I attended Openmind 2006 last week. Here are some notes.
Chris DiBona talked about Google and Open Source.
He actually talked quite a bit about Richard Stallman and Free Software, which is unusual for big business Open Source presentations.
Google appreciates the freedom to do stuff without asking permission or disclosing the number of CPUs, etc.—even though they have enough money that they don’t necessarily need to get things for free.
Interesting. (Perhaps this works because Google runs ffmpeg but doesn’t distribute it?)
Someone from the audience asked about GPLv3 and DRM assuming that DRM has to exist for content business to be possible. Sad assumption.
Google will violate Web standards if it saves a few bytes per page.
Brian Chan and Bryan Cheung of Liferay talked about Web 2.0 in the context of an app that is installed on the client’s server instead of the client having to commit data to the server of a service provider.
Lots of JSRs.
Portlets. (Ah memories from a WebSphere deployment. :-)
No VC money.
RoR is so overhyped.
The attitude of “the RoR guy” got a lot of comments—not explicitly disapproving but clearly not approving either—off the microphone. Me, I am not easily offended.
He did the “Fuck You” slide vicariously by showing a slide of DHH showing the slide.
The presentation was big on selling the hype image and only scratched technicalities.
It was actually metahype about how well the Rails hype is working.
Focus on J2EE gurus saying nice things about Rails.
The pitch was aimed at J2EE enterpriseyness and PHP spaghetti.
I asked what his pitch to Python/TurboGears developers was. He ignored the TurboGears part and his answer was about Rails vs. Django. There was no compelling pitch.
The TurboGears team really needs to work on their marketing.
We had a 60-minute time slot for five Kesäkoodi presentations with 10 minutes allocated to each and 10 minutes of slack.
I had considered ten minutes as a hard limit and had made sure that I don’t go overtime. A bit to my disappointment it took me only about six and a half minutes to deliver my presentation (slides). I wasn’t nervous, but I was too unimaginative to improvise more material on the spot or to take questions.
Linux on phones is already reality in China. Expect Linux in phones in North America and Europe in the future.
About a third of the Linux phones world-wide already run Qtopia!
But those phones are not open for third-party developers. The Green Phone paves the way for a third-party software ecosystem.
Photoshop Elements is a Qt app.
Trolltech not seeing the current GPLv3 draft as a problem for their licensing model.
Trolltech has a charitable foundation.
Qtopia does not have X but has its own stuff between Qt and the framebuffer.
Trolltech has never had to go to court to enforce its licensing scheme.
Acknowledged that the dual licensing model requires both free and proprietary software to be around.
Carlos Guerreiro from Nokia talked about using Gnome software in Nokia 770.
GTK per-process overhead large.
ORBit and Bonobo not used on the 770—expect them to be marginalized on the desktop.
Push for D-BUS.
Gstreamer getting a lot of corporate interest.
Don’t expect developer tools for systems other than Debian and Ubuntu.
Maemo has X, but X is not the performance problem.
Gnome offers a “level playing field” compared to Qtopia. (Nokia likes the term “level playing field” when they talk about Open Source collaboration.) Translation: Nokia likes to contribute to a multi-vendor LGPL commons that allows proprietary apps on top without having to go to a dual license gatekeeper who controls the development of the platform.
Will Stephenson of Novell (SUSE) talked about integration of KDE with mobile devices and about SUSE’s new open multi-distro build farm and packaging system.
Syncing software coming up.
SUSE has build farm system that is Open Source and can be installed locally or used (free as in beer, I gather) on Novell’s servers.
Allows organizations to build customized distros.
Makes it easier to package software for multiple distros and hardware architectures at a time.
Not just RPM—also does Debian packages.
More profound than systems used by Debian and Canonical?
Perhaps this drives Canonical to make theirs Free Software.
The business case for offering server CPU time free as in beer: getting more packages for SUSE to catch up with Debian.
Brian Chan and Bryan Cheung of Liferay talked about how their business does charity.
Big on charity.
Employees can influence decisions on what to contribute to.
Helps with employee retention and commitment.
No VCs or public company profit motive restrictions preventing doing good things.
Kim Tucker talked about libre knowledge and learning.
Free as in GNU educational material needed in Africa.
Kim Østrup of IBM Denmark talked about lobbying the Danish government to adopt open standards.
