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Slashback: GPLv3, Firefly, iTunes 275

Slashback tonight brings some corrections, clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including Stallman's comments on GPLv3, Firefly fans clinging to hope, sentence handed down in student felony webpage refresh case, GP2X GPL issues resolved, Korean cloning scientist may get to keep his patents, Apple changes their tune for iTunes ministore, and much more -- Read on for details.

Richard Stallman speaks on GPLv3 and patents. Elton J. Won writes "A public forum on the updated GPL was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although Stallman solicited comments from forum attendees. he made clear that the GPL version 3 will not alter the license's basic stance on software patents. From the article: 'the GPL version 3 is explicitly meant to discourage litigation based on software patents. "This is not a placeholder. This is the text we currently plan to go with unless we're surprised by seeing a better idea," Stallman said.'" Relatedly RMS also recently expounded on some of these thoughts in an interview with PCPro.

Firefly fans refuse to go quietly into the night. CMGaretJax writes "The Browncoats, a fan group based around the hit cult TV show Firefly, and the more recent movie, Serenity, have set up a website for donations from people who want to see another season of Firefly. So far they have raised $840 dollars against an estimated cost of 1 million per episode. An admirable attempt, and one that will hopefully pick up steam, the show really is too pretty to die."

Student receives sentence for felony web-page charge. EMB Numbers writes to tell us that Michael Stone, the student who was recently charged with a felony for encouraging others to bog down a school server with web page refreshes, has cut a deal with the prosecutor for a lesser misdemeanor offense -- criminal mischief. Stone was given a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail along with 20 hours of community service. Although he declined to comment on camera Stone's mother stated that she appreciate all the support he received from the online community.

GP2X GPL issues resolved. gizmateer writes to tell us that after quite a bit of noise from the online community it appears that Gamepark has bowed to the pressure and will be releasing the source for the most recent version of the GP2X firmware. From the article: "Please stop posting to this board about GPL. Dignsys will post up the sources to the new firmware version 1.3.0 next week on http://source.gp2x.de. They intend to release it once the binaries to said firmware have been released."

Korean cloning scientist may get to keep his patents. Billosaur writes "According to an article on the New Scientist web site, disgraced Korean cloning researcher Hwang Woo-Suk may get to keep his patents for the process of creating embryonic stem cells via cloning human embryos. Already the UK patent office is looking into the validity of the patents in Europe. From the article: 'As long as an invention is not clearly contrary to scientific laws - like time travel - research has no bearing on the grant of a patent.'"

Apple changes their tune for iTunes mini store. jjbelsky writes "Apple has modified the iTunes MiniStore in response to the anger caused by its release of personal information. All users of iTunes, whether or not the music store is enabled, are now presented with a page informing them that when a song is selected 'information about that item is sent to Apple.' Users who do not click on the 'Turn on MiniStore' button will not have their privacy invaded."

Targets of RIAA lawsuit turn on i2hub operator. Doros writes "After being forced to fork over thousands of dollars to the RIAA, students want i2hub operator Wayne Chang to cover their losses. From the article: 'At least 42 students have been named as defendants in John Doe lawsuits filed by the recording industry. The industry trade group has offered to settle each case for $3,750, lawyers for the students said Tuesday. "Had the students known that they were exposing themselves to copyright infringement liability by using the i2hub service, they likely would not have used the service," the legal group wrote.'"

Adults exempt from Chinese online limits. Dotnaught writes "The Chinese government has yielded to pressure from adult online gamers and exempted them from its online gaming addiction policy. The rules, which went into effect last October, require that after five hours of consecutive play, players cease earning any virtual rewards such as experience points or beneficial items. To avail themselves of the exemption, some 26 million gamers will have to register their real names and identity card numbers with the authorities. The system hasn't proven particularly effective -- minors reportedly skirt the limits by logging onto different accounts or switching to another game after reaching the time limit."

Bill Thompson follows up Mac security remarks. Bralkein writes to tell us that in response to the overwhelming amount of feedback Bill Thompson received on his recent Mac security article, he has penned a response to his critics. In his reply, he admits that there were a few flaws in his article, and he acknowledges the high level of security provided by OS X's UNIX foundations. However, he stands by his assertion that the Mac cannot boast complete immunity to all security problems. As a Mac user himself, he still believes that the Mac community needs to remember that security is still an issue for them, too.

