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Links 2/4/2010: Ubuntu Manual as Audio, Firefox Claims Over 40% in Europe

Posted in News Roundup at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Windows 7 vs. Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 1

    Having said so, I kept feeling Windows 7 would never surprise me again after a mere couple hours of use. Windows offers immediately its goods, but once discovered, all paths beyond them seem to end very quickly. In turn, Ubuntu felt more like an empty canvas, offering a vast amount of choices. From system configuration to Look&Feel and applications available, there were options all over the place for the end user to pick. In that sense, Ubuntu and Linux don’t feel immediate or still, but ever changing and evolving after the user’s will and skills.

    Aside from its inherent flexibility, Ubuntu keeps a 6 month release schedule, which allows it to stay much more current and fresh. While Windows 7 will remain almost unchanged for a good 3-4 years, Ubuntu 12.04, for instance, will likely be very different to 10.04.

  • Sony’s PS3 Drops Linux; Why You Should Care

    While Sony is pulling away from Linux and the community, we can’t help but to think about the other end of the spectrum and a company that has fully supported the enthusiast community: id Software.

    Rather than increasing restrictions over time, id has a great history of decreasing restrictions over time. One good example is how they release the source code to their game engines via GPL after a reasonable amount of time. If Sony were following id’s model they would be opening up RSX support in a future version of PS3 Linux as opposed to pulling it away.

    I sent a few quick questions to John Carmack, co-founder of id software, lead engineer of Armadillo Aerospace, Linux supporter, and an all-around good guy to get his thoughts on the situation.

  • Audiocasts

  • Server

    • QA with IBM’s Dan Frye: “Everything Has Changed”

      You will be talking about 10+ years of Linux at IBM. What has changed about Linux in a decade? What hasn’t?

      Frye: Whoa. Everything has changed. Nothing is the same, with the possible exception of the “can do” philosophy of the global Linux development team. Everything has evolved – the technology, the market, customer adoption, the development process (yes, Linux community does have processes, even if they’re frequently loathe to admit it….). And all for the better. One of the most amazing things about the Linux market has been unbroken chain of success over the past decade – not once did the Linux pause or even briefly decline. The rise of the Internet ushered in the age of open standard computing with customers demanding freedom from relying upon any single, closed operating system provider. As a result, today, Linux is an unstoppable force in the industry, changing the economics of information technology, driving open standards in a way never before possible, and advancing customer innovation.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux: Removing The Big Kernel Lock

      Arnd Bergmann noted that he’s working on removing the BKL from the Linux kernel, “I’ve spent some time continuing the work of the people on Cc and many others to remove the big kernel lock from Linux and I now have [a] bkl-removal branch in my git tree”. He went on to explain that his branch is working, and lets him run the Linux kernel, “on [a] quad-core machine with the only users of the BKL being mostly obscure device driver modules.” Arnd noted that this effort has a long history, “the oldest patch in this series is roughly eight years old and is Willy’s patch to remove the BKL from fs/locks.c, and I took a series of patches from Jan that removes it from most of the VFS.”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • KDE4: It hurt, but did it work?

        Two years on, things are back on track. It’s perhaps time to begin a campaign of telling people who left KDE, “it’s safe to come back!”. As it stands, not only is KDE 4.4 a superb desktop, thanks to the new frameworks that are now in place the potential for new developments is almost overwhelming. Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend KDE4. However, it’s been a rocky couple of years getting here.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • First Look: GNOME 2.30

        April Fools turned out to be a great day for Linux enthusiasts, as GNOME developers decided to offer them something to look forward to except getting punked and do a proper launch, and a pretty big one at that. GNOME 2.30 is now available for everyone and the final release of the 2.xx series is packing some serious punch and plenty of goodies for even the most demanding user.

  • Distributions

    • Gentoo Family

      • Paludis is Going Into a Cave

        The following applies to Gentoo, not Exherbo. Exherbo developers (Exherbo has no users) already know what’s going on there. I figure it’s worth having a clear source of information on this for Gentoo users, though, rather than making people rely upon rumours and third hand transcriptions of what’s been said on IRC.

