[sf-lug] "Educating Tux: case studies of Linux deployments in high schools around the world"

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at gmail.com
Thu Mar 13 15:00:45 PDT 2008


On Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 9:50 AM, Tyler Trafford <ttrafford at gmail.com> wrote:

> >
> > This is the real deal breaker for FOSS for many of the Windows newbies
> > -- not being able to see YouTube and similar sites.
> Hmm interesting, I just tried swfdec on my 32bit machine and Youtube and
> Google Video do not work, although they work great with the same version
> of the plugin on a 64bit machine.

Yeah, I believe that locked down media formats are one of the major
impediments to global adoption of Free Software.  We simply must increase
our installbase so that websites will choose to contribute to Free codec
projects and support Free codecs on their sites.  As long as we are chasing
locked down formats, we will have a hard time making headway with newbies.

I view the survival of Free Software as depending on widespread adoption.
If we don't win a greater majority, we will be coded and legislated into
obscurity.  Free Software could still get pushed into an irrelevant corner
such that paid lobbyists by Microsoft and Adobe could adopt legislation that
favors proprietary code and discourages the use of Free Software.

One simple way that this could be done is by appointing judges who are
hostile to the GPL.  AFAIK, there is not a single appellate case upholding
the validity of the GPL.  There are lots of trial court cases in which the
trial courts have acted as if the GPL is valid, but all it would take is one
or two prominent appellate courts weakening the GPL to kill it.  We need to
make the FOSS installbase so broad that no appellate court would consider
killing it, for fear of creating economic instability.

I have not done any legal research to see if, in fact, there are appellate
courts that have ruled on the GPL, but I don't recall reading of any such in
my daily browsing of /. and Digg and FSdaily.  Maybe someone else here has a
better knowledge of the status of appellate case law on FOSS.  It is really
important to understand that, in the US, statutes alone are viewed by
lawyers and judges as offering little guidance to interpreting the
applicability of contracts and statutes in actual cases and controversies.

It is bad form in a law-and-motion hearing to cite only a statute in most
cases; a law-and-motion judge almost always wants to know how a statute will
be interpreted by an appellate court in the case before him or her, because
judges care most about their rate of being overruled.  Judges don't like to
be seen as mavericks, and they don't like to stand out from the herd, and
being overruled on can sometimes, but not always, be frustrating and
embarrassing for judges.  It makes other judges talk about them in
disparaging ways, sometimes.

Law-and-motion judges are the judges who hold hearings on motions to have
cases kicked out of court.  Sometimes those judges are the same judges who
try the cases, although not always.  It depends on the jurisdiction.
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