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By Michael Conry
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Jon Johansen, a Norwegian programmer who has been facing criminal charges as a result of his involvement in the creation of the DeCSS computer code for playing CSS encoded DVDs, has been acquitted on all counts. Jon was charged under a law that relates to breaking into other people's property, a law usually invoked in cases where attackers have attempted to break into another party's computer system. The law had never before been applied to prosecute a defendant for breaking into his own property, and in this case the Norwegian court ruled against the prosecutor on all charges, citing Norwegian law protecting a consumer's rights to use his own property. An English translation of the judgement has been made online by EFF.
The war is not over yet, however, and Norwegian prosecutors are set to appeal the verdict. If the request for an appeal is granted, the case will be heard again before the Norwegian appeal courts. Film industry lawyer, Charles Sims, was keen to assert that a US resident would have been breaking the law if they did what Jon Johansen did.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled to support the 20 year extension of copyright terms that was granted two years ago. The balance of opinion went 7-2, with dissenting opinions coming from Justices Stevens and Breyer.
The constitutional challenge began when Eric Eldred, who distributes public-domain books online, found that he would have to remove some of these works as their copyrights had been reactivated by an extension granted by the US Congress. There is a large amount of information on the case available at eldred.cc. Lisa Rein has also compiled a selection of reports and resources related to the case.
The issue at stake in the Eldred case was whether it was constitutional for Congress to extend copyrights in this way. There are compelling arguments on both sides of this argument (with some more compelling if you own billions of dollars in copyrighted works and want your business to be subsidised by the public), but the court has ruled that Congress had (and has) the right to make this extension. This does not mean that the all is lost. Governments in democratic countries are supposed to be responsive to the desires of citizens, and to act accordingly. Thus, it is important for citizens to make their opinions on these issues apparent to their elected representatives. Simply because a government can pass a law, does not mean that they will pass the law, especially if they can expect to pay a steep price at the ballot box next election time.
This is particularly relevant to European readers. European copyrights last for 50 years. What makes this significant is that about 50 years ago was the beginning of the modern era music recording, so from now on, a steady stream of high quality recordings by still-popular artists will be entering the public domain. Industry bodies are lobbying to have the terms of copyrights extended and are bandying words like piracy around to cloud the waters. As pointed out by Dean Baker, extending copyrights retrospectively on works does nothing to encourage creativity or "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". Instead, it " raises costs to consumers and leads to increased economic inefficiency". This straight-forward truth will not stop industry monopolists and their quislings from attempting to steal the labour of humanity from the public commons, and then telling us it was all for our own good.
Your monthly serving of DMCA madness this time involves garage doors. It would appear that at least one firm believes that making universal garage door remotes is a breach of the DMCA and is prepared to spend some legal money on the idea. That wasn't enough? Well, here's a second helping: Lexmark is invoking the DMCA in an attempt to hobble the printer cartridge remanufacturing industry. Edward Felten has concisely explained that a major issue here is the whole principle of interoperability. Interestingly, the European Parliament has voted in a new law banning such "smart" printer cartridges as they make recycling more difficult and expensive. Bruce Schneier predicts a trade war, but even if it does not come to that, it will be interesting to see where the story goes. Also highlighted by Bruce, and worth reading, is the EFF's guide Unintended Consequences: Four Years under the DMCA.
Linux Magazine article on journaling filesystems.
Linux Planet article discussing basic Linux network security.
Some links highlighted by Linux Today:
Linux Job Market.
Lawrence Lessig discusses whether derivative works are always a bad thing for the owners of the original work. Japanese experience indicates they may be beneficial.
The Register has a report on businesses gathering to fight Hollings' copy controls
Some links from NewsForge:
Dave's Desktop is one Linux user's quest to share information on some of the helpful apps for Linux he has come across recently.
Howard Wen at O'Reilly is on a quest to find good Linux games. On the way, he found Falcon's Eye and talked to the game's creator
Linux Server Hacks: Backups
Both Linux Journal and DesktopLinux have dealt with Linux's relevance to senior citizens.
Some links from Linux Weekly News:
The Chinese Linux Documentation Project (CLDP) has included LDP's and Gnu's documents, translated them into Chinese. It also involve the Linux Gazette.
Some links from Slashdot:
Wikipedia, the free, contributor-maintained on-line encyclopedia, has reached its second birthday and 100,000 articles.
Listings courtesy Linux Journal. See LJ's Events page for the latest goings-on.
O'Reilly Bioinformatics Technology Conference||February 3-6, 2003|
San Diego, CA
Desktop Linux Summit||February 20-21, 2003|
San Diego, CA
Game Developers Conference||March 4-8, 2003|
San Jose, CA
SXSW||March 7-11, 2003|
CeBIT||March 12-19, 2003|
Software Development Conference & Expo||March 24-28, 2003|
Santa Clara, CA
Linux Clusters Institute (LCI) Workshop||March 24-28, 2003|
4th USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and Systems||March 26-28, 2003|
PyCon DC 2003||March 26-28, 2003|
Linux on Wall Street Show & Conference||April 7, 2003|
New York, NY
AIIM||April 7-9, 2003|
New York, NY
FOSE||April 8-10, 2003|
LinuxFest Northwest 2003||April 26, 2003|
Real World Linux Conference and Expo||April 28-30, 2003|
USENIX First International Conference on Mobile Systems,
Applications, and Services (MobiSys)||May 5-8, 2003|
San Francisco, CA
USENIX Annual Technical Conference||June 9-14, 2003|
San Antonio, TX
CeBIT America||June 18-20, 2003|
New York, NY
The Fourth International Conference on Linux Clusters:
the Linux HPC Revolution 2003||June 18-20, 2003|
Las Vegas, NV
O'Reilly Open Source Convention||July 7-11, 2003|
12th USENIX Security Symposium||August 4-8, 2003|
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo||August 5-7, 2003|
San Francisco, CA
Brought to you by Linux Journal and Geek Cruises!
|September 13-20, 2003|
Alaska's Inside Passage
Software Development Conference & Expo||September 15-19, 2003|
PC Expo||September 16-18, 2003|
New York, NY
COMDEX Canada||September 16-18, 2003|
LISA (17th USENIX Systems Administration Conference)||October 26-30, 2003|
San Diego, CA
HiverCon 2003||November 6-7, 2003|
COMDEX Fall||November 17-21, 2003|
Las Vegas, NV
Two new digital input M-Modules from MEN Micro have been released. They have been designed to meet tough environmental and safety specifications and were developed specifically for railway applications, but they can be deployed in a broad range of industrial systems where shock, vibration, temperature and harsh environments are a concern.
The M-Modules, which are designated M31 and M32, each provide 16 binary channels to a control platform. Because they conform to the ANSI-approved M-Module standard, they can be installed in a number of standard bus-based systems, including CompactPCI, PXI, VMEbus and PCI, or they can be used in small busless systems.
Software drivers for the M31 and M32 are available for Windows, Linux, VxWorks, QNX, RTX and OS-9.
Ark Linux is a new distribution, led by former Red Hat employee Bernhard Rosenkraenzer. It is based on Red Hat 7.3/8.0, and free alpha downloads are available.
Debian Weekly News reported the announcement by Steve McIntyre that he has created a set of update CD images that contain new and updated packages from 3.0r1.
Also from Debian Weekly News is a report on the availability of an RSS feed of new Debian packages.
Bdale Garbee, current Debian project leader, has been interviewed by Australian newspaper The Age.
Eagle Linux is a how-to based Linux distribution offering full open source documentation assisting users in creating personal embedded, floppy, and CD based bootable distributions.
Gentoo Linux has announced the second release candidate for the upcoming 1.4 version of Gentoo Linux. New in 1.4_rc2 is the Gentoo Reference Platform: a suite of binary tarballs that allow for faster initial installation. Currently X, GNOME, KDE, Mozilla, and OpenOffice,org are available as binary installations for x86 architectures and ppc architectures with others to follow.
Mandrake 9.0 has been reviewed recently by The Register/NewsForge and by Open for Business.
It has been widely reported in the past month that Mandrake is currently experiencing acute financial problems. This has lead company management to apply for Chapter-11 style protection. The purpose of this is to give the company some respite to allow it to reorganise its finances without pressure from creditors. The French courts have approved the plan and hopefully the company will in a better position to make positive progress after this period.
The SCO Group have announced plans to work with Wincor Nixdorf to provide Linux-based retail point-of-sale (POS) solutions to retailers in North America. This relationship gives retail customers an economical, reliable choice by combining the functionality and flexibility of Wincor Nixdorf hardware with the stability and reliability of SCO operating systems. The joint retail solutions will rely on Wincor Nixdorf's BEETLE POS family and SCO's Linux POS solution, SmallFoot.
SuSE Linux has annnounced the availability of a desktop Linux product that gives users the full functionality of the Microsoft Office suite of applications. SuSE Linux Office Desktop, available from January 21, is intended for small companies looking for an easy, preconfigured desktop -- as well as for personal users with little or no Linux experience.
UnitedLinux has announced plans to integrate the full OSDL Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) 1.1 feature set for UnitedLinux 1.0, delivering enhanced abilities to develop and deploy carrier-grade applications in a standardized Linux environment.
Developed by UnitedLinux integration partner SuSE Linux with HP, IBM and Intel, the features -- targeted initially for use on Intel-based hardware platforms -- enable telecommunications providers to develop and deploy new products and services on standards-based, modular communications platforms.
LPI a professional certification program for the Linux community, and UnitedLinux LLC have signed a cooperative agreement to market a UnitedLinux professional certification program.
KDE 3.1 has been released.
O'Reilly & Associates has released a new edition of Understanding the Linux Kernel which has been updated to cover version 2.4 of the kernel. 2.4 differs significantly from version 2.2: the virtual memory system is new, support for multiprocessor systems is improved, and whole new classes of hardware devices have been added.
AquaFold has announced the release of Aqua Data Studio 1.5, a free database tool supporting all major database platforms, including Oracle 8i/9i, DB2 7.2/8.1, Microsoft SQL Server 2000/7.0, Sybase ASE 12.5, MySQL, PostgreSQL and generic JDBC drivers. Aqua Data Studio also supports all major Operating Systems designed to run Sun Microsystem's Java Platform such as Microsoft Windows, Linux, OSX and Solaris. Aqua Data Studio is designed to speed up the development of database and application developers by providing them with an elegant and consistent interface to all databases on all platforms. Free downloads and screenshots of Aqua Data Studio are available online.
OpenMFG is a company using open source software to bring enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications to small manufacturers, has welcomed the first ten members of the Open Partners Program.