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10.26.08

What to Make of Nokia… Regarding Licences, Patents, and Formats

Posted in DRM, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 9:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nokia: pro-software patents, pro-DRM, allergic to Ogg, GPL, but supportive of ODF.

FOR a variety of reasons that mainly involve software patents, Nokia was mentioned on several occasions this month [1, 2]. Nokia is lobbying for software patents in Europe, which makes it part of the problem, as opposed to a potential resolution. It is a damn shame really because Nokia has been trying to befriend developers with GNU/Linux platforms like Maemo, but at the same time it’s throwing some FUD at the GPL. That FUD has already spread from ZDNet to other ‘sister’ sites like CNET whilst the press hails Symbian for becoming an “open source” player in a large number of places. It bodes rather oddly although the EPL, which Symbian has chosen, is considered open source.

Nokia phone

It was only yesterday that Groklaw grokked: “Watch out for Nokia. Microsoft suddenly likes the Eclipse Foundation too. Here’s the very smooth Sam Ramji on the subject. “It’s all about the developer,” he says. Well, not if you’re an end user. End users benefit from the GPL and we know it. There’s a project regarding Eclipse tools for Silverlight now. Just what you were hoping for. Not. It was probably predictable when Ward Cunningham left Microsoft to join Eclipse years ago.”

Note the following take on this appointment of a Microsoft man inside Eclipse. A term is coined there and further discussed in the comments. That term is “mono-sourced.”

Eclipse the tools framework is in great shape but Eclipse the exemplary IDE that competes with mono-sourced offerings from NetBeans and Visual Studio is showing signs of growing pains. Eclipse is trying to build a large system without a Linux-style benevolent dictator, in fact with dozens of corporate interests large and small that don’t necessarily share the same vision. The result has been that offerings such as Web Tools and Profiling have not been as well integrated as the base Java development environment.

Further, writes Groklaw: “I believe it’s all part of Microsoft’s hatred for the GPL, its determination to kill it off and make everyone use BSD-like licenses instead (so it can proprietize whatever it pleases), and its determination to redefine Open Source to mean visible code that Microsoft controls through patents instead of copyright. If you are stupid, you’ll help them. Thanks for nothing, Nokia. Licenses matter, as this latest shift should tell you in clear strokes.”

That possibility has been somewhat easy(ier) to suspect since around June when Nokia went a little offensive. The same goes for Microsoft, which seems to have 'polluted' Nokia with some of its own employees, who now attack Ogg and lobby for DRM.

On the other hand, Nokia (or Qt/Trolltech) has been a friend of OpenDocument format. this new article shines some more light on it.

Nokia Joins Open-Source Trend for Mobile Platforms

[...]

The development of a mobile OpenOffice platform for wireless devices is also in the works. Earlier this year, java.net opened a new project that aims to build a new set of tools for creating and updating OpenDocument format (ODF) documents in mobile devices. Though still in the early development stage, the new Java SE and Java ME platform tools eventually should enable mobile devices to interact with the ODF-compatible OpenOffice.org productivity suite.

As a timely note, another lesser-known office suite which supports ODF is AbiWord. OStatic wrote about it the other day.

Word processor. Let’s start with AbiWord, my favorite open source word processor. It came out in a great new version earlier this year, and is not only totally compatible with Microsoft Word, but it even sports an interface very similar to Word’s. It’s clean, with straightforward menus and toolbars, and as you exchange files back-and-forth with Word users, you won’t run into problems such as incorrectly formatted tables. AbiWord also supports Open Document Format (ODF), for completely open document sharing.

AbiWord was previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Slightly troubling was its stance on OOXML when the whole world was fighting it, amid sheer abuse.

“Compatibility with DRM. We understand that this could be a sore point in W3C, but from our viewpoint, any DRM-incompatible video related mechanism is a non-starter with the content industry (Hollywood).”

Stephan Wenger (of Nokia) lobbying against Ogg [PDF]

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