Can you say, “Incoming,” RIAA?
Wired reported recently the story of Tanya Andersen, who had been defending herself against an RIAA lawsuit for about two years before the RIAA dropped its case.
Andersen is “thanking” the RIAA by launching a legal offensive against her former accusers, filing suit against Atlantic Recording Corporation, Priority Records, Capitol Records, UMG Recordings, and BMG Music, the RIAA, MediaSentry, and Settlement Support Center.
Andersen’s complaint claims the RIAA’s methods are criminal, and that their lawyers are needlessly vicious in pursuing defendants. The complaint states that, “. . . it has been discovered that as a part of this secret enterprise MediaSentry has for years conducted illegal, flawed and negligent investigations of many thousands of private United States citizens. These illegal investigations are then used as the sole basis for pursuit of tens of thousands of lawsuits throughout the US.”
You’ll just have to judge for yourself on this one, an item which comes courtesy of Linux Lookup.
Did Microsoft — not exactly known for its innovation and originality, but known throughout professional circles for copying and usurping the work of others — copy the Ubunutu logo for its Microsoft Alumni Network (Note: graphic reduced to fit on this blog page)?
[Of course, according to someone who posted on the forum at Linux Lookup, apparently both are guilty of copying another logo, namely the Scripps Healthcare logo:
So, knowing our friends in Redmond, maybe the attorneys should sort this one out, no?]
Armonk. Cupertino. Redmond. Santa Cruz.
Of the four aforementioned places, three have iconic status in the history of the personal computer, and the fourth hopefully can reverse its dubious place in the historic footnotes that have yet to be written.
Armonk is where IBM makes its home. Cupertino and Apple are joined forever in an infinite loop at 1 Infinite Loop. Redmond . . . well, the Death Star has to reside somewhere, and the suburb just east of Seattle just happens to be where Microsoft settled in.
Then there’s Santa Cruz, which is the “SC” in the original “SCO,” which at its founding in 1979 was the Santa Cruz Operation.
I live in Santa Cruz — in the mountains of the Santa Cruz County, not near surfing mecca on the shores of Monterey Bay (hence, I don’t pepper the ends of my sentences with duuuuuuuude) — and through SCO’s many metamorphoses, the company no longer has its headquarters in Santa Cruz (to be fair, there’s an SCO office in Scotts Valley, a suburb here which would be more at home in Orange County than Santa Cruz, but I digress).
That’s a good thing, too, because like Berchtesgaden in Germany trying to clean its sullied past as Hitler’s playground, Santa Cruz also has some image problems in GNU/Linux circles thanks to SCO. This occurred to me during an on-line conversation with someone overseas that went like this:
J: Where do you live?
Me: Santa Cruz, California.
J: Santa Cruz? As in SCO?
Me: Um, yeah. But I didn’t live here when SCO was around.
Why did I feel the need to defend Santa Cruz? I don’t know. We have some pretty good software and hardware companies here — Borland started out here, and Seagate still makes its home in Santa Cruz County, as does Allume, which was once called Aladdin Systems and is still based in Watsonville. A plethora of independent developers — like Entrance‘s Tod Landis — write programs on “this side of the hill,” while the Silicon Valley teems with activity on the other side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Open Source and Free Software Reporter, my magazine, is based here, too.
SCO is now based in Utah, which begs the question why they haven’t changed their name to UO, for Utah Operation (and keep those cards and letters — I’ve read the history and know why).
According to a report from Down Under — this story from ZDNet Australia, to be exact — two of the largest GNU/Linux distros, Red Hat and Ubuntu, have told the death star in Redmond to take a hike.
According to the story, Red Hat referred back to a statement written when Microsoft revealed it was partnering with Novell, saying that its position remained unaltered. Red Hat director of corporate communications Leigh Day added: “We continue to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency.”
“An unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency” — you mean like protection money you’d pay to a racketeer?
Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth said Ubuntu stands to benefit from improving interoperability between Linux and Windows, but finds that the threat of patent infringement Microsoft has made “have [no] legal merit, and they are no incentive for us to work with Microsoft on any of the wonderful things we could do together.” Shuttleworth also finds significant fault with Microsoft’s Open XML.
“I have no confidence in Microsoft’s Open XML specification to deliver a vibrant, competitive and healthy market of multiple implementations,” Shuttleworth said in a blog entry. “I don’t believe that the specifications are good enough, nor that Microsoft will hold itself to the specification when it does not suit the company to do so.”
So to Novell, Xandros and Linspire — oh, I’m sorry, “Lindows” — , that’s how you should have played it.
Francois Bancilhon writes a short missive on the Mandriva blog that the French distro won’t be “going to Canossa” (excellent reference, Francois; and for those of you who slept through World History class, it refers to the village in the Italian Apennines where the Holy Roman emperor Henry IV did penance to reverse his excommunication by Pope Gregory VII back in the 11th century) over Microsoft’s FUD regarding their nebulous patent claims.
