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View Full Version : C|NET: "Linux, Digital Rights On Collision Course"

Kent Pribbernow
08-04-2004, 06:00 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://news.com.com/Linux%2C+digital+rights+on+collision+course/2100-7344_3-5295804.html?tag=nefd.top' target='_blank'>http://news.com.com/Linux%2C+digital+rights+on+collision+course/2100-7344_3-5295804.html?tag=nefd.top</a><br /><br /></div><i>"Widespread use of Linux and open-source software is an inevitability, but the new programming technique is running into troubles with the important new technology of digital rights management, Hewlett-Packard's top Linux executive said Tuesday. Digital rights management (DRM) uses encryption to protect proprietary content such as music or movies. But it's not just for entertainment: DRM also will govern confidential documents and other mainstream business information, said Martin Fink, HP's vice president for Linux, during a keynote address at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo."</i><br /><br />This is yet another reason why I remain highly skeptical of Linux and the open-source community in general. Advocates believe all software and content should be free and public domain, which I view as Communism in many regards. I believe in private enterprise. Content belongs to its creator, not the consumer. Feel free to throw tomatoes at me. <br />:splat:

08-04-2004, 06:21 PM
Well yeah, but...I don't think Linux proponents are saying that all operating system software should be open source and free. I don't see a problem with this project remaining public domain. Windows is private enterprise and they're still doing pretty well. That's not to say someone can't take it, tweak it and sell their own special version, like Redhat.

08-04-2004, 06:24 PM
Communism in itself is not evil/bad. It's a well meaning idea, the "concept of a world of communal bliss and harmony without the institution of private property". However the current working models aren't what I think Plato imaged Communism would be.

But that's another subject...

The Mac is not dead. The PDA is not dead. Linux is not dead.

Prophecy doesn't seem to even be near leading to the conclusion of death.

No need to throw tomatoes at you when you are throwing them at yourself. (literally :wink: )

Kent Pribbernow
08-04-2004, 06:50 PM
Communism in itself is not evil/bad. It's a well meaning idea, the "concept of a world of communal bliss and harmony without the institution of private property".

Every implementation has failed. China is its last major holdout, and even that country is slowly integrating capitalism into its framework. But that's another discussion...

The bottom line is - artists, creators, developers, innovators, et al, deserve to be rewarded for their talents. The very idea that software and content should be free is selfish and corrupt, in my opinion. This diseased thinking is a byproduct of the "Napster generation." People got so used to getting "stuff" for free they came to expect it.

If I have to listen to one more person blathering on about Linux being Free, I will vomit on their shoes! :P

Felix Torres
08-04-2004, 06:50 PM
Content belongs to its creator, not the consumer. Feel free to throw tomatoes at me.

No tomatoes.
Simple economic theory points out that producers only produce as long as they are rewarded (i.e., paid) for their efforts.
As the Soviets discovered, in a society in which consumers only pretend to pay workers, the workers only pretend to work. ;-)

Creating *good* original music/books/etc is hard work.
Without proper compensation, the goose will stop laying eggs, period.

Use of DRM on content is a *reaction* to the culture of entitlement of the freeloaders who believe that might makes right; that because they can easily copy content, they have a *right* to copy and publish somebody else's content.

The Linux crowd has a problem with DRM?
Big deal!
They also have a problem with patents.
They are not particularly fond of copyrights, either.
In fact, they are not fond of *anything* that requires them to pay.
They really don't believe in any kind of non-material property; intellectual or otherwise; so they are in effect the ultimate materialists.

They value their own labor so cheaply they assume everybody else's is equally worthless.

All this does is create a divide between those that are willing to pay and are thus catered to by the producers and those unwilling to pay and who are hence ignored, since they are not now nor are they ever likely to be customers of the producers.

In certain businesses, there are customers that are routinely ignored and, if possible, declined; people whose money you literally do *not* want, because they are more trouble than they are worth.

