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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

Comments Filter:
  • Uhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:09PM (#14977025) Homepage Journal
    I'm not exactly a cheerleader for the P2P-ftw free-the-culture anarcho-whatever shite that gets punted around here sometimes, but for Christ's sake what is Apple on? People have been using Hymn and the like for ages, and if they're stripping the DRM out of bought files for use on other players they are still buying from Apple and giving Apple money for the privilege. By definition, they wouldn't be going to P2P. If anything, if they up and leave France, all that will happen is that either P2P will become the only option for iPod owners or people will buy Creative/Archos/other PlaysForSure players and Napster or whatever will get their money. The only way this could become a win for piracy is if Apple makes it one.
  • Fired (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Audent ( 35893 ) <{audent} {at} {}> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:11PM (#14977043) Homepage
    let go...
    relieved of command...
    made redundant...
    surplus to requirements...

    it all amounts to the same thing at the end of the day: Yer Outta Here.

  • Laid off!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:23PM (#14977127) Homepage
    Gael was not fired. He was laid off.

    I'm sorry but the founder is not laid off. He quits if he tires of the company's direction or he's fired if he becomes an obstacle but he's not laid off. It's a question of morale: If the founder himself is of so little value that he can be laid off then every other employee is worthless too. When your employer shows they don't value your presence its past time to jump ship.
  • by Swift Kick ( 240510 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:23PM (#14977133)
    After reading the RMS interview with Forbes, what really stuck out was the following question and his reply:

    Would it be ethical to steal lines of unfree code from companies like Microsoft and Oracle and use them to create a "free" version of that program?

    It would not be unethical, but it would not really work, since if Oracle ever found out, it would be able to suppress the use of that free software. The reason for my conclusion is that making a program proprietary is wrong. To liberate the code, if it is possible, would not be theft, any more than freeing a slave is theft (which is what the slave owner would surely call it).

    Am I the only one that sees this statement as a dangerous precedent? I mean, for all intents and purposes, RMS feels that 'stealing' copyrighted code is justifiable, if it's done with the intent to "liberate it".

    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'?
  • by Baseball_Fan ( 959550 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:36PM (#14977237)
    The world may close up tight. Imagine the day when different countries have different laws about how DRM can work. What is legal in the USA might be illegal in France. And what is legal in Canada might be illegal in England. China might decide to have government controlled DRM, a phone home system that tells government what you're installing and what you're doing. It might be somewhat easier for people to break the law, but when the law is directed at a company, the company must comply or shut down.

    I know in this instance France wants Apple to open their DRM. But who is to say that another state might want to close DRM?

    What we might end up with is worse than DVD's that are region coded. We might get the hardware that is region specific, and no other method of opening data (music, files, movies).

    I think the world will move in that direction. What other reason would Sony or Universal have for forcing regions with DVD's? Why are they opposed of me buying movies from Spain or Germany? And if a company is so paranoid, just imagine nation-states that are worried their culture is being corroded away.

  • Re:Uhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BillyBlaze ( 746775 ) <> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:40PM (#14977249)
    It used to be common to hear the argument, "Apple doesn't like DRM, they only use it because otherwise the popular music oligopoly wouldn't let them sell their music." Now we know that isn't true. Apple likes DRM just as much as the big music companies, just for a different reason - Apple wants iTunes purchases to work only on the iPod.
  • Re:Uhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tbo ( 35008 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:42PM (#14977257) Journal
    People have been using Hymn and the like for ages, and if they're stripping the DRM out of bought files for use on other players they are still buying from Apple and giving Apple money for the privilege

    Apple doesn't make much money (directly) from the iTunes Music Store--Steve Jobs himself has said this. Primarily, the purpose of the iTMS is to help sell iPods. What Apple doesn't want to happen is for people to buy able to buy music from iTunes for use on third-party players. If the French iTMS stops being a vehicle for selling iPods, it stops being useful for Apple. Moreover, the conversion utility will inevitably spread outside of France, and hurt iPod sales everywhere. It clearly is preferable from Apple's point of view to close the French iTMS, rather than allow such a conversion utility to become widespread.

    Oh, sure, people can use Hymn, but Joe User isn't that sophisticated. Also, AFAIK, the Hymn people haven't yet figured out how to crack iTunes v6 encryption, so it's not exactly a fully-functional solution.
  • by aralin ( 107264 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:47PM (#14977302)
    If you don't consider making code proprietary to be ethical, you clearly cannot consider liberating the code to be unethical. But if you noticed, he is still aware, that although he considers it ethical, it is illegal and thus it should not be done. The comment is perfectly in check with his moral views and he could not in a clear conscience make any other statement. The fact that your moral values are different does not make him lunatic. You could call Christians lunatics, just because they hold different moral values. Not that some people wouldn't, but that does not make it right. Stop complaining and show some respect for man that has firm moral believes and stands up and speaks out for them. You might disagree, but do so respectfully.
  • by rubies ( 962985 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:47PM (#14977304)
    The same thing will happen with government/ISO sponsored document formats as happened with the OSI network stack: We'll all wasted shiploads of time mucking around trying it out and everybody ended up using TCP/IP anyway. The "winning" document format will continue to be the one that's used by default by the most popular word processor: Word.
  • by ldj ( 726828 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:00PM (#14977386)
    Why should the words and actions of the author of a document affect my opinion of the document? I agree that it's hard to not be biased by the author's personality and/or history. But really, a document should be judged on its own merits.

