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Slashback: ODF Wars, Duval Layoff, French DRM 274

Slashback tonight brings some corrections, clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including a response from Mandriva's CEO, Apple responds to French DRM legislation, Microsoft possibly undermining ODF ISO approval, a more in-depth look at Fedora Core 5, more thoughts on the GPLv3, and Britannica strikes back at Wikipedia -- Read on for details.

Mandriva CEO responds to Duval Layoff. UltimaGuy writes "Duval has detailed his side of the story, 'Fired. Yes. Simply fired, for economical reasons, along with a few other ones. More than 7 years after I created Mandrake-Linux and then Mandrakesoft, the current boss of Mandriva "thanks me" and I'm leaving, sad, with my two-month salary indemnity standard package. It's difficult to accept that back in 1998 I created my job and the one of many other people, and that recently, on a February afternoon, Mandriva's CEO called to tell me that I was leaving.' Mandriva's CEO has responded, stating that 'Gael was not fired. This term would imply something wrong on his part, which was not the case. He was laid off.'"

Apple responds to French DRM legislation. Sardon writes "In the aftermath of France's move to force companies to open their DRM, Apple has shot back. Calling the proposed legislation "state-sponsored piracy," Apple complained loudly about the prospects of opening up their DRM, arguing that DRM interoperability tools would just increase piracy. However, as the article points out, DRM interoperability isn't likely to make a significant contribution to piracy, seeing as how P2P networks are already flooded. If the measure passes the French Senate, Apple may consider closing its music operations in France."

Microsoft possibly undermining ODF ISO approval. Andy Updegrove writes "If you haven't been paying attention to the odf(oasis) vs. xmlrs(microsoft) format wars, here is what is happening... Both formats need iso approval. This process is very thorough all complaints and gripes are heard and reviewed, which takes quite a bit of time. It is easy for voters to slow this process down considerably. And, our good friends Microsoft joined a very small subcommittee called 'V1 Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface.' It just so happens that this small subcommittee (six companies - including Microsoft) is the entity charged with reconciling the votes that are being cast in the ISO vote to adopt the OASIS OpenDocument Format. So, presumably, Microsoft is going to delay ODF's ISO approval in hopes of xmlrs getting approval first and being the chosen format in Europe."

A more in-depth look at Fedora Core 5. LinuxForums has posted a much more in-depth look at the install process and functionality of the new Fedora Core 5 release. From the article: "I have to say though: this distribution impressed me in a way that no other distribution did before. Some things should of course be improved, such as the automatic hardware detection or, as mentioned above, the menus. But apart from these little details I can confidently say that Fedora Core 5 is the best desktop GNU/Linux distribution available at the moment."

More thoughts on the GPLv3. Guttata writes "Forbes has an interview with Richard Stallman on the upcoming GPLv3, which touches on Linus' stance on keeping the kernel at GPLv2. The article also shows Stallman's take on DRM, especially in reference to areas such as TiVo." Relatedly Glyn Moody writes "The FSF's General Counsel, Eben Moglen, explains why there is no situation in which the brokenness or otherwise of the GPL is ever an issue. Thanks to copyright law, GPL violators are always in the wrong."

Britannica strikes back at Wikipedia. tiltowait writes "Remember that study published by Nature magazine which likened Wikipedia's reliability to that of Encyclopedia Britannica? Well, Britannica has released -- not corrections -- but a corporate response stating that 'Nature's research was invalid [...] almost everything about the Nature's investigation was wrong and misleading.' So then, is this just one more example of how refereed journals can't be trusted?"

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Slashback: ODF Wars, Duval Layoff, French DRM

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  • by Baseball_Fan ( 959550 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:30PM (#14977178)
    He was reassigned. He won't need to come into the office. He can do this job from home. Call it early retirement, but without pension.

    This reminds me of a movie Startup.Com (http://imdb.com/title/tt0256408/ [imdb.com]). It was about a couple guys who had an idea- to have a website that sold city services. Instead of going to the city to buy a license plate sticker, they sold it on-line. Want to pay a parking ticket? Do it at their website. Good idea.

    So, early on, one of the founders decides to cash in for a couple hundred thousand. His strategy was, be a founder but as soon as the company gets any VC money, that he will cash out. He also threatened the group with lawsuits if they did not pay him what he wanted. Everyone agreed, he was the prick who wanted money the first chance he could get it.

    Of the 2 founders left, one was a MBA type, and the other was the programmer. So the MBA type did all the dealings with VC, he designed the company structure, everything. While the company was making money hand over fist, everyone was happy. The MBA type even shelled out for a vacation for ALL his employees, over a 100.