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Slashback: GPLv3, Firefly, iTunes

Comments Filter:
  • The Browncoats (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tx ( 96709 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @08:04PM (#14505304) Journal
    The Browncoats effort is already over by the looks of things, lasting a mere 36hrs, so that item is already out of date. Shame, I still hope someone will find a way to bring Firefly back. From the site:

    No more donations are being taken at this time!
    We are in the process of returning all donations received. We came up against insurmountable odds and legal issues launching our fund-raising drive. firefly@browncoatsriseagain.com

    If the money is buring a hole in your pocket, please buy a DVD. Firely and Serenity sales at this time will further our cause. We will continue the fight to re-light Firefly using other methods. Thank you for you support in our first 36 hours of activity.
  • by gbulmash ( 688770 ) * <semi_famous.yahoo@com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @08:08PM (#14505328) Homepage Journal
    Simple, pledge not money, but to subscribe to the pay cable service (Showtime, HBO) that picks up the series. If they can get 200,000 new subscribers, between the subscriber fees and the post-season DVD sales, that justifies a 13-episode order.

    - Greg

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @08:17PM (#14505391)
    Come on... Enterprise sucked. If it wasn't "Trek", it wouldn't even have had a second season... But I guess people watched it as some sort of "Trek fix", and hoping that it would eventually get somewhere (me included).

    As for Firefly, it was original and interesting, and it didn't even had a full season. So, if there ever was a show that deserved to be picked up for another run, that show is Firefly.
  • by Milton Waddams ( 739213 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @08:29PM (#14505480)
    One of my mates showed me an episode or two of this. He was enthusing about it, saying how amzing it was. I thought it was pretty shit. Maybe it's because I generally don't like Sci-Fi but the show really was bad. The dialog was, for want of a better word, shallow and tacky. That 'western style' guitar music was really fucking annoying too. There wasn't even that much action in it!

    It might sound like I'm trolling here but I honestly am not. I'd like someone to tell me what's good about that show. Maybe I'm missing the show's point or something?
  • by maelstrom ( 638 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @08:36PM (#14505523) Homepage Journal
    It's a show that grows on you over time. I found the concept and the first episode pretty lame. Then I kept watching and fell in love with all the characters. I think this is probably why it had such a hard time picking up viewers. If you just randomly tuned in and saw one episode, it wouldn't be very interesting.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @08:37PM (#14505527) Homepage Journal
    Seems to me a way around the legal issues on this sort of thing would be to go to the network that owns the rights from the start- and say "When our website earns enough money, we will buy 20 minutes of advertising on your network for each episode you are able to produce". Then all the commercials could be stories about the donation process, with the web address to donate at...bet it would pay for itself after the first episode went on the air.
  • iTunes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CMiYC ( 6473 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @08:40PM (#14505548) Homepage
    For what it is worth, I don't care if Apple is tracking what I am listening to. If it helps iTunes to recommend new music that I didn't know about, great (which it already has)! Should they have done things differently? Could they have? Sure. Whatever. I don't care! Its a fucking song.

    I'm amazed at how outranged people will get over one thing, but let another go into the night.
  • Re:Free CDs! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @09:16PM (#14505774)
    Founded by Wayne Chang in 2003 while he was a student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the i2hub network linked students and others over the super-fast Internet2 network. In a letter to Chang dated Monday, attorneys with the Student Legal Services Office claimed i2hub placed ads on campus to deceive UMass students into believing the software was approved by the university. It's one of several reasons that the student-funded legal group says led its clients to believe they were authorized to use the software to trade copyrighted music and other files.

    Universities subsidize things. It isn't unreasonable from the perspective of someone familar with University sponsored events that a university could pay for the rights to do this, and then pay the fees associated with the music for you. I mean, colleges give free admittance to sports games, and subsidize concerts. It's all paid for by an "activities fee". So it is theoretically possible that they could legitimately fall for it. Obviously I'd have asked some one for more info as it sounds fishy, but the idea of colleges paying for your music through a fee you paid with your tuition isn't entirely left-field, just third base or so.
  • Re:Fuck Off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @09:24PM (#14505825) Journal
    "no personal data is collected or sent, or ever was."

    Yay! Pat yourself on the back! You were right.

    The issue, though, was not about what evil things Apple might be doing. The issue was that you had no idea what Apple was doing. There was speculation--perhaps even informed speculation--but no actual word from Apple about this. Not even buried deep in the bowels of the license agreement.

    "how the fuck is it an invasion of privacy?"

    Remember that if the information had been stored--we now know it wasn't--information can always be subpoenaed.

