- HTC is wilfully violating the GPL with its G2 anti-root measures, Freedom to Tinker
- More on the G2’s anti-rooting measures, Ars Technica
- Professors bring white-spaces broadband to working-class Houston, Ars Technica
- Problems remaining with ACTA draft, in particular turning non-commercial sharing into commercial piracy, Techdirt
- Where ACTA disagrees with US law, Techdirt
- US Senator seeks legal review of ACTA, Michael Geist
- Labels fail to force three strikes on Ireland, Techdirt
- American P2P law firms are now threatening each other, Ars Technica
- School settles laptop spying case, Ars Technica
- USPTO’s peer-to-patent program may be coming back, Techdirt
- EFF asks appeals court to review troubling first-sale decision, EFF
- Oracle pledges to support OpenOffice.org, PC World, via Groklaw
- Holding Nokia responsible for surveilling dissidents in Iran, EFF
- Amazon wins one-click patent fight–in Canada, The Globe and Mail
- Would US officials really decide not to sign ACTA?, Techdirt
- Final day of appeals for The Pirate Bay, TorrentFreak
The Register has the details, driven by the hackers among Android’s larger community, of Dell’s failure to fully honor their GPL obligations with their new gadget. The Streak is an early entrant into a promising field of Android powered mobile devices, tablets. Well, it isn’t quite a tablet as the consensus seems to consider tablets in the range of seven inch screens and up. And it isn’t quite a true MID, usually coming in at four inch or so. (MID stands for mobile internet device and is a bland and worthless descriptor that seems most commonly applied to handy non-tablet devices like the iPod Touch.) The most frequent attempt at describing the Streak I’ve seen is to characterize it as an oversized phone, with all the appropriate hardware and available with a service place but clumsy to hold up to the ear.
This is one of the devices I am following with interest to potentially purchase as a successor to my aging and increasingly decrepit first generation iPod Touch. Hopefully Dell will come into compliance sooner, rather than later. Especially as the sources in question could mean the difference between having or not having the option of an after market, manually upgrade to FroYo, the latest version of Android.
Dell Streak snub enrages Android fans, The Register
A nice bit of software archeology by Simon Phipps. Not just digging up the history of this old Sun code that was up until this month still under a restrictive license, but the challenges and Phipps’ own part in correcting that situation after a few attempts.
This may come as a shock, but all GNU/Linux distributions to date have been built with essential software under a licence that clearly meets neither the Open Source Definition nor the Free Software Foundations’ requirements for a Free software licence. The tenacity of a Red Hat hacker has finally solved this problem for everyone, however, and I’m proud to have played a part too.
The code in question is the original SUN RPC code, buried in the guts of Linux’s, and other OSes’, networking code. The most fascinating aspect is how the original, informal licensing terms purely as a function of time evolved from seeming liberal to quite conservative. As Phipps notes, this code well predates the GPL so didn’t benefit from the kind of legal theorizing and scrutiny that came to software licensing later on.
GNU/Linux – finally it’s free software, Computer World UK
- Speculation on WikiLeaks insurance file
- Peter Norvig on being wrong
Via Hacker News. Norvig is director of research at Google and as this Slate interview by Kathryn Schulz makes clear, he has a very healthy attitude towards instructive failure.
- Why did feds claim Kindle violates civil rights?
Via Hacker News. As the Washington Examiner explains, the claim was prompted by universities experimenting with distributing Kindles to their students. The device has a spotty track record when it comes to accessibility, most notoriously that the text-to-speech for books can be disabled by publishers. Apparently only the most recent version uses the capability even for material for which Amazon should own the rights, the menus and other navigation displays.
- iPhone 4 carrier unlock released
- Despite claims to the contrary, TSA storing images from body scanners
- Wall Street Journal series on digital privacy
- Critical win for GPL compliance
- A badging framework for non-profits
Glyn Moody pointed this out over on his blog, Move Commons. I tend to agree that helping communicate applicable principles, even netting it down to a recognizable badge image, is useful but in what way is this a commons, other than it uses a mechanism like Creative Commons? There is a sharing component but why not just use a standard CC license, well placed and well advertised for that and call the project Move Framework or Altruism Policy or something catchy but entirely more accurate.
- YouTube starts experimenting with embeddable HTML5 video
As Marshal Kirkpatrick at RWW explains, this is distinct from their testing of HTML5 and WebM on the site proper. It is a bit of a reversal from their previous stance on only using Flash to share, or embed, video on other sites. Good news for the adoption of HTML5’s video capabilities even if we still have to push on the underlying issue of video codecs, specifically whether a patent encumbered or unencumbered format should rise to the level of de facto standard.
- Law suit tries to compare mobile media messages (MSS) to file sharing networks
- WP theme maker backs down and adopts GPL license
Via Hacker News.
- Tornado web server framework hits 1.0
- Bloatware on Android phones
What Priya Ganapati at Wired means are the pre-installed and often difficult or impossible to remove trial applications that are a fixture of PCs. Carriers are following in the footsteps of computer makers, taking advantage of the customizability of Android phones to bog them down with the same nonsense for much the same reason, some extra cash through providing access to 3rd party software and services. Unfortunately, the phone makers aren’t paying too close attention, at least to the backlash and subsequent reduction in bloatware on PCs, as Ganapati goes on to explain. Thankfully not all carriers have succumbed to this urge.