    But the moment competition showed its ugly head, and profits were threatened, guess who got fired? The MBA type fired his best friend, the programmer. They talked about how they loved each other. I guess money is thicker than freindship.

    So, what is the smart thing to do? Be the guy who cashes out in under a year? Be the guy who designs and programs the system but gets screwed? Be the MBA type who manages the company?

    I think the company eventually went bankrupt. And the amazing things is, the programmer and the MBA type were able to remain friends.

    I would have kicked his ass...

  • Re:Laid off!? (Score:2, Informative)

    by XaXXon ( 202882 ) <xaxxonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:30PM (#14977181) Homepage
    This is an irrational statement. Anyone who is in the position to be fired can be laid off. "Founder" doesn't mean jack once you start giving out bits of your company to other people. This puts you in a position where you aren't responsible for making the decisions.

    If the people in those positions decide that you are a drain to the company (too high a salary, not enough work), then you are laid off.

    There's no morale question here. The company decided that he wasn't able to provide value, but he hadn't done anything wrong. That's called being laid off. It has nothing to do with the other employees.

    If you want to stay Mr. Big-and-Powerful, don't sell off shares of your company and you won't have to worry about being laid off.
  • by hayden ( 9724 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:53PM (#14977330)
    I think this comment from one of the engineers at ArsDigita directed to one of the VC suits that flew the company into the side of a mountain is appropriate:

    "You talk like a press release."
    -- David Rodriguez

    He was also "laid off" due to economic pressure (ie the new directors turned a profitable $20 million a year in revenue company into something that burned through twice that amount in less than a year before imploding). If you want to see the whole story it's here [waxy.org].

  • by Exaton ( 523551 ) <exatonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:56PM (#14977358)
    Take this video in particular [google.com], for example. Gotta have some reason to love France... And my God guys, you should understand the lyrics... It's all about her relaxing in a bubble bath, her soft skin, etc. (not kidding). See that "2" logo in the top right ? That's France 2, the most important public channel (and in this country the public channels are neck to neck with the private ones for popularity). Still not kidding.

    Now for the less jowful news. I happen to live in France, as you might have gathered, and I'm a bit surprised by the international analysis of the DADVSI law (since that's it name) that indeed got through Parliament tuesday evening.

    The fact is that the government has :

    • legalized DRM,
    • set up a standard parking-ticket style fine for downloading pirated stuff and another for making content available to others (38 and 150 euros respectively, about 45 and 180 USD),
    • decided that P2P software makers were liable to pay 300'000 euros and spend 3 years in prison,
    • given up on the "monthly subscription to be allowed to download legally" deal, under pressure from the local RIAA associates that forced a vast majority of artists to back them,
    • completely forbidden copying of a DVD, even as a personal backup,
    • and simply required that DRM'd files be interoperable, which is where Apple's beef is.

    I'm very flattered by all the positive light this is being shown in internationally, it's not every day the world has nice things to say about this country, but I must point out that IT enthusiasts over here are miserably decrying this law, and would probably be in the streets themselves if they weren't already chocablock with students demonstrating :-(
  • by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:13PM (#14977482)

    The term you want is privateer [wikipedia.org]. Privateers had letters of marque which legitimized their attacks as being sponsored by a government. (Except for the Spanish, who had a habit of refusing to honor letters of marque and just hanged them as common pirates.) Buccaneers [wikipedia.org], on the other hand, were pirates who started out in the barbecue business.

    No, seriously. Buccaneers were originally hunters who sold cooked meat, grilled over an open fire, to passing ships. Eventually, an enterprising band of buccaneers realized that the passing ships were poorly armed and captured the ship--much more profitable than selling barbecue.

  • by faboo ( 198876 ) <faboo@@@ellf...net> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:25PM (#14977560) Homepage
    attribution is intentionally left out of the GPL. in fact, the FSF's beef with the BSD license was the "advertising clause" - the attribution requirement.

    the idea is this: on any given free software project, there may be work included from hundreds of authors. each of those hundreds of pieces has its own copyright controlled by a different person (the original author of that piece of the code). if the GPL required attribution (as the BSD license used to), a project would need to keep track of every contributor - every single one - in perpetuity.

    for most projects, that's fine. most projects only have a handful of authors over their lifespan. but the kernel, for instance, probably has (copyrighted) contributions from thousands of people. were attribution required, a list of all of those thousands of people would need to accompany every binary and source copy of the kernel.

    the FSF considers this a problem that is, in the general case, intractable, and attribution therefore impractical (and therefore a hinderance to modification and redistribution).

    there may be other reasons, obviously, but that's the one I remember.
  • by ninjaz ( 1202 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:59PM (#14977734)
    Maybe you might consider this a trolling or a flame, but I think that it is quotes such as these that may end up bringing the most amount of trouble for the RMS crowd... I think the man is losing touch with reality, and approaching a point where zealotry is clowding his judgment to a dangerous level. How can we convince businesses that using the GPL and open source is a GOOOD THING if one of the main characters is in effect condoning IP theft if done for the 'right reasons'?
    The only thing that has changed is RMS is being interviewed by Forbes now. If you had read his essay "Why software should not have owners", for instance, it would have been apparent that he has stayed true to his goals over the years.