      • Interview with Andrzej Wasylkowski from the checkmycode project.

        4. How is Gentoo involved in the project?

        All the source code that the analysis uses to find patterns comes from the Gentoo distribution (i.e., the snippet you submit gets compared to the source code of projects coming from the Gentoo distribution).

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Manual Audio Book

        The Ubuntu Manual Team strives to improve its availability of educational resources by catering for a wide audience of people across all aspects of life, be it translating the manual into different languages or providing size 25 font versions for those with sight difficulties.

      • Will Ubuntu’s new look bring in the masses?

        With Ubuntu 10.4, codenamed Lucid Lynx, Ubuntu will change its look completely. Everything will be brand new; the logo, the user interface, and the color scheme (no more brown). It’s set to be released on April 29, less than a month away.

        We are very curious to see if this makeover will give Ubuntu a boost in popularity. It’s already the most popular desktop Linux distribution, but will this new look, this new branding, make it easier for Ubuntu to cast its net even wider and grow the Linux user base as a whole?

      • Ubuntu 10.04: Five Changes You May Not Have Noticed

        All in all, I’m impressed by the number of changes Canonical decided to make for Lucid, given that it’s an LTS release–for which Ubuntu developers have traditionally focused on delivering maximum stability, with minimal novelty.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • HTC Desire and HTC Legend Gets Root Access

      The two new Android phone – HTC Desire and HTC Legend have been rooted for full file system access on Android 2.1. Paul at Modaco forums has confirmed to have got full su (root) access on the said devices, and is currently going through final release mechanics before he makes it public for everyone to use.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Edition On My Dell Mini 10 v

        So how does the netbook edition look on my dell mini ? Amazing ! The icons/interface look better and the interface setup is perfect for the small screen estate of the netbook. The old 8.04 ubuntu version was boring , and this version is alive and makes me want to use the netbook even more. The 8.04 version doesn’t have an update OS feature compared to the later releases so it’s best to upgrade to a later version or 9.10. I can see why a lot of netbook ubuntu users are upgrading to the netbook version , it simply rocks !

      • Acer to bring out dual-boot Windows/Android netbook

        At a launch event for its TimelineX notebooks in Europe, Acer let it slip that it is working on an Aspire One D260 netbook that will have dual-boot capabilities with Android and Windows, likely XP. An update to the Aspire One D250, it is expected to ship with the latest Atom processor, though technical specifications are not yet finalized. At the same time, Acer revealed a netbook running on Chrome OS is also due in the summer of this year.

      • One Laptop Per Child delivers 200 XO computers to NT kids

        The Linux-based user interface which runs on the XO laptop, Sugar, is currently developed by the open source community.

    • Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Former Sun open source officer joins OSI board

    Simon Phipps, who was chief open source officer at Sun Microsystems for the past five years, has become a member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) board of directors.

    In an email response to questions Thursday, Phipps said he was not offered a position at Oracle, which closed its acquisition of Sun in January. Phipps worked nearly 10 years at the now-defunct company.

  • Why Toyota Should Go Open Source

    The software development equivalent of kaizen, of course, is open-source software. As the chief executive of Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open-source technology solutions, you can color me biased, but open source represents the most significant change and most disruptive force in software development in 20 years. In the open-source software model, the human-readable source code is distributed along with the computer-readable machine code. Users are encouraged to understand the code, find flaws, suggest fixes, and add functionality. As with kaizen manufacturing principles, open source encourages participation and continuous improvement. It can shrink defects to a negligible number. Since 2006, the Coverity Scan Open Source Report has analyzed more than 60 million unique lines of code from more than 280 popular open-source projects, including Firefox, Linux, and PHP. In 2009, states the report, open source code had roughly one defect per 4,000 lines of code, a marked contrast with the stats for proprietary code.

  • GIMP

    • GIMP has to catch up again!
    • GIMP 2.8: A preview of the new features! [April 2010]
    • Two great plugins for Gimp !!

      Today will show you another two nice plugins for Gimp, the first one is Sunny landscape : This script changes a rainy landscape to a sunny one, the second is called Resynthesizer, and can generate textures from a given sample the same way Photoshop’s content-aware fill does.

