UpFront

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.
LJ Index—February 2001
  1. Position of “white box” units among top-selling PC “brands”: 1

  2. Market share range of “white box” PCs: 50-70

  3. Millions of player pianos sold in the US alone by 1930: 2.5

  4. 1930 US population in millions: 123.2

  5. Linux training revenue in millions of dollars in 1999: 10.3

  6. Linux training revenue in millions of dollars in 2001: 56

  7. Projected Linux training revenue in millions of dollars in 2004: 285

  8. Size in billions of dollars of the system-level training market by 2004: 2

  9. Low end of projected Linux percentage share of the system-level training market by 2004: 5.8

  10. High end of projected Linux percentage share of the same market: 15.3

  11. Projected compound annual growth rate of Linux support services revenue from 1999-2004: 86.9%

  12. Amazon.com technology expenses in millions of dollars prior to migration to Linux: 71

  13. Amazon.com technology expenses in millions of dollars after migration to Linux: 54

  14. Percentage cut in Amazon technology expenses in migration to Linux: 25

  15. Cost relative to UNIX of 1,000 users tapping into a Linux server: 1/3 to 1/2

  16. Value in millions of dollars to IBM of tools donated to public domain by IBM via the Eclipse.org Project: 40

  17. Number of software tool suppliers working on Eclipse software at the formation of Eclipse.org on November 6, 2001: 150

  18. Number of individual developers involved with Eclipse at the same point: 1,200

  19. Number of hosted projects on SourceForge.net on November 11, 2001: 29,253

  20. Registered users of SourceForge.net at the same time: 290,500

Sources

1-3: Jon “maddog” Hall of Linux International

4: US Census Bureau

5-11: International Data Corp. (IDC)

12-14: CNET

15: Dan Kusnetzky of IDC, in CNET story

16-18: IBM

19-20: SourceForge.net

Stop the Presses: DMCA 2, Free Speech 0, but the FTC Offers Hope

In the last few days (as we go to press in mid-December 2001), the cause of free speech, which has been dear to the heart of the Linux community—and without which we might not have either Linux or the Internet—has taken a couple of heavy hits in the courts. The only ray of hope comes from the FTC.

In both court cases the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prevailed. The DMCA, which was signed into law in October 1998, expands the scope of copyright to criminalize circumvention of copyright schemes, among other things.

In Felten vs. RIAA, Professor Edward Felten (currently on leave from Stanford) and others sued the Recording Industry Association of America, claiming that the RIAA used threats of lawsuits to prevent him from presenting his work at an academic conference. Felten had planned to show how he and his researchers had disabled digital watermarks but backed down after a threatening letter from an RIAA lawyer. RIAA officials later said they had not intended to sue. The case was dismissed by US District Court Judge Garrett E. Brown, who found that Felten had no legal complaint.

Context: Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian academic was imprisoned and is still awaiting trial for DMCA violations he allegedly committed when he gave a presentation at a conference where he detailed weaknesses in Adobe's eBook technology software. At the behest of Adobe, Sklyarov was arrested in his hotel in Las Vegas on July 16, 2001 while preparing to return to Russia. He spent three weeks in jail and still awaits trial, even though Adobe has withdrawn its support for the case.

In a statement, Cary Sherman, senior executive vice president with the RIAA, said:

We are happy that the court recognized what we have been saying all along: there is no dispute here. As we have said time and again, Professor Felten is free to publish his findings.

In a press release following the dismissal, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Legal Director Cindy Cohn said:

Since the government and industry cannot agree on what the DMCA means, it is not surprising that scientists and researchers are confused and decide not to publish research for fear of prosecution under the DMCA....Regardless of specific government or industry threats in the past, scientists should not have to experience the ongoing chilling effects of this vague digital copyright law.

In Universal vs. Reimerdes, the 2nd US Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling against the defendants. The plaintiffs included Universal Studios, plus Tri-Star, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Columbia Pictures and MGM. The defendants were Eric Corley and 2600 magazine, which had published DeCSS, a DVD decryption program that has circulated widely on the Net (2600 provided a download) and that allows users of Linux computers to watch DVDs. Corley's attorneys argued that DeCSS was protected as free speech. The studios argued that harm to their industry outweighed free speech protections. The court agreed with the plaintiffs. The EFF's Cindy Cohn, who helped represent Corley in the case, said, “I think it's a setback for free speech. It appears that the court is upholding censorship of the magazine on-line.”

It is also significant that the DMCA, in the words of Eric S. Raymond of the Open Source Initiative, serves to “protect the cartelization” of playback devices. Jon Johansen and MoRE (Masters of Reverse Engineering) in Norway developed DeCSS basically so DVDs could be played back on Linux devices—something the movie studios and their partners in the consumer electronics business hadn't bothered to deliver.

On one positive note, the US Federal Trade Commission announced hearings on “Competition and Intellectual Property Law and Policy in the Knowledge-Based Economy”, starting in January 2002 (when this issue of Linux Journal should be hitting the streets). You can learn more about it and submit written comments by following directions from the Federal Register at this URL: www.ftc.gov/os/2001/11/ciphearingsfrn.htm.

—Doc Searls

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