Many content producers have already decided the Linux community falls into that category and that no good will come out of trying to sell them anything.

The more the Open Sourcerors rant and rave over DRM, Patents, and IP rights, the more they will drive the producers away from them.

Over time, this will diminish the value of the platform and make life harder for its users.

But they will have no one to blame but themselves.

08-04-2004, 09:09 PM
I an Windows and OS X users - definitely not a Linux advocate by any means.

Nevertheless, open source != communism != anti-copyright !=non-payment. You are welcome to take any open source material and make profit off of it (Linux, MySQL, whatever) just as long as you disclose the modifications you make. Take Tivo, for example. www.tivo.com/linux/linux.asp

In addition, GPL is a software license and not freely modifiable. Open source software, while often free, does not necessarily have to be free either.

Comparing works that are open source (or derived from open source) such as Linux, BSD, Apache, GIMP, OpenOffice, MySQL, Mozilla, versus close sourced software, their future looks bright to me.

08-04-2004, 10:32 PM
Personally I don't see how people can say that ALL software should be free. Doesn't make any sense. I mean, I guess it does, as long as you are thinking about wiping out software programming as a career and relegating it to a hobby.

But aside from that, I think the movements with Linux do it right. Linux itself is free. If you want some nicer user-friendly products with tech support, you can buy a distro.

So companies get paid to offer a better user-experience and support. And people who are "I won't pay for anything!" can download the free one and search message boards and newsgroups for help.

Seems to be working out just fine for Suse and RedHat.

Same goes for a lot of great linux programs.

08-04-2004, 11:08 PM
If you build it they will buy. Most linux users also use Windows and buy software for it too.... ::GASP!:: 8O

If people wanted free software they would use windows. There is a lot more free windows titles via peer to peer than linux.

Just like PDA people... heck all people... if software if exists, if it is good, and it isn't over priced... it will be sold (then DRM is ripped out and it's put on a peer to peer network).

08-04-2004, 11:39 PM
What is this idea that open-source means free? Klinux seems to be the only one here who's looked at the GPL. There's nothing in that license that says your product must be free; it only says that the source code must be made available. You don't have to make a running program free. You don't have to pay for a web site from which people can download it. You can even charge for the costs of packaging and transferring the source code. And yet, many of them do make their products available as well as the source and somehow they seem to be making money on it. How is that? Could it be that the world is a little more complex place than this open source = free = communism nonsense would suggest. Just take a look at Red Hat's bottom line and you'll see that argument fall apart immediately.

Robert Cringley discusses this issue in a recent column that people interested in this issue might find worth reading.


08-05-2004, 01:03 AM
The nice thing about the Linux world is that there is such a vast choice of open and closed source apps and distributions.

For example my iMac (not free) is happily running Yellow Dog Linux (free if you don't want to buy the CDs or support) and does just fine, much better than the crappy OS9.something it came with.

My Zaurus (very far from free) works fantastically with Cacko/Qtopia (free) and some of the greatest PDA apps I use on the Zaurus include Textmaker, StageOne (neither free) and K/PIM organizer (free and as good as Pocket Informant).

There's plenty of room for both professionals like Red Hat and Novell and people coding for fun.

It's also nice to be able to escape from Microsoft from time to time and be able to make your own decsions as to how your computer should be. :D

Felix Torres
08-05-2004, 03:11 AM
For more about the Linux attitude towards IP, consider the quote from Saint Linus himself here:

Torvalds urges programers to code without regard to patent issues and to *never* do their due diligence to determine if there might be patent issues so they can then legally claim they didn't know they were infringing.
Kinda like driving without looking at your speedometer so you can tell the cop you didn't know you were speeding, no?

Other quotes can be found:
From Richard Stallman, stating his intent to produce a world where nobody can make money selling software...
From Bruce Perens, urging that patents--all patents--be abolished because they get in the way of reverse-engineering.

As for the charges of communism, they are not as far-fetched as you may think: Torvalds is in fact an avowed communist and Stallman is openly anti-capitalistic.

Nor is it any accident that most of the major Linux distros originate in countries whose governments decry the domination of the industry by american companies and want to stop software imports; this in not just about MS since open source projects target Oracle and Adobe and Palm and Apple.

Finally, reading the fine print you might notice that those "commercial" Linux licenses are nothing of the sort; what Red Hat sells is not software but help-desk services; their competition is not MS but EDS...

IBM and HP support Linux because in their world they can use commodity Linux to sell (expensive) proprietary hardware and (even more expensive) support services, whereas MS uses proprietary software to sell commodity hardware and services. MS makes no bones about what they are selling; what you pay for is what you get. IBM, however, talks open and free while selling proprietary lock-in up the wazoo.

Ultimately, there is only one difference between the two camps: support and respect for IP and R&D; proprietary vendors do it and the open sourcerors leech off it. If they suceed in killing proprietary software, that will be the end of the line for everybody cause they won't have anybody left to copy.
But to get there, first they have to abolish patents and DRM, which fortunately, they won't be able to do.

Btw, consider one more reason why the open sourcerors want DMCA and DRM to be abolished; modern CPUs are fast enough to execute encrypted code (like the XBOX does) which mean decompilation and reverse-engineering will get much harder.

08-05-2004, 04:54 AM
Come on FT, I think you are going way too far. Some Christians are Montana militia members and some Muslims are terrorists. This hardly means that all Christians want to overthrow government and that all Muslims want to blow up buildings. There are MANY people who do not like DMCA and DRM, some of them are open-source advocates, some are Windows users, some are Mac users, and some are all of the above!

In addition, Torvald is hardly advocating contributors to violate patent laws in the article you sited. When you contribute your code/work at your company for example, do you look up existing patents first when you know it came out of your own head?

There are two scenarios here: you knowingly violate certain patents and copyright, and still contribute that work - this is clearly illegal and not condoned by anyone, open source community included. The other scenario is that you thought of something on your own, you contribute it not knowing that it is an existing patent. There is no law broken there.

In addition, you make it seem as if it was a huge secret to the customers that Redhat, IBM, etc make money off of the services they provide. It is not. In that arena, it is not competing with MS per se, but the aftermath is that there is one less machine for which MS can make money by installing its software on.

Open source is so much more about free software. People contribute because they think they can make a better solution (smaller, faster, more functional etc.) than their closed source counterparts, be it a browser, OS, Photoshop, database, etc. Whether their solution is better or not, that is a whole different argument, but to say they are intellectual property pirates/communists is a little far fetched.

08-05-2004, 05:25 AM
Nor is it any accident that most of the major Linux distros originate in countries whose governments decry the domination of the industry by american companies and want to stop software imports; this in not just about MS since open source projects target Oracle and Adobe and Palm and Apple.

I almost forgot about this one.

Are you implying that contributors to Linux are unAmerican? Or its users?

Redhat is, of course, an American company. Mandrake is a French company although Mandrake Linux was based on a Redhat distribution - so it's what, 25% Americam? SUSE was Germany-based but now owned by Novell. Does that make it 100% American then?

All the other distros that I am aware of, including Debian, Gentoo, Lycoris, Slackware, are all either US or US-centric. Xandros is Canadian, I believe.

All this and I don't even use Linux. :)

Jon Childs
08-05-2004, 02:51 PM
The article to me appeared to be more about DRM than the actual software. I have no problem paying for software (as my credit card bill/wife will attest to) but if I legitimately buy say a DVD shouldn't I be able to watch it where/when I want. Given that because of the DMCA it now technically illegal to backup a DVD or rip it to a hard drive. Also, I believe there is no really legal DVD player software for linux since it needs to circumvent the DVD encryption. My kid has already wrecked about half a dozen Baby Einstein video's yet I am supposed to believe it should be illegal to make a copy and let him wreck that instead of the original?