Microsoft vs. everyone else.
Tere Vadén presented statistics about Gnome, Debian, Eclipse and MySQL.
Not surprisingly Debian and Gnome were alike and Eclipse and MySQL were alike.
Debian developers are most often young men with university education.
Florence Nibart-Devouard of the Wikimedia Foundation talked about sustainability of Wikipedia.
A Wikimedia representative who referred to the past Bomis operation as a “soft porn” portal and not as a “glamour photography” portal!
Wikipedia is Free as in GNU.
The Wikipedia community does not want Google ads on Wikipedia although it would solve all the financial problems.
The Wikipedia community does not want paid editors.
Only lawyers and developers of the Mediawiki software get paid.
The Wikimedia Foundation has turned down offers of money e.g. to translate articles to particular languages.
To me it seems that the community is seriously missing the point of Free as in GNU. It doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t get paid for work. It means that the work product should be licensed under a free license.
Official photos of European politicians are non-free.
The U.S. government takes PD photos of European politicians who visit the White House.
Why do we have to rely on the U.S. government to get photos of European politicians?
NASA photos are PD. ESA photos are ARR.
John Buckman talked about his companies BookMooch and Magnatune. (Points below also include points made on Monday in an Aula talk in Helsinki.)
BookMooch: People get points when they mail used books to others. Points can be used to request books from others.
People act according to incentives: the point system must be tuned to yield the right incentives.
Business model: when people grow impatient, they order books from Amazon, which earns referral money to BookMooch.
Magnatune: an Internet record label that is not evil.
Dual licensing model: CC-by-nc-sa or easy-to-obtain paid licenses.
The price of the paid licenses depends on the licensees assumed ability to pay (based on the intended use).
Non-evil NC: Usually CC-by-nc and CC-by-nc-sa poison your work if you build upon NC works, but Magnatune gives you binding price quotes for different types of commercial uses ahead of time, so that they can’t turn evil and go rent seeking you when you have sunk cost in your larger work (at least the opportunity cost of making it) and would incur additional cost if you had to replace the music.
Note that due to NC, the Magnatune model is not the same as the Trolltech/MySQL model, since CC-by-nc-sa is neither Open as in Open Source nor Free as in Free Software. (Using CC-by-sa would make it like the Trolltech/MySQL model.)
I like Magnatune’s business model. Also, I am not sure whether there is enough money in ARR movie soundtracks to make money in exchange for waiving copyleft for them (if Magnatune used CC-by-sa).
Still, I don’t like it that Magnatune calls what they do Open Music inspired by Open Source, because it dilutes what Open as in Open Source means.
Buckman said they don’t discriminate against fields of endeavor (except porn and politics), because they grant permissions without reviewing the usage context and don’t charge more than people using their music can afford.
I still think the Magnatune model is substantially different from Open Source or Free Software. Compare with Chris DiBona’s point about freedom to do stuff without signing up anywhere.
It’s a pity that it has not been tried on Magnatune scale whether dual licensing with CC-by-sa and custom licenses for incorporation in larger ARR works could fund sustainable business.
Note that Qt and MySQL are useless unless you build upon them. However, Magnatune’s music can be listened to on its own right. It doesn’t need to be put on a movie soundtrack to be useful.
Buckman said that the enforcers of the ARR music business in practice help police Magnatune’s NC, but they wouldn’t be useful for policing SA violations.
Buckman claimed that although the copyleft of the GPL is generally honored for software, many people creating derivatives of CC-by-sa works don’t honor the copyleft when releasing their derivatives.
This sounds alarming. Someone needs to educate people, but I am not counting on CC doing it.
Magnatune is a label—not a general record store: Represents the taste of Mr. and Mrs. Buckman.
The problem with licensing the infrastructure to others is that would be licensees turn out to be exploitative in their contracts with musicians.
Personally, I have had trouble finding music that is to my taste on Magnatune, although I really would prefer to buy music from them rather than from the big record companies.
A label seeks to create demand. A record store is about satisfying demand.
Even if you believe the money is in B2B, you should also do B2C, because B2C gets press.
Putting the face of the CEO all over the site also helps with PR though the press, because the press likes to identify things with a person (like Linus).
Apple refuses to turn FairPlay off for Magnatune’s music on the iTunes Store.
My conclusion: This shows that FairPlay is about preventing others from complementing the iTunes Store in a way that substitutes the iPod. It isn’t about responding to the wishes of the copyright holder.
No DRM when you buy directly from Magnatune.
The artists get paid 50% of gross revenue the sales of their music generates.
Stark contrast with the RIAA recouping model.
Magnatune artists don’t make a living from Magnatune revenue only.
Magnatune does not pay advances nor offer studio time.
B2C customers are offered a price range so that they can name the price. People tend to pay more than the minimum $5 per album (average a tad over $8) when they know the artist gets 50% of the gross price.
Magnatune “puts the guilt back” into getting music. (You may feel fear but not guilt when copying RIAA music.)
In the photos the artists look the customer in the eyes.
Deals with artists non-exclusive.
Artists need to agree to waive what would be Moral Rights in Europe in order to facilitate licensing.
Someone insisted on not allowing his music to be used in toilet advertising. He didn’t get a deal with Magnatune.
The music can be licensed for anything except porn and politics without the artist reviewing the use.
European collecting societies wanting to be exclusive is a problem, but in the U.S. anti-trust case law keeps the collecting societies at bay.
We could really use such case law here in Europe, too.
In practice, artist distribute though Magnatune exclusively even though they don’t have to.
They like Magnatune. The artists with exclusive contracts hate their record labels.
Lossless files attract buyers of classical music.
In the evening of the last conference day, there was a less formal invite-only “round table” at Telakka. The topic was Open Media Business.
Tapio Korjus, an old-school indie record label head, could not give a clear pitch why a band should sign with a Finnish indie label instead of self-publishing or signing with Magnatune.
Elukka Eskelinen, the moderator, asked the speakers to define what Open Media Business means. No one did.
Timo Jyrinki asked how far you can you go and still call it Open. No one answered the question.
I asked Timo Vuorensola, the director of StarWrek: In the Pirkinning, why they didn’t take the additional step and make their movie (or the upcoming one) Free as in GNU considering that it is a community production and free as in beer. It seemed that the question totally caught him by surprise.
In general, it seems to me that it is pretty well understood what is Open Source and what is Free Software. Both have definitions and the OSI and the FSF maintain lists of Open Source and Free Software licenses. However, there’s a lot of confusion on what constitutes Open Content, Open Music, Free Culture, Open Data, etc. These don’t have proper definitions and it is common to hype something as being like Open Source even if it is substantially different. (For example, everything that is for non-commercial use only is substantially different.)
See Freedom Defined for an attempt to clarify things.
Note that I am not saying everything has to be Open as in Open Source or Free as in Free Software. I don’t like it when things are labeled in a misleading way or when the meaning of Open or Free is diluted.
I am not even convinced that Free as in Free Software or Open as in Open Source (CC-by and CC-by-sa in CC terms) makes business sense for all kinds of works. Even RMS says that non-functional works that recount opinions of people or that are aesthetic or entertaining do not need to be Free as in Free Software. (See Copyright and Globalization in the Age of Computer Networks in Free Software, Free Society by Richard Stallman.)
Not only is there confusion that allows the NC license element of CC licenses to enjoy the brand karma of Free and Open. There was also confusion on whether copyleft is required in order for the FSF to consider a license Free. (It isn’t required.)
Over and over when NC is criticized, it is defended as “freedom of choice” for the copyright holders.
But Free as in Free Software is about freedom for the recipients.
CC-by-nc and CC-by-nc-sa invite people to build upon works, but the larger works get poisoned so that the creator of the larger work cannot even recoup cost—not even if a business model was offered on a silver platter. (Magnatune is different from run-of-the-mill NC in a non-evil way, because they have a mechanism for getting price quotes for moving to the commercial side ahead of time.) Free as in Free Software may make some business models unprofitable, but if you do find a business model, you are free to take the money. Not so with NC.
As a real-world example of NC confusion, at least one presenter had used a CC-by-nc-sa 2.0 photo from Flickr in his slide show even though there was an entrance fee to the conference. Was this a license violation? I don’t know. No one really knows what exactly NC means.
CC-by-nc-nd is functionally harmless but still should not enjoy the same brand image as the Free licenses.
All in all very well worth attending! Thanks COSS!