From the Board

Re: VP8 and WebM--Thank you, Google! (P.S. Let's talk)

It was more than a month ago that I started my pilgrimage to Texas to prepare for and participate in a court case in East Texas, but it still seems like only yesterday. As Groklaw aptly reports, opposing counsel pressed not only the question of whether Red Hat and Novell infringed three patents originally issued to Xerox corporation (which later fell into the hands of a non-practicing entity), but argued before the jury that there was a fundamental conflict between property rights and open source software--a conflict they wanted the jury to resolve in their favor.

While I have been processing the events of the trial, playing and replaying lines of questioning over and over in my mind, I've barely been able to keep up with the extraordinary changes to both the competitive landscape and the competitive rules of the technology industry. Having escaped from one rabbit-hole, I appear to have fallen down another directly.

Patent Absurdity

Our friends over at the Free Software Foundation were kind enough to send me an advance copy of their new documentary to preview. It's entitled Patent Absurdity and it tells the story of software patents through the words of many familiar figures in the world of software freedom, framed by a discussion of the Bilski case that's pending in the US Supreme Court.

Tony Wasserman's thoughts on joining the OSI Board

As a new member of the Board (as of 1 April), I thought that it would be useful to explain why I wanted to join the OSI Board and what I hope to achieve during my term. As you can see from my bio (on the Board member page), I've been involved with software, both proprietary and open source, for my entire career, both in industry and in the research community.

Exporting Open Source from the US

If you distribute Open Source software containing encryption from the United States, you are subject to US export controls, yes. But are there any real restrictions? The only thing that the law requires you to do (for Open Source) is send an email to crypt@bxa.doc.gov with the URL. So why do SourceForge and Google impose greater restrictions than the law requires? Anybody know?

WordPress Foundation

Yesterday Matt Mullenweg announced the establishment of the WordPress Foundation. It's goals, among others, are "to further the mission of the WordPress open source project: to democratize publishing through Open Source, GPL software".

He further elaborates:

The point of the foundation is to ensure free access, in perpetuity, to the projects we support. People and businesses may come and go, so it is important to ensure that the source code for these projects will survive beyond the current contributor base, that we may create a stable platform for web publishing for generations to come. As part of this mission, the Foundation will be responsible for protecting the WordPress, WordCamp, and related trademarks. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the WordPress Foundation will also pursue a charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software.

We hope to gather broad community support to make sure we can continue to serve the public good through freely accessible software.

Magic Lantern firmware makes Canon EOS 5D Mark II the camera Canon should have released

I love stories of user-driven innovation. Here's one I just discovered: the Magic Lantern firmware upgrade for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera. Trammel Hudson tells the story of his elegant and vital hacks:

Magic Lantern introduction from Trammell Hudson on Vimeo.

Pages

Subscribe to From the Board