- Mullenweg stands firm: WordPress themes, plugins are convered by GPL
Slashdot links to the decision and some legal reasoning on how the GPL extends from the server’s source to extensions which are not usually covered, being separate works. This is the culmination of quite a bit of heated back and forth between Mullenweg and the author of a commercial theme.
- Court rules violating site’s TOS not a crime but bypassing technical barriers may be
- Firefox 4’s second beta on track to arrive tomorrow
- How to root a Droid X
- UK royalty group wants ISPs to pay for pirating customers
Via Slashdot. Superficially, this isn’t too different from a statutory license but on further reading that breaks down. Mandatory licenses are usually flat rate, generating supplemental revenue to existing media as a manageable tax on emerging media. The reasoning here is different, it is meant to scale with the volume of unlicensed music flowing throw ISPs’ networks. The lack of consideration for legitimate online sales also being bolstered by improved access to broadband is concerning yet very typical.
- New insights that may lead to room temperature super conductors
As The Register explains, copper-oxide super conductors enter a pseudo-gap phase when warming up, the main quality of which is that they stop conducting with zero resistance. It turns out that there is more if interest in this phase of the material than simply a roadblock to super conductivity that doesn’t require massive cooling. The new insights could lead to new materials or adjusting existing ones to finally achieve zero resistance at practical temperatures. For computing, such super conductors could crack Gordon Moore’s other observation, about power/thermal load that didn’t pan out as well as his famous prediction on doubling transistor density every eighteen months.
- CouchDB on Android
Via Hacker News. The project just reached its 1.0 milestone for the regular release. The Android version is still a very early developer preview. It is a good example of the increased choice that Android offers mobile developers. And they don’t have to wait around for Google to provide them with more tools and options, there is nothing stopping a database maker or a toolkit author or anyone else from porting something useful not just to end users but to other developers.
- Black Hat talk on Chinese cyber army pulled
Slashdot has the story, one that seems to repeat every year at one or more hacker conferences in some form or another. The pulling of talks is so expected at this point, I’d suggest it would be more surprising if at least one such story didn’t crop up in a given year. In this instance, the presenters are from a company with R&D operations in Taiwan explaining their concern about possible pressure from the Chinese government.
- New Chinese rule will require real names online
- David Lynch looking at crowd funding his next movie
- Brewing conflict between WordPress and proprietary theme developer
HT Glyn Moody on Identi.ca.
- More on the recent developments with the WordPress, Thesis license conflict
It was either a slower news day or I was distracted by day dreams of Balticon.
- Privacy theater
Professor Ed Felten has a link to a NYT round table feature including a variety of opinions about Facebook’s privacy practices and the possibility of regulation. In this Freedom to Tinker post, he also coins the term, “privacy theater”, which aptly describes the motions providers and users both go through without amounting to much control or privacy.
- Fedora 13 released
Ryan Paul at Ars Technica digs some of the highlights out of the release announcement. The biggest change for the release is the inclusion of some open 3D drivers that sound pretty capable. He also mentions the rev to Python 3 and a significantly improvedinstaller.
- FSF seeking GPL compliance in the Apple app store
The application in question is a port of Gnu Go and the core issue is it is impossible to satisfy the offer of source, especially under GPL v2, with the Apple developer license and conditions of use for the store. The FSF is realistic enough to understand that the most likely outcome for this complaint is not compliance but ejection of the app from the store.
- Is Facebook coming around on data portability?
The service has had an abysmal track record, often suing when users try to exercise some autonomous control over their own data. Steve Repetti at the Data Portability blog points out one statement in Zuckerberg’s press call that may be cause to hope. He is realistic, though, and admits the proof will be in what Facebook actually does.
Slashdot links to a post from former MySQL contributor, Brian Akers, that is part conference report from SCALE and part retrospective on MySQL’s effect on how business people viewed the GPL. For one, Akers lays the prevalence of the questionable dual licensing practice in open source at the feet of MySQL. He charts it as part of a trend where investors and potential investors viewed MySQL as a sort of abbreviated map, an executive summary, of the rest of the FLOSS world.
The silver lining is that Akers seems to think this chapter of MySQL’s not always constructive influence on the GPL is over, with the Oracle acquisition of Sun. It stands to reason that the swallowing of the project by a company not known for its open source enlightenment would break this sometimes vicious cycle with investors looking elsewhere for a quick read on what to expect with open source focused businesses.
Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Law Center expressed surprise at a recently granted patent.
So, when I look closely at these claims, I am appalled to discover this patent claims, as a novel invention, things that I’ve done regularly, with a mix of my brain and a computer, since at least 1999. I quickly came to the conclusion that this is yet another stupid patent granted by the USPTO that it would be better to just ignore.
Bradley works on issues of compliance around the GPL and the software firm, Black Duck, has been developing tools to try to automate aspects of this work, most notably analyzing software to suss out chain of provenance. The utility of these tools is suspect, read Bradley’s remarks on why.
As he explains about the patent itself, out of a stream of ridiculous and mind numbingly stupid patent stories flowing out of the usual tech news outlets, this one really stood out. He expresses some reluctance to contribute to even highlighting this intellectual monopoly idiocy but I think it is worth highlighting.
As Bradley says, compliance with the GPL or other free software or open source licenses, isn’t that hard. Most of what the SFLC does is outreach and education, not litigation. I also get the impression that the software archeology aspects are rarely all that challenging.
My only question is whether Bradley will initiate or support contesting this patent. Sounds to me like he is living prior art.