Nokia is Preaching, But not Really to the Choir

Nobody likes to be told they need to learn how things work in their own back yard, but when the lesson is about being taken to the cleaners, it's doubly offensive. Such was the message from Nokia on Tuesday, as its Open Source head took the OS community to task for not letting corporate greed run roughshod over the principles upon which Open Source stands.

"We want to educate open-source developers. There are certain business rules [developers] need to obey, such as DRM, IPR, SIM locks and subsidised business models." Thus came the proclamation from Berlin on Tuesday, at the Handsets World conference and out of the mouth of Ari Jaaksi, VP of software and Open Source chief for Nokia. He went on to acknowledge that such things "go against the open-source philosophy," but stuck to the corporate line that they're necessary evils that cell companies won't shed without a fight. Jaaksi was at least able to acknowledge that the industry has quite a bit to learn about playing nice with the OS community, having been burned by an inadvisable fork from the community developing Maemo, which runs the company's N800 "Internet Tablet."

Apparently the burn was not enough to drive them to learn anything about Open Source development, however. Jaaksi's speech went on to call for a "much needed" dialogue, followed immediately by this quote, quite possibly the most concise expression of corporate disregard for the principles of Open Source we've ever heard: "As an industry, we plan to use open-source technologies, but we are not yet ready to play by the rules." Our best advice to Nokia is to pick up a copy of the GPL and read it very carefully, because the times have changed, and these days, Open Source plays hardball, and wins.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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