links for 2008-11-28

Openmoko forced to fight a patent troll

Instead of innovating the mobile business, OpenMoko is now forced to divert energy on a battle against an Italian patent troll. From a message to the OpenMoko mailing lists:

The short story is that we are in a protracted battle with some patent trolls. Google for Sisvel. In order to get ourselves in a stronger position, we want to make sure no copies/instances/whatever of patent-infested technologies like MP2 and MP3 exist on our servers. Our phones never shipped with end-user MP3 playback features, but we want to use this opportunity to make sure it’s not even in some remote place somewhere.

The Neo Freerunner never shipped with software support for MP2 and MP3, so I wonder what the infringment claim is. I couldn’t find many info online about the case. Does anybody know more about it?

Re: RESEND(Wrong Thread): IMAGE/MP3 licensing issue. [LWN.net].

New MacBooks are Defective by Design

The new MacBook not only have reflective screens and miss a FireWire prot, but they also hide a stupid DRM locks in the video signal called HDCP. CrunchGear reports:

What is HDCP? It’s essentially a digital standard that tells your OS what you can display content on. If you connect your device to a project, as one high school teacher discovered while trying to play an iTunes video, the HDCP system will stop video from streaming to that device. If you connect it to an HDCP-compliant monitor then you’re in luck.

This means that even if you buy legitimate content but your TV is not HDMI capable you won’t be able to play the movie on it. The solution? I wish I could say simply ‘buy a GNU system’ that is cool and well designed, but I still haven’t found something I would tell my friends to put in their living rooms (I have my own custom made set-top-box, but it’s ugly).’  I cannot see why Dell or HP don’t bet on VLC+Elisa, which are 100times better than iTunes+FrontRow or the MS Media crap. So for now I’ll repeat what Crunchgear said:

Do a quick search on ThePirateBay. I’m sure you’ll find it in non-HDCP encrypted format.

Support Defective By Design campaign, donate to FSF

CrunchGear » Archive » MacBooks enter a golden new age of anti-piracy cruft: HDCP for all.

Leveraging the community for marketing?

Roberto Galoppini’s idea of an Open Source Network Marketing (OSNM) hints at some of the values that a strong community can bring to your brand:

Open Source Network Marketing could help to reduce information asymmetry, bringing more end-users to become customers and save time (and money!) buying instead commercial open source services (i.e. subscriptions and everything else fits in your funnel marketing).
[…]
Open Source Network Marketing
has to be applied responsibly and ethically. The free software community has to be happy to be part of this business equation, valuing hackers’ time and experience is a must. Make them happy is the only way to foster the ecosystem required to release this potential.

It’s an interesting concept, mixing multi-level-marketing with the concept of the tribe. If you’re lucky enough to have built a tribal community around your brand, maybe an OSNM scheme can multiply its value. Linus Torvalds managed to build a tribe in the early days of ‘Linux’, although who is really exploiting the value of such tribe is not that clear at the moment; the results are split between so many actors that the actual value is not clearly visible.

Watching the ‘Linux’ tribes you may understand how hard it can be to keep tribes acting ‘responsibly and ethically’. It’s a balancing act, but if you do it right it can bring benefits.

Full article: Open Source Business: What about Open Source Network Marketing at Sun? | Commercial Open Source Software.

Free Software Foundation year end fundraising campaign

I had the feeling that 2008 was an important year for FSF. We’ve seen new campaigns take off, like End Software Patents and Support Open Document Format; the established campaigns Defective By Design, Play OGG, Expert Witness Fund have received good responses (if Google page rank is an indicator).’  We’ve seen also the first FSF Associate Members Meetings outside of Boston and I was lucky enough to participate to the first on in Portland this summer. And the best thing of it all was the FREE BEER! Look at the pictures, the free beer is visible there 🙂

This year marks a change, it shows clearly that’  FSF is reaching out to the wider community. The new structure is very community oriented and outreaching.’  FSF hired two campaign managers (Joshua Gay and Matt Lee), a membership coordinator (Deborah Nicholson). The organization has evolved into a campaign oriented organization and the results are visible. Charity Navigator has published its annual review of FSF fiscal reports assigning 3 stars (Exceeds or meets industry standards and performs as well as or better than most charities in its Cause.)’  Revenues increased 9.5% since last year (previous growth was 5.25%) and program expenses raised accordingly. Administrative expenses remained stable, showing that donations go’  to the operations, to support the FSF goals.

I will renew my membership this year and I think you should do that too. Click the image below, do it now!

Support freedom

Funambol’s first developers conference

Funambol’s community has grown so much that it deserves its first developer conference. We’re hosting this one day event on November 25 in Milan, at Politecnico di Milano.’  It’s very exciting for me to see how rich is’  the agenda: Funambol’s Engineering team will explain the structure of the various components and, more importantly, illustrate the roadmap of each main part: the sync server, the connectors and the clients.’  Bianka Busch of 1und1 will give an interesting overview of how they integrated Funambol with OpenXchange to deliver a MobileWe solution to their customers. Roberto Polli di Babel will be talking about integrating Funambol server with CalDAV and LDAP. Mike Taczak of Mailtrust will explain how they have worked with a commercial free software company to integrate the AGPLv3 code into their proprietary backends. Phil Shotton of PSJ Solutions will share his experience developing and maintaining the connector for SugarCRM: integrating two commercially successfull free software projects to power his own business.

Since the meeting is at the Politecnico, I encourage also the students to participate. Funambol offers paths to get in touch with the dazzling world of free software, with the Sniper Programs being the first and easiest ones (Code Sniper, Phone Sniper and Lion Sniper) and then maybe a carreer, too. Candidate funambolists are welcome to save the date now.

FSF new license gives more freedom of choice to Wikipedia

The FSF has updated its long controversial Free Documentation License. Developed initially for the manuals of GNU system, it was chosen for Wikipedia. This choice led to various problems, with many people regretting it. The new version allows changing the license from GNU FDL to Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0. Today FSF and Richard Stallman demonstrated once again the importance of this organization.’  To say it with Larry Lessig’s words:

Add “good citizen” to the list of praise for this [Richard Stallman] founder of contemporary freedom.

Enormously important news from the Free Software Foundation (Lessig Blog).