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09.30.08

Links 30/09/2008: Telematics on Linux, Red Hat Beats UNIX

Posted in News Roundup at 6:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Report on ODF Adoption, OpenOffice.org Reaches RC3

Posted in Free/Libre Software, IBM, Microsoft, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 6:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ODF workshop, which was alluded to just moments ago, is said to have gone along nicely and this one report is cited by both Sutor and Phipps.

These are just a few of the government presenters we have assembled for the workshop. While the workshop is intended for governments, we have also assembled a number of influential speakers from the private sector who have been part of the growing public debate concerning document formats from the very beginning. Bob Sutor, IBM’s Vice President for Open Source and Standards, reflects back on the early days of the debate and takes a peek into the future. Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer, Sun Microsystems, examines ODF and the adoption-led market. With every major vendor now at least promising to implement support for ODF, how do we get from standardization to interoperability? With the expected arrival of ODF v1.2 and support for metadata, spreadsheet formula, and digital signatures, how has ODF’s value proposition been boosted for governments? We’ll also hear about the proposed revision of the influential European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and what it means for governments.

ODF Adoption

Brazil can be added to the list of counrties supporting ODF.

The Brasília Protocol (now translated to English) started the process of implementation of the Open Document Format (ODF) within the Brazilian Government. The Protocol was signed during the opening of CONSEGI 2008 by Bank of Brazil, Serpro, Dataprev, Post Office and Telegraph State Company (ECT), INPE (Institute of Spacial Researches), INPI (Institute of Intellectual Property), Ministry of Exterior Relations and others. All the institutions who signed the protocol are assuming the commitment to use the ODF standard, make it available to society-at-large, exchange documents between themselves in this format and to share solutions in open format. The news is on ODF Alliance website.

There are several more countries which have officially adopted a similar policy or taken a practical route of this kind. Here is an accumulation of names:

The Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) approved the Open Document Format (ODF) as a national standard, the ODF Alliance reported this week.

“Sweden now joins Brazil, Croatia, Italy, South Korea, and South Africa as countries whose national standards bodies have formal approved this standard”, the ODF advocacy organisation writes in this week’s newsletter.

OpenOffice.org

The third Release Candidate of OpenOffice.org 3.0 has just been released

OpenOffice.org 3.0 Release Candidate 3 build OOO300_m8 which installs as OpenOffice.org 3.0 has been uploaded to the mirror network.

If you find severe issues within this build please file them to OpenOffice.org’s bug tracking system IssueTracker and if you believe this is a show stopper then please notify the releases mailing list.

Simon Phipps published some notes about what he considers to be “Power Tools” in the software.

You may have seen that version 3 of OpenOffice.org is nearly ready for release – I am now running release candidate 2 and finding it ideal for work. Along with the new release, there’s an important change emerging in OpenOffice.org development.

The OOXML of References (Lock-in)

Here is a shocking new reminder of the dangers of lock-in. That’s what proprietary software applications — along with their accompanying formats like OOXML — can actually do.

Thomson Reuters demands $10 million and an injunction to stop George Mason University from distributing its new Web browser application, Zotero software, an open-source format that allows users to convert Reuters’ EndNote Software. Reuters claims George Mason is violating its license agreement and destroying the EndNote customer base.

ODF formatUsing lawsuits against the act of unlocking one’s personal data?? Simple formats, as opposed to code, being treated as a property??? 5 years ago I had to work very hard to rescue references from EndNote. There were conversion tools available, but for Thomson Reuters to fight them by threats is a tactless move. It’s predatory and it demonstrates the importance of file formats, which facilitate hostage scenarios (“your data is mine”) and extortion (“pay me for access to your own data”). Lessons can — and should — be learned from this.

OOXML Scandal, Part 1001: ISO/IEC ‘Only’ 6 Months Late, Still Secretive

Posted in ECMA, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 5:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ISO Sold Out to ECMA

A FEW DAYS after IBM protested [1, 2] against the abomination which is ISO/Microsoft (the latter had captured the former) there’s some response but not in the form of a statement. That evidently-corruptible ISO is instead reminding people of what it calls “World Standards Day”:

World Standards Day is celebrated each year on 14 October to pay tribute to the efforts of thousands of experts worldwide who collaborate within IEC, ISO and ITU to develop voluntary International Standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and disseminate technological advances.

OOXML on the trash canShown on the right is the man who, along with Microsoft, denied the endless manipulations involved. They care not for gruesome evidence but only for their own ever-sinking reputation. And over at Honeymoon Island, one can now see Patrick Durusau and his new friends from Microsoft, who might be having a jolly good time, and not for the first time, either.

More important, however, is the following leak, which reveals the official ISO circulation (still internal) of the ISO-OOXML specification. According to the directives, these specifications ought to have been circulated back in March, not the end of September.

So, magically enough, ISO can pass shoddy specifications in a matter of 6 months (fast track) but is still unable to pass a copy in less than 6 months. How come? 6 months late, available to members only? Appended below are those details of interest. Is ISO operating a stamping shop? More countries and companies should follow IBM’s lead and let ISO dwindle in the darkness where it already operates anyway.


[jtc1sc34 57] Announcement of Document Availability (34i041)

P, O and L members of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34,

The following documents have been posted on the document repository of
JTC 1/SC 34 at http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/.

Announcement of Document Availability
==================================================================
Committee: ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34
==================================================================
Date of Posting: 2008-09-26
==================================================================
Issue Number: 42
==================================================================
Document Numbers: 1080 1081 1082 1083
==================================================================
Ballot Documents: none
==================================================================
Document Register:

http://lucia.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/itscj/servlets/ScmDoc10?Com_Id=34

==================================================================
Number: 1080
Replaces: –
Date: 2008-09-26
Type: Final Text Submitted for IS Publication
Title: Final Text for ISO/IEC 29500-1, Information technology –
Document description and processing languages — Office Open
XML File Formats — Part 1: Fundamentals and Markup Language
Reference
Due date: –
Source: Mr. Rex JAESCHKE – Project editor
Project: JTC 1.34.29500.01
Status: This text has been submitted to ITTF for publication. It is
circulated to the SC 34 members for information.
Action ID: FYI
Access: DEFINED

http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/def/1080c.htm

==================================================================
Number: 1081
Replaces: –
Date: 2008-09-26
Type: Final Text Submitted for IS Publication
Title: Final Text for ISO/IEC 29500-2, Information technology –
Document description and processing languages — Office Open
XML File Formats — Part 2: Open Packaging Conventions Due date: –
Source: Mr. Rex JAESCHKE – Project editor
Project: JTC 1.34.29500.02
Status: This text has been submitted to ITTF for publication. It is
circulated to the SC 34 members for information.
Action ID: FYI
Access: DEFINED

http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/def/1081c.htm

==================================================================
Number: 1082
Replaces: –
Date: 2008-09-26
Type: Final Text Submitted for IS Publication
Title: Final Text for ISO/IEC 29500-3, Information technology –
Document description and processing languages — Office Open
XML File Formats — Part 3: Markup Compatibility and
Extensibility
Due date: –
Source: Mr. Rex JAESCHKE – Project editor
Project: JTC 1.34.29500.03
Status: This text has been submitted to ITTF for publication. It is
circulated to the SC 34 members for information.
Action ID: FYI
Access: DEFINED

http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/def/1082c.htm

==================================================================
Number: 1083
Replaces: –
Date: 2008-09-26
Type: Final Text Submitted for IS Publication
Title: Final Text for ISO/IEC 29500-4, Information technology –
Document description and processing languages — Office Open
XML File Formats — Part 4: Transitional Migration Features
Due date: –
Source: Mr. Rex JAESCHKE – Project editor
Project: JTC 1.34.29500.04
Status: This text has been submitted to ITTF for publication. It is
circulated to the SC 34 members for information.
Action ID: FYI
Access: DEFINED

http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/def/1083c.htm

==================================================================
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 Secretariat: kimura@itscj.ipsj.or.jp
==================================================================

Links 26-30/09/2008: 1 Million GNU/Linux Laptops for Venezuela, Microsoft Says 60% of Servers Run Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 12:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Patents, Financial Collapse and Microsoft (News Roundup)

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Finance, Microsoft, Patents at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest against EPO

Rocky Affairs

I HAVE JUST returned after 4 days away, so here is a summary of some events worth noting now that ‘The System’ is facing an unprecedented shakedown.

First and foremost, people’s prediction or observation that the patent system is a ticking bomb for its exaggerated valuation of imaginary property — much like mortgages — is already a reality. Several months ago, one reader warned that the likes of Nathan Myhrvold (Microsoft’s adjunct patent troll) cared not for their deadly impact on the economy but only for themselves. A year ago it was also predicted that this type of bubble would burst sooner or later.

Will the patent system trigger financial collapse in 2008?

This was the title of an article written one year ago. Here is the end, which is happening nowadays: “What does this mean for the patent system? David Martin points out that three separate bubbles are about to pop at the same time: consumer debt, mortgage debt, and patent debt. Each of these bubbles will cause enormous damage to those institutions who were over-committed, and most certainly to those who helped create the bubble. The patent offices will not go unrewarded for helping to create another Great Depression, by printing trillions of Euro worth of funny money.”

As the photo at the top reminds critics of the system, patents have already ‘blown up’ in Europe where staff of the patent office have taken it to the streets. Here is another article about it, going back to the end of last week.

Around 250 staff took part in the strike and a march through Brussels demanding better governance of the EPO, according to the EPO staff union, SUEPO. A delegation met with officials from European Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy’s office the next day to outline their concerns.

Found in Digital Majority, here is the EFF’s statement suggesting that the Department of Justice opposes the IP Enforcement Bill.

the Department of Justice has limited resources to dedicate to particular issues, and civil enforcement actions would occur at the expense of criminal actions, which only the Department of Justice may bring. In an era of fiscal responsibility, the resources of the Department of Justice should be used for the public benefit, not on behalf of particular industries that can avail themselves of the existing civil enforcement provisions.

That’s the same Department of Justice which bailed out Microsoft several times before. It’s part of a dysfunctional regulatory system that comes under fire right now for failing to react early enough to what had become a crisis, never mind preventing it. It includes the SEC, which is at the firing line at the moment having failed to spot misconduct at Novell and many other such companies (including SCO). The head of the SEC, who can be seen in this video, might be ousted by McCain shall the Republican candidate be elected, according to yesterday’s issue of the Wall Street Journal, which had a very critical article about the SEC. Novell, for its part, sank below $5 again.

Microsoft Part of the Problem

Microsoft’s patents strategy shows no signs of abatement or slowing down. Last week the company earned 52 patents in the United States, giving itself the illusion of progress (on paper only).

52 US patent applications published on 25 September 2008 and assigned to Microsoft

Microsoft also managed to sneak out of the deadly patent trial with Alcatel-Lucent. It’s the same trial where Microsoft actually argued against software patents.

Microsoft is celebrating victory at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in its dispute with Alcatel-Lucent over two MP3 patents. According to US media sources, the company will not have to pay its rival the $1.53 billion in compensation demanded. The appeal court upheld the August 2007 District Court decision, which overturned the decision of the jury in the original trial in February 2007. Alcatel-Lucent had filed an objection to this verdict.

Summary of coverages can be found here. It’s a victory not just to Microsoft but also to those who loathe software patents (not Microsoft).

Here is another very recent discussion on what can and cannot be patented.

Computer programs, mathematical methods, discoveries, schemes, rules or methods for performing mental acts and methods for presentation of information are excluded from patentability to the extent that they do not have an impact in the real world. In effect for software, the computer program cannot be claimed on its own – there must be a ‘technical effect’. The program must facilitate some other process, rather than embody the process itself.

India to Stay on the Safe Side

Indians are still fighting to maintain (or restore) some sanity in their system [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. They have many reasons not to mimic the system from the far west, especially now that it’s breaking apart. An event is
being organised and some readers might be able to attend or to help.

Several organisations in Bangalore are organising a meeting to discuss the dubious plans of the Indian Patent Office to adopt the same infamous ‘technical effect’ doctrine of the EPO. The Indian patent law is a copy/paste from the European Patent Convention, containing the ‘as such’ provision. The Patent Office said it would organise a public meeting, but it seems that organisations prefer to organise their own meeting.

Appended below is the announcement sent to us by the organisers of the event.

____
On behalf of the organizers,
Free Software Users Group- Bangalore
cordially invites you to

The National Public Meeting on Software Patents
====================================

==Venue==

2nd Floor, Ecumenical Resource Centre,
United Theological College,
Millers Road, Benson Town.
(Behind Cantonment Railway Station)
Bangalore–560046

==Time==

10:00–17:00
Saturday, October 4, 2008

Software patents in India occupy a contentious and indeterminate legal
space. While recent amendments to the Patent Act have sought to bring
our law in conformity with WTO-mandated standards, these amendments have
shied from pronouncing conclusively on the patentability of software.
The result is an equivocation in the law which is being wrestled
aggressively and effectively by corporate interests, patent attorneys
and the Patent Office in favour of granting software patents. Unheard,
and so unrepresented in this powerful triad are the interests of
millions of citizen-consumers who are either presumed too ignorant to be
credited with a view on the issue, or are presumed to be irrelevant to
the determination of issues which are seen as purely “business” matters
(as opposed to “citizen” matters).

