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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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  • Privateer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HaeMaker ( 221642 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:24PM (#14977141) Homepage
    I believe the word Apple is looking for is "Privateer". A state-sponsored pirate is a privateer.
  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:34PM (#14977210) Homepage Journal
    That would be "privateering". A country would issue a letter of marque to a ship-owner/captain giving them leave to attack all of their country's enemies". Sometimes a priviteer's definition of "country's enemies" was a bit loose, though.
  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:49PM (#14977313) Homepage Journal
    But, conversely, how can one claim to believe in something if they don't follow it through to its logical conclusions? What if 100 years from now the concept of intellectual property is long gone and considered archaic. We'd consider RMS's statement logical.

    RMS considers the concept of intellectual property immoral. Therefore "freeing" code is a perfectly appropriate action (to him). I'd rather see people stand by their beliefs than bend for practical reasons.
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:55PM (#14977352) Homepage Journal
    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".

    It's not a "dangerous precedent," as you call it; merely the inevitable conclusion one reaches if you subscribe to the same axioms as RMS.

    In the common (both senses of the word) world view, taking code written by someone else and redistributing it is considered bad; a violation of the rights of the code's creator. But in RMS's world view -- which, it is important to understand, has some very different basic principles -- writing code and failing to release it is bad; the redistribution of the code is therefore merely a correction to the selfish author's "crime" of not releasing it.

    We've all seen the abuses that the monopoly of copyright has enabled, and it appears to be getting worse. So I personally tend to hew more closely to RMS's views. However, as stated, RMS's views certainly seem very extreme -- more extreme than many are willing to adopt wholesale -- and I wonder if there's any further nuance to RMS's views that aren't getting articulated well. Such as: If redistributing the code of another author is not unethical, what about redistributing the code of another author without any attribution to said author? What about claiming yourself as the author?

    It seems to me that RMS's principle "copying is not theft" is part of a complete set of ethical principles which, taken together, may very well make good sense (the man is no dummy). But we're only shown but one of those principles and, taken alone, it causes people to go, "Wha...?" But this is entirely supposition on my part, and I would not presume to put words in the man's mouth...


  • S.O.P. for Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:58PM (#14977377) Homepage
    They somehow think "competing" involves impeding the competitors rather than simply trying to be superior. And I think that's the crux of most people's problem with Microsoft.

    I am referring to, of course, Microsoft's strange participation in the subcommittee involved in getting ODF ISO approved. They declined any and all participation in creating ODF and yet somehow they are involved in getting it ISO approved? Microsoft is now something along the lines of the fox guarding the henhouse.

    And when I discuss Microsoft's "competitive" activities, I tend to think of elementary school kids running the 100 yard dash where Microsoft, instead of simply running as fast as it can, resorts to tying the laces of the shoes of other kids or to tripping them in some fashion.

    Although "Competing" and "Impeding" rhyme nicely enough, they are certainly VERY different approaches when trying to win and one of them is often cause for legal retaliation.
  • Britannica... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tktk ( 540564 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:59PM (#14977379)
    Was Britannica ever a big deal? I used it in elementary school and stopped once I got to junior high. In high school, our teachers specifically told use not to use encyclopedias for our papers. And this was in the 80s.
  • by SteeldrivingJon ( 842919 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:16PM (#14977503) Homepage Journal

    They do have it all on their website, you know. I think you have to pay for full access, but it's a lot cheaper than a set of encyclopedias.

    Or you could buy the circa-$50 disk version, and install that, if you're running Windows or using a PPC Mac (as of yet their product doesn't run on Intel Macs due to some component developed by a third party which hasn't been made universal). Then you'd have access to it all without even needing to be online.

  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:40PM (#14977635) Homepage
    We already have that situation. I believe it's illegal to sell DVD players that ignore region coding in the US, while it's a challenge to find a player that doesn't ignore them in Sweden. Copyright has a different number of years in the US and Europe, meaning that there's material that's perfectly legal to copy and spread in the Europe (I believe some early Elvis recordings are coming up just about now) that are still under copyright in the US. You are specifically allowed to break protection schemes in Sweden for the purpose of archiving, format-shifting and for accessibility, while it is illegal in the US. Business patents are granted in the US but not honored in Europe.

