Weekly news wrapup


Author: JT Smith

By Grant Gross
Managing Editor

Free trade is for nations, not individuals, it seems

The big story of the week was not exactly an Open Source story, but it was a subject near to many Open Source users’ hearts: File trading over the Internet. MP3.com, one of the heavyweights in the file-trading world, lost a lawsuit brought by music publishing giant Universal Music Group.

A judge ordered MP3.com to pay between $118 million and $250 million in damages to the Seagram-owned music company. The fallout was quick and painful, with MP3.com stock plummeting to a 52-week low Thursday, the day of the ruling.

Several perspectives on the case soon followed. Upside.com called the ruling “lunacy.” Music-trading company Napster immediately tried to distance itself from MP3.com.

If sharing music isn’t your bag, maybe sharing DVDs is. The DeCSS copying software can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. The Motion Picture Association of America has been sending cease-and-desist orders to people who post or link to the from their Web sites. And Copyleft, a company printing the DeCSS source code on T-shirts, was also hit with a lawsuit.

The dangers of doing business

Also controversial this week was Trolltech’s decision to release the 2.2 version of its Qt/Unix under the GNU General Public License, as a way to deflect criticism about the KDE user interface that uses Qt. However, Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman still disputed KDE claims that it was now in compliance with the GPL, and KDE.org fired back. It’s unlikely that we’ve heard the last of this.

In business news, a couple of software companies keep making news, although it’s not always good news. Linux distributor Caldera System’s recent acquisition of the Santa Cruz Operation has gotten mixed reviews, and the company announced this week that SCO will lay off 190 people and take a $5 million to $6 million charge this quarter as part of its sale of Unix operating system software and services to Caldera. The Gartner Group offered Caldera some free advice later in the week, saying the company must articulate a coherent road map for OpenLinux and SCO OpenServer.

Speaking of layoffs, software company Corel plans to lay of 139 people at its engineering operation in Dublin, Ireland, in a $40 million cost-saving move.

Who’s afraid of a little FUD?

You might file this under “no surprise.” ZDNet reported on a Microsoft team charged with keeping an eye on Linux and Unix, but critics charged the Redmond crew with also generating a little FUD.

New in NewsForge

  • Imagine buying a copy of the popular multi-OS boot program, System Commander, and getting “everything you need to set up a high performance Linux workstation” as part of the deal. Really, it’s true. Check out Editor in Chief Robin Miller’s “Subtle Linux infiltration.”

  • Want a laptop that gives you comfort and extreme portability? The CyberStar LT98 may not be it, says hardware reviewer Jeff Field.

  • Venture capitalists are coming back to the Linux fold, it seems. Columnist Jack Bryar finds out why.

  • In case anyone’s still counting, NewsForge editors posted about 390 stories in the week following Sunday evening, Sept. 3.