Unethical HTML5 content-restriction proposal (aka DRM)


This, is astonishing:

“Can you highlight how robust content protection can be implemented in an open source web browser?” he asked. “How do you guard against an open source web browser simply being patched to write the frames/samples to disk to enable (presumably illegal) redistribution of the protected content?”

Netflix’s Mark Watson responded to the message and acknowledged that strong copy protection can’t be implemented in an open source Web browser. He deflected the issue by saying that copy protection mechanisms can be implemented in hardware, and that such hardware can be used by open source browsers.

Microsoft, Google and Netflix are making a Web standard proposal for proprietary javascript as DRM, no less! This proposal is totally at odds with web ethics. Not only it would be the first Web standard to impose proprietary software to the user, it would mostly be against everything the Web stands for! Making copies and sharing content between individuals is so much a widespread practice. Can you imagine: being prevented from copy-pasting something from a webpage!

In the end, the current situation is that DRM require to maintain (costly) DRM servers and obsolete no cross-platform software. Let’s make it stay that way. I see no reason why users should have to accept to take the burden of DRM costs.

Free Software v. “Open Source” community?


Free Software v. “Open Source” community?

My reply to Bjarni:

Wait, who cares?

Why does this matter?

Well, although I’m sure most people don’t care, us geeks can get really emotional about the difference between Free Software and Open Source. Violent, even.

Every geek has an opinion. But when asked to explain, we falter and wave our hands, “admitting” that there’s really no difference, or spouting vague nonsense about pragmatism vs. idealism or even communism vs. capitalism.

I’ve always found this deeply unsatisfying. Because although I respect Open Source, I love Free Software.

So what is the difference? I propose the following definitions:

The Free Software Community writes and shares software with an explicit intent to safeguard the rights and freedoms of its users by eliminating antifeatures and natural monopolies.

The Open Source Community writes and shares software with an explicit intent to advance the state of the art of computing through open collaboration and publication.

Both are noble goals, members of both camps can stand proud. But when stated this way, they are also obviously different.

Free Software v. “Open Source” community?

FOSDEM 2012, panel on Application stores

For the 3rd year in a row, I’m going to FOSDEM, the most awaited European Free Software event that takes place every year at the Université Libre of Brussels (how appropriate: the free university in the land of (not free) beer!)

This year though, I will not only attend and chat at the booth, I will also discuss the topic of application stores in the Legal DevRoom, Saturday afternoon, with Giovanni Battista Gallus, Bradley M. Kuhn, and Richard Fontana. Here’s the abstract:

So-called “app stores” are becoming a popular means of distributing software, particularly for mobile devices. However, the rise of app stores has been accompanied by tensions with free software/open source legal norms. Companies controlling official app distribution channels for their platforms typically place restrictive terms on both users and developers in ways that may be difficult or impossible to harmonize with requirements and expectations around FLOSS licensing. Moreover, there is a perception that noncompliance with FLOSS licenses is prevalent in app store distribution. This panel will explore some of the problems arising out of the intersection between app stores and FLOSS, under EU as well as US law, and will discuss possible solutions.

So if you’re interested, come and join us at 17.30 in room AW1.125!