Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Court Ruling Denies EMI Access to Millions of Personal MP3 Files

On his blog, Michael Robertson reports, "A New York Judge has denied a request by EMI to force MP3tunes to turn over all music files for its 125,000 users. For now, this means the contents of personal music Lockers will remain private. "

This is is great news. MP3tunes rightly argues that the contents of the online Lockers are private, much like a safety deposit box at the bank. They also cite technological and logistical issues involved with delivering terabytes of password protected music.

To this I'd like to add that EMI, large as they may be, are not the be-all and end-all of music. They have no reasonable expectation that all of the music files originated with EMI artists; that they were obtained through any but normal, legal means; or that the contents of any specific Locker contains even one EMI song. Theirs is an unconstitutional request amounting to illegal search and seizure so that they can mount a fishing expedition... for what? Time and format shifting are horses that were beat to death so long ago that they don't even stink anymore. Sony vs. Universal City Studios, Inc. (the "Betamax case") killed arguments to the contrary 'way back in 1984. EMI's argument is far too shaky to be setting a precedent that could have the record companies poking into any form of online storage.

Nevertheless, the Luddites at EMI offer this ridiculous argument (by which I mean it's worthy of ridicule). Fortunately, this case has a judge that made the right decision; let's hope the trend continues. The whole greedy rights-trampling lot of cretins at EMI (and also the RIAA) deserve to be taken to the legal woodshed and given a good old fashioned ass-whuppin'.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Microsoft nags you to dump Office.

As reported by Mary Jo Foley today, Microsoft is adding the "Genuine Advantage" nags to Microsoft Office. In case you've been living under a rock, "Genuine Advantage" is the anti-piracy measure that debuted in Windows XP. The one that mistakenly tagged large numbers of users as pirates and cut off access to their machines. Now it's a kinder and gentler "Advantage" that just sits there and nags you when it erroneously identifies you as a thief for having spent hundreds of hard-earned dollars on a program that has no real advantage over the old version.

Fortunately, we don't even have to put up with the nag. OpenOffice.org is a terrific replacement for Office. It won't cost you anything, it does what you need, and it's 100% completely, totally nag-free. And guilt-free, too. As OpenOffice.org is Open Source, you use it to your heart's content and even give it away. No fees, ever. And OpenOffice.org works just fine whether you're using Windows, MacOS, or Linux.

Speaking of Linux, most distributions ship with KOffice, which is just fine (though I tend to like OpenOffice.org better, though KOffice is arguably more complete. Sorry, Windows users need not apply). If you're in a more proprietary mood (but still into Open Source), then IBM has it's new Symphony office suite available for the low, low price of free. It doesn't come with everything that OpenOffice.org has to offer, but it's bundled with Lotus Notes 8, which makes it a really compelling alternative.

And all of these packages utilize the well-established ODF standard for document formats. Microsoft Office doesn't even support Microsoft's own OOXML.

Microsoft is doing it's part to promote Open Source. With the new "Genuine Advantage" feature, you have yet another reason to "just say no" to overpriced hypeware.