Just when you think you have seen it all a case of copyright violation has been filed by an astrology publisher against a keeper of a timezone database. This has caused the TZ database to shut down pending further proceedings. TZ is widely used in the GNU/Linux world.
I have no details on the “cause of action”. Astrolabe, Inc. has been around a while, as has the database. I wonder what provoked their harassment now. What could they possibly think was copied from them? The database is a list of timezones. Collections of factual data should not be copyrightable. After all there is a unique set of countable timezones with known displacements. Is it the database itself or file formats? Further, the database is in the public domain… Some of the data was copied from the “American Atlas”. That should not be actionable if it is just the data and not the layout, format, etc.
SlashDot also has some information.
A comment in TheRegister suggests the issue is actually about data…
” the complaint contains this:-
“These atlases set forth interpretations of historical time zone information pertaining to innumerable locations throughout the world, based upon the compilation of historical research and documentation regarding applicable time zones officially and/or in actuality in effect, given the actual latitude and longitudes of specific locations throughout the world”.”
in Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 217 (1954), the Supreme Court stated “Unlike a patent, a copyright gives no exclusive right to the art disclosed; protection is given only to the expression of the idea—not the idea itself.”
Thus, it would seem the case against TZ data is very weak.
There is an hilarious story that “8″ will have a different user interface because of an 11% drop in usage of the “Start” menu. What’s wrong with this picture? The 89% of users still using the “Start” menu. Are the lunatics running the asylum? Yes.
This goes against the old tenet of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” We see this repeatedly in IT, change for the sake of change rather than better performance or efficiency. I would bet that 11% drop in usage is probably swamped by the increase in uptime and the time spent in the browser these days… Think of it. If you leave your browser running forever and a few applications running forever, do you really need to start anything?
Amazon had better crank up production, they are selling 50K units per day that they don’t have. It must be good to start a line of business that is so sure to be profitable so quickly. Well, perhaps not that profitable, as people actually have to order other stuff from Amazon to make that happen but it’s a warm fuzzy relationship with customers to be sure at $199.
iPad ramped up to 300K per day but it took weeks of stroking the press before release. Amazon just stood up an announced their unit. So far, this seems to be the fastest selling Android/Linux tablet and it does not have the full glory of 4.0. Look out, world.
I am being inundated with wild claims of fans of Steve Jobs about how wonderful he was. The facts are a different patchwork:
- He invented the PC – Nope. Not even close. I still have a working PC from 1980. The Macintosh did not emerge until 1984.
- He invented the GUI – Nope. Not even close. He got the idea from Xerox who got it from … I was using crude GUIs in the 1970s and they were old then.
- He inspires inventors – Nope. Many inventive people don’t even bother because some bully like Apple will sue them for inventing something.
- He was a great businessman – Nope. The best that could be said was that he learned from his mistakes. He eventually learned to delegate which is why Apple’s share price has not tanked upon his death. He made huge blunders in the early days of Apple: trying to do everything in-house, building stuff like tanks full of heat sources and hot air, and delaying release to market by years. It was only after his “second coming” that he showed that he actually learned from his mistakes by making small computers.
- He was a wonderful human being – Nope. He stole from his buddy, Steve Wozniak, he was a temperamental bully, and a deadbeat dad who lied about paternity.
UPDATE I have been criticized for writing ill of the dead but I am not alone. Marcel Gagne writes, “I believe in having the ability to choose what I want to run and how I want to run it. I believe in being able to select what to run on my computers. I believe in open standards and a level playing field for business large and small. I believe that vendor lock-in hurts consumers and stifles innovation. I don’t believe in restrictive and highly questionable software patents (see ‘stifling innovation). I don’t believe in restricting individual freedoms with digital rights management in regards to fair use (e.g. making backups, putting my media on more than one device, etc). I don’t believe in borrowing ideas from others and then turning around and suing them as part of how I run my business.
Steve Jobs was a great man who did what few ever manage to do in a lifetime. He changed the world. In many ways for the better. But not always. ”
UPDATE Another article gives deeper insight.
- Censorship and Authoritarianism – “Jobs never seemed comfortable with the idea of fully empowered workers or a truly free press. Inside Apple, there is a culture of fear and control around communication; Apple’s “Worldwide Loyalty Team” specializes in hunting down leakers, confiscating mobile phones and searching computers.”
- Sweatshops, Child Labor and Human Rights – “Apple’s factories in China have regularly employed young teenagers and people below the legal work age of 16, made people work grueling hours, and have tried to cover all this up. That’s according to Apple’s own 2010 report about its factories in China. In 2011, Apple reported that its child labor problem had worsened.”
- In Person and At Home – “Jobs regularly belittled people, swore at them, and pressured them until they reached their breaking point. In the pursuit of greatness he cast aside politeness and empathy. His verbal abuse never stopped.”
While global headlines mourn the death of Steve Jobs, the world is moving on. iPhones are still doing well in the market but the share is slipping fast. iSuppli expects that in 2012, more low-end smart phones will ship than iPhones. For 2011, they expect iPhone will have 29% of smart phones shipped but in 2012, the share will drop to 18%. A similar fate awaits the iPad as Amazon sells tablets at or below costs. Again, FLOSS is very profitable for those who see value in other things than licences. Oracle’s, Apple’s and M$’s attempts to tax Android/Linux are doomed to fail. M$ has had the most success but earned very little from its tax and Google is fighting back.
The issues of patents is a house of cards soon to fall under its own weight. Samsung and Apple are in a mutually assured destruction battle and the same will happen to all the players unless patents are kicked out of software.
HB1011, Free Open Source (FOSS) Act of 2010 is in committee stage. It’s stated purpose is that “The government shall apply only FOSS or Foss solutions in all ICT projects except under exceptional cirumstances”. There is strong opposition, for example, from the Minister of Education who claims FLOSS costs more… Of course using “7″ and databases costs less than using paper but they did not give GNU/Linux a fair shake in trials. M$ now uses the Minister of Education as a poster-child for non-free software: “We received feedback from the school IT administrators that the computers running OpenOffice.org had more technical issues, to the point that some computers were unusable….For us, the cost to deploy and support computers with OpenOffice.org and Linux is about 33 percent more than the cost for Office 2010 with Windows 7.” That sounds like EDGI got in there and paid people to use M$’s stuff. I don’t see any other way that FLOSS could be more expensive. Other surveys find productivity increases with use of FLOSS: “The 6-year costs for a full Microsoft Office migration would amount to a total of 9.8 M€, for the OpenOffice.org option to 4.2 M€ and for the Lotus SmartSuite option to 2.9 M€. Approximately 44 % of the migration costs of the OpenOffice.org option would be caused by training and support as well as conversion of documents and applications. “. The cost of labour being lower in Philippines compared to Finland, one has to wonder if the Minister can do maths.
Advertisements for GNU/Linux positions, mostly for servers, are plentiful. Ads for jobs with that other OS are less than twice as many as Linux, so the Minister must not be listening to all businesses when he states that business are happy with that other OS.