Category Archives: open source

sexism is not, actually, “open source”

There’s been a blog flurry about the use (dare I call it “appropriation”?) of the term “open source” for a project aimed at facilitating gropes of women’s breasts at SF cons. The project was called the “open source boob project” and proposed to pass out buttons so that people (“women”) could affirmatively opt-in to the project and say: “yes you may” or “no you may not” (ask if you can grope my breasts).

The original poster was unfortunately clueless about sexism, and writing from a position of utterly unexamined privilege. Many, many gajillions of postings have pointed out the numerous ways the proposal is bad:
* it makes people (“women”) feel unsafe
* it makes people (“women”) feel pressured to participate
* since cons are also meetings for people in the SF trades and professions, it may pressure people (“women”) to participate to advance their careers, in the fine old school tradition of sexual harassment

… I could go on, but instead I’ll just point to the feminist SF blog and FSFwiki and Feministing for summaries and links. Particularly noteworthy responses include:
* open source swift kick to the balls by misia
* open source african hair project from plastic sturgeon
* The Open Source Women Back Each Other Up Project! by vito_excalibur
* Open Source Male Assholes by springheel jack, excellent for its libertarian fallacies analysis. My only complaint is I wish that the author had used the capital L Libertarian, since there is, in fact, a large thread of libertarian thinking that specifically recognizes social inequalities: anarchism, the original and still the best “libertarian” philosophy/analysis/action plan.

The thing that caused me to post about this over here, as well as interacting with the general blog furor, is the appropriation of the term “open source”. This also did not go over well. But isn’t it interesting the way “openness” and “open source” has become some sort of synonym for permissiveness? Despite the massive way this is a completely wack analogy? (see inhammer, below)

Links discussing the open source aspect include:

  • matthew garrett
  • inhammer: failure of metaphor
  • rivkat: “a category mistake of the ugliest kind”
  • In a comment on the Rivkat thread, Ithiliana picked up Rivkat’s phrase “Bodies are rivalrous” and made an awesome LJ icon: Later…: I keep coming back to this image and staring at it. Honestly, I just love this so much that I want it plastered all over my blog, my shirts, my bumper stickers, and maybe my household windows.
  • designated sidekick at extends the metaphor to “closed source misogyny” and suggests “Let’s put our male entitled view of women’s bodies as our property to use, modify, open source and otherwise interact with into a neatly closed source wrapper, bundle it in DRM, load it on an iPod and repeatedly strike our narrow minded selves in the face until the bleeding starts, and continue until the ability to stand upright stops.” Hear, hear.

good news in SCO case

The District Court of Utah has issued a decision and order finding that SCO does not own parts of Linux (D.Utah 2007/8/10). The lengthy litigation (funded in part with Microsoft’s investments in SCO) was the only serious shadow hanging over Linux, although the claims seemed bogus when examined closely. (I also liked this chart that geekly picked over the possible harms to linux.) It’s good to see Judge Dale Kimball come to the same conclusion.

The D. Court of Utah website was down yesterday and for some reason has labeled all SCO filings and orders as available only through PACER (a fee-based access service to public court filings). However, groklaw posted the decision.

ip / info round-up

i’ve been out of the loop for about an entire month while i moved, battled colds & flus & snowstorms, and made it thru the winter holidays … so i’ll be logging a month’s worth of interesting articles & commentaries. luckily it seems that courts, legislators & commentators have also been slower than usual the last few weeks:

  • 1/13: EFF has now filed its grokster brief in the US Supreme Court.

  • 1/12: iPac has launched its jailed for a song campaign to bring attention to the ongoing & increasing criminalization of copyright law. [link from jason schultz 1/12]

  • 1/11: maine today covers the Maine Supreme Judicial Court case about a guy who created a hotmail account in someone else’s name. Anonymous free speech, says EFF, Public Citizen, the ACLU, and Defendant Doe. Fraud, says the plaintiff.

  • 1/10: Apple has been sending C&Ds to apple blogs for breaking news about new apple lines. If apple isn’t careful, its highhanded tactics will lose it some hipster street cred.

  • My people (or so very old family history would have it) are picking a fight between the Cherokee Nation and the GPL. [linux business week 1/10] [thanks to Brian Carver for the link]

  • bill gates thinks IP reformers are communists. What an ass.