    • Gimp for the kids: Debian Junior Art

      If you’ve ever tried your hand at The GIMP, you know that, at first, The GIMP can be a bit challenging to learn. That is coming from an adult. Imagine a younger user attempting to use The GIMP.

      Believe it or not, there are plenty of tools for the Linux operating system for children. There are educational tools, interfaces, and more. One of those “and mores” is the Debian Junior Art package. This package includes both Tux Paint and Xpaint. This article will show you how to install Junior Art and introduce you to both tools.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox Education Toolkit
    • March Mozilla Drumbeat Update
    • Firefox claims 40% of Euro browser share

      Mozilla’s little browser that could is actually on its way to dethroning Internet Explorer as the default, most widely used browser in the world, and the apex of its growth is in Europe.

    • Leaving Labs, Joining Firefox

      I’m happy to announce that I’m moving to the Firefox team, where I’ll be taking the role of Creative Lead for Firefox to help in designing and guiding the future product path for Firefox. I’m excited by the new role, excited by the team, excited by the possibilities, and excited by the potential to make nearly 400 million people’s lives demonstrably more rad.

  • Openness

    • The human genome at ten

      The race to complete the first human genome sequence had everything a story needs to keep its audience enthralled — right down to a neck-and-neck sprint for the finish by two fierce rivals. In the end, the result was basically a tie. The rivals — the international, publicly funded Human Genome Project and the private, for-profit company Celera Genomics then based in Rockville, Maryland — jointly announced the completion of their draft sequences in June 2000 at a gala televised press conference attended by US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    • Dramatic Growth of Open Access: March 31, 2010 Edition

      The March 31, 2010 issue of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access is now available. Highlights: DOAJ is now at 4,863 journals, having added a net total of 864 journals in the past year for a DOAJ growth rate of over 2 titles per day. The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine now searches over 23 million documents; this is an increase of over 1.2 million in the last quarter, or over 13,000 documents per day. There are now more than 200 open access mandate policies listed in ROARMAP, with strong growth in every category. Compliance with the U.S. National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy is 62% – still not 100%, but definitely getting closer. In the past year,120 more journals began contributing all content as open access to PubMedCentral. There are now more than 5,000 journals around the world using Open Journal Systems (OJS).

    • Achieving Impossible Things with Free Culture and Commons-Based Enterprise
    • Paywall/Open Debate Applied To University Education As Well

      Now, the OCW critics will claim that this takes away from the big schools that put content into OCW, but again, that’s misunderstanding the market, and assuming a zero-sum game, rather than an ability to expand the overall pie, recognizing that better education programs across the board are a good thing that open up many more opportunities than they take away.

    • Ordnance Survey opens up UK mapping data!

      Ordnance Survey opens up UK mapping data!

      Subsequent to the recent consultation on Ordnance Survey data and Gordon Brown’s commitment to opening up (an unspecified amount of) the data in a speech last week – today the UK’s mapping agency is releasing a significant portion of their data for free use by the public.

  • Programming

    • Perl 4, Back Where It Belongs
    • Linux on your iPhone

      As an April Fool’s joke, I created a fake Linux app for the iPhone that made it look like Linux was running on your phone. It doesn’t actually do anything – when you type text, it just spits out one of several pre-determined responses, but there are various geeky in-jokes for people in the know. The idea was that you’d buy it knowing it was fake (it was made very clear in the app description), then show it to your Linuxy friends, say “hey, I installed Linux on my iPhone!” and see how long it took for them to figure out it was a joke.