    For example, I've read that many of the great scientists and mathematicians in history were pretty big jerks. But that doesn't mean I'm going to shrug off the results of their work. Likewise, I'm sure that some of the U.S. Founding Fathers had personalities and at least some beliefs that I wouldn't care for. But that doesn't mean that I don't support the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

    If an individual or company found the GPL useful without knowing anything about the authors, why would they change their mind after learning about the authors? It's not like everytime someone uses the GPL, RMS gets a check. :)

  • by Ahnteis ( 746045 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:02PM (#14977398)
    And for some reason people still believe that line.

    Yet Apple refuses to license (for more money!) their DRM and let someone ELSE sale music that will play on the ipod.

    They're obviously either making money or planning to make money from music sales.
  • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:04PM (#14977424) Homepage
    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'?

    I hope you make the difference between ethical and legal. RMS never said it was legal or that peopel should to it (he specifically says it wouldn't work). He simply things it would be ethical if allowed by law. It just shows how the sense of ethics is different between people. Nothing to see here.

    Oh, and there's no such thing as "IP theft", no matter what big copyright holders tell you. It's simply called copyright infringement. It's illegal, but it's not theft. The closest I can think of "IP theft" is doing some kind of fraud to steel copyright/patent titles from someone.
  • Re:Uhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Krach42 ( 227798 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:04PM (#14977425) Homepage Journal
    if they're stripping the DRM out of bought files for use on other players they are still buying from Apple and giving Apple money for the privilege. By definition, they wouldn't be going to P2P

    The issue isn't that Apple would still get money for the music. The issue is that Apple wouldn't have to sell an iPod for someone to listen to their iTunes Music Store music portably.

    Also, there's the issue that the music industry that grants allowances for Apple to sell their music would not stand for DRM-less music. Apple has already gone with the lightest DRM that they could, and still have the industry happy. If they had to allow for DRM work-arounds for France, then the Music Industry would pull support, and Apple iTMS is suddenly full of indy bands, and none of the popular music that sells tons of copies. (Which is the very definition of popular music. Whatever people are buying the most of.)
  • by Hairy1 ( 180056 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:12PM (#14977465) Homepage
    I agree. The comparision of source code to slaves is terrible. We should be fighting for freedoms of people, not source code. Open Source brings freedom to developers, allows them to build their own culture not owned by corporations. We have a strong moral sense that people should be free to share if they choose. What I strongly disagree with is Stallmans misguided and unethical attitude to having the right to use the work of others even if its against their will.
  • Re:GNU/Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:22PM (#14977541)
    If DRM is permitted in works distributed under the GPL, then the GPL has no effect. A corporation can take your GPLed code, add DRM to it, and re-release it; then nobody else (including you) can modify/reuse that version as was intended by the GPL.

    This is not some irrelevant issue. It's a significant loophole which the DRM-related clauses attempt to close.
  • Different (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:32PM (#14977588) Homepage
    "Fired" is different, though. It implies you were canned because you were incompetent, or because you were engaged in something illegal, fraudulent or against company rules. You are fired when the problem is you, in other words, and presumably the company will need to hire or promote a replacement.

    Most other terms (like the ones you list) is about the job disappearing. You were not doing anything wrong, but the job you were doing is either no longer necessary, or too expensive to continue doing at the current manpower level. You may be excellent at the job you were doing, but the result is no longer worth the expense for the company.

  • by kryptkpr ( 180196 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:33PM (#14977595) Homepage
    I've moderated in this thread already, but I just have to respond to this.

    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.

    It's true that there are some bad people out there who modify free software and re-sell it, but the problem is not them. It's is the people who have never heard of free software who are buying it. Why would you buy a copy of OpenOffice, or an office suite that looks exactly like it but is called something else?

    The solution here is user education, not a tightening of the license..
  • by moochfish ( 822730 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:36PM (#14977613)
    I read that and thought the exact same thing.

    The main power of GPL comes from copyright laws. First of all, his statement reeks of hypocricy. Besides, last time I checked, if I write something, it's mine to do whatever I want with. If I want to keep the source to myself or let others benefit from it, that's MY choice. If I want to destroy it or never look at it again, that's MY choice. Nobody has any right under any pretext to come over and forcably "liberate" my code. Slavery is the WRONG analogy. Slaves are people who are arbitrarily placed into servitude by people with more power.

    The proper analogy is to normal property such as a house. Let's say I go out and buy a bunch of supplies (compilers and debuggers) and go to school to learn a bunch of architectural skills (programming knowledge). Then, using my new found resources, I build a house (program). It's my damn decision to live in it by myself, burn it down, rent it out, leave it empty, or give it away. What he's saying is that other people breaking into my house and stealing all or parts out of it at their leisure is okay as long as they're willing to share their loot with the rest of the world.

