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Submission + - Microsoft Tried to Buy Netscape: Suppose They Had? (

Glyn Moody writes: "In an interview, Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript and currently CIO at Mozilla, reveals that Microsoft tried to buy Netscape at the end of 1994. They were turned down because the offer was too low, but imagine if Netscape had accepted: no browser wars, no open Web standards, no Mozilla, no Firefox. How might the Web — and the world — have looked today if that had happened?"
Open Source

Submission + - UK: Open Standards Must be RF, not FRAND (

Glyn Moody writes: "There has been a big battle in the UK over whether open standards should be Restriction/Royalty-Free (RF) or Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND). That matters, because open source can't in general implement FRAND standards (there are legal hacks that can be applied in a few special circumstances.) First it seemed that RF had the upper hand [.pdf], but later comments from officials cast doubt on that. Now we have the definitive answer from the UK Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude: "The Government require that their ICT should be built on open standards, wherever possible, to improve competition and avoid lock-in to a particular technology or supplier. Fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) specifications may present some difficulties for the open source software development model in terms of patents and royalties. To deliver a level playing field for both open source and proprietary software, open standards are needed." Will UK government use of open source finally take off, or is this a hollow victory?"

Submission + - Linus' Other Great Gift to the World (

Glyn Moody writes: "Linus is widely recognised for initiating two major developments: Linux and Git (it's an interesting discussion which of the two in the long term will be regarded as more important). But there's a third, which people tend to overlook: he also pioneered the key ideas behind what later came to be called open innovation. As more and more companies open up to embrace customer-generated ideas, and the idea spreads to other areas like open government, perhaps it's time to add open innovation to the list of Linus' achievements."

Submission + - Will Apple Redeem Piracy? (

Glyn Moody writes: "As rumours about Apple's imminent cloud-based music service "iCloud" continue to swirl, here's an interesting possibility: "Users will be able to store their entire music collections in the cloud—even if they obtained some songs illegally." That could be a real breakthrough, because it would mean that the recorded music industry would finally have a way to make money from piracy, which becomes a kind of marketing for services like Apple's. The War on Sharing might not be over, but could we at least see a ceasefire?"

Submission + - BSA 2010 Piracy Report: Big Numbers, Big Flaws (

Glyn Moody writes: "The annual BSA report on software piracy is out, with even bigger numbers: "The commercial value of software piracy grew 14 percent globally last year to a record total of $58.8 billion." Yes, they're using the old "commercial value" trick: "The commercial value of pirated software is the value of unlicensed software installed in a given year, as if it had been sold in the market." Except, of course, that the main reason users in developing countries — the main focus of the report — resort to piracy is because they can't afford Western-style pricing. It's also fun to see the BSA trotting out the old "reducing piracy would generate lots of new jobs and taxes for local governments" — except that it doesn't, because the money not paid for software licences does not disappear, but is just spent elsewhere in the local economy."

Submission + - Portugal to Make CC Licences Illegal? ( 2

Glyn Moody writes: "A proposal for a worrying new law is being discussed in Portugal that seems to make Creative Commons licences illegal: "The equitable compensation of authors, artists, interpreters or executives is inalienable and non-renunciable, being null any other contractual clause in contrary." The view here seems to be that of Bill Gates when he asked: "Who can afford to do professional work for nothing?" But where would this leave CC-licensed projects like Wikipedia in Portugal?"

Submission + - The Great Firewall of Europe (

Glyn Moody writes: "The Presidency of the EU's Law Enforcement Working Party wants to create [pdf] "a single secure European cyberspace with a certain "virtual Schengen border" and "virtual access points" whereby the Internet Service Providers (ISP) would block illicit contents on the basis of the EU "black-list"." Leaving aside the fact that this won't work for lots of reasons, how seriously can you take anyone talking about "cyberspace" in 2011?"

