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GPL v3, the Q&A: part 2- developers

Copyleft - but shiny!(This is part two of a series. Before going further, you should (at the minimum) read the disclaimer on yesterday’s post and (ideally) make sure you’ve read all of yesterday’s post.)

Q: Has there ever been a sequel that wasn’t terrible?

A: Godfather II and Star Wars II. (I refuse to call it V.) I’m no Coppola, but I hope I’m better than Lucas. We’ll see.

Q: I’m a developer, and my current code uses GPL v2- should I update to the v3?

A: Probably. While the license does not include any huge wins for all developers that would make an upgrade obvious or mandatory, there are small wins here for virtually anyone who seeks to have a functional FLOSS project. In particular, every developer should appreciate the improved (if still imperfect) patent protection, the ability to copy and paste APL-licensed code into your code, and the internationalized legal language, offering them stronger protection outside the US’s copyright system.

In addition, those developers who object to TiVo-ization of their code, or to the use of their code in a DRM system, will like those sections of the new license. As I mentioned yesterday, these sections of the code may not be perfect, but they should go a long way towards ensuring that users of your code always have the right to access it and modify it- something that wasn’t necessarily clear under the old license.

Q: There must be some downsides.

A: Absolutely. I f you adopt now, you’ll be on the bleeding edge- with all that entails. You’ll have to explain the license over and over again to people, explain why you’ve chosen it, and so on. That won’t be fun, and you may lose some contributors over it. There is also the possibility (though small) that you’ll have chosen incorrectly, and that there will be some flaw in the license. While this seems unlikely1 it isn’t impossible, and you will be taking that risk by switching before the license has been out for a while.

You’ll also lose compatibility with GPL v2- you’ll be unable to copy and paste code from (or to) any part of that huge base which is not under v2 ‘or any later version’. Depending on how you develop, this may be a big downside, or it may not. But it is one to be aware of. (More on this in a later post.) Similarly, if there are applications that link against you or otherwise share your code, and they are not ready to relicense, that may weigh against a relicensing as well, since GPL v2 apps can’t link against GPL v3 apps.2

Finally, there is the DRM and embedding/TiVo-ization language. If your project is heavily used by embedded or multimedia devices, your partners are likely to get very nervous if you start talking about v3. If you yourself take the libertarian or pragmatic developer-centric viewpoint, you may personally be opposed to those new restrictions as well. So those may well be reasons to avoid the license for many projects.

Q: I really want to hose Novell. Should I switch to v3?

A: If you’re looking for some sort of vengeance on Novell, you won’t get it in this license. More on that tomorrow, but nutshell: you’re not getting it. Even if you did, that is a pretty lousy reason to choose a license anyway. With any luck, the GPL (and your GPL’d code) will outlast the current Novell leadership and maybe even Novell. Make decisions based on what is right to protect you, your code, and your users, not on whether or not Novell deliberately circumvented the intent of the old license. (On that ground, hint: this will protect you from at least some Novell-like situations in the future, so if you think what Novell did was a bad idea, you might want to upgrade.)

Q: The kernel folks screamed a great deal about the earlier drafts. How far has the license gone to address their criticisms? Will that impact the uptake of the license?

A: The original drafts of the DRM and embedding license were not exactly models of clarity. As a result of criticisms from Linus and friends, the final draft is a lot more straightforward. The DRM clause now states merely that one can’t claim to be an effective DRM device, for example; previously it actually tried to prevent the construction of such devices. Similarly, the embedding clauses now make clear that what is required is sufficient information to reinstall the software (whatever form that information may take); previous versions had been murky enough that they had been read (incorrectly) to imply that things like developer’s GPG keys had to be revealed.

