Challenges to the intellectual property establishment are coming fast and furious; read on for Adam’s take on the shenanigans. Plus, Chris Pepper closes out his coverage of breeds of programs in Mac OS X with a look at Java. In the news, along with a free ebook offer for TidBITS readers, we cover a slew of releases, including Mac OS X 10.1.3, Adobe GoLive 6, Adobe LiveMotion 2, ConceptDraw 1.7.5, IPNetTuner 1.5, and the announcement of Photoshop 7.
Mac OS X 10.1.3 Released — Apple has released the Mac OS X 10.1.3 update as a 17.3 MB download via Software Update. (If you’re running Mac OS X 10.1 or 10.1.1, a separate 38.4 MB combined update to 10.1.3 is available.) As with previous updates to Mac OS X, this one is well worth getting, and kudos to Apple for providing decent release notes. Along with reliability improvements, Mac OS X 10.1.3 includes more drivers for CD burners and digital cameras, enables DVD playback on external VGA displays connected to PowerBook G4s, turns video mirroring on by default when a PowerBook connects to a new display, and offers improvements to iTunes with full screen visualizers. Networking security received attention as well, with login authentication support for LDAP and Active Directory services, an update to OpenSSH 3.0.2p1, WebDAV support for Digest authentication, and support for SSL encryption in Apple’s Mail application. [ACE]
Dealmac Sponsoring TidBITS — Long ago, we published another newsletter called DealBITS. The idea behind DealBITS was that companies would pay a small amount to list deals on their products. The deal was an important aspect – we wanted to help readers by publishing prices below normal. DealBITS was years ahead of its time, but our latest sponsor, the folks at dealmac, have proven how powerful the concept of collecting and negotiating deals can be. Dealmac doesn’t sell anything – they only facilitate commerce between others by providing information about deals. Aside from the basic utility of collecting the deals and presenting them in a variety of formats (chronological on a Web page, in email, and in a searchable database), the main value that dealmac adds is making sure every deal is the lowest known price on a product (the only exception is for products from well-known brands, for which people might be interested in paying more). That’s not all – when possible, dealmac negotiates even lower prices exclusively for dealmac readers.
Along with dealmac, they also run dealnews, which applies the concept to non-computer products, and dealram, which offers a custom interface to comparing RAM prices. We’re going to start dealmac’s sponsorship by listing some of the latest RAM prices from dealram in the sponsorship area at the top of every issue; after we work out the automated systems, we hope to include more general Mac-related deals as well. No matter what, it should make checking the sponsorship area all the more worth your while each week, so we couldn’t be happier to welcome dealmac to our select group of sponsors. [ACE]
GoLive 6, LiveMotion 2 Shipping, Photoshop 7 Announced — Adobe is now shipping GoLive 6, its professional Web design tool. In addition to Mac OS X compatibility, GoLive 6 adds workgroup and dynamic content authoring capabilities. LiveMotion 2, also now shipping, improves several Web animation tools and runs under Mac OS X. GoLive costs $400, with updates priced at $100; LiveMotion carries the same pricing as GoLive, but a limited time introductory price of $200 is currently in effect for new users; both programs can be purchased in a bundle for $450. Garnering more attention, however, was the announcement of Photoshop 7, which adds new features and runs natively under Mac OS X. It is expected to ship in the second quarter of 2002 for $600, or $150 for upgrading users. [JLC]
ConceptDraw Updated to 1.7.5 — CS Odessa (once again a TidBITS sponsor), has released version 1.7.5 of the $125 ConceptDraw Standard and $250 ConceptDraw Professional (see "Making the Connection with ConceptDraw" in TidBITS-553 for a full review). New features include export to PDF and support for mouse scroll wheels in Mac OS X; CS Odessa also made changes to improve the interface, extend the Stamp tool’s capabilities, and enhance outline mode in the Professional version. Version 1.7.5 also fixes a number of bugs with HTML and EPS export, print sizes, drag & drop from libraries in Mac OS X, editing text, and more. The update is free for users of previous versions of ConceptDraw; it’s a 5.1 MB (Standard) or 7.4 MB (Professional) download. [ACE]
IPNetTuner 1.5 Adds Speed Tests — Wonder how fast your Internet connection really is or worry that you’re not getting the bandwidth you should? Sustainable Softworks’ just-released IPNetTuner 1.5 adds speed tests to the network utility’s Open Transport optimization capabilities (Mac OS 9-only). IPNetTuner now also includes configurations that automatically tune Open Transport for common connection types. Open Transport optimization is a black art, so the included configurations help get you started, and the real-time performance graphs provide the feedback you need to see if your changes are useful. IPNetTuner 1.5 costs $25, and updates from previous versions are free. It’s a 544K download. [ACE]