Submission + - iPad-like Tablet from 1994 - Should Apple Sue? (

Glyn Moody writes: "Back in 1994, Knight Ridder put together an amazingly prescient video about a tablet device for reading the news. Interestingly, it is rectangular, with rounded corners and has a black border — all elements that Apple is claiming Samsung’s Galaxy Tab "slavishly copies" from the iPad. Perhaps Apple should sue Knight Ridder retrospectively..."

Submission + - How Can Your Content Live After You Die? ( 1

Glyn Moody writes: "We live in an age of unparalleled online creativity. Most of that user-generated content (UGC) is being produced by young-ish people: the last thing they want to think about is their own mortality. But here's the problem: that means few are thinking about what happens to all their content when they die. Who's going to look after it? Your heirs? Companies offering "digital eternity"? National repositories? Or will the risk of storing "infringing" material — and the threat of crippling lawsuits — ensure that no one dares do anything, and we lose most of this unparalleled global explosion of human creativity for ever?"

Submission + - Why Google Should Buy the Music Industry (

Glyn Moody writes: "According to this story about Google's attempts to launch its own music service, "the search giant is “disgusted” with the labels, so much so that they are seriously considering following Amazon’s lead and launching their music could service without label licenses." So here's a simple solution: Google should just buy the major record labels — all of them. It could afford them — people tend to forget that the music industry is actually relatively small in economic terms, but wields a disproportionate influence with policy makers. Buying them would solve that problem too."

Submission + - Putin Orders Russian Move to GNU/Linux ( 2

Glyn Moody writes: Vladimir Putin has signed an order calling for Russian federal authorities to move to GNU/Linux, and for the creation of "a single repository of free software used in the federal bodies of executive power". There have been a number of Russian projects to roll out free software, notably in the educational sector, but none so far has really taken off. With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - European Interoperability Framework v2 - a Defeat (

Glyn Moody writes: After two years of leaks, the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) version 2 has been published [.pdf] — and it's a disaster for free software. Where EIF version 1 specified that patents in open standards should be "made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis", we now have "FRAND terms or on a royalty-free basis in a way that allows implementation in both proprietary and open source software." Of course, that doesn't say *which* open source licence, and conveniently allows the GNU GPL to be excluded by terms that are incompatible with it. So the lobbyists won: I can't wait for Wikileaks or the new Brussels Leaks to tell us what happened behind the scenes when EIF v2 was being drawn up.

Submission + - Is Linux at the End of its Life Cycle? ( 3

Glyn Moody writes: That's what Nikolai Pryanishnikov, president of Microsoft Russia, seems to think. Quoted in the context of continuing questions about Russia's plans to create its own national operating system based on GNU/Linux, Pryanishnikov said [via Google Translate]: "We must bear in mind that Linux is not a Russian OS and, moreover, is at the end of its life cycle." An off-the-cuff comment, or something more?

Submission + - Today is Turing/Berners-Lee Day (

Glyn Moody writes: Today is a doubly-special day for the world of computing: on 12 November 1937, "Alan Turing’s paper entitled "On Computable Numbers with an Application to the Entscheidungs-problem" appeared"; while on 12 November 1990, another historic text appeared, which began: "The attached document describes in more detail a Hypertext project." Perhaps we should be marking this in some way: how about establishing a world-wide Web Day on this date?

Submission + - UK to Repeat US Mistakes with Patents? (

Glyn Moody writes: Alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron's surprise announcement that he wanted to make UK copyright law "fit for the internet age" was a comment from David Willetts, the UK science and universities minister, who said: "The US rule is that 'anything man has invented under the sun you should be able to patent'. That's something we do wish to investigate." Unfortunately, he seems to be under the impression that Google built its success through being "able to patent some work", when in fact, Google has relatively few patents compared to other companies like Microsoft, say. Is the UK about to suffer problems of overburdened examiners approving too many weak patents that then lead to patent thickets and spiralling levels of litigation, as has happened in the US? What would you say to discourage him from taking this step?

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