    That's dead wrong. That's theft and that's CERTAINLY unethical.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:55PM (#14977971)
    "North America won't flip to Open Document right away because of Microsoft's influence over both the Canadian and American governments,"

    The reality is that Microsoft could care less about document formats. In the past they have just embraced another companies formats then extended their own once it is hacked by someone. Vista will be the first big stab at Adobe and the open pdf Acrobat format, thus we will see MS office doing pdf for the first time. You can bet that they will try their best to make pdf go away. What they are counting on is an upsurge in powerpoint xml formated web documents. Just for example my wife attended a Pacs (medical imaging) conference in San Antonio last week. The powerpoint handout cd she came home with is only readable with = It is the business of Microsoft to outdate formats as soon as possible. Their future depends upon deprecating software and even their own formats. Just think of it this way, if someone with Office 97 can read todays PP crap how can MS sell new versions of Office. They only get away with it because they have enough pull in government to get away with economic terrorism. Adobe is firmly in their sights, within the next 5 years they will go away the same as Corel. In about 3 years the patents on font anti-aliasing software will run out, by then Adobe will be only a skeleton of what it once was, the most innovative software company in the world! I would not be too supprised to see a MS end run to take over Adobe in the next two years.

  • Re:Uhh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:48AM (#14979864)

    DRM that is not proprietary would be a good thing for the entire industry.

    DRM, by its very nature, is proprietary. It cannot be otherwise.

  • by Gorbag ( 176668 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @12:20PM (#14980921)
    RMS also goes on to say that liberating software in the way vendors think of as "theft" probably won't be terribly effective, because the vendors will be in a position to suppress the use of the liberated code. What would be more effective would be for even just one country somewhere in the world to enshrine the Four Freedoms in law. And I do not believe that is too improbable.
    You're probably right: I think the country you are looking for is North Korea.
  • by prizog ( 42097 ) <novalis-slashdot@ n o v a l i s .org> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:52PM (#14985372) Homepage
    Reviewer comment: Yes, [Nature reviewer unclear here] in using the language of individual-level fitness and selection; but this was also a shortcoming of Hamilton's original formulation. Thus to say `They all carry the same genes...' (para 1) is misleading because what matters is not the totality of genes shared but the probability that relatives share a specific gene (strictly allele), in this case the one coding for the altruistic trait. By the same token, `individual fitness' is a proxy for allele fitness, again, in this case, specifically the allele for the altruistic trait. Kin selection is THE paradigm of the gene selection argument; it actually makes no sense when couched at the level of individual fitness. The problem cascades through the piece, thus: Par2, lines 4-5 - should be `A parent has a probability of 0.5 (or a half ) of sharing any given gene (again actually allele) with each progeny ...' and last line - should be `...because it increases the probability of transmission of the parental gene for caring.'

    Britannica response: There is no inaccuracy here. We stand by our author, Francisco Ayala, who insists that the reviewer is wrong through and through: the altruistic behavior is favored by natural selection because relatives share (in fractions depending on the degree of relatedness) all their genes.

    I can't see the original article (Britannica attacks Nature for not making their data available, but they're guilty of the same thing).

    But it sounds like the reviewer was saying that the Britannica article conflates individual fitness with allele fitness.

    Example: imagine a species S. A grenade is thrown at five individuals of species S. If one of them jumps on it, she will die but the other four will live. Else, each will die with probabilty 0.5. Should she do it? If we are looking at things from her individual point of view, she should not do it *no matter her relation to the other individuals*. Nobody's individual survival is benefitted by dying. But if we are looking at things from the point of view of her alleles, then her relation to the other four do make sense. If they are her clones, then the allele has a 0% chance of dying off at this moment if she does it, and a 1 in 32 chance if she doesn't. The average numbers of survivors is also higher: 4 vs 2.5.

    It's true that the presence of altruistic individuals increases everyone's survival odds -- nonetheless, altruism is not justified on an individual level -- if it were, it wouldn't be altruism.

    Ayala is wrong that altruistic behavior is favored by natural selection. Genes coding for altruistic behavior are favored; the behavior itself is not favored.

    The thing is, I'm pretty sure Ayala understands this. Ayala thinks he's saying the right thing: in his brain, "altruistic behavior" is a shorthand for "genes coding for altruistic behavior", because he's an expert in kin selection and thinks about this all day. He just forgot that he was writing for a general encyclopedia. At least, that's the only theory I can come up with for why he insists that he's right..

    Of course, if I later read the Britannica article and discover that it is correct, I'll be glad to retract this. Also, I'm not a geneticist -- I just like to think I understand some of genetics because I've read a bit about it; and this bit is basically game theory anyway. Perhaps a real geneticist will tell me that Ayala is using terms in the standard way, so the criticism fails on those grounds. If so, I'll accept that correction too.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry