FSFE Newsletter - June 2011
press at fsfeurope.org
press at fsfeurope.org
Sat Jun 4 22:28:45 CEST 2011
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= FSFE Newsletter - June 2011 =
[Read online: http://fsfe.org/news/nl/nl-201106.fi.html ]
== The 899 Million question: Microsoft, European Commission, and Free
What would you do with a monopolist, who uses his dominant position in
one area to create monopolies in other areas as well? The European
Commission has decided in 2004 that Microsoft has to provide competitors
with information how to connect a workgroup server with computers
running Microsoft Windows. Since the main competitor to Microsoft’s
workgroup server is the Free Software Samba project, the Commission made
it clear that Microsoft had to release interoperability information in a
way that is compatible with Free Software licenses like the GNU GPL. The
Commission's 2004 decision did not require Microsoft to publish
innovative information, it asked for simple information how Microsoft
computers talk to each other.
But Microsoft played for time, even when the Commission imposed a fine
of two million Euro for every day that Microsoft did not make the
required interoperability information and documentation available in a
way that the Samba team could make use of it. That gave Microsoft three
more years to gain profit from its monopoly position.
After losing an appeal in October 2007, Microsoft finally made the
required interoperability information available for a one-time fee of
EUR 10,000. This gives Free Software groups access to Microsoft’s
protocol specifications, but does not give them a license to the patents
that Microsoft holds in this area. Microsoft only offers patent licenses
under conditions that are fundamentally incompatible with the GNU GPL.
So the Samba team has a license to use Microsoft’s protocol
specifications, but not its patented technologies. At least those
patents are identified, and the Samba team can work around them with
considerable effort until we fix the problem of software patents as a
Microsoft appealed the fine. On the 24th of May another hearing took
place. Like in the rest of the process, FSFE was again present, together
with the Samba team, giving crucial input to ensure that Free Software
can compete on market. Karsten Gerloff wrote about the hearing in his
blog article"Samba case hearing: How Microsoft’s gamble backfired",
and you can also read Groklaw interview with Karsten Gerloff and Carlo
Piana. A ruling on the Microsoft’s appeal is expected in the second
half of the year.
== Antifeatures + DRM ==
How many times have you been forced to watch those copyright notices at
the beginning of a DVD, without the chance to fast-forward? Or would you
miss it, if no mobile phone would have a SIM lock?
On the 4th of May our American sister organisation organised the "Day
Against DRM". There were several articles, events, and radio shows about
this topic. Your editor was interviewed by Dradio Wissen on the
subject of Antifeatures, which also includes digitial restriction
An antifeature is a feature, which is implemented by the developer on
purpose, but which user does not want. So, it is not about bugs or
missing functionality, but about functions which the vendor added
intentionally to restrict the user.
Your editor's interview and corresponding article explain some
examples, like how printer vendors prevent others from producing
printers' cartridges, the sim lock in mobile phones, the option to get
rid of additional software commercials on laptops, or the copyright
notices and the region code for DVDs.
With Free Software adding antifeatures simply isn't lucrative. Every
user has the freedom to change the software and to share those changes
with others. So when one person removes an antifeature, all other users
will benefit from this work. In Free Software new features are
implemented either if someone pays for them, or if someone is convinced
that this is an important feature and s/he has spent spare time on it.
Therewith Free Software is more honest and more transparent towards
Benjamin Mako Hill wrote more about antifeatures and also gave
several talks about it, e.g. at Linux Conf Australia 2010 (Ogg-
Theora), or FrosCon (Ogg-Theora).
== Something completely different ==
- As British Telecom plan to roll out new music subscription service to
their 5.5 million broadband customers, our UK Team has asked BT to
make user freedom one of the product's key features.
- The German Foreign Office is turning away from Free Software, and the
German Government is entangling itself in contradictions. The
assessment of our German team is, that the reaction of the
Government to an inquiry by "Bündnis 90/Grüne" shows that the
government either does not understand important aspects of Free
Software or is deliberately offending Free Software in general as well
as Free Software companies in particular. We set up a public comment
plattform, and ask you to participate.
- The Free Software in Education update is out for March/April 2011.
Besides, there is an education survey in the UK.
- The German team commented the replies to our question to the political
parties in Bremen.
- From the planet aggregation:
- This month's Fellowship interview with Florian Effenberger, is
out. He was the previous Marketing Project Lead for OpenOffice.org and
now founding member and part of the Steering Committee at The Document
- There are again new issues of Free Software and law related links for
30.4.-6.5. 7.5.-22.5., and 23.5.-29.5..
- Fellow Jan-Christoph Borchardt wrote about Free(ing) web games.
== Get active: Translate our Ask your Candidates page ==
In the coming month we will do more in our"Ask Your Candidates"
activity. You can already help us by translating this page into your
native language. Like on all pages click on the source code link at
the buttom of the page. Translate the page and then send it to
translators fsfeurope.org. If you are interested to help us more
regularly with translations, please take a look at our translator
Matthias Kirschner- FSFE
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