It isn’t clear that this new clarity will actually help uptake, though. It should reduce the opportunity for FUD, of which there was a fair amount around the first draft. So if people’s decision turns on these clauses, it’ll at least turn on the right issues and not false ones created by poor wording. But the clauses still burden and restrict developers without giving them any clear pragmatic benefits in return. If the pragmatic developer’s bottom line is ‘give us benefits and we’ll use your license’, the clarifications to those clauses will only clarify the situation- they will not substantially change it.

Q: So there are upsides and downsides- how do I pick?
Unfortunately, there is no simple right or wrong answer for this. Every project will have to make their own judgment about the pragmatic costs and benefits, and the political-philosophical implications. Projects who particularly want to get solid patent licenses from their contributors or who are particularly philosophically concerned about user control will probably lean one way, and projects who are worried about the mobile space or whose copyright situations are particularly confused will probably lean another.

Q: That wasn’t helpful at all- I still can’t make up my mind. Should I consider dual licensing with GPL v2 or another free software license?

A: Dual licensing is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it gives more flexibility and choice to your users, and it will reduce uncertainty for your contributors and your users. On the other hand, it gives more flexibility and choice to your users- including the bad guys. In particular, your code is only as protected as the protections of the weakest license you license under. So if you release your code under both GPL v2 and GPL v3, you haven’t gained much- the next person who sells you out on patents or DRM will just say ‘well, I’m using it under v2.’ You can only gain the full protections of v3 if you license only under the v3, or under the v3 plus an even more restrictive (presumably proprietary) license.

The only major advantage to dual-licensing, then, is that other people can reuse your code under the license of their choice. This is not a small benefit- it will be particularly useful for GPL-licensed platform projects which expect to have programs developed on the platform in both GPL 2 and 3. But it isn’t necessarily huge either.

Q: What about ‘or later?’ should I use that? Doesn’t the controversy about this license mean I can’t trust the FSF to make good decisions about GPL v4?

A: The FSF recommends licensing your code under ‘v3 or any later version of the GPL’, just as they have with GPL v2. This cuts two ways. On the positive side, it means that if a problem is found in the license, and people are unable to contact you, they can still use your code under the new, less problematic license. This is arguably exactly what will happen with Novell and the patent clauses of v2 and v3- a problem was found, and those who left their code under ‘v2 or later’ and then dropped off the face of the planet can still have their code be useful for others.

On the negative side, it also means you have to trust the FSF. I do; if you actually take the time to read the four freedoms, it is clear that they’ve done nothing with this license that isn’t exactly in line with the goals they’ve been stating for 20 years. But if aggressively protecting those user freedoms aren’t your cup of tea- and they obviously aren’t everyone’s- you might not want to trust them with GPL 4, and so ‘or later’ might not be appropriate for your code.3

Again, this is a fairly personal decision about risk, reward, and trust. I personally think the FSF is pretty predictable, so I’d license my work under an ‘or later’ clause, but I realize that this isn’t for everyone.

Q: If I do decide to relicense, what are the mechanics of that?

A: The FSF and SFLC will be issuing recommendations on relicensing best practices. My recommendation as of this writing is to wait for them- they are the experts, and have given these pragmatic details a great deal more thought than I have at this time.

Q: You mentioned projects whose copyright situations are particularly confused- what do you mean by that?

A: Take, for example, the kernel. We know much of it is licensed as v2-only, and we know many of their contributors have gone AWOL, or have even passed away. Only one project of that scale (that I know of) has ever tried to relicense (Mozilla) and the process took ages, even though most of the code had a single copyright owner (Mozilla/Netscape). The kernel could well be worse- no single copyright owner, and several times as much code. So talk of relicensing the kernel, especially in the near term, is probably largely academic; pragmatically dual-licensing of some chunks may be the best that can be expected.

The kernel is not alone- many large projects (like GNOME) don’t do copyright assignment, and so any attempt to relicense would involve a long time spent relicensing, and potentially even an effort to rewrite old code whose authors could not be contacted. This may well limit the impact of the license- v2 may remain the defacto license of older projects, with newer projects moving to v3. We’ll see.

Q: Bottom line for developers?

A: The advantages to the license are not huge, but they are real, and my guess is that within a few years it’ll be the default license for most new free software projects, as v2 is now. If you choose not to get on that train now, you’ll be in good company, but make sure you understand the license and are doing it for the right reasons- you’ll regret it if you make a kneejerk decision (either way.)

[Thanks to Nicu for the shiny new copyleft logo.]

[see all parts: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.]

  1. the license has been vetted by a lot of very skilled lawyers and a fair number of common-sensical hackers, and even in the worst case, you should get the same rights and protections you do under v2 []
  2. The current FAQ suggests that v2 apps can’t even link against LGPL v3, but SFLC told my committee last week that this would be resolved. []
  3. It may be worth noting that even if you dislike the FSF, they are only going to make the license more restrictive- you’re never going to get a more libertarian GPL 4 that says ‘go wild, have a party, do whatever you want to the code.’ That means that if GPL 4 states ‘everyone must pay obeisance to RMS before using the code’ and you’ve used ‘or later’, the worst case scenario is that those people take your code and play with it in their own, small corner. As long as you really believe that fewer restrictions will win out in the marketplace of ideas, you’ve got nothing to lose from ‘or later’- large numbers of hackers will only move to the new license if there are really compelling reasons, no matter what FSF does. []

GPL v3, the Q&A: part 1- the license

Copyleft Icon

Q: So why are we here?
A: At the end of this week, after 16 years, the Free Software Foundation should bless version three of the GNU General Public License, the sequel to what is arguably the most widely used and most impactful copyright license ever.1 Quite literally everyone who makes software – open, proprietary, or web – needs to understand the v3 and figure out if it is evolutionary, revolutionary, or DOA, and how it impacts them as a potential contributor, consumer, cooperator or competitor. This is my small contribution towards that understanding.

Q: Can you summarize this Q&A in a haiku?
A:

new license rolls in
stormcloud- large, complex, strong, dense
scares, but should bring rain

(I really, really wanted to use “Snuffleupagus” in that, but sadly that doesn’t leave many syllables for imagery.)

Q: Why did you feel the need to summarize in haiku?

A: Because this was the longest blog post I’ve ever written. It is now going to be in (at least) four parts over three or four days, so you’ve been warned: you might want to leave off at the haiku :)

Q: Any disclaimers before you get rolling?

A: Tons. I am not a lawyer; whether I’m even a particularly good law student is still up in the air :) Don’t rely on this for legal advice.

I’ve based this commentary on the final discussion draft of the license; changes between now and the final, final version may invalidate some of my claims.

I’ve been on GPL Commitee A, so I’m predisposed to believe the FSF and SFLC’s interpretation of the license. On the flip side, I may not have learned much from that experience; mistakes are my own and may be plentiful.

Finally, I’m currently a Red Hat employee, but this is emphatically not a statement of Red Hat’s policy or interpretation of the license. No one at Red Hat has read this or commented on it beforehand, so again, mistakes are my own and may be plentiful.

Q: Why are we doing all this again? Isn’t GPL v2 reasonably good?

A: As I already mentioned, GPL v2 is almost certainly the most important and successful copyright license ever. By ensuring cooperation instead of competition, it has played a critical role in creating the large and thriving free/open source ecosystem. By providing a robust legal framework, it has provided predictability and protection for everyone who uses it. And by protecting the rights of users, it has done a fairly good job advancing the explicit goals of the authors of the license. So one has to consider it incredibly successful- especially considering that it is a legal document which most lawyers considered insane for a long time, and which still makes many uncomfortable.