    Here's an entertaining scenario: Several years ago, I remember reading about some kid who committed suicide. The parents attempted to sue the record companies and artists, I believe, for driving their kids to suicide. Imagine if there was a database somewhere that showed exactly what the kid had been listening to...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @09:57PM (#14505982)
    Okay, I'm gonna go off an a rant here. I'd love to hear more about why the effort to solicit donations for another season of Firefly was cut off after a mere 36 hours. However, sans details, it sounds suspiciously like the face of the powers that be (RIAA or MPAA, take your pick). These guys are deathly afraid that their business model is going to die on them before they've had a chance to corner the market in a new medium (i.e., the Internet).

    Think about this a moment. What would happen if this donation idea ACTUALLY WORKED? What if we could figure out a way to stick it to the money grubbing industries by CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLEMEN (i.e., the Distributors)? This would also, coincidentally, make for efficiencies in production (less costly) and theoretically increase the salaries of those involved, because they wouldn't have to take care of the PIMP (sorry, I mean the distributors.)

    Still, I'd love to hear the details of this item. One of the earlier posters suggested a group concentrate on buying ADVERTISING for the show and then put up potential advertising revenue as capital for a renewal of the series. That sounds like a promising idea. I just know I'm sick of letting these corporate assholes call the shots on stuff when there is clearly a market for a given item. (And don't start ranting about how the 'free market' determined Firefly should die when the box office returns were disappointing. Let's see how the DVD sales and rentals stack up against the competition. . . . (Currently #4 top seller at Amazon, behind 'Wedding Crashers', 'Biggest Loser Workout', and 'The Constant Gardener', with the Firefly boxed set in the #6 slot.)
  • by froschmann ( 765104 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @10:50PM (#14506275)
    Hey, guys, I suggest you check out the student handbook hosted on the school site. If this kid gets a felony for refreshing, what happens when they get slashdotted? Here. [k12.oh.us]
  • by Babbster ( 107076 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (bbabnoraa)> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:21AM (#14506822) Homepage
    A and men. Slashdotters use phrases like "groupthink," "Joe Six-Pack" and the like, usually pretending that they aren't insulting people. Using the word "groupthink" in this context implies that people who like Firefly only feel that way because "everyone" on the Interweb says it's super cool.

    Me, I'm one of those oddities who liked the show from the first episode aired despite Fox showing episodes out of order. Then again, I also liked Friends which it seemed like every tool on the Interweb hammered constantly. So, I wonder where I would fit in with the supposed "groupthink" regarding television?

    It's all part of what has become a generally accepted mode of thinking by many who talk about entertainment on ye olden Interweb: "I thought [insert videogame/movie/music/etc. here] sucked, and anyone who liked it sucks."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:30AM (#14507437)
    Sadly, it doesn't. You could raise enough money to actually pay for the whole season and the network would still be liable to say no. Why? Networks look not at "Will we make our money back?", but at "How can we make the most money?" They only have so many hours a day they can broadcast, and they want to fill each hour with the highest revenue show they can. That's why we see all the great shows cancelled for low budget craptacular "reality" schlock... even when a reality show has lower ratings than a quality show, the difference between ad revenue and cost to produce is larger with the crap.

    Which is why we really need to get to a "subscriber" model of paying for shows, independent of television studios. You only need as many million subscribers paying a dollar an episode as it costs you, in millions of dollars, to produce and distribute the show. 22 bucks for a whole season of Firefly? I'd pay that in a heartbeat. If your cable bill is $60 a month, you could subscribe to 15 million dollar an episode shows for the same price. Cripes, imagine if you had 5, hour long, $3 million shows to watch each week! Sounds like enough TV to ME.
  • Good on Apple! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Onan ( 25162 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @03:47AM (#14507679)
    I'm very fond of Apple, but I was incensed by the disregard for privacy that itunes 6.0.2 seemed to indicate. I used their feedback web form to convey my alarm, made some grumpy posts to their discussion forum, and generally tried to express to them that this was a serious transgression.

    Apparently they heard and reacted to me and the presumed lots of other people saying the same thing, and reacted in precisely the right way. I never much cared about the mini-store one way or the other, I was only bothered by the transmission of personal data without my very explicit knowledge and consent. Defaulting to off with a prominent opt-in dialog is a perfectly good solution to this.

    So it appears that it was just an oversight on their part, a concern that never crossed their minds, and that they were willing to make corrections as soon as the issue was brought to their attention. That seems quite forgivable, and indeed I'm proud of Apple for reacting so quickly and correctly.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta