A Plausible Reason for Microsoft’s Open Source Attempts, A Broadcast Flag in the UK and More

  • Recent ruling shores up DMCA safe harbor
    David Kravets at Wired explains the ruling in the UMG v. Veoh suit, the second suit labeled against the video sharing site for the same issue. For its flaws, this is good evidence that at least the DMCA safe harbors can work as an acceptable compromise. Even better, it affirms that as long as the safe harbors are operated, services are not required to actively filter copyrighted content, an activity that has repeatedly squashed fair use where it has been undertaken.
  • More on advanced usage tracking techniques
    The EFF has a pretty good survey of the state of the art, going beyond traditional browser cookies. There are links to research specifically within the last year, especially on Flash cookies which are resistant to user control. This is the first time I’ve seen a Firefox plugin recommended, though, to try to help users wrest some control back from advertisers. This is the first of several parts, given how well linked and cited this is, I am looking forward to the future parts.
  • A broadcast flag may be coming for the UK
    The EFF explains about a consultation held at the request of the BBC that seeks to consider the question of content protection. The EFF reminds us of the risks of such a protection scheme, seen here in the US as a broadcast flag, in terms of stifling innovation. The proposed scheme here is a bit backhanded, an obscured compression of channel listing metadata, but the intent is obviously the same.
  • Novell launches MonoTouch to bring .NET to the iPhone
    At Ars, Ryan Paul explains how Novell got around the constraints on alternate runtimes and JIT compilers. I am actually a bit conflicted by this story. On the one hand, it is opening up the iPhone to alternate technologies and development environments making it more accessible. But on the other, it is .NET of which I am no fan mostly because of my concern that Microsoft will yank the rug from under Mono eventually.
  • Explaining Microsoft’s, Google’s open tactics as self interest
    I initially balked at this piece from Matt Asay as I think he was starting to give too much credit to Microsoft. He then took it in an interesting direction, though, proposing a theory for why both Google and Microsoft would make moves seemingly counter to their core business. There is a certain poetry to the notion that by explicitly giving customers support for the choice to leave, they are less likely to actually do so.

More Debate on Defining Broadband, a Zombie Broadcast Flag, Google Launches a Project to Liberate Your Data and More

  • IBM mandates OOo for internal use
    According to Linux Magazine, it is actually their OpenOffice.org based product, Lotus Symphony. They are also adopting ODF as a standard, though, which is probably even more important. It is hardly surprising but may encourage other large companies fed up with Microsoft or who may be tired of the license costs.
  • WebKit project adds support for forthcomng 3D standard
    The standard, according to the article, is being developed by the same body responsible for OpenGL ES and OpenCL. I don’t think gaming is the killer application here, necessarily. OpenGL has been put to some very clever 2D animation uses, so I could see WebGL as another tool to help oust the proprietary Flash from the web.
  • Google launches group dedicated to liberating your data
    This is a really good start from Google and I hope it encourages other service providers to think about data portability. The web site to their credit already has some excellent information on how to export your data from Google applications. I still have a concern about data retention that I am not seeing addressed and for which Google as a whole has a poor track record. Exporting it is one thing, being confident Google will destroy my data afterwards is another.
  • Creative Commons releases results of its study of non-commercial term
    Read the entire post not just for a good summation of response from the survey but also for the implications going forward, in particular for the upcoming long haul deliberations for version 4.0 of the licenses. The underlying survey data as well as the findings are being made openly available. In short, there seems to be a pretty good coherent interpretation of the meaning of non-commercial. Where there is some skew, it falls on the forgivable side such as users interpreting the condition more conservatively than creators. There is some good food for thought, too, in the conclusion in the form of some best practices and guiding principles for using the non-commercial license condition to best effect.
  • Broadcast flag pops up and bites some consumers
    Matthew Lasar at Ars explains what seems like a bit of an anomalous case. A DVD-R based device ran afoul of a flag incorporated into a basic cable program’s broadcast via DirecTV. Lasar also gives a good backgrounder on the broadcast flag’s sordid history, reminding us that even though the courts ultimately killed Big Content’s bid for control of digital broadcasts, device makers (the most foolish ones anyway) can still voluntarily respect any such flags embedded in programming.
  • What is the state of city-wide WiFi?
    A bevy of links consider the question from a few angles netting conflicting answers. I am skeptical of the view that the deployment of WiMax has stalled municipal WiFi since, at least here in the US, WiMax isn’t faring much better in terms of availability. I also doubt that WiFi enabled phones will help drive further coverage since owners always have the option of just using their cellular data plan. Maybe if cell carriers continue to relegate high bandwidth, low latency applications to WiFi, that may inadvertently encourage more competitive wireless options but I am not holding my breath.
  • Japanese RIAA wants server based DRM on mobile phones
    Jacqui Cheung has the story at Ars. I suspect this may be very specific to the market there which has a much stronger focus on phones versus other options for taking your media with you. When I read that it was so heavily centralized beyond the natural questions about how it will work in a cell dead spot, I started worrying about the unanticipated risks and problems that arise from this sort of tethering of consumers media to a remote system that no doubt is inadequately secured.
  • Are Microsoft’s, Oracle’s open source efforts held up to a double standard?
    Matt Asay asks a fair questions, more so I think when it comes to Oracle. As for Microsoft, I strongly disagree with his view that they are getting an unfair cop from open source advocates. To this day, Microsoft continues to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt that reduces if not eliminates any benefit of the doubt they may deserve. This is not about the percentage of their code that is open or their upstream contributions compared to contributions by other commercial outfits. Rather it is about adversarial double dealing that no amount of openness can easily absolve.
  • AT&T excludes gaming from broadband in FCC’s attempts to define the term
    Matthew Lasar has the particulars at Ars. The gaming industry not surprisingly has their back up at AT&T’s remarks. Lasar includes some good research material to try to better understand whether gaming should be considered an essential part of broadband access. I am concerned that this sort of rhetoric is going to de-rail the broadband plan through squabbling over specific uses rather than considering it on simpler terms as a tool for access to knowledge of all kinds.
  • Jesse Brown suggest publicly funded media should be int the public domain
    He uses the example of a series he produced for the CBC which he cannot link or mirror. My answer is pretty unsurprising, “Yes!”, but I do think this is a question that needs to be put seriously to the Canadian, US and other governments that have publicly funded and supported media. I would go so far as to suggest this should be part of open governance, alongside access to voting records, campaign finance data, and the text of our legislation.