      Sadly, Apple rejected the app for various reasons.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Introducing ISO ODF 1.1

      Formally this alignment to ODF 1.1 would be done via an amendment to ISO/IEC 26300:2006, to add the enhancements from OASIS ODF 1.1 — primarily accessibility improvements. The process will look something like this:

      1. OASIS submits the full text of ODF 1.1 to JTC1 (done)
      2. The ODF Project Editor will work with SC34/WG6 to prepare the text of an amendment to ISO/IEC 26300. Think of it as a diff between ODF 1.0 and ODF 1.1 (in progress)
      3. A ballot of SC4 NBs in what is called an FPDAM (Final Preliminary Draft Amendment)
      4. A ballot of JTC1 NBs in what is called an FDAM (you guessed it — a Final Draft Amendment)

    • Document Freedom: How to know when you have it

      Today is Document Freedom Day. In the five years since Open Document Format (ODF) first was approved in OASIS we have certainly made progress, but there is still work remaining to be done. How will we know when we have arrived? At what point can we declare victory and say “Free at last”?


  • F.T.C. Is Said to Have Looked Into Amazon-Google Ties

    Last month, John Doerr, one of America’s most celebrated venture capitalists, announced that he would step down later this year from the board of Amazon.com, a company that he helped to finance and build. At the time, Amazon said Mr. Doerr “has decided not to stand for re-election and will focus more of his time on new ventures.”

  • Sweden Tops The Global Information Technology Report
  • Libel

    • Simon Singh wins libel court battle

      Singh was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over an opinion piece he wrote in the Guardian in April 2008.

      He suggested there was a lack of evidence for the claims some chiropractors make on treating certain childhood conditions including colic and asthma.

      The BCA alleged that Singh had in effect accused its leaders of knowingly supporting bogus treatments.

    • MPs’ revolt may scupper libel reform

      Government plans to limit success fees charged by “no-win no-fee” lawyers in libel cases were put in serious doubt over becoming law before the general election after a Labour rebellion in a House of Commons committee.

    • Study: 52 Percent Of Bloggers Consider Themselves Journalists

      According to a new study released by PR Week and PR Newswire, 52% percent of bloggers surveyed consider themselves journalists.

  • Science

    • Science in the public view: A good gamble

      Researchers at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, did something gutsy but smart Tuesday: they revved the Large Hadron Collider up to a new energy level in full public view.

  • Security

    • Counting a billion: India begins new census

      Adding to the complexity of counting and classifying the world’s second biggest population will be a simultaneous process of collecting biometric data on every person, to be used in a new National Population Register.

    • Court OKs Repeated Tasering of Pregnant Woman

      A federal appeals court says three Seattle police officers did not employ excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a visibly pregnant woman for refusing to sign a speeding ticket.

      The lawyer representing Malaika Brooks said Monday that the court’s 2-1 decision sanctioned “pain compliance” tactics through a modern-day version of the cattle prod.

    • The Price of Justice

      I am shocked. I am appalled. But above all, I am outraged.

      As a child, I was always taught that the police force deserved maximum respect; they were the people looking after our welfare, the people who were protecting us. I would see a fluorescent jacket and feel safer for it. As a woman walking alone after dark, I would be relieved by the sight of an officer on the beat. As a student, I knew that if I got separated from my friends, the police patrolling the ‘party streets’ of Norwich would help me to get home safely.

      Unfortunately, I no longer feel reassured by the sight of an officer in uniform. Instead, I wonder if I will be arrested for using my camera phone. I wonder if I’ve inadvertently dropped my notebook and will be given an on-the-spot fine for littering. Most of all, I fear for my personal safety – and not just when I’m on the other side of a picket line.

  • Environment

    • Shell Oil Behind London Science Museum Decision to Take Anti-Science Stance on Global Warming?

      The Times of London reports that the London Science Museum has decided to change its position from promoting understanding of the science of global warming to one that they deem “neutral” in their climate science gallery. And by neutral they mean a stance at odds with the widely accepted science on climate change. Science accepted by NASA, the UN IPCC and climate scientists around the world. And science being visibly demonstrated right now – today – in places like Antarctica and Nepal where ice is shrinking and in Africa where bodies of water are rapidly decreasing from drought and climate changes and in our oceans where coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate. But better not to upset a confused public. Let’s stay neutral.

    • Koch Industries’ Extensive Funding of Climate Denial Industry Unmasked

      Koch Industries has “become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition,” spending over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the climate denial machine, according to an extensive report today by Greenpeace.