    Actually what I find disturbing is the "IP" proponents are proposing that DRM be sanctified as more precious than human life [freedom-to-tinker.com]. Personally, I would much prefer someone like RMS who would support giving me the source to any programs that run my company as an assurance of never being left high and dry or strongarmed to someone who says they would have no problems with killing me if it would help the bottom line the next quarter.

    Also, I think it bears mentioning that RMS actually is in favor of the right to write your programs and keep them completely private, not releasing them to anyone. That's one of the reasons he entered the fray of the big Apple license debate some years back. The license was requiring that any changes be sent back to Apple, whether or not the resulting source/binary was released to anyone.

    Further, when it comes to discussing the ethical basis of copyright, I think it bears repeating that the reason we have copyright at all in the United States is to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts". I'm not sure if you noticed, but it has been a trend lately amongst many technology and entertainment companies to injure the progress of science and the useful arts freely as long as they think it will keep them in the money. That includes activities such as subverting international standards organizations and activities such as subverting national governments so that they retroactively extend copyright, effectively "stealing IP", to use your terms, from all of humanity (or at least all of that country's citizens).

  • by Illbay ( 700081 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:52PM (#14977961) Journal
    PREFACE: We COULD be looking at a hardward problem here, but...

    This is the first time since I've been using Fedora Core (and I've used it since Core 1) that I failed to be able to upgrade my server from the DVD-ROM.

    I don't know what the deal was with it. At first it would "hang" at various stages of the install. Then, my system didn't seem to recognize the DVD as "bootable."

    Finally, I tried a Yum upgrade [brandonhutchinson.com], but it's just too soon after release for that--I actually had an easier time getting the DVD-R image via Bittorrent than using Yum. As it was, all the mirrors timed out--too busy.

    FINALLY, I was able to follow this guy's recipe for setting the DVD up as a Yum repository [phptr.com], and that worked like a charm. I was even able to rsync the "updates" from kernel.org.

    One HUGE saving grace though: For some reason, when I upgraded to FC4 last year, I completely lost X on my server. I have been running everything from the command line--not really that big a deal, but I couldn't even use remote X to get a graphical desktop. Puzzling.

    Well, after the upgrade to FC5 as described above, *voila*! X is back! I now have that beautiful now Gnome desktop that FC5 has been getting raves for. It's just nice to have.

    Anyway, that's the report from here.

  • by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:59PM (#14978274) Journal
    I think it's sort of implied that when you license code under the GPL, you have set it "free". What this means is that the code is no longer really yours, it belongs to the collective pool of free software, from which anyone may draw freely.

    No, you still retain copyright and ownership. That means if a company approaches you and says they'll pay you some money in exchange for not having to open source their product based on your original code, you are free to make that deal. No other person who got the code via GPL has this right.

  • Re:GNU/Linux (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 23, 2006 @03:08AM (#14978902)
    In the current version of the GPL, doing such a thing with DRM would be violating the spirit of the license -- but it's not a legally clear issue. The changes to the GPL are, in part at least, an attempt to clarify this issue so that it can't be argued DRM is technically permissible.
  • by olman ( 127310 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @06:28AM (#14979283)
    http://www.theregister.com/2006/03/23/britannica_w ikipedia_nature_study/ [theregister.com] Register has nice write up about it all. Apparently Nature cooked the study in a manner worthy of WMD spinmeisters pre IRAQ invasion.

    And why should anyone be surprised? 14-year-old with too much time on his hands has as much weight in wikipedia as some 50-year-old senior academic in a given subject. More in practice as the said teenager can sit all night making revisions whereas the prof probably has classes and schoolwork to go over..
  • Re:Because... (Score:2, Informative)

    by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:08AM (#14979959) Homepage Journal

    Nonsense. Teachers forbid the citing of encyclopedias because they are at best secondary sources. And since the academic norm is to only consider primary sources valid, it is merely common sense to instill that norm as soon as possible.


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