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posted by martyb on Sunday December 06 2015, @01:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the rethinking-closed-source-software dept.

Akkana reports via the Shallow Thoughts blog

I went to a night sky photography talk on Tuesday. The presenter talked a bit about tips on camera lenses, exposures; then showed a raw image and prepared to demonstrate how to process it to bring out the details.

His slides disappeared, the screen went blank, and then ... nothing. He wrestled with his laptop for a while. Finally he said "Looks like I'm going to need a network connection", left the podium, and headed out the door to find someone to help him with that.

I'm not sure what the networking issue was: the nature center has open wi-fi, but you know how it is during talks: if anything can possibly go wrong with networking, it will, which is why a good speaker tries not to rely on it. And I'm not blaming this speaker, who had clearly done plenty of preparation and thought he had everything lined up.

Eventually they got the network connection, and he connected to Adobe. It turns out the problem was that Adobe Photoshop is now cloud-based. Even if you have a local copy of the software, it insists on checking in with Adobe at least every 30 days. At least, that's the theory. But he had used the software on that laptop earlier that same day, and thought he was safe. But that wasn't good enough, and Photoshop picked the worst possible time--a talk in front of a large audience--to decide it needed to check in before letting him do anything.

Someone sitting near me muttered "I'd been thinking about buying that, but now I don't think I will." Someone else told me afterward that all Photoshop is now cloud-based; older versions still work, but if you buy Photoshop now, your only option is this cloud version that may decide ... at the least opportune moment ... that you can't use your software any more.

[...] I talked to the club president afterward and offered to give a GIMP talk to the club some time soon, when their schedule allows.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07 2015, @10:08PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07 2015, @10:08PM (#273075)

    Copy protection laws last 95+ years by default. This is unacceptable. By not explicitly releasing something under a license that releases itself under a CC or other permissive license in a much more reasonable period of time anything covered by copy protection laws is implicitly releasing itself under a license that lasts 95+ years. We, as consumers, should not accept anything that demands 95+ year protections.

    I'm not saying that software has to be open source. Just that we as consumers allow software, art, movies, publications, and other works that are released under 95+ year protections to exist because we allow companies to (implicitly) release their works under 95+ year terms (by not explicitly releasing them under a more permissible license after a shorter period of time).

    OK, someone can release works under an all rights reserved license for the first ten years. But then the works should specify a publication date and an irrevocable creative commons date that takes effect about 10 years after the publication date.

    Microsoft Windows 95 and below should be public domain by now. If not it should be released under a creative commons license. The same with older games. This will allow others to provide continued support for them if they wish. They can provide support by modifying them and/or building a framework around them (ie: virtual machines that can load them) and ensuring that they can support newer hardware. At the very least it would allow future generations to better see and appreciate the history of operating systems and how they progressed if not to allow people to continue using oler operating systems and software and improving upon it. Even without source code people can still reverse engineer and provide third party updates, support, and improvements for older operating systems. Even back when Windows 98 was popular I remember people used to do similar things but it was Microsoft that ended up stopping it because it's their proprietary works.

    but if a discontinued game is proprietary for 95+ years then it can't be widely distributed and so there is little point in providing continued support for new hardware. Again I am not saying it has to be open source just that it should be released under a license that freely allows anyone to tinker with, redistribute, and improve it and release those improvements either after the game is discontinued by the original developer or after a reasonable period of time.

    The license that consumers should demand should also provide that any specific version of something is released under a permissible license after a reasonable period of time. Say you make version one and state that it gets released under a CC license 5 years later. Then, say, one year later you make version two. Version two also gets released under a CC license 5 years later. By the time version one is released under a CC license version 10 would have came out and version one could tell people where to find the latest version if they are interested.

    By forcing producers to explicitly release works under a reasonable permissible license in a more reasonable period of time we can both support more reasonable copy protection laws intended to support producers while still opposing overreaching copy protection laws and overreaching copy protection licenses. By not forcing producers to release works under a reasonable permissible license in a more reasonable period of time we are implicitly supporting bad copy protection laws and those who benefit from them and we are implicitly supporting those who release works under unreasonable terms. Anyone that doesn't explicitly release their works under a reasonable permissible license in a reasonable period of time is implicitly releasing their works under unreasonable terms that we shouldn't tolerate.