      The Greenpeace report reveals how Koch Industries and the foundations under its control spent far more than even ExxonMobil in recent years to fund industry front groups opposed to clean energy and climate policies. Koch spent over half the total amount -nearly $25 million – funding climate denier groups from 2005 to 2008, a period in which Exxon only spent $8.9 million.

    • Yunnan Drought Photos: Fish Trapped In Dried Lake Bed
    • Lighter Later: Redefining climate change campaigns.

      This weekend just gone, 10:10 launched quite possibly the most unique and inspirational climate change campaign the UK has seen for many many years; Lighter Later. Okay, I would say that, but think about it. By focusing solely on making life noticeably better for the vast majority of the UK’s citizens, 10:10 has taken the climate change debate to a whole new dimension. So pay close attention. The idea is ingenious in its simplicity. We shift our clocks to match better the hours we work. Wintertime in the UK would now run at BST, or GMT +1. And Summertime would be an hour ahead, GMT +2. So we would still change the clocks twice per year but it would mean that we’d spend more of our day in light, in evening sunshine in fact. Right now as you can see from these graphs we “waste” a lot of that light by sleeping right through it.

    • EU warned fuel quality plans will increase oil emissions

      Draft rules on implementing the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive would allow imports of tar sand and other energy intensive oils to the EU, undermining greenhouse gas emission savings, environmentalists have warned.

      The European Commission is currently drafting implementation measures for the Fuel Quality Directive to establish a methodology for calculating greenhouse gas emissions from fuel. The directive, adopted to complement the climate and energy package in December 2008, requires suppliers of petrol, diesel and gas oil used in road transport to reduce the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of fuel by 10% by 2020.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Big Brother on Your Trail

      These developments explain why a coalition of organizations and companies—including Google, AT&T, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the American Civil Liberties Union—have joined in asking Congress to drag our privacy laws into the 21st century. They think search warrants should be required before law enforcement can demand this sort of electronic communications information.

    • Court Says President Bush Violated Wiretapping Laws With Warrantless Wiretap

      In a huge ruling, a court has said that the US government violated wiretapping laws in eavesdropping on phone calls without a warrant.

      If you haven’t been following the fight over the legality of warrantless wiretapping, this case, involving lawyers working with the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, is extremely important. When it was revealed that the Bush administration was wiretapping phonecalls without a warrant, lawsuits were filed — but the “problem” was that the parties (such as the ACLU) that filed the lawsuits didn’t have “standing” because they had no evidence that they, personally, were impacted by the warrantless wiretapping. This created a ridiculous Catch-22 situation. As long as the government hid its illegal activities and never said who it spied on, it could spy on anyone illegally. No one could bring a lawsuit, since there was no proof that they had been impacted by the illegal spying.

    • Web site posters’ anonymity an invitation to mischief: Connie Schultz

      Web site posters’ anonymity an invitation to mischief: Connie Schultz

    • Netzpolitik-Interview: Background on the Censilia-plans

      Joe McNamee, the European Policy Affairs Coordinator for European Digital Rights (EDRi), recently discussed the current EU Commission’s plans to introduce internet blocking measures with the British webportal Index on Censorship: Out of sight, out of mind. On this theme, I asked him a few questions to further illuminate this topic.

    • Open letter to Commissioner Malmström
    • Censorship in Scotland

      Something very disturbing is happening in Scotland. At one time it was a beacon for transparent and democratic government. Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, made bold rulings on the people’s right to know including a decision that all Members of the Scottish Parliament would have to disclose their expenses. It was this decision that I used as a legal precedent in my own case against Westminster MPs.

      Now it seems some Scottish politicians are regressing. The SNP Government is going to court to try and strip the Scottish Information Commissioner of his power. Ministers, including First Minister Alex Salmond, want the Court of Session to rule that the Commissioner doesn’t have the right to ask the Government for information as part of his FOI investigations. This comes after Mr Dunion launched a freedom of information probe after ministers turned down a request to see government files. When the Government refused to provide the files, the Commissioner issued an “information notice” against ministers, demanding they provide more details.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Official Statement Objecting BBC/OFCOM Proposal

      The Linux Foundation, on behalf of its members, would like to register its serious objections to the current BBC/OFCOM proposal, which would impose content management controls on new free-to-air high definition channels. The plan, which involves restrictively licensing the Huffman codes used in the electronic programme guide, would have a negative effect on open source applications and would distort the markets which have built up around those applications.

