A free society can exist in a terror-laden world. Here’s what you can do.
Recently, the MyDoom virus affected the sites of two of the biggest opponents to the Open Source community: SCO and Microsoft. While Vigilante action is plain wrong (a message that few in the open source community seem to be sending out), there are opportunities for the open source community to shine. Here’s how. As many people in the net community know by now, SCO has posted a reward of $250,000 for information leading to the arrest of the MyDoom author. In parallel, Microsoft has posted a reward of $250,000 to people that will help find the creator of MyDoom.B That’s a total of half a million dollars. Earlier this year, the OSDL created a Linux Legal Defense Fund to fight SCO’s claims. Let’s imagine for a second that the open source community use its effort to find the person responsible for the MyDoom virus and its variant. What if the community then picked up the purse from SCO and Microsoft? What if it then gave that money to OSDL as part of the fight against SCO? Wouldn’t that be the sweetest irony? I think it’s a good idea and that’s why I’m issuing a call to the community to fight…Read More
One of the nice things about organizing events filled with geeks is the fact that I get to hang out with people that are smarter than me. The discussion on Tuesday covered a wide number of subjects but most of the fascination came from what to do with SCO. For those not familiar with the battle, SCO is currently suing IBM, Redhat, and other Linux vendors, claiming that some of its code is present in the Linux operating system. Their claim is based on the concept that they did not authorize their code to be redistributed in such a fashion. Going further, SCO is now trying to overturn the GPL, the licensing scheme used by most of the open source community to share and redistribute code. As a result, they have essentially gone to war against the whole open source community. One of the interesting suggestions that came up is the fact that, by saying that Open Source is theft, and that by saying Linux is theft, SCO is essentially defaming any person that uses or promotes Linux and/or open source product. Based on this insight, it is possible to look forward to a time when geeks might consider striking…Read More
The recent fights of the music industry remind me a lot about the early days of the personal computer industry. While I was still a kid then, it seems the software industry went through a similar experience in terms of trying to figure out how to deal with piracy. In this entry, I examine what I consider to be the four stages of dealing with piracy of digital assets. I believe that any industry that is seeing a move of their intellectual assets to a digital medium will go through four basic stages: ignorance, panic, protection and litigation, quiet acceptance. This was the case with software in the 80s and 90s, is currently the case with music, and will soon be the case with movies. I suspect that other industries like the professional photography market are facing similar issues currently or have in the past. Stage 1: Ignorance During this stage, an industry ignores the problem, either because it is seen as the domain of fringe elements or doesn’t seem like it could possibly have a huge impact. Consider this the ostrich strategy. Executives downplay the importance of a new culture (software crackers in the 80s, file-sharing in the mid-90s)…Read More
Over the past few days, I’ve been writing about the Microsoft/AOL deal and why I think that it is a dangerous one to all of us. My core fear about the deal is that it will increase lock-up in the Internet space due to a new concept called Digital Rights Management. When using such a system, content is encrypted based on a number of criteria. My fear is not that the content will be encrypted (after all, it should be OK for vendors to protect their intellectual property if they want to) but the fact that there is no DRM standard that can be shared across the industry as a whole. As a result, we could end up in what I fear will be a lock-up situation. In a recent Security Focus column, Scott Granneman highlights some of the issues surrounding that lock-up situation. Implementing a complete solution means giving more control to one particular software company. In Scott’s example, it is Microsoft. In the case of the Apple music store, that control is in the hands of Apple. Two different solutions, two different ways to handle things. As a result, there will be more fragmentation again, as content that…Read More