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GNU is Not Unix

Journal Journal: MA-based Group Calls for Free Software in Gov't

Members of the Massachusetts-based free software activist group Binary Freedom have started a campaign asking the state and local governments of the Commonwealth to make an exclusive switch to free software. The campaign, which is hosted on the governor's independent MyIssue Web site, cites the following primary reason for making the switch:

Governments in Massachusetts are increasingly dependent on software to operate. Citizens access important services via the Internet, and critical public documents are now digitally archived. Buying new software isn't like buying new desks and chairs for the office anymore. The makers of software now exert substantial control over how government operates.

Most software currently used by Massachusetts governments is like a black box. It's proprietary, which means that the government and its citizens are not allowed to look inside the box to see how it works. Proprietary software also comes with a set of restrictions that prevent the software from being modified or copied without explicit permission.

We place the fate of our democracy in the hands of a few private entities when we accept these restrictions on the technology we depend on for everything from social services to voting information. Government needs to serve the public interest, and so has an obligation to remain independent of such control.

Due to the nature of the site, only Massachusetts residents have the ability to directly participate in the campaign. However, the group stresses that everyone is welcome to contribute to their cause by


Journal Journal: to Deliver Open Letter to Steve Jobs, the Free Software Foundation's campaign against DRM, has written an open letter to Steve Jobs regarding his recent public statements about DRM. The campaign's organizers are asking for more signatures before the letter is delivered to Mr. Jobs on April Fool's Day. From the letter's introduction:

We surpassed our target of 1000 signatures in just 5 hours! In 5 days we have passed 4000! Now lets see how many we can get by April 1.
Sign this letter to Steve Jobs asking him to back his pledge on DRM by April 1. We will send the letter, with your comments to Steve, on April 1, and include a big thank you because he has taken one of these actions, or a jesters hat for him to wear if he hasn't. We will publish the best/funniest comments through out the month!

Specifically, the campaign is asking Mr. Jobs to take action to reflect his opposition to DRM. Since he has voiced he is powerless concerning the current DRM-laden status of Apple's iTunes Music Store, the open letter gives three possible actions that could be taken immediately to back up his statements. They are:

  1. Drop DRM on iTunes for independent artists
  2. Drop DRM on iTunes for Disney movies and video
  3. Take a public stand against DRM and legislation mandating DRM by funding a campaign to repeal the Digital Millenium Copyright Act's (DMCA) prohibitions

The details of the letter explain how Steve Jobs has the power to take action on one of the above three fronts.

Come April 1st, will Steve Jobs be putting his money where his mouth is, or his foot?

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The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.