    C|Net: In recent years, there’s been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, “We’ve got to look at patents, we’ve got to look at copyrights.” What’s driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?

    BG: No, I’d say that of the world’s economies, there’s more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don’t think that those incentives should exist.

    And this debate will always be there. I’d be the first to say that the patent system can always be tuned–including the U.S. patent system. There are some goals to cap some reform elements. But the idea that the United States has led in creating companies, creating jobs, because we’ve had the best intellectual-property system–there’s no doubt about that in my mind, and when people say they want to be the most competitive economy, they’ve got to have the incentive system. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future.

    [ 1/5]

  • 8th circuit online privacy victory: The RIAA has to actually provide some evidence of copyright infringement, and sue them individually, before it can gain access to individual’s ISP records. This follows the DC Circuit Verizon decision. [eff press release]

  • 12/21: mark pesce on bittorrent & the shutdown of and published on Napsterization 12/21. pointer from derek slater

  • dec: Did I mention how depressed I am that Pennsylvania passed the stupid law banning municipalities from providing their own broadband services? At the behest of Verizon, which was alarmed when Philly started plans to provide its own broadband to the entire city. Grr. [ 12/1 and 1/4]

open source gaming

open source gaming: Wired News: Gamers Eye Open Virtual Worlds

Lots of interesting implications:

  • May solve the problem of over-reaching EULAs that ban all kinds of lawful & fair uses
  • May stop the kinds of top-down censorship and controls that are characteristic of the EA / Peter Ludlow / Sims story
  • A perfect example of DIY activism in action: not wasting time trying to reform the old system or rebel against it, but just making your own system … and trusting that if it’s good it’ll change the world.
  • ever closer to virtual reality …

    “Inevitably, there would have to be certain protocols that people would have to adhere to to fit into this space,” Ludlow said. “Maybe there’re portals between them. Maybe you could walk between them.”

  • All the problems that Peter Ludlow was reporting in the Sims games (e.g., the online brothels) will re-appear … and isn’t this just like real life? With top-down control [EA/Sims] you have brothels. Without top-down control [open source gaming] you’ll have brothels. It’ll be up to people who don’t like them to stay out of them.
  • All of the academics who jumped on the virtual reality, virtual communities stories back in the late 80s, early 90s will be back in force. (Or maybe they never left: maybe I just stopped paying attention to that literature.)

[linked from terra nova 12/2]

ip/tech round-up

So many interesting IP/tech stories to follow & things to read, squeezing in updates between political polls … must link appropriately later, but for now will just jot, a way to organize my fevered mind:

  • The Lessig blog spanked Richard Epstein for his “why open source is unsustainable” article. … I’m wishing I had thought of a different way to say that.
  • Did I mention that I love NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer? He’s looking into the record labels.
  • Kahle v. Ashcroft oral arguments postponed.
  • The new HBO copy protection scheme.
  • The Induce Act died. The ensuing legislative paste-up (HR 4077) also died. For now. Stay tuned for CDBTPA/Induce/HR 4077 II: Copyright Über All (alternate title: Return of Copyright)
  • Podcasting. … Apparently it’s a new Big Deal, and folks are concerned about the legal liabilities of podcasting copyrighted music. I will probably regret saying this at some point when I am shown the error of my ways, but how is this different (copyright liability-wise) from MP3 blogs? I mean, assuming that in either case the podcast / mp3blog is disseminating copyrighted files (probably music) that the copyright owner hasn’t authorized. What the hell, I don’t even really know what it is right now, although I can sort of guess from the name. But that’s why it’s on my list — an issue I’m tracking.
  • Disney is being sued over Peter Pan. How delightful to see the myriad ironies of copyright bite Disney on the ass.
  • Rosa Parks. Not likely to make significant law, but another example of IP laws interfacing (negatively) with our most valuable and esteemed cultural and historical signifiers. The NYT article from 10/18 briefly explains how the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development [co-founded by Elaine Steele] is suing OutKast & its publisher over its song, “Rosa Parks,” which protests the recording industry’s treatment of artists. The references to Rosa Parks are (a) the title; and (b) the line, “Ah ha, hush that fuss; Everybody move to the back of the bus.” The Institute is suing OutKast for right of publicity, trademark and defamation. (!) Her family states that Ms. Parks would not approve of the lawsuit.
  • A couple of interesting take-down experiments in the last few months. One recently involved, I think, a hotmail account sending fake C&Ds to ISPs where public domain works were posted (by the C&D senders, under other addresses). Not surprisingly the works were removed. The other experiment was several months ago, as I recall, and was one recognizably public domain work, also taken down. And the Free Expression Policy Project studied the Chilling Effects database to see takedown outcomes.
  • The DOJ last week (was it only last week? maybe 10 days ago) vowed to fight, fight, fight against those evil IP rights infringers. … Hey, whatever happened to the anthrax senders? [DOJ Report of the DOJ Task Force on IPashcroft remarkspress release]
  • The Supreme Court denied cert in Verizon. Ha.
  • All these fun cases: Grosso v. Miramax, 9th Circuit (unsolicited script leads to implied contract leads to potential claim for copyright infringement! yikes)
  • Arkansas Democrat-Gazette v. Brantley, Arkansas Supreme Court. Copyright is hurting America.
  • And did I mention Jon Stewart and his delightful CNN Crossfire interview? Media criticism done ju-u-u-st right.
  • Voting technology issues galore. Waay too many to list here.
  • The Chinese “happy birthday” trademark which was posted several places, including EFF and umm I think Guiding Rights. Not as upsetting as it initially sounds but still — absurd!Can’t some TM office just say NO to silly, silly trademarks like this?
  • Indymedia got their servers back but is still trying to figure out just what the hell really happened.
  • Oral arguments in the webcasting royalty rates case.
  • FTC decided to go after spyware. [hat tip to Susan Crawford, 10/16]
  • I love the ALA, Public Knowledge, and others, who have challenged the FCC’s jurisdiction to impose a broadcast flag.

… hat tips to copyfight and eff deep links and susan crawford and guiding rights and a bunch of other fabulous blogs all linked under info blogs …

ip & tech law cites

  • Supreme Court denies cert. in Verizon [10/12] Justices won’t weigh Net music lawsuit tactics | CNET
  • Robertson v. Thomson Corp. [10/6] Cite from slashdot. — apparently this case is Canada’s Tasini, regarding the copyright rights of freelance writers (right?)
  • Novell honors the ancient compact between men and elves in the fight against Mordor: Novell Statement on Patents & Open Source Software. [10/12] See press release. Cite from slashdot. The Statement, in relevant part:
    • We believe that customers want and need freedom of choice in making decisions about technology solutions. …
    • In reality, open source software poses no greater risk of patent infringement than does closed source software. [emphasis in original]
    • Consistent with this belief, Novell will use its patent portfolio to protect itself against claims made against the Linux kernel or open source programs included in Novell’s offerings, as dictated by the actions of others.
    • In the event of a patent claim against a Novell open source product, Novell would respond using the same measures generally used to defend proprietary software products accused of patent infringement. Among other things, Novell would seek to address the claim by identifying prior art that could invalidate the patent; demonstrating that the product does not infringe the patent; redesigning the product to avoid infringement; or pursuing a license with the patent owner.
    • As appropriate, Novell is prepared to use our patents, which are highly relevant in today’s marketplace, to defend against those who might assert patents against open source products marketed, sold or supported by Novell. Some software vendors will attempt to counter the competitive threat of Linux by making arguments about the risk of violating patents. Vendors that assert patents against customers and competitors such as Novell do so at their own peril and with the certainty of provoking a response. We urge customers to remind vendors that all are best served by using innovation and competition to drive purchasing decisions, rather than the threat of litigation.
    • Novell has previously used its ownership of UNIX copyrights and patents to protect customers against similar threats to open source software made by others.
  • RIAA files cert. request in Grokster [10/8] (pdf at EFF).

    my bet? cert. denied. why? *

eta: I lost that bet ….

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David Cobb (G) on privacy & freedom

A presidential candidate has an IP policy. Whoo-hoo!

David Cobb, Green Party presidential candidate, doesn’t like genetic patents, thinks the patent system needs reform, is proud his website is on open source software, and thinks we should codify caselaw striking down shrinkwrap licenses. (Take that, BNetd case!)

(A recent Dan Gillmor column shows that by contrast neither Kerry nor Bush have any sense of the public interest in intellectual property law. [10/4])

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dmca, patent, & privacy news

two new dmca opinions: diebold (good) and bnetd (bad), plus privacy and MS patent loss.