Free Book for TidBITS Readers — All right, so this is a bit odd. A couple of TidBITS readers, Audri and Jim Lanford, run a Web site called WZ.com, where they publish information aimed at busy people in a variety of different formats, including PDF-based electronic books, or ebooks. To create a promotion aimed at introducing people to their ebooks, Audri asked a bunch of experts (a category Audri evidently thinks I’m in) to contribute a short piece of advice on how to improve one’s business. Being an agreeable sort, I sent her the main piece of advice I offer based on how I’ve run TidBITS. Audri and Jim have now compiled all the experts’ advice into a 104-page ebook – 43 Specific Ways to Make 2002 Your Best, Most Profitable Year Ever – and are offering it for free to TidBITS readers via the URL below. The promotional text is a bit breathless, which sets off my warning bells, but they avoid dubious stuff: Audri told me downloading the ebook sets only a session cookie, and you’re told ahead of time that you’ll receive a companion newsletter, from which you can unsubscribe easily. The real question is, apart from my insightful words of wisdom, is the content of the book is any good? After reading the entire ebook, I’m happy to say that most of the advice, though concise, makes important points that could be useful to anyone. Don’t be fooled by the brevity of each piece – many require more thought than can happen while you read. (Full disclosure: if you were to buy other ebooks from WZ.com after downloading this free one, TidBITS would receive some small affiliate fee.) [ACE]
Living with a three-year-old offers an odd perspective on the world. Whenever Tristan and other children his age play in each other’s vicinity, an important parental task is to break up squabbles over who’s playing with which toy for any given 30 seconds. "You need to share your trains with Peter," we’ll say, and we’ll hammer that lesson home 15 or 20 times in an afternoon.
Good thing we don’t have to explain the current hullabaloo surrounding intellectual property to him. "Why don’t the record companies want to let people share music?" he might ask. "Because they don’t want to, and they have contracts that say they can do whatever they want with it," we’d reply. "But if I don’t want to share toys with Peter, you tell me to put them up in your bedroom before he comes over. Why can’t they put their music away where no one can get it?" Here’s where we start to beat around the bush. "Well, because they want everyone to buy their music instead of sharing it." The three-year-old mind pounces. "So if Peter wants to play with my trains, I can make him give me a candy bar?" "No," we retort, falling back on parental say-so, "that’s not nice, you just have to share."
No Better Than Napster — It’s not a fair comparison. No one ever accused the record labels of being nice. Now that they’ve demonized the hydra-headed music sharing services as impoverishing hard-working artists, it turns out that – surprise! – the labels are putting the same screws to artists.
A recent New York Times article made known something recording artists have been complaining about for a while – the fact that Pressplay and MusicNet, both of which charge Windows-using music lovers to listen to music online, aren’t paying artists squat (where "squat" is defined as more than a fraction of a cent per download). Who knew the recording industry actually was interested in micropayments?
That’s not all. Those contracts that give the labels the right to do whatever they want with artists’ music may not be so all-encompassing. A number of artists have demanded – with varying success – that their music be removed from MusicNet and Pressplay, even sending cease-and-desist letters. So it would seem to come down to the fact that these music industry services aren’t just charging Windows users for the privilege of downloading music from the Internet and failing to give any of the proceeds to artists, they’re doing it without permission in many cases. The difference between the recording industry and the music sharing services is blurring by the minute.
It’s not just the artists complaining, either. Ninth District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, who has regularly ruled against Napster in the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) ongoing lawsuit against the company, on Friday ruled that the five major record labels must prove they own thousands of music copyrights (which requires proving that they were "works-for-hire" – essentially pieces commisioned by the record company, or created by artists serving as company employees). Judge Patel went even farther, ruling that the labels must prove that they didn’t use those questionable copyrights to smother online distribution of music. She wrote, "(The record labels’) allegedly inequitable conduct is currently ongoing and the extent of the prospective harm is massive. If Napster is correct, plaintiffs are attempting the near monopolization of the digital distribution market. The resulting injury affects both Napster and the public interest." Better start building hotels on Broadway and Park Place – it’s antitrust time!
