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Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@lwn.net. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.

May 3, 2001

From:	 Michael Stutz <stutz@dsl.org>
To:	 robin@eff.org, webmaster@eff.org
Subject: Concerns with EFF's Open Audio Licensing strategy
Date:	 Wed, 25 Apr 2001 11:54:31 -0400
Cc:	 me@ram.org, linart@li.org, antomoro@free.fr, hemos@slashdot.org,
	 lessig@pobox.com, cc@cyber.law.harvard.edu, barlow@eff.org, lwn@lwn.net

Dear Robin Gross, et al.:

Why would the EFF make a new special-purpose license to promote free
music instead of working with the long-existing free art community?
Has the EFF been unaware of these efforts, outlined in places such as
<http://linart.net/>, <http://ram.org/ramblings/philosophy/fmp/>,
<http://dsl.org/copyleft/>, <http://antomoro.free.fr/c/lalgb.html>,
and <http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html>? If not, why is
the EFF endeavoring to do this?

The new music licensing scheme brought forth by EFF ignores the
musicians and artists who have been working on and using free
licensing for years, working independently, unsupported by corporate,
government, or non-profit backing, and doing it through our own
initiative. Our music, although free and "open source," will remain
incompatible with the EFF's new license, because it has not taken
existing free music licensing into consideration.

With this new Open Audio License, the EFF organization is effectively
promoting an alternative that is incompatible with the more robust
solutions that are already available. The artists and designers who
have been copylefting or otherwise freeing their work long before
anyone ever spoke of "open content" are not even linked to or
acknowledged in the EFF's IP resource links section -- making this
seem, from my perspective, more like a political move whose intent is
unclear or even dubious.

There is a danger to making more and more special-case licensing; if
there exists licenses for every type of work, from music to manuals,
all made by many different organizations, those works will all remain
incompatible with each other -- even when all such works are,
supposedly, "open." These gated communities are no architectural
recipe for a "vibrant commons."

That said, nobody is promoting or aiding free art and music, and the
EFF's assistance in this effort would be welcomed and appreciated. My
suggestion is to work with and solicit input from existing efforts --
and not try to segment the community even further, or pretend that
better solutions do not already exist. We have a lot to accomplish and
there is plenty of work for everyone.

Michael Stutz
From:	 Eric Smith <eric@brouhaha.com>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: someone to blame
Date:	 1 May 2001 21:19:09 -0000

On 30-Apr-2001, you quoted 32BitsOnLine as saying "I would sleep better
knowing that I could shift blame to Bill Gates."  If you run MS software,
you do indeeed know that there's someone to blame.  However, this
"accountability" plus $2 will buy you a cup of coffee.

With Linux there may not be anyone to blame, but since Linux is much more
robust, I've rarely had any serious problems.  The few major difficulties
I've had were solved very quickly with help from people on mailing lists
and news groups.  Personally I much prefer getting very quick fixes to
my problems over having someone to blame.

Eric Smith
From:	 Florian Cramer <paragram@gmx.net>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Complaint about "On the Desktop" section
Date:	 Thu, 26 Apr 2001 15:48:08 +0200

Dear editors, 

I read lwn since its first issues and find it by far the best
information source on Linux, GNU and Free Software. Your editorials are
well worded and express opinions very thoughtfully while the other
sections provide extremely concise and helpful information. So I am
disappointed that your new section "On the Desktop" doesn't meet your
standards at all. Its verbosity is in a sharp contrast to the little
information it provides. It seems as if the editor of this section is
unfamiliar with desktop linux and reporting rather his personal
experiences with getting acquainted with the subject matter. 

The confusion in the two previous LWN issues about KDE 2.x and Mico is
telling, all the more, since your editor created new confusion when he,
correcting his previous mistake, mixed up CORBA, the low-level component
protocol, with high-level component models on top of CORBA like Gnome's
Bonobo. The "On the Desktop" section unfortunately reminds me of the
cluelessness of Joe Barr's "LinuxWorld" columns. It would be nice if it
could be improved to be on par with the rest of LWN. 


Florian Cramer

GnuPG/PGP public key ID 3D0DACA2 
From:	 Mike Richardson <mike@quaking.demon.co.uk>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Re: Google Data
Date:	 Fri, 27 Apr 2001 13:52:25 +0100

I've no doubt that a lot of interesting data could be culled from Google. 
However, one had better be carful about interpreting it:

>The first thing I noticed is that the references to free software and open
>source combined are an order of magnitude less than the references to Linux.
>This seems to indicate a significant disparity between the popularity of
>Linux and any knowledge of the philosophies behind the movement that created

I suspect this is more likely due to a disparity in the number of pages like 
"Getting the XYZ card to work on Linux" as compared to "Getting the XYZ card 
working on Open Source", particularly as Google picks up lots of pages from 
mail archives.

>Another thing to notice is that only a small number of page include
>references to both RMS's "Free Software," and ESR's "Open Source."
>Moreover, almost twice as many pages use the Open Source designation
>exclusively. This seems to indicate that there is some real disagreement
>about which term to use, and the Open source people seem to have been a
>somewhat more effective in advocating their particular rhetoric, and
>associated philosophy.  

Maybe. Or then again, is might be that people know which term they want to 
use and use it (and don't use the one thay don't mean). I'd agree with the 
last sentance though.

>Another somewhat surprising piece of information is that Linux trails only
>slightly behind Porn in number of page references on Google. 

My brief experince of porn on the net (just looking to see if the fuss in the 
press matches reality, honest!) suggests that porn sites are heavy on 
pictures and short on words (that figures). If you could search by picture 
content I fear than Linux would loose.

>I once was part of a cultural anthropology project which analyzed writings
>on bathroom walls

OK, this has nothing to do with linux, but seen amongst the graffiti on a 
toilet wall in the University of Cambrige (the original one) University 
Library: "To the lavatory cleaner; why not burn some books at the same time?"




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