February 25, 2002

Weekly news wrap-up: DMCA shuts down gaming server, DeCSS decision to be reviewed

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

Court action and threats of court action seemed to dominate the news this week. Bnetd, an Open Source gaming server, was shut down this week because of threats by gaming company Blizzard Entertainment, but there was better news for those who've linked to the DeCSS Linux DVD-playing code.

Blizzard threatened bnetd and its Internet service provider by way of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Blizzard claimed bnetd was violating the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA by not requiring players of Blizzard games to enter their games' CD keys. Just how that violates Blizzard's copyright on games, we're not sure.

In DeCSS news, the California Supreme Court will review the case in which several Web sites were sued for posting DeCSS in supposed violation of a California trade secrets law. These sites, of course, were hosted all over the place, not just California, so the case raises some interesting questions about how widely the state's laws can be enforced. The trade secret violation itself seems rather dubious, but then, we're not making the big bucks lawyers do.

In another DeCSS story, the Open Source Directory added DeCSS to its list of software in celebration of a Canadian Supreme Court decision saying customers have a right to post negative reviews of products on the Web.

The U.S. Supreme Court is also getting into the act by taking up a case seeking more fair use rights for the online public in a fight against copyright holders.

Another reason to use an Open Source OS ...

It was widely reported this week that Microsoft's XP media player tracks what music users listen to and what DVDs they play. Microsoft says it has no plans to sell information but we can imagine all kinds of court cases in which the company could be compelled to turn over those lists.

Speaking of Microsoft, NewsForge's Jack Bryar suggests the company's secret negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice over Microsoft's antitrust punishments may violation an old law requiring disclosure of such talks.

Newly reviewed

Longtime Linux.com contributor Matt Michie gives us the first comprehensive view of Red Flag Linux, the distribution supported by the Chinese government. There's all kinds of debate on this story, from politics to benchmarks to using VMware to do a review.Robin "Roblimo" Miller compares the latest OpenOffice beta release with StarOffice 5.2, the much-used office suite in the Open Source world. He says OpenOffice eliminates many of the bugs that made its older cousin annoying to use.

Vnunet reports on Tinfoil Hat Linux and its attempts to create a Linux distribution for the totally paranoid from what started out as a "secure, single floppy, bootable Linux distribution for storing PGP keys, and encrypting, signing and wiping files."

Newly released

Kopi 2, the
"first fully featured Java compiler
to implement the support of Programming by Contract and Generic Types." It's released under the GNU GPL.

The Mozilla project released its 1.0 project management plans.

Success story of the week

IBM reports a huge 800% increase in the number of its business partners supporting Linux during 2001. IBM and its partners say this should lead to more and more adoption of Linux in the business sector.

New at NewsForge and Linux.com

Other stories that NewsForge and Linux.com reported first this week:

Tina Gasperson picks apart the possibilities of license problems if the Gnome project incorporates the Mono project.

Russell C. Pavlicek explains how to get new life from really old computers by loading Linux or one of the BSDs.Stock news

The Nasdaq continued to fall this week, plunging more than 80 points from its Feb. 15 close of 1805.20. It ended the week at 1724.54. Just like last week, all 11 of our Open Source-related stocks fell for the week, even though six of them posted gains, along with the Nasdaq on Friday.

Taking a big hit on Friday was Wind River Systems, which had its stock fall more than 24% after an earnings report that showed a $50 million loss for its last quarter.

Here's how Open Source and related stocks ended this past week:

Company Name Symbol 2/15 Close 2/22 Close
Apple AAPL 23.90 22.74
Borland Software Int'l BORL 14.00 13.04
Caldera International CALD 0.61 0.52
Hewlett-Packard HWP 20.36 19.29
IBM IBM 102.89 98.45
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e4.50 e4.20
Red Hat RHAT 7.39 6.15
Sun Microsystems SUNW 8.90 8.07
TiVo TIVO 5.3987 4.82
VA Software LNUX 1.98 1.725
Wind River Systems WIND 16.45 11.40
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