      The treatment of Open Source in the BBC document is incorrect and ignores the severe market distortions that this content management scheme would produce in open platforms. The use of Open Source within the market segments that would be affected by the BBC proposal can be divided into two business models: Proprietary but built on Open Source and fully open platforms. The HD Freesat system the BBC used to characterise Open Source falls into the Proprietary but open category; no analysis at all was attempted of the fully open category. The failure to look at fully open platforms leads to an important segment of the market being ignored.

    • An Open Letter to Ofcom on the BBC HD DRM Proposals

      …teach and conduct research at the Open University, which since its inception has used broadcast and multimedia technologies in education, we are writing to express our objections to the proposal to allow the BBC to add a Digital Rights Management (DRM) flag to its high definition (HD) output.

    • Last Chance to Save BBC from DRM

      This leading question (and they are all phrased thus) pretty much indicates that Ofcom has made up its mind about the issue, and is simply going through the motions of consultation. Note, too, the euphemism “copy management”, when what we are talking about here is DRM, plain and simple: even Ofcom is aware that trying to espouse the benefits of DRM is a lost cause.

    • How do you want to watch HD TV in the future? It’s time to tell Ofcom

      If you run open source capture/viewing software, such as MythTV, things get a little trickier. The developers of MythTV can’t sign an agreement with the BBC in order to obtain the decoding tables, because part of the terms of the agreement are that the decoding tables aren’t given out to anybody else. This is fundamentally opposed to the open source nature of the project, so simply won’t happen.

    • DRMs in the draft Copyright Amendments

      India has been under a lot of pressure from the US, due to the Special 301 report which US puts out annually, to amend and enforce its copyright laws to a standard closer to what the US would want; usually standards which the US has succeeded in pushing through in WIPO treaties. Therefore, essentially, it is the same lobby which pushes for stricter laws in US as it is in India. (Incidentally, I recently wrote a post on Hollywood tying up with Bollywood to check piracy in India). To further add to this, even as their effect in US has come under severe criticism; for them to be the lobbying party in India without due regard for the local context, economy and culture seems absurd. For a developing country like India, which even other developing countries look up to, it is important to get their copyright law correct, since the alternative is that instead of incentivizing and aiding creation and creative works, it is creating unnecessary barriers to access to creative works (especially considering that there is a big emphasis in Indian culture to adapt and improvise on works already in the public domain).

  • Newspaper Industry

    • Fox News goes liberal (on copyright law)

      Fox News loves “fair use” … if it can help win a copyright lawsuit.

      Rupert Murdoch may be on the record attacking the legal doctrine as an excuse for online piracy, but attorneys for the mogul’s top-rated cable news network are hanging their hat on fair use in responding to a lawsuit brought by a TV producer who claims FNC improperly aired an interview with Michael Jackson’s ex-wife during its nonstop coverage of the singer’s death.

    • NSFW: The Madness of King Rupert – I Admit, I Was Wrong About Murdoch’s Mental State
    • Johnston’s Local Pay Site Trial Has Been ‘A Disaster’

      We could have told Johnston Press, when it announced the plans back in November, that people won’t pay to read local newspapers online. But you can’t begrudge the publisher finding out for sure for itself…

      Its three-month pay trial on six local papers sites is now ending, with apparently dismal results. One paper staffer tells HTFP the trial was a “disaster” with subscribers “in single figures”, while another title got subscribers only “in the low double figures”, Press Gazette says.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • The Collapse of Complex Business Models

      I gave a talk in Edinburgh last year to a group of TV executives gathered for an annual conference. From the Q&A after, it was clear that for them, the question wasn’t whether the internet was going to alter their business, but about the mode and tempo of that alteration. Against that background, though, they were worried about a much more practical matter: When, they asked, would online video generate enough money to cover their current costs?

      That kind of question comes up a lot. It’s a tough one to answer, not just because the answer is unlikely to make anybody happy, but because the premise is more important than the question itself.

    • Crookes v p2pnet link case goes to Supreme Court

      Hyper-linking is what the net is all about. Without it, the Internet would become a drab and pale facsimile of the exciting news, data and information medium it is today.

    • IsoHunt told to pull .torrent files offline, likely to close

      The founder of popular Bit Torrent site IsoHunt, Gary Fung, has been ordered to remove the .torrent files for all infringing content—an order that could result in the site shutting down. US District Judge Stephen Wilson issued the order last week after years of back-and-forths over the legality of IsoHunt and Fung’s two other sites (Torrentbox and Podtropolis). Fung claims he’s still hoping for a more agreeable resolution that won’t result in IsoHunt closing its doors, but for now, things aren’t looking good for the torrent site.

    • Isohunt Ordered to Remove Infringing Content
    • Legal limbo: Disney could go after you for posting vacation videos online

      Lots of people use YouTube and other video sharing sites to upload videos taken on their vacations. But when it comes to footage of your last trip to Disneyland, a park run by corporate masters who are famously vigilant in protecting their intellectual rights with lawsuits, you may want to keep those videos to yourself.


      Disney doesn’t deny it either way, but the wording of its policy, and its ominous reference to its “options,” might suggest otherwise. Disney has no stated policy against your right to post videos that document your park experiences. It also has no stated policy saying you can.

      To stave off persistent accusations of enabling copyright infringement, YouTube historically been quickly compliant with corporate complaints. It follows a largely pre-emptive policy of summarily deleting any video for which you can’t prove you own the rights. Its policy can be as erratic as Disney’s is vague, inciting the ire of Web watchdog groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (That may be annoying, but at least you don’t live in Italy, where the government is proposing you have to obtain a license if you want to upload any moving picture to the Internet.)

    • Record industry: ignore that French piracy study!

      A few days back, we highlighted a new study out of France that found piracy actually going up after the country passed a strict Internet disconnection law. Though the law won’t be implemented until later in the year, les internautes are already moving away from P2P networks; the thing is, even more of them are moving to other forms of piracy not dealt with by the new law, like online streaming and one-click downloads.

    • An open letter to Victoria A. Espinel, US “IP Czar”

      On one hand, I would propose that you abandon “intellectual property enforcement” (which actually means “intellectual freedom restrictions”) since the restrictions in question are clearly unethical and extreme.

      On the other, I would recommend stepping up the enforcement — maybe doing so will make enough people aware of the oppression so that they will see the value of free culture and free software, and finally, bring about the political change that is needed to eliminate the cancer on our society that is deceptively labelled “Intellectual Property.”

    • NZ’s Labour party rejects cutting off pirates

      New Zealand’s Labour party, currently in opposition, has stated that it would no longer support provisions for cutting off file sharer’s internet accounts.

      The policy is a back-flip on the party’s position on graduated response legislation in the past, which supported termination of internet access.

    • Spain Finds Film Piracy A Hard Habit To Break

      It has been the setting for many a spaghetti western, but now Hollywood has warned that Spain could be facing high noon over its appalling record of movie piracy, with a future devoid of DVDs.

      The unauthorised downloading of films from the internet is so rife, with film-makers complaining that a legal void makes people think movies are free, that Spain could become the first European country to be abandoned by Hollywood studios.

    • Internet S.o.S Part3: the EU perspective

      The Telecoms Package contains a provision which means that graduated response measures cannot be imposed without giving the user a right to due process. The actual words are ‘a prior, fair and impartial procedure’ which guarantees the presumption of innocence. (EU Framework directive 2009/140/EC, Article 1.3a). The intention of the European Parliament was that users would have a court

    • Results From Dungeons & Dragons Online Going Free: Revenue Up 500%

      Last year, we wrote about the decision by Turbine to turn its formerly fee-based Dungeons & Dragons Online MMO into a free offering, that had reasons to buy built into the game. At the time, we noted that the early results looked good, but over time they’re looking even better. Reader Murdock alerts us to the news that DDO was able to get 1 million more users and boost revenue 500%… all by going free.

