“Visibility Builds Trust” – Shared-Source at Microsoft

While a bitter divide sometimes separates advocates of open-source software from supporters of proprietary model, the appearance of Microsoft representative Jason Matusow at a Berkman Center lunch today was considerably more amicable.  Matusow confronted an audience that included committed open-source developers and legal experts, and he refuted the idea that a “clear-cut moral distinction” separates open-source from proprietary software.  Matusow directs Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative, which, according to Matusow, is based on the lesson that “visibility builds trust.”  The project offers a spectrum of licenses and providers greater user access to the software code.  But middle ground between Matusow’s position and the open-source advocates was harder to come by when questions moved to Microsoft’s support of SCO in the SCO v.

Internet Music by the People, for the People

In his new paper CommuniCast: Developing a Community-Programmed Webcasting Service, Todd Larson proposes the creation of a peer-produced internet music service that would offer listeners the opportunity to do more than simply listen.  CommuniCast would be more like a networked community than simply a website because it would give members the chance to share music, rate songs, and determine playlists.  By combining users' rankings of songs with their rankings of each other's reviews, like Slashdot or Epinions, CommuniCast would produce collaborative, non-hierarchical playlists that would share new music with the community and encourage interactions among members.

Brush Up on the Diebold Controversy

As the controversy about electronic voting and the security of Diebold's voting systems continues to unfold, the Berkman Center has released a briefing that outlines the history of the case, from one woman's accidental discovery of Diebold's source code in January, 2003 to the November court battle between Diebold and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  The briefing also identifies some of the legal questions that the Diebold case raises -- in particular, its use of the DMCA and other provisions of copyright law as a way to block political speech.  Read the Diebold briefing and contact Mary Bridges with comments.

Victory for Privacy Advocates

Getting the names of file-swappers will now require a judge’s approval, according to a federal district court ruling on December 19.  The news comes as a setback to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which had filed more than 3000 subpoenas to get the identities of individuals suspected of illegally trading music online.  A previous ruling would have allowed the RIAA to get this information from an ISP without any judicial approval.  Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg overruled this interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it “lacks sufficient safeguards to protect an internet user’s ability to speak and associate anonymously.”  Prof.

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