From the Editor: December 2004 - Great Entertainment Software

Get started with video production, but keep your eyes open for sticky situations.

We normally don't bother with those “educational use only” disclaimers that other magazines slap on every article that might possibly be used for harm. Of course it's for educational use, and of course you're responsible for your own actions. But this issue, as we take on the tricky topic of entertainment, consider this an extended disclaimer.

Olexiy Tykhomyrov and Denis Tonkonog bring you an intro to Kino, a versatile editing package that supports plugins and uses XML to store its edit decision lists—the perfect tool for dealing with the high-quality footage from a digital camcorder (page 54). If you don't want to splash out for a camcorder, Marcel Gagné presents a smaller, cheaper, Webcam-based studio on page 30.

But, we have to admit that this issue is still missing a piece of the puzzle. Want to put the MPEG-4 videos you produce on a Web site that also has advertising? You'll need a lawyer and a contract with the ominous MPEG Licensing Authority. Where would the Web be if there were an “HTML Licensing Authority”?

There is hope. Check out for info on the patent-free Theora video format, which you can use as freely as HTML. We'll be bringing you more how-tos on staying patent-free; in the meantime, use MPEG for research only.

Although good news on software patents is still scarce, the software community, on both the free and proprietary sides, is aware of the danger and moving to contain patent damage. The Internet Engineering Task Force shut down its “Mail Transfer Agent Authentication in DNS” working group because of a threatened patent trap from one vendor. In the long run, that's the right decision. Meanwhile, the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) Project, led by Linux Journal author Meng Weng Wong, is still going strong—and patent-free. Popular Linux distributions are also scrupulous about leaving off patent-encumbered software.

Readers were enthusiastic about Meng's spam-fighting articles, so we're bringing you more. Clam AntiVirus came out of the blue to win an Editors' Choice Award for best security tool this year. With non-Linux systems on the company network, your Linux mail server needs to protect them from viruses too. Mick Bauer gives you a detailed look at Clam on page 36, and Robert LeBlanc shows how to integrate mail filtering into an easy-to-manage system that lets users fish their own false positives out of quarantine on page 84.

The software patent mess won't be over until governments realize that they're a bad bargain—that the transaction costs and free speech risks outweigh whatever benefits come from R&D incentives. While you keep your eyes open and your “letter to politicians” template handy, and watch for things you can do for patent reform, don't forget why you love digital freedom, and do some fun and useful things with the great software in this issue.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.