Software is everywhere you look (and many places you never think
of looking). With the explosion of low-cost computing devices (think
mobile phones and iPods), software has leaked out of its traditional
home—the PC—and begun infiltrating various aspects of our lives. From
traffic signals to toilet commodes in some countries, refrigerators to
railway tickets, vacuum cleaners and electronic voting machines, TVs,
refrigerators and electronic pacemakers, inanimate objects of all sizes
are humming to themselves, chattering amongst themselves in an
intricate, highly complex tongue called ‘software’ that few of us can
ever hope to understand. On the impulses of software, we stop or move on
streets, fill up on petrol, and elect governments. Someone’s heart
beats. Someone else receives land records on a village kiosk. Someone is
standing by helplessly for fourteen years (the un-evergreened term of a
patent) because software failed to factor in her disability.

There are big stakes involved in the control of software in an era
when software is becoming increasingly central to the way we humans
organize our lives and inhabit a democracy. At one level this is about
preserving the right of agency and self-direction that citizens have in
their own lives. At another, it is about the right not to be silenced
when our long-fought democratic republic is at risk of being diminished
by a few lines of software in a machine. Whether or not we are all in
fact capable of deciphering software is inessential. Those of us who are
ought not to be denied the freedom to interrogate, tinker and improve.

Patents have the effect of adding an additional layer of ‘protection’
to already existing copyright protection of software, while
simultaneously overriding the various affordances and safeguards built
into copyright law. For instance, the right of “fair dealing” under
copyright law permits users to examine and modify any software in order
to make it interoperable with other software. This is an extremely
potent right that reasserts our right to intervene in the shaping of our
surroundings. It is also one of the rights that is most imperiled by
software patents.

The present “public hearing” on software patents is an invitation
for dialogue on the various issue surrounding software patents.
Although the Patent Office had scheduled a public consultation on its
Draft Patent Manual to be held in Bangalore in August this year, that
meeting was abruptly cancelled (or postponed indefinitely, or to an
unannounced date—we can’t be sure) without any reasons having been
assigned by the Patent Office. This signals either of two unpleasant
scenarios: first, the Patent Office is proceeding with its consultations
in an extremely mechanical fashion, not intending inputs received in the
course of these consultations to qualitatively impact their functioning
in any way; or secondly, perhaps the Patent Office underestimates the
amount that citizens living in the IT capital of India might have to say
on the subject of software patents.

It is our attempt in this public hearing to organize the kind of
consultation that the Indian Patent Office ought to have conducted. We
hope also hereby, to serve as a gentle but firm reminder to the Patent
Office that its task is as yet undone.

==Agenda==

1000–1100
Presentation on the principles of patent law and
software patents

Sudhir Krishnaswamy
(National Law School)

Prabir Purkayastha
(Delhi Science Forum)

Nagarjuna G.
(Free Software Foundation of India)

1100–1130
Discussion on software patents in the Indian context:
Indian Patent Act, and the draft patent manual

Prashant Iyengar
(Alternative Law Forum)

Venkatesh Hariharan
(Red Hat)

1130–1150
Tea break

1150–1240
Discussion on patents and the development sector
(freedom of speech, open standards, healthcare, biotech, agro-sector,
etc.)

Sunil Abraham
(Centre for Internet and Society)

Anivar Aravind
(Movingrepublic, FSUG-Bangalore)

Others

1240–1300
Presentation on the software patents that have been
granted so far in India

Pranesh Prakash
(Centre for Internet and Society)

1300–1400
Lunch break

1400–1700
Open House

T. Ramakrishna
(National Law School)

Abhas Abhinav
(DeepRoot Linux)

Joseph Mathew
(Special It advisor, Govt of Kerala)

Sreekanth S. Rameshaiah
(Mahiti Infotech)

Vinay Sreenivasa
(IT for Change)

Any others who wish to speak

==Organizers==

Centre for Internet and Society; Free Software Users Group-Bangalore;
Free Software Foundation of India; SPACE; IT for Change; Alternative
Law Forum; Delhi Science Forum; Movingrepublic; Sarai/CSDS; OpenSpace,
; Swathanthra Malayalam Computing; Servelots – Janastu; Mahiti; DeepRoot
Linux; Wiki Ocean; Turtle Linux Lab; Zyxware Technologies; INSAF; Aneka

Software patents protest in India

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