    The list is much longer than that, and that's just between two jurisdictions that I happen to know a bit about.
  • Britannica response (Score:5, Interesting)

    by teslatug ( 543527 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:02PM (#14977757)
    It's funny, Britannica says the reviewers did not provide any sources for their ascertions, and then they go and say for every criticism "We do not accept this." Well, as long as the all knowing Britannica does not accept it, it must be invalid. All bow to the true keepers of knowledge.
  • Re:Uhh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:52PM (#14977962)

    "Apple doesn't make much money (directly) from the iTunes Music Store--Steve Jobs himself has said this."

    To clarify... Steve said that more than a year ago, when the iTMS was in startup mode. Analysts state that it's making money now.

    "Oh, sure, people can use Hymn, but Joe User isn't that sophisticated."

    Spot on. The GP used the "everybody is like Slashdotters" fallacy. I'm fairly non-technical. I could use Hymn or buy-burn-rip to get content from iTMS to my Creative player, but it's not worth the hassle of learning new software, or the effort. So, my next player will be an Apple. If interoperatability were legislated where I live, I would buy a Creative player, not an Apple player, next time. Simple as that.

  • Re:Britannica... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rank_Tyro ( 721935 ) <ranktyro11@gmail.cUMLAUTom minus punct> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:44PM (#14978177) Journal
    Britannica is feeling REALLY threatened by wikipedia.

      Britannica pays over 4,000 contributors and editors, and only prints a new version every couple of years. Wikipedia, has way more contributors, and publishes almost DAILY, without paying for the research.

    The hype about no one being accountable for any of the information as well as the uproar about recent political attacks on certain entries are all designed to try to get people to distrust Wikipedia and embrace Britannica as the "One TrueReference."

    No encyclopedia should ever be used as anything other than a quick synopsis and or reference. Britanica sniping at Wikipedia for accuracy and integrety is just really amusing.
  • by RyanCowardin ( 961379 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @01:12AM (#14978585)

    Why do we have region codes? We pay $15US (or more) for a DVD here in the US. In China they sell pretty much the same DVDs (sometimes without the extra commentaries etc, what a big loss) for $2-$3US [], a fraction of the cost we pay. Obviously, taking into consideration how much the average citizen of China makes, that's a lot for them. But relative to our $15+ DVDs, even if we had to not only buy the DVD in China but pay for shipping back here, it would be cheaper to buy it in China.

    So basically, we have region codes to ensure the distribution model of the movie industry works without interference from us pesky consumers being able to expect a price reasonable to us while still being profitable to them. It allows them to choose who's wallets they can pick more without fearing the usual consequences of supply and demand. If we can only get DVDs from one place at one inflated price, we have to go that route.

    Ask yourselves... if selling DVDs for $2-$3US was not profitable enough, why would they even bother selling DVDs at such prices in places like China? While you may be prompted to say "to fight back against piracy, they are willing to take a loss", but take a moment to think of all the logical flaws with that, including the fact that by lowering their prices they also make it cheaper for those that pirate there to make copies for even cheaper and still sell them for less than legit DVDs. They would simply get out of that market if selling DVDs at that price was a 'loss' to them. Much the same way Apple will get out of France if iPods become a loss there soon.

    While CATO isn't a think-tank I tend to agree with on many issues, I found their take on DRM and such very insightful. The article was carried on /. yesterday but here [] is the link again in case anyone's interested. They have quite a few explanations and analogies, including a better explanation of why we have region codes than I've provided here.

  • Steve Jobs == Disney (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:03AM (#14978756) Journal
    How anyone could seriously believe a disney man would hate DRM is beyond me. Well not really beyond me. I am too old and bitter and cynical and paranoid for that. People are stupid.

    MS is doing DRM but also fights it. As a gigantic player it knows deep down that piracy hasn't exactly hurt it. MS software is pirated to hell and back yet the billions keep rolling in and it controls the OS and office software markets. Could there be a link? That software that is easy to pirate gets used a lot so that is what people know so companies that need to decide on what to buy choose the package that people are familiar with at home from their pirated version?

    That because MS is what everyone knows when people buy a new PC they don't mind that MS software is installed "for free" giving MS a nice steady stream of hazzle free revenue (no messy boxes to sell) as long as people buy new pc's?

