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Fw: dire:Fw: RUSSELL PAVLICEK: "The Open Source" from InfoWorld.com, Wednesday, October 17, 2001

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@home.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 14:16:46 -0400
Message-ID: <005b01c15737$e314e620$2cf60141@mtgmry1.md.home.com>
To: "User Agent Working group list" <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Poehlman" <poehlman1@home.com>
To: "blind-l list" <BLIND-L@LISTSERV.UARK.EDU>; <access-l@icomm.ca>
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2001 2:06 PM
Subject: dire:Fw: RUSSELL PAVLICEK: "The Open Source" from
InfoWorld.com, Wednesday, October 17, 2001



-----Original Message-----
From: OpenSource@bdcimail.com [mailto:OpenSource@bdcimail.com]
Sent: 2001 October 17 10:16 AM
To: sdawes@gov.calgary.ab.ca
Subject: RUSSELL PAVLICEK: "The Open Source" from InfoWorld.com,
Wednesday, October 17, 2001


========================================================
RUSSELL PAVLICEK:    "The Open Source"    InfoWorld.com
========================================================

Wednesday, October 17, 2001


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TROUBLESOME HORIZON

Posted October 12, 2001 01:01 PM  Pacific Time


RECENTLY, TWO major initiatives on the horizon have
troubled many open-source users and creators,
especially in the United States.

The first item of concern for much of the open-source
community is the proposal by the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C) to explore the use of royalty patents
on Web standards. The proposed use of these RAND
(Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) patents may
provide some protection for the standards, but they
will have at least one serious side effect: They will
make open-source implementations of these standards impossible.

Why? The very definition of open-source software
licensing states "the license may not require a
royalty or other fee" to use the software. The very
existence of these RAND royalty payments will directly
discriminate against open-source software.

Why does this matter? Simple: Open source powers a
significant portion of the Web. According to the
September 2001 Netcraft survey, approximately 60
percent of the Web -- more than 19 million servers --
are powered by the open-source Apache Web server.
About 30 percent of all computers hosting Web sites
run the Linux operating system, another key
open-source offering. Any change that threatens the
stability of so much of the Web better have a
tremendous upside. So far, I have yet to hear of
anything quite so momentous.

The second matter causing grief to many is the United
States' proposed SSSCA (Security Systems Standards and
Certification Act). On the surface, this bill appears
to simply guard the rights of copyright holders by
denying pirates the ability to make illegal copies of
electronic information. Unfortunately, it is much more
than that.

The SSSCA will insist that all digital devices --
computers, handhelds, and more -- be equipped with
federally specified "digital rights management"
technology. This technology will enable data providers
to decide how you may use the CDs, DVDs, and other
media you purchase.

But most critical to the open-source community is the
demand that all devices must use this technology. That
means that open-source systems must also implement
this feature or become illegal in the United States.
Yes, in the land of the free, free software may
be forbidden.

But why not just implement the controls under open
source? How? Even if the government were to publish
the code to do so, with open-source software someone
could always edit the operating system source code so
it does not call the controlling routines. This will
obviously be illegal under the provisions of the new law.

So when you hear about open-source people objecting to
the proposed W3C rules or ranting about the SSSCA
legislation, do not assume they are merely leftist
nutcases trying to subvert the rights of copyright
owners. They are not. They are, however, fighting
against proposals that may damage the structure of the
Internet by crippling or destroying open-source
software use.

It is one thing to protect the rights of copyright
owners, but it is something else to make freedom
illegal while doing so. There must be a better way.
Received on Wednesday, 17 October 2001 14:17:29 UTC

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