Probably the most impressive part of the brief but clear statement from Paris — incredibly well written in English, I might add — is the arguably reasonable comparison of Microsoft to the Mafia. To wit:
“As far as IP is concerned, we are, to say the least, not great fans of software patents and of the current patent system, which we consider as counter productive for the industry as a whole.
“We also believe what we see, and up to now, there has been absolutely no hard evidence from any of the FUD propagators that Linux and open source applications are in breach of any patents. So we think that, as in any democracy, people are innocent unless proven guilty and we can continue working in good faith.
“So we don’t believe it is necessary for us to get protection from Microsoft to do our job or to pay protection money to anyone.” (emphasis added)
Again, I hate to compare and contrast (okay, so maybe I don’t hate to do it, but it does take up valuable time and space . . . ), but compare Bancilhon’s succinct statement to Kevin Carmony’s verbose and roundabout apologia, and you can see how the GNU/Linux community should and shouldn’t respond to Microsoft’s threats.
Viva Venezuela: A big muchas gracias goes to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for having the VIT (Venezuela de Industria Tecnologica), and the Venezuelan Ministry of Light Industry and Commerce produce the Bolivarian computer (named after the South American anti-imperialist revolutionary Simon Bolivar, for those of you who caught up on your sleep in World History class). The Bolivarian computer runs on GNU/Linux, further thumbing the Venezuelan nose at el norte. Bear in mind that this is a nation that offered to supply freezing Northeasterners heating oil this past winter when the White House and Congress would just as soon let them shiver, and they’re also offering to export the machines as well (are you listening, Michael Dell?). A detailed story on this computer and the country that brings it to you can be found at Venezuelanalysis.com.
Speaking of Dell . . . I went to put my money where my mouth is, and they wouldn’t take it. Having blasted Dell — rightfully, I think — over the years, I wrote in an earlier blog posting that I’d get a Dell laptop if they offered Ubuntu. Well, they kept up their end of the bargain, and when I went to buy a laptop on-line (apparently the only place where you can get the Dell-with-Ubuntu deal), my credit was rejected. Reason: Insufficient credit history, which is true. I swore off credit cards in the late 1970s, but I thought having a clean slate would be a good thing. Apparently not, according to our friends at Dell. Being a man of my word, I’ve been putting together a fund to buy one, but now it will take a few months.
Heroes and wankers: Here’s something out of a college professor’s playbook — Read the items at the following links. Compare and contrast these two distro “executives” and explain why one is a hero who leads a growing and vibrant brand and the other is a world-class wanker who, with a stroke of a pen, sent his downwardly spiraling distro into further obscurity and probable extinction.
Correct answer: Shuttleworth=hero, Carmony=wanker. If you answered this way, then go to the head of the class.
Minty freshness: Linux Mint has removed the proprietary software from its version 3.0 “light” version. “Cassandra Light edition was released and is available for download,” announced Clement Lefevbre in a release. “The purpose of the Light edition is to bring an edition of Linux Mint which doesn’t contain: proprietary software, patented technologies and support for restricted formats. In some countries where the legislation allows software patents to be enforced, the Light edition provides a way for users to legally download Linux Mint.” Also, you did it for those of us who would prefer not to use proprietary software too, right Clement? Thanks, Linux Mint!
Got it! I broke down and bought a personalized license plate in California for an extra $60 a year. My car, a burgundy ’94 Volkswagen Jetta, will bear “GNU LNUX” front and back once the plates arrive. Film at 11.
It goes to show you why I’m not a gambling man. In my last item, I said that Mandriva would be the next distro domino to fall — or at least be a target for the Death Star in Redmond — but either they said non to any offer, or they haven’t taken the bait just yet.
But scratch off another one: Linspire made its way to the dark side today by selling out FOSS in making a deal with Microsoft.
Microsoft — which once described GNU/Linux as a cancer — can’t seem to help itself from partnering with distro makers and Linux software sellers, adding Linspire to the list. Ironically, Microsoft and Linspire have a, um, “history,” as Microsoft’s lawyers went head-to-head with Linspire in the past; apparently that’s all history.
Like Xandros, Linspire is a featherweight in decline who drank the Kool-Aid for a variety of reasons outlined in a letter from the Linspire CEO on this very topic.
Talk about FUD: Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony says that Microsoft will “deliver a ‘better’ Linux.” Ask yourself this: When was the last time that Microsoft delivered a better anything when it comes to software? Stuck for an answer? That’s because it never has.
To show you how “1984” this is, I bet Kevin Carmony really believes all the nonsense he (or one of his PR hacks) wrote, as tragic as this might be. Try not to laugh too hard when reading it, too, and realize that the Apple vs. Microsoft comparison doesn’t fly here.