That said, the license was written in 1991, and the computer industry has changed a lot since then. Patents have become a much more critical issue for the industry- in 1991, Microsoft had only just begun to understand how important patents would be to locking out new competitors. In 1991, the idea that computers would be the dominant form of media delivery would have been fairly ludicrous, much less the idea that software would be legally protected against “tampering.” And since 1991, the free and open source software community has gone from being a decent number of volunteers and one company, operating primarily on an informal basis, to being millions of volunteers and a multi-billion dollar industry, with all the legal structure, firepower, and infighting that implies. So an update was probably not a bad idea.2

Q: So what should a rewrite have done?
A: That is the million dollar question. While few people think of it that way, the FSF is a user-focused organization. GPL v2, to them, was about protecting the rights of users to control their own computing devices. The pragmatist camp sees GPL v2 as being about the rights of developers to progressively expand the commons and prevent bald-faced exploitation of their labor, a la Apple/BSD. These camps aren’t mutually exclusive- many of the license features which the FSF originally intended primarily to benefit users have been beneficial for developers, and obviously the thriving developer community is beneficial to users. But members of both communities often seem happy to trade away the rights of the other parties if there is a conflict.

Given that broad background, FSF’s specific goals for v3 were to protect user freedoms from ‘new’ threats like patents, DRM, and tivo-ization, while benefiting (or at least not alienating) developers. To the pragmatist camp, if there were to be changes, they needed to make life easier for developers- including not just individuals, but corporations. Since no one could think of any significant way to improve on the old license in that respect, they wanted to focus primarily on simplifying and strengthening what was already there.

Q: Given the success and the controversy of change, has the license really changed that much from v2 to v3?

A: The core goals, methods, and structures of v2 were successful and have been carried over with very few changes. If you use GPL code and do not redistribute it, you still get to do whatever you want with it. If you modify and redistribute GPL code, or build new applications on top of GPL-licensed libraries, you still have to release modifications and derivatives as GPL-licensed source. And you can can still build ‘immoral’ (aka, proprietary and/or DRM) code on top of the new LGPL. Some of the language has been changed enough that these goals may be hard to find in a casual read- but they are very much still there.

Q: What has changed, then?
A: A few major changes (note that some of these have been grossly oversimplified to be audience and scope appropriate; please don’t jump on me when I’ve not noted exceptions, loopholes, etc.) Note that I’ll have more on several of these over the next couple of days.

  • internationalization: the new license moves away from language like ‘derivative’ – which comes from US copyright law – in favor of language which does not exist in any system of copyright law. This is excellent in theory- it should make the license more politically palatable and legally enforceable outside the US. In practice no one can really know what courts will think of this until it is tested. 3
  • increased complexity: this tries to be a more lawyer-friendly document. It is not clear that it succeeded. Regardless of whether the lawyers like it, it is definitely less clear for hackers and executives on first glance, and that may slow uptake.4
  • patents, the straightforward part: the license attempts to create an explicit and irrevocable patent grant extending from all contributors to all users. If you contribute a substantive patch upstream5, you’re granting a patent license to the whole project. Merely distributing without copyrightable contribution, like IBM does with many GNU tools6 still does not grant a license. This should help create more certainty about the patents owned by our major contributors- the folks like Sun, Novell, etc. – but it doesn’t help against those who don’t contribute code, like Microsoft and patent trolls. So the impact is positive but limited.
  • patents, the complicated part: a lot of verbiage has been added in an attempt to prevent future blanket indemnifications like the Microsoft-Novell deal, and to ‘trick’ Microsoft into granting us their patents. I won’t go into these in much depth because I’m pretty sure they don’t buy us much – it looks like the Xandros and Linspire deals are already structured to avoid triggering these clauses, and there is no reason to believe that Novell and Microsoft can’t do the same. So net result here is probably that only the worst abuses of the old language, like the current Novell deal, are prevented. Not bad, but not the end of the Microsoft problem by any stretch.
  • user control: the new license tries to make it clear that users have the right to control their hardware and software. This takes two forms: first, it forbids a claim by distributors of GPL’d code that the code is part of an ‘effective technical protection measure’ and second, it explicitly guarantees that installation instructions (including all the necessary tools and keys) must be available so that users can modify their software and reinstall it on devices that they own. This language, while not always straightforward, should mean that consumer-level users of GPL v3 code should be able to reliably modify the GPL-licensed code on devices that they own.
  • license compatibility: the new license is compatible with the Apache Public License, so if you’re working on GPL v3 code, you should now be able to copy and paste from APL-licensed code. This does not mean that someone working on APL-licensed code can copy and paste from GPL v3 licensed code, though- compatibility with the GPL is always one way. (And the same applies to GPL v2 code- you can’t copy out of GPL v2 code, even into GPL v3 code.)