    Then their is Sony, a favorite target for the anti-drm crowd and they certainly screwed up badly enough with their music cd drm debacle but lets not forget that it was sony who gave us unrestricted video recording.

    Yet the hero is Apple who has always maintained the thightest control on its software. Isn't making sure only YOU can make the hardware that runs YOUR software and sell them bundled only the best DRM? Go ahead. Pirate Mac OS X. What are you going to use it for? You need to buy a Mac to run it on. Oh sure, the paid updates are pirated but the main revenue source is safe.

    Apple has also been very active in trying to get movie drm in place.

    The whole story that Steve Jobs only did DRM for iTunes to keep the record industry happy just doesn't ring true to me.

    What I think that Steve Jobs has done is realize that you need to take baby steps when tackling a difficult subject.

    iTunes DRM isn't the least he could get away with regarding the music industry.

    iTunes DRM is the most he could get away with regarding the paying public.

    He knew that existing DRM crippled music stores were not succeeding so he added as much DRM as he could without scaring off customers.

    It worked.

    Steve Jobs is very good at that. He knows exactly how far to push something that it is still accepted. iPod's really ain't all the great. Every other MP3 player would be slammed for not working as a straight HD (you need itunes to put songs onto it in any meaningfull way) and slammed even worse for renaming your songs.

    Same with the price. It is just not high enough to piss people off. Just high enough to generate a shitload of cash but not high enough to be seen as insanely overpriced.

    Same with Apple PC's. Every apple story has comments about their bad service even going so far as that when you order a Apple with more memory all of a sudden it is a custom build and you loose a lot of warranty. Dell would never get away with it but Steve Jobs just judged it right that Apple fans defend that a PC build entirely by Apple is still a custom build because you told them to plug in more memory and therefore you don't deserve full warranty.

    Steve Jobs is more about DRM then any other playing in the market. Check out his speeches and proposals. If he has his way we will have trusted computing shoved down our throath and media DRM'ed till we choke on it.

    Just for now he isn't big enough to rely force the issue and MS who could is still sitting on the fence.

    There are some people at MS warning that in a DRM and trusted computing world there would be very little value to a open PC. If I can't do anything with my media anyway do I need anything more then a console to play it? MS knows that the console market is far harder to dominate then the PC market.

    Killing the PC would be very very silly of MS if they are not 100% sure they are going to be selling everyone the replacement.

    The old slashdot standby "replace Apple with MS/Sony and reread the story" advice still stands.

  • by The Wicked Priest ( 632846 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:39AM (#14979807)
    I find I *do* get Wikipedia results near the top for many of my queries lately... and I've started going there directly and skipping Google sometimes. I agree, I'm rarely disappointed. If I consult several sources, Wikipedia is usually the best.

    More than that: Wikipedia is what Hypertext was originally meant to me. (See... well, [] ) And boy is it fun!

    Britannica may or may not be more reliable for the subjects it covers, but it's also limited in scope. Would Britannica have an article about Matisyahu [], for example? Britannica's front page claims 120,000 articles; Wikipedia, over a million, just for the English edition.
  • by balls199 ( 648142 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:49AM (#14979867) Homepage
    A big problem for Wikipedia, that Brittanica addresses, is it's dynamic nature. Since the article in Nature, I'm sure all of the Wikipedia articles in question have been vandalized, fixed, vandalized again, likely fixed again, more information has been added, some information removed, and reorganized. The accuracy of the information in a Wikipedia article depends on the exact moment you view it.

    Brittanica articles, on the other hand, remain the same for longer periods of time. Which means, it will remain accurate, and well organized longer, but, at the same time, errors will also exist longer than Wikipedia.

    My point is, Wikipedia can claim also claim the Nature article as invalid, since the articles are constantly changing. The Nature article was doomed from the beginning.

    I've mentioned the vandalizism problem on Wikipedia several times on Slashdot. My suggestion is to move to the opensource model of article development where anyone can contribute, but only people who have proven themselves can "release" articles to the public. I've finally finished a prototype which can be found at: [] (Note: there are still many bugs to work out, and it's ugly). The goal is to find that optimum point of user contribution versus article control where the best article possible can be produced.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp