Archive for November 17th, 2006

More lawsuits

I wonder why the US (and especially UK’s) government doesn’t modify its Fair Use laws to be more clear and more current, so we don’t have all these lawsuits from RIAA and MPAA against services, companies and people.

I hate it when MPAA does not allow people to rip their own DVDs. Why the hell would I want to buy the SAME movie 3 times in order to play it back on my DVD player, my PMP and my PSP?

And why is Universal suing MySpace for including some music video clips on their web pages? I mean, look back, in 1980. When the first video clip was created for MTV, it was created for exactly that: promotional reasons. They would beg you to playback their video clips! Back then video clips –while copyrighted– were not used as a way to own a song. It was used as promotion of the actual song. Today, RIAA is shooting their own foot by not allowing sites carry these videos on their pages.

And what’s the deal with RIAA asking $750 for each song pirated when the actual song’s value is below a dollar?

But most of all, I hate region-locking. God, I hate this so much.

The ban of the burqa

“The Dutch government, facing re-election next week, said Friday it plans to draw up legislation “as soon as possible” banning the head-to-toe garment known as burqas and other clothing that covers the entire face in public places.”

I have blogged about this in the past (and Thom did too), and my opinion is that religious clothes must only be banned when they get in the way of performing an action that requires otherwise. For example, girls should not wear long dresses when they are on a gym class and Muslim women should not wear burqas when they are teaching children (eye contact is important) or when working in something as dangerous as chemistry can be. But for all other “normal” uses of religious clothing, when it doesn’t get in the way, people should be free to wear whatever they like. If I want to go shop groceries wearing a burqa, I should be able to do so.

Dutch were always innovative regarding their laws. They usually have laws that other countries get/modify years later. And I believe that this is such a case. This IS a law that is in accordance with the Dutch being ahead of the game. How so, you ask? How is it possible for the always open minded Dutch to create such a restrictive law and still call them “first in the game?” The answer is simple: other countries will follow with similar laws. I see UK being No2, being the king of spying to its citizens. But make no mistake. This law has NOTHING to do with religious bigotry. This law has everything to do with surveillance.

“From a security standpoint, people should always be recognizable and from the standpoint of integration, we think people should be able to communicate with one another,” Minister Rita Verdonk said.

The western world is becoming totalitarian (or “policed”). It will be a mix of totalitarianism and some twisted form of democracy. In the next 100 years people will be less free to do many things that today we take for granted (e.g. smoking on a live TV show was the norm in the ’60s!). It was always like that, but it will become more apparent as the time goes by. Demo-totalitarianism (as I call this bastardized version of democracy) is the only efficient way to survey and keep order in a planet of over 7 billion people. It’s inevitable. Forget democracy the way our forefathers envisioned it. It just doesn’t scale as well.

So, don’t take this Dutch law as “religious bigotry”. Take it as a sign of the things to come. At a western country near you.

The un-freeness of Linux

Thom blogged about Microsoft going into the offensive regarding IP and software patents against Linux and require tax money for using their technologies. I also believe that MS has legal ground to sue distros who ship with FAT32, SMB, Exchange, (winforms) Mono and what not.

But this is not the point of my blog post. Instead, I am trying to fast forward a few years in the future and visualize how the Linux scene would look like if Microsoft has made Novell-like deals with the 4-5 major Linux distros and has sued the smaller distros, or at least kindly required their IP to be removed from their distros. If that’s the case, we are left with the following: The 4-5 big distros ship their commercial versions of their distros with all MS tech in them, but for their free versions all that is removed. The completely free, hobbyist, distros are shipping with all that removed by default.

This begs the question, how useful these distros are then? Can a modern computer user live without being able to access his FAT32 mp3 player, or without having access to his SMB printer? I don’t think so. There will be some radicals who will push themselves to agree to live in this ordeal, but the majority of users will have two options: either buy a commercial Linux, or move to Win/OSX. Given how complicated package management is for normal users (even in Ubuntu), the majority of users will never find the correct libraries to install manually. Just as it happens today for other stuff, like Flash, Java and mp3. I have read countless blogs where newcomers just can’t figure out how to enable mp3 on their computers despite the also countless tutorials.

And here’s the kicker: I don’t think that this whole situation would be bad for Linux. Today, there are so many Linux distros, and much duplicated effort, that it actually hurts the Linux success in the consumer market. If MS will be the catalyst for fewer distros, and push consumers to actually buy distros rather than downloading the featureless free versions, that’s ultimately a good thing. Isn’t that what the Linux whinees always said, that the “Free” is as in freedom and not as in beer? Well, let’s see how they like it when they will have to shed $50 to get a new version of their distro every 6 months.