programming language infrastructure that comes primarily from anti-software-freedom companies, notwithstanding FaiF (Free as in Freedom) implementations. I’ve been thinking about an extension of that argument: that language infrastructure created in a community process is likely more resilient against attacks from proprietary software companies. Full Story

GNU/Linux is...amazing

All too often people concentrate on what GNU/Linux isn't .... they look for anything lacking and make a huge big deal about it, and in doing so miss the simple fact that GNU/Linux - this little community project (when compared to big dollar proprietary software) - can so so much. Full Story