HP to Hardware Vendors: Peddle That NDA Somewhere Else
Danish Navy Develops on Linux, Deploys on LynxOS

The Royal Danish Navy is going to sea with applications developed on Linux but running on the Linux-compatible, real-time LynxOS from LynuxWorks (lynuxworks.com). “The Linux interfaces are becoming the real-world definition of open systems”, said Dr. Inder Singh, LynuxWorks' CEO.

“LynxOS is very unique in being a hard real-time operating system that is ABI-compatible with Linux”, he added. The Royal Danish Navy doesn't even need to recompile to move applications from Linux-based development systems onshore to the LynxOS platform on ship.

LynxOS has been on the market for more than a decade and was designed into Space Station Freedom before the project was re-organized as the International Space Station. It is also used in Airbus jets. On the ground, LynxOS is also used on HP LaserJet printers and Xerox copiers.

“Requirements for certification are pretty strenuous”, Singh said. Extensive documentation is required, and no Linux-based system has yet been certified for real-time space or military use. “There have been many attempts, but no one has been able to get one certified”, Singh said.

Observers of Linux's inexorable progress add, “Yet”.

—Don Marti

Stop the Presses: Commons, 2; Hollywood, 0

The entertainment industry's war with technology goes back a long way. In 1984, MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti said, “The VCR is to the American film producer and the American public what the Boston Strangler is to a woman home alone.” But we can trace the current system of fears and balances back to 1908, when music publishers claimed player piano rolls violated music copyrights. That case lost in the Supreme Court, but the industry prevailed on Congress to establish the “mechanical license”, which established the right to reproduce published music in return for a regulated royalty. In 1931 some music composers claimed that a hotel's radio station violated copyrights by playing their music. The composers lost that one. In the 1960s, book publishers failed in their suit against photocopiers, but the Supreme Court ruling on the case allowed “fair use” of published works. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, broadcasters took on Community Antenna Television or CATV. (The movie industry was also involved, forcing theater employees to wear buttons that said “Fight Pay TV”.) Supreme Court rulings on two cases opened the way for the cable TV systems we have today. So it's clear we're still in this fight for the very long haul.

But at least we can pause to observe two current victories for technology over those who would control it: the launch of Creative Commons and the Librarian of Congress' rejection of CARP's (Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel) recommendations for imposing stiff requirements and performance use fees on internet radio stations.

Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org) was launched at the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference in Santa Clara, California, on May 16, ending months of quiet development. It is led by Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law professor and author of two highly influential works (Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace and The Future of Ideas), both of which argue against the entertainment industry's constant campaign to bend copyright law in their favor and to replace the Internet's commons with a highly regulated system for the supply-controlled distribution of “content”.

The project lives at Stanford University, where it is highly involved with the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. It also receives what it calls “generous support” from the Center for the Public Domain (formerly the Red Hat Center), which is headquartered at Duke University and chaired by Red Hat founder Bob Young.

Rather than simply lobbying against the entertainment industry, Creative Commons offers concrete solutions to the first sources of creative goods: the artists themselves. In his speech to the conference Lessig said,

This content that the law says is mine, I should be able to make available on my own terms. We need machine-readable expressions of the author's intentions about the nature of the content. The world should not be divided between those who believe in control and those who believe in access. Those who want both, on an individual level, should be able to compromise.

While Creative Commons was in development, internet radio, which includes thousands of stations (many of them making resourceful use of Linux and other open-source software), was under severe threat by the CARP's recommendations, which were issued in February 2002 and widely expected to knock most stations off the air. If adopted, the CARP recommendations would have become regulatory fact on May 22, 2002. But on May 21, the Librarian of Congress issued an “order rejecting the panel's determination”, which would become final one month later. Stations and advocacy groups like SaveInternetRadio.org breathed a public sigh of relief.

But the issue is far from resolved. CARP is a creature spawned by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is still in force. More importantly, the whole idea of the Commons is still not well understood—especially on Capitol Hill, where the influence of the entertainment industry remains enormous.

In his speech Larry Lessig said, “We will never succeed in advocating the importance of this space until ordinary people get it. And they won't until technologists begin to express to politicians how important these values that they built into technology are to freedom and creativity.”

—Doc Searls