Q: So did the FSF reach their goals?

A: Since the FSF was in control of the process, the changes have focused on users rather than developers. Developers don’t necessarily fare poorly, but where there is choice between user freedoms and developer flexibility, the balance always tilts towards users. If, despite this, developers choose to use the license, it should give users and developers more certainty about patents, and it should ensure that users have the legal rights to control the devices that they own.7 Overall, then, a win for the FSF.

Q: Bottom line- in a year, what are we going to be saying about GPL?

A: Over the next few days I’ll explore the details of how developers and companies might feel about the new license, but I think the bottom line is that within a few years many will switch over. Communities who feel particularly threatened by patents, who badly want to draw from Apache, or who are particularly inclined to protect users and disregard possible costs to developers will adopt it particularly quickly. After that, adoption will slow for a while, but as users, developers, and corporates get comfortable, the various small improvements will gradually make it the default license for a plurality of new open source code, despite the understandable reservations (some well-grounded, some not) that many people currently feel.

[see all parts: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.]

  1. Microsoft’s licenses are possibly more widely used, but only by a handful of pieces of software; the various Creative Commons licenses are probably also more widely used but (for better or for worse) have not yet set billion dollar industries on their ear. Really, we owe to GPL the notion that a copyright license can actually be important at all. []
  2. Novell’s decision to expose a real loophole in the patent language of the old license was only icing on the cake; the process was well underway before that happened. []
  3. The Creative Commons lawyers think this approach is borderline insane, but their approach- one license per legal regime- drastically increases license fragmentation, which we know is a very real problem. []
  4. Note that v2 isn’t nearly as clear as people would like to think- much of the supposed ‘clarity’ is really just the result of living with it and interpreting it for 16 years. []
  5. not just any patch; it must be meaningful enough to be copyrightable []
  6. edit later: IBM contributes to a number of GNU tools like gcc and classpath, I don’t mean to downplay that. Just that they also distribute the entire GNU user-space stack on AIX, which is the biggest example of ‘simple’ distribution that I know of. []
  7. Of course, those new rights only help you if you’re also a hacker, or can afford to pay one to hack for you. But this was a problem with the v2 as well. []

Notes from Prof. Eben Moglen’s talk on “The Empire & the iPhone: ‘Technology Platforms,’ the Commons, and the Way We Live Now”

Tonight I attended a talk by Eben Moglen titled “The Empire & the iPhone: ‘Technology Platforms,’ the Commons, and the Way We Live Now”, put on by the Information Law Institute Students Assocation at NYULS. They are hosting a Stallman talk on Wednesday; it is Krissa’s birthday so I won’t be attending that one.

The talk was a full hour, plus 30 minutes of Q&A. Necessarily, then, these notes are fragmentary (‘written’ on an N800). It is probably best to read them as jotted (and heavily paraphrased!) notes and highlights rather than expecting a coherent narrative. Don’t rely on these for reporting Eben’s thoughts- if you see something of interest here that you plan on quoting in a Serious Format, contact me, or better yet him, to confirm that it is acccurate.

I wish I had deep thoughts to add, but I’m pretty beat up tonight. Possibly more tomorrow. Nutshell version: I think Eben is obviously correct that platforms are loci of control, and hence are very dangerous for anyone concerned with rights in a digital context. (Not just software freedom, but freedom of speech, freedom from government eavesdropping, etc.) At the same time platforms (and the standardization they can create) can facilitate innovation at other levels in the stack, and efficiencies all over. Figuring out how to strike that balance may be as easy as just having good rules about platform licensing, but I have a gut feeling it will be more complex and difficult than that. At any rate, like I said, probably more of my own thoughts tomorrow.

The Talk

He wants to focus on non-license stuff, and instead focus on where we live now- the broader view of the environment rather than the specifics of one license. (ed.: of course the first question in q&a was about ms-novell. :)

The commons is here and not going away; production in 21st cent. will be community based, and traditional sellers are now realizing this, and reacting defensively or otherwise.

Rise of prosumer is critical; digital camera is the beginning of this but only the beginning; will impact much more than photography- stage shows, etc.

We now know that ownership of knowledge blocks, and/or makes inefficient, knowledge production. [ed.: he asserted in Q&A that we should issue patents under a formal adminstrative cost-benefit analysis scheme, but I’m not sure how one can even pretened to do that, given the sparseness of the economic research on the topic.]

Other than MS every single significant software vendor uses- depends on- output of commons. Not just culture and software but banking and money are now contested; paypal distributes banking. Ebay decentralizes vending.

Commons are now central both for the most and least powerful.

Many mechanisms for commons to protect itself; copyleft but also stubborn 12year olds and p2p. Needs all of them.

IBM and HP are doing well in large part b/c of harnessing commons.

Talked regularly to Bill Hilf, MS. Calculated that MS can bring 3.8 million manhours/week to the table; from sf.net + surveys done by rishab ghosh he gets (in 2004 ) 5 million manhours/week spent producing GPL software; now probably closer to 6m overall. So commons is the majority in some parts of software, even if not yet in other places in ip.

Despite the reality of production, commons is not the dominant theory of production. Proprietary mental models still dominant, which is why we still pay for phone calls. Skype is not perfect, but is still early and very threatening to a broad range of interests, and having an impact.

Question, then: owners will have their innings to respond; what will the response look like?

Says their answer will be the platform, which is (among other things) a safe box within which commons can be safely controlled/walled off.

The cell phone network is an example. It gives people impression that movement matters (“roaming”); that expensive hardware is necessary; that you must carry the state with you in the form of e911; that you must eventually give vast amounts of info to marketers.

Commons has better answers for all this (wifi, skype, etc.), but like MS, the cell people tie you to a platform and scare you w/ isolation if you leave the comfort and security of the platform.

The story Jobs spins is ‘There would be no music w/out the platform- people will stop singing w/out the platform.’ This is obviously ludicrous but we’ve bought into it. Despite his recent letter, Jobs is not really anti-drm; just doesn’t want to lose the platform.

“Who will make software if you sell it below cost?” is what the economists used to ask; now sony and xbox do this for hardware, and the economists justify it as a blade/handle model, which he finds economically implausible, unless we give them alternate forms of control so they can force the blades on us- this, again, is the ‘platform’.Says that Tivo’s GC finally checked in on gpl3; Moglen apologized for RMS’s use of “tivoization” as a phrase, but tivo still wanted the keysigning clause removed. Says Tivo even offerred removal of drm from the stored video, just as long as they could keep the subscription lockin by signing the software. If they gave away subs via hacking, they lose out. They want free software to compromise so that they can commit the “economic stupidity” of too-cheap hw.

Sees the near future as the process of maneuvering the commons through the obstacle course of platforms which benefit incumbents.

Notes that government is fertile grounds for creation of platform by fiat/incumbents.

Notes that not all platforms are the same; some more or less bad than others.

Job/wealth creation from the comon is not inherently bad, but it can create pathologies as people attempt to game or exploit the commons. He says we will need a language to describe this; we’ll probably get it from ecologists. [ed.: he didn’t mention Boyle, but clearly he is influenced by Boyle’s paper.] Says that the commons is not as bad off as the environment, b/c the commons was created intentionally and with a clear, self-conscious, long-term politics, whereas we exploited the environment for ages without clear understanding of what we were doing.

Biopatent protests are similarly politically motivated- goal is to demonstrate power/value of commons, and the damage caused by parcelization. The success of the movement is not predetermined; it requires determined, aware effort. “Can’t leave war to the generals or platform decisions to the platform makers.”

Governments now understand that commons is a reality, and has significant momentum, but we can’t be complacent. We are becoming more diverse, which makes political action hard, esp. since some of our allies are only allies of convenience.

From each according to ability is actually a possibility now in our domain; others before us did not really have the option, but we do and we should take it. This time we win.

Questions (really mostly just the answers):

  • By political he means civil/civilized- over coffee, in courtrooms, etc.- not in the street, nor by pushing for specific political candidates, since the fcc and doj are more important than top-level politicians, and appointments are also unpredictable. (Notes that both Gore and Bush made pilgrimage to Redmond in 2000, whereas he can’t imagine Teddy Roosevelt making a pilgrimage to Standard Oil.)
  • Thinks winning in open standards is long term- after 8-10 years most standards bodies are going to look like w3c, and have patent policies in place to enable them to escape from patent gaming.
  • Says the SFLC brief in Microsoft v. AT&T is identical to Eli Lilly’s brief; pharma is trying to throw software out of the patent tent before software takes down the whole thing.
  • Cites Rawls to justify the superior morality/justice of a sharing culture, with reference to the moral problem of keeping knowledge from the poor. (ed.: my political philosophy work pays off!)

apple DRM by analogy

Some DRM analogies that popped out of my poor brain a while back and never got properly elaborated. These are still mostly in the ‘thinking out loud’ stage, so thoughts/comments/constructive criticisms appreciated, and don’t take them too seriously.

Model T:’any color you want as long as it is black’::ipod:FairPlay

Hypothesis: this works fine now, but people will eventually tire of it and demand more/better. We’re still realistically very early in the digital media game. Alternately, 100 years into the automative age we’re still pretty mediocre at buying on actual quality v. perceived quality.

ipod:DRM skeptics::car:American fans of mass transit

Hypothesis: DRM skeptics, despite being ‘right’ in some senses, are maybe doomed to be ignored by 99% of their compatriots, because utility trumps all other considerations. Possible flaw in the analogy: cars enhance personal autonomy, which overrides their social disutility; ipods diminish personal autonomy, which may at some point override their personal utility.

jobs letter:EU DRM antitrust concerns::MS + Novell agreement:EU patent/format antitrust concerns

Like Microsoft’s agreement with Novell, Jobs’s open letter on DRM was largely about urging European antitrust regulators to look elsewhere, not about actually helping customers. Just as MS tried to make Red Hat and the rest of free software look unreasonable by licensing with Novell, knowing that Novell is not a serious threat to their business, so here is Apple primarily urging the EU to place the blame for DRM’s anti-competitive nature at the feet of the labels, rather than on Apple, knowing that the labels are very unlikely to actually let go of DRM anytime soon.

Wed, 11 Jan 2006

Work

Had my three month review at work yesterday, albeit a bit belatedly. Have to admit I’m struggling a little bit- I never had to juggle so many projects or so many masters at Ximian/Novell, and am having problems keeping everything sorted/prioritized. Hopefully will be able to improve that for the rest of my term.

Reading

Stumbled on these bits yesterday- two interesting ramblings on the sustainability and economics of open source, and whether or not government should get involved in that. Worth a read if you’re interested.

Had no idea Joel was teaching MBAs now :) Looks like a great reading list if nothing else. I may get some of those and add them to my pile.

Am excited to see that IBM and friends continue to push for systematic patent reform. (More details at eweek.)

Life

Man, it is so good to see college basketball season back. Am excited to go to a game this weekend. Yay…