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Archive for January, 2008

Commercial vs. Cultural: The way to Sensible Copyright Law

It’s time to overhaul copyright law | Technology |

We need to stop shoe-horning cultural use into the little carve-outs in copyright, such as fair dealing and fair use. Instead we need to establish a new copyright regime that reflects the age-old normative consensus about what’s fair and what isn’t at the small-scale, hand-to-hand end of copying, display, performance and adaptation.

A diverse and extremely sensible group of people are doing just this: the Access to Knowledge (A2K) treaty is a proposal from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to set out the rights and responsibilities of archivists, educators and people who provide access to disabled users of information.

The drafting group – which is open to the general public – includes representatives of creators’ groups (tellingly, no one from the corporations that buy creators’ works have taken part), disabled rights groups, technical standards bodies, civil rights groups, even medical rights groups like Médecins Sans Frontières.

A2K is at the top of the WIPO agenda. It’s the first breath of sanity in the copyright debate. Let’s hope it’s not the last one.

Stop the Clash of Civilizations: 1,536,445 views on YouTube

Remix culture at its best. A good reminder of why the right to remix and reuse is worth preserving. (Avaaz means “voice” or “song” in Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, and other langauges) is a community of global citizens who take action on major issues around the world. We have members in every country on earth, and operate in twelve languages. Our aim is to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people–and not just political elites and unaccountable corporations–shape global decisions.

This video, made with with music by DJ Spooky, helped launch our campaign against the so-called Clash of Civilizations–starting with a call for real Middle East peace talks now. Sign up at!

No Duh

MPAA admits mistake on downloading study – Yahoo! News

In a 2005 study it commissioned, the Motion Picture Association of America claimed that 44 percent of the industry’s domestic losses came from illegal downloading of movies by college students, who often have access to high-bandwidth networks on campus.

The MPAA has used the study to pressure colleges to take tougher steps to prevent illegal file-sharing and to back legislation currently before the House of Representatives that would force them to do so.

But now the MPAA, which represents the U.S. motion picture industry, has told education groups a “human error” in that survey caused it to get the number wrong. It now blames college students for about 15 percent of revenue loss.

One must wonder how much of the pending legislation was written with the incorrect figure in mind.

One must also question the validity of the newly revised number.


SCO’s day of reckoning is set

Novell could be awarded as much as $37 million. With at most $13 million in current assets–and that includes the furniture, computers and kitchen sink–and millions in other liabilities, SCO could emerge from Judge Kimball’s court without even a shirt to cover its back.

[Ed Note: Choice quote alert.]

Red Hat Flaws

OK, so the headline doesn’t sound so great, but read on…

Secunia: More Red Hat flaws than Microsoft in 2007 – ZDNet UK

Secunia said that while Red Hat had more reported vulnerabilities than Windows, it was not possible to compare its relative security with Microsoft products, or comment on the relative security of open-source versus proprietary products based on vulnerability figures.

“It’s impossible to make a fair comparison — it’s like comparing apples to oranges,” Thomas Kristensen, Secunia’s chief technology officer, told “Red Hat has the highest number of applications included, so the number of vulnerabilities that affect it is bound to be higher.”


Kristensen said that third-party software was a key factor affecting the number of vulnerabilities attributed to the respective operating systems. With Red Hat, 99 percent, or 629 of the vulnerabilities, were due to third-party components. With Windows, four percent of flaws were due to third-party software.

One of the differences between the operating systems, said Kristensen, was that Red Hat notified customers of third-party flaws that affected its operating systems, as well as supporting them. Microsoft, on the other hand, only notified customers of flaws within its control.

Some experts are bound to ask why we feature news like this on this blog. Why go there?

It’s simple: When people debate Red Hat vulnerabilities vs. those found in our competitors, we win.

The open source model isn’t problem free, it just deals with problems much more openly and efficiently.

And Red Hat is understandably proud of that.

Alan Cox on free software.

Red Hat Magazine has a nice piece on Alan Cox and how he got involved in free software.

Alan Cox

(Click on image to see the video.)

Walking the walk . . .

… is harder than it looks.

Microsoft Hypocrites – Pro MS sites that run open source

There are some sites out there that claim to be pro-Microsoft, anti-Linux, anti-open source, or simply appear to favor Microsoft and closed source. That’s fine with me, but then why isn’t closed source good enough for your website? Here is a list of sites that ironically run open source, and even Linux.

Another solid reason why free speech is overrated.

NPR : China Limits Web Videos After Adultery Accusation

Following an incident with a news anchor accused of cheating on his wife, posting Internet videos in China just got more complicated.

Sports anchor Zhang Bin was about to speak about changes to China Central Television’s sports channel last month when his wife — also a TV show host — commandeered the microphone.

“Today is a special day for the Olympic Channel. It’s also a special day for Mr. Zhang Bin. But it’s also a special day for me, because two hours ago, I just found out that Mr. Zhang Bin was having an illicit relationship with another woman,” Hu Ziwei told a small group attending the press conference.

She then likened her damaged marriage to the state of China’s values.

Add this to national security and property rights, and you’ve got a trifecta.

Questioning OOXML

OOXML Questions Microsoft Cannot Answer in Geneva | Fanatic Attack

Open Standards represent a democratic ideal, which means accountability. When one proposes one’s own property to become an ISO standard, we have a right to know all the answers before we vote you in.

As it currently stands, for the ISO community to adopt OOXML as a standard would be the first step toward our cherished Open Internet and Open Standards becoming an asset on the balance sheet of just one company, Microsoft. Recall that Microsoft was held liable by the US government and the EU as a proven monopolist, which illegally leveraged that monopoly to stifle competition. Here are some of the unresolved questions regarding OOXML that Microsoft cannot or simply will not answer:

Click to read more.

Jack Aboutboul Interview

Linux Format Interviews Red Hat’s Jack Aboutboul – Creative Commons

VIA Creative Commons:

“Fedora’s dedication to opening everything is not just for hackers – it has a wider importance in that our approach is an agent for social change. That’s the reason that we love to work with Creative Commons, as it pushes copyright reform: and the changes that are needed there will effect everyone, way beyond those of us who like to hack our computers.”

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