Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...

Jealous before God

This post didn't have this first paragraph the first two times, but something I'm doing is crashing Firefox, and while the Sessionsaver extension is nice, it doesn't seem to save form entries. I like the fact that Web 2.0 is all about "instant updating", and there's no reason why I shouldn't have my content saved as I go, even in draft format, everywhere on the web. Score one down for WordPress.

(hits Save and Continue Editing) Back to your regularly scheduled rant.

I learnt something today. The word 'zealot' is often bandied about, normally in the context of "someone who has a different opinion to me, and isn't afraid to espouse it". Zealous is actually a Hebrew word, meaning "jealous on behalf of God". While the two words have a common heritage, jealous and zealous today mean two different things.

Enough Hebrew - the Computer zealotry article is the one we we really meant.

I read an interesting article in the Computerworld this week, suggesting that the Free Software Foundation's reworking of Digital Rights Management as Digital Restrictions Management, and their Defective By Design protests, were painting them as fundamentalists, and that Stallman should continue at what he's good at, namely software freedom.

(So, this time, hitting Save and Continue Editing crashed Firefox. Not impressed. I did upgrade GNOME, perhaps I should have rebooted, like it asked...)

Then I read a presentation that Cory Doctorow from FSF Europe presented to Microsoft in 2004 (if you haven't read it, you really should), pointing out that people don't like being made pirates, and they will always try and do what they think they should be able to do, so the way to succeed in the business is to make the player that can play everything, and have the law change to follow you.

I could agree with either side individually. Yes, the FSF are appearing to be zealots, by trying to tell people that iTunes will eat their children. But for those people who believe that the FSF is communism incarnate, doesn't it seem like they just trying to reintroduce a free market?

At issue is the software embedded in the songs bought from the iTunes music store that prevents them from being played on rival devices. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have demanded that Apple strip the blocking software from its iTunes service. France is readying legislation that enforces such interoperability, and Finland may follow suit. Although no action has been taken in the United Kingdom, the record industry's trade body there has called for a removal of the software.

Meanwhile, protests have begun cropping up in the United States. A group called DefectivebyDesign rallied demonstrators at eight Apple stores across the country last Saturday, including the company's new 24-hour store in Manhattan. Wearing hazmat suits, they hoisted signs and handed out leaflets calling for Apple to stop using the blocking software.

The EFF have also weighed in with their cartoon interpretation of the future that could be.

In a world ruled by DRM, tinkerers will always be criminals. I've often thought that the hacker community should possibly stop trying to reclaim the word in a world that associates it with "computer criminal", but on the path that is bring projected, will there be a difference between the two? It seems the issues of copyright and Free Software are intertwined in a way that means that the FSF really do need to be involved.

I'm glad that issues like this and Net Neutrality will bring the issues to public attention. Linux Australia are bringing it to the attention of the Australian public It's happening now in Australia, as a Free Trade agreement with the US appears more likely. I'm not sure if it will come up in New Zealand - it might happen with music, it might happen with HDTV. But look out for NZOSS announcing memberships in the next month or two, and consider flicking us a buck to look out for you.

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