    • 1978

      It’s all about access to knowledge

      In 1978 we were accessing information very differently to how we are accessing it today. If we’re not accessing information via a computer, we’re doing it via a mobile phone. But doing it, we are.
      The Copyright Act, which is one of the major acts that governs how we access information, is 32 years old. It is now time to be updated.

    • Fifth OiNK Uploader Walks Free

      During October 2007, the popular BitTorrent tracker OiNK was shut down in a joint effort by Dutch and British law enforcement. Three months ago the site’s administrator was cleared of all charges. The remaining uploader had his case dropped today and also walks free.

    • ACTA

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • The DEBill and why it should go.

        Lilian Edwards (well, her Pangloss persona, anyway) offers another characteristically trenchant analysis here of the shocking mess that is the Digital Economy Bill. The DEBill* appears to be yet another in the growing list of legislative measures in which the Bill is drafted so as to confer disproportionate powers, while we are assured by the sponsoring Minister‡ that they will either never be used, or be used only for good.


        The DEBill is wrong at the meta-level, too. Not only does the Bill itself enshrine evasions of due process (as described above), it is also about to be pushed through Parliament without debate, as part of the inappropriately-named “wash-up” process in the closing days of the legislative session.

        On April 6th, the Bill will be given its second reading and then become a bargaining chip in an unaccountable and undemocratic haggling session amongst MPs whose chances of forming part of the next legislature are entirely uncertain.

        I urge you to let your MP know that you object to the Bill and its passage through Parliament.

      • Coadec’s concerns with Copyright Infringement Provisions of Digital Economy Bill

        • The biggest concern with the User Notification Rules is the potential effect on ISPs, which includes not just upstream providers but anyone who makes Internet access available (and so theoretically applies to cafes and other providers of wi-fi hotspots). The administrative burden on these smaller ISPs is likely to be very high, and in combination with potential fines of up to £250,000 for non-compliance, these provisions may be enough to put many ISPs out of business. The long-run effect will be substantially reduced Internet access in public places, which (1) will have a disproportionately large impact on the earliest-stage entrepreneurs, who rely on publicly-available wi-fi to develop their innovations before they move into an office and (2) conflicts with the Government’s mission of make high-speed access widely available.

      • Beware as Mandelson sneaks in new web blocking clause

        Lord Mandelson, who is putting through the protectionist Digital Economy Bill on behalf of the wealthy creative industry corporations, has come out with a revised version of the BPI’s website blocking clause. But beware, because this is merely a ruse to get 3-strikes carried when it goes before the House of Commons next week.

        The Clause is not substantially different from the one proposed by Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Howard of Rising. All it seems to do is to create another layer of legislation, and possibly it could have two effects: one is that Mandelson is trying to get the rest of the Digital Economy bill passed before the election, so this is a ruse to leave out the most controversial clause. And, in putting it off until the political heat is also off, he can sneak it through more easily.

      • The Digital Economy Bill: The Power of Not Being Elected

        The Digital Economy Bill now represents a wonderful opportunity for would-be next-Parliament MPs. Show us why we should trust you. Show us that you will stand in the gap and uphold democratic rights and due process. And think before you alienate a good slice of your electorate.

        I guess dinosaurs have to be allowed their ritual dances as they exit the evolutionary stage. And this Bill, flawed as it is, may still become law. Because of clever timing, apathy. And the Power Of Not Being Elected.

      • Draft Clause 18 Published
      • Writing (Yet Again) to my MP

        I would therefore urge you to press ministers for a full debate on the Bill, perhaps by signing this Early Day Motion (EDM 1223):

        “That this House believes that the Digital Economy Bill [Lords] is too important to be taken further in the last days of a dying Parliament; and considers that a bill with so many repercussions for consumers, civil liberties, freedom of information and access to the internet should be debated and properly scrutinised at length and in detail, with a full opportunity for public discussion and representation in a new Parliament after the general election and not rushed through in the few days that remain in this Parliament.”

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 1: Episode 4 (2004)

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