A message from the "morale highground" to the demoraliser

Story: Is Linux Splitting into Two Factions?Total Replies: 11
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Jun 28, 2007
1:16 PM EDT
I don't even know where to begin with this as there are too many humdingers for one person to do the debunking justice. Given that LXer discussions tend to follow the "many eyeballs make short work of crap arguments" model I won't worry about treating certain areas without due rigor.

Kevin Carmony seems to have visited the land of his ancestors to kiss the Blarney Stone in the not too distant past, for the gift of the gab is well demonstrated in this post.

I am of course sending him on a fictitious trip, but on said voyage he may have noticed that Ireland was a seperate country with it's own qualities. Amongst them, of course, is a seperate legal structure. To suggest that all Irish people (and not forgetting the rest of the world of course) are software pirates for attempting to "get around" the law, a shoddy law that few Americans see any sense in, is extreme dishonesty. I may or may not have found software floating around on the high seas in the past, but the quality of free software convinced me that struggling with ugly hacks was a fools errand. To suggest that I'm breaking a law by using software that has patent claims on it in a different jurisdiction is, well, patently ridiculous.

Nobody here would begrudge Kevin and the Lindows team for licensing proprietary fonts or codecs, they wouldn't be the first or last distro to do so. However, to claim to have great respect for Debian yet spit in the face of all those who are drawn to it because of the social contract and the freedom it ensures is the sort of shameless dishonesty you would only expect from a politician.

I do of course agree with one point: Linux _is_ splitting into two factions. It's what could be called sink or swim time, with a twist. Those who stand on the so-called high ground won't even have to bother to swim, whilst the bottom feeders will be returned to their natural habitat.




Jun 28, 2007
1:25 PM EDT
>...the sort of shameless dishonesty you would only expect from a politician.

Oh, so that is what is going on here. Has Carmony announced his 2008 presidential bid yet?

Jun 28, 2007
1:31 PM EDT
Hehe, you know, I was trying to work a 'what's next, Gates/Carmony for 2008?' gag in there somehow. His brazen disregard for the laws of other countries reminds me of someone else who isn't very popular....

Jun 28, 2007
1:40 PM EDT
>... amounting to nothing more than high-brow software piracy.

Well, I assume he's referring to decss and various codecs. Decss is not pirated software. It may be illegal to use it, but it's not pirated. I'd have to check to be certain, but I believe almost all of the codecs involved are available as free downloads (admittedly usually for other operating systems). So why does he assume I don't have a license to use them? If I've downloaded the codec and agreed to a license under Windows, I have the right to use that codec. Unless the license specifies otherwise, that right is not limited to the box or OS I downloaded the codec on.

Jun 28, 2007
1:54 PM EDT
You are indeed correct, decss infringes on patents which are valid in the U.S. Within the eu they are, for now, without legal basis. I'm not entirely sure how far their reach is beyond that, Russia and China (in the general sense) would no doubt laugh at the suggestion that they are infringing, but perhaps LDCs which are signatories to the WTO and WIPO may fall under the limitations of the US patent system.

Mr. Carmony is also very very confused. I'll admit that I haven't looked on the entirety of http://www.microsoft.com and I don't know the contents of their broom cupboards. But, as far as I'm aware, there is no implementation of the wmv codec made by Microsoft that runs natively on Linux. In what manner we are supposed to pirate software that doesn't exist (aside from in a manner that is "high brow" -- yes, it's official, Linux users have class!) I do not know. Perhaps he has been watching too much Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jun 28, 2007
2:03 PM EDT
> But, as far as I'm aware, there is no implementation of the wmv codec made by Microsoft that runs natively on Linux.

Even with the Microsoft codecs, unless the license says otherwise, all you need is a valid Windows license to have the legal right to use the codecs. That license could be for a 10 year old copy of Windows 98. As long as you can download the codec, agree to the license, and it doesn't forbid it's use on other operating systems, you're OK.

Jun 28, 2007
2:13 PM EDT
>You are indeed correct, decss infringes on patents which are valid in the U.S.

Are you sure about that? I believe all the decss action was based on trade secret copyright. I don't recall anything about patents.

For reference, see my ancient piece: http://dinotrac.com/articles/Iwant.html

Jun 28, 2007
2:14 PM EDT
Indeed a good point. However, his allusion to the distribution mechanism and workarounds do suggest he's talking about software that is infringing on patents such as DeCSS, which could be challenged in a court for patent infringement were it distributed in the US.

Even so, by mentioning it in the same sentence as "Microsoft threats" he tries to suggest it infringes on patents held by said company. This, like the rest of his post, is horse manure. First of all Microsoft doesn't own that particular patent. Second, one can't pirate GPL'ed "patent infringing" software unless you don't adhere to the GPL, precisely what he himself has been accused of by the Linux community. Funny that, isn't it?

Jun 28, 2007
2:23 PM EDT
> I believe all the decss action was based on trade secret copyright.

To the best of my memory, you are correct that it was trade secret based.


Also, I believe those claims have now been dropped, implying that the trade secrets have been lost to the point of being unenforcible. Which raises the interesting question of whether decss is really illegal.

It's probably still considered a circumvention tool under the DMCA, so it probably is, but I don't believe that's ever been tested in court.

Jun 28, 2007
2:59 PM EDT
I'm kind of scratching my head here wondering what else falls into the patent infringing and not distributable in the US category. Not much comes to mind, but one that infringes upon the DMCA is actually a delightfully relevant story.

A number of years ago there was a program called PyMusique that amongst it's features included the ability to remove the DRM from iTunes files. The group that developed this piece of software included the in those days nefarious "DVD Jon" of libdecss fame. If I recall after some handwringing it was agreed that no windows or mac versions would be distributed (of a python program of all things....), it was a remarkably odd story. I've not heard of it since, but DVD Jon made the news when he 'came in from the cold' as it were when he was offered a job by none other than Michael Robertson. Who is he? some of you may say. Well, none other than the man who owned Linspire!

Some sources:

PyMusique: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/03/18/itunes_pymusique/

DVD Jon hired by Michael Robertson: http://www.michaelrobertson.com/archive.php?minute_id=193

The register link was chosen for being the first search hit, but I'd say we can consider Mr. Robertson to be a credible witness don't you think :D

P.S. This is fun!

edited a verb tense, M. Robertson *owned* Linspire, he of course handed over control to K. Carmony a while back.

Jun 28, 2007
3:26 PM EDT
Quoting:of a python program of all things....

It might depend on libraries/modules only available on Linux systems.

Jun 28, 2007
3:35 PM EDT
If I recall correctly it was cross platform, the Mac version was either discontinued or development was halted. If windows users we're catered for I'm not sure of, but the agreement involved it being left alone if it was kept to Linux only.

The rabbit of course was already out of the hat. For more on the program itself there's a wikipedia page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PyMusique

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