A CD Is a CD… Unless Philips Says Otherwise — On another front in the digital music wars, the music industry has taken two notable blows in its desire to sneak copy protection onto every music CD. The first hit came from Philips – the Dutch electronics giant which co-developed the Red Book standard for CD audio with Sony back in 1980 and which administers the official Compact Disc logo. Philips, it seems, is not amused by the fact that copy protection works by introducing errors onto music CDs such that computer CD players (not to mention DVD players) can’t read them. Philips representative Klaus Petri told Financial Times, "Those are silver discs with music data that resemble CDs, but aren’t." And Gerry Wirtz, general manager of the Philips copyright office, was quoted by Reuters as saying that Philips would force the record labels to yank the CD logo from copy-protected discs and add warning stickers for consumers. He went on to claim that future models of Philips drives would be able to read and burn the copy-protected discs, potentially running afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition on devices that circumvent copy protection.
Back in the mid-1980s, rock icon Frank Zappa dubbed Tipper Gore a "cultural terrorist" for getting warning labels on CDs. Karen DeLise may be next in line for a version of that title awarded by the music industry. Who’s Karen DeLise? She’s the person who sued Music City Records, Fahrenheit Entertainment, and Sunncomm (a digital rights management company) over the album "Charley Pride: A Tribute to Jim Reeves," the first copy-protected CD released in the U.S.
Her lawsuit complained that the warning label on the Charley Pride album didn’t say it couldn’t be played in computer CD players and that the music couldn’t be transferred to portable MP3 players. It also raised privacy concerns, because the digital rights management software from Sunncomm required users to register personally identifiable information with a Web site. The companies have now settled out of court, agreeing to stop tracking personally identifiable information, delete already collected information, and warn consumers that the CD doesn’t work in DVD players, MP3 players, or computer CD drives. Between lawsuits like this and Philips’s stance, copy-protected CDs may soon need warnings from the Surgeon General.
The fact that the disc was copy protected didn’t prevent tracks from appearing on the file sharing services before the CD was released in the U.S. Reportedly that’s because 2,000 copies were released unprotected in Australia earlier, but any copy protection scheme devised will be broken by someone, somewhere in the world, and it only has to happen once. Copy protection disappeared from most software because users hated it and it was too easily broken, and it’s going to fail in the music industry for the same reasons. It’s hard to have any sympathy – companies like Microsoft and Adobe have managed to eke out a few bucks even without copy protection.
Meanwhile, Back in Court… Larry Lessig, mentioned in last week’s article about the Creative Commons project, is in front of the Supreme Court challenging the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act that extends existing copyrights by 20 years and lengthens future copyrights from 50 to 70 years after the death of the creator. Despite the name, the law was intended to protect not Bono’s saccharine paean to Cher, "I’ve Got You Babe," but that venerable American icon, Mickey Mouse. The problem is that by extending copyright terms, the vast majority of works languish outside of the public domain even longer than before. The defendants in this case – Eldritch Press and Higginson Books – want to reprint old books that would otherwise be unavailable because, quite frankly, almost no one wants to read them (Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1901 The Life of the Bee never made it onto my reading list). Just because something fails in the marketplace doesn’t mean it has no value in the marketplace of ideas.
To my mind, copyright is intended to foster innovation and creativity by granting creators a time-limited monopoly. It’s important that copyrights are granted by the government, which, at least in the words of Abraham Lincoln (unless it was Benjamin Disraeli, being quoted by Mark Twain, as happened with last week’s quote about statistics), is "of the people… by the people… for the people." That means to me that granting of time-limited monopolies on creative works is, or at least should be, done to serve the public good through the encouragement of new works. Short of channeling through Shirley MacLaine, I can’t see authors contributing much new after they’ve been dead 1 year, much less 70 years. No creativity is enhanced by limiting access to something like The Life of the Bee, so why not serve the public good and let a few beekeepers read it on Eldritch Press’s Web site? Such limitations don’t apply just to unknown Web sites; the primary goals of libraries throughout history have been the preservation and sharing of knowledge, whether or not it was commercially viable or even politically fashionable.
Even more important, though it’s hard to imagine with The Life of the Bee, the creative works that make up our cultural heritage are the foundation upon which new works can be created. Snow White was a fairy tale long before Disney animated it, and West Side Story wouldn’t exist without Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It may be nearly impossible to create something new without reference or influence from a work of the past. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the work of compilation artists like Negativland. Everything they do is sampled from the work of others, but is what they create new? It seems that way to me – decide for yourself in this film (requires RealPlayer) that appropriates Disney’s Little Mermaid and much more (the film starts 20 minutes into an extremely interesting talk by Negativland’s Mark Hosler about fair use and the public domain). Also be sure to read the hilarious 1992 interview that Mark and Don Joyce of Negativland conducted with U2’s guitarist Edge about the lawsuit filed against Negativland by U2’s record label – it highlights the chasm that can exist between artists and their labels.
Lest copyright take all the heat for being used in ways that don’t serve the public good, consider patents, such as British Telecom’s 1976 patent that supposedly covers the entire concept of hyperlinks. The fact that this seems truly inane hasn’t stopped BT’s lawyers from going after Prodigy, with other major Internet service providers and any other company using the Web to follow if they’re successful. Never mind that Vannevar Bush described the concept with the memex in 1945. Also, make sure to ignore Ted Nelson’s theoretical Xanadu project from the early 1960s, and definitely avoid Douglas Englebart’s 1962 paper on augmenting the human intellect and 1968 demonstration of NLS.
Intellectual Property Ecosystem — Clearly something has to change, and the legislative approach of criminalizing increasingly common and profit-free behavior by individuals doesn’t cut it. It’s not that I believe recognizing and rewarding content creation is bad – I’ve based my entire professional life on it. At the same time, I have ensured that TidBITS has always been free, encouraged non-profit publications to reprint our articles, and posted best-selling books online in their entirety. I’m not even special – the Internet has enabled vast numbers of people to create and share information in the ultimate public domain, and many manage to do so in ways that directly or indirectly earn income.
I’ve used this analogy with the Macintosh industry before, but we’re really talking about an ecosystem of ideas here, and one that’s currently out of balance thanks to the influence of copyright-owning industries. Perhaps I’ve been forever contaminated with Ted Nelson’s utopian approach in Xanadu for crediting and recompensing content creators automatically with link metadata, but we as a society need to redirect efforts aimed at tightening control over content toward creating a system that offers a reasonable compromise between the needs and desires of producers, consumers, and that elusive concept of the public good. Even better, I’d like to be able to explain the result to my three-year-old.
In the first two installments of this article, we looked first at Apple’s proprietary programming environments for Mac OS X – Classic, Carbon, and Cocoa – and then at its cross-platform Unix layer. In this third and final segment, we’ll examine Java.
Cuppa Joe — Sun Microsystems developed Java – which is both a programming language and an operating environment – in an attempt to solve some of the basic problems of computer programming. Their most important goal was to alleviate the challenges of writing code for different platforms. To reduce the need for porting software between these environments, Sun designed an abstract operating environment – essentially a virtual operating system – called the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in which Java applications would run. By making the way programs communicate with the JVM identical, and hiding platform-specific differences inside the JVM, Sun hoped Java programs would run – without porting – on any platform with a JVM, eliminating the need for multiple versions.
Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be that simple. Variations between JVMs on different platforms and the desire to provide native-looking interfaces mean that a truly cross-platform Java application is still a difficult task that requires some porting. That said, using Java as a target platform can save time for cross-platform development, and as a modern programming language, Java includes a raft of improvements over the C and C++ languages Sun intended it to replace.
Applets, Servlets, and Applications — Java initially proved popular for small programs, called applets, that could run inside Web browsers, because the interface to such programs was minimal and did not need to be native to each platform. We’ve all run into a Java applet at one time or another, often with mediocre results or even a browser crash. That’s evidence of how the quality of the JVM, as well as differences between virtual machines, play an important role; but there are many Java applets that work fine, such as the Secret Lives of Numbers visualization mentioned in Adam’s "A Couple of Cool Concepts" article in TidBITS-617. It doesn’t look like a Macintosh program, short of a few of the controls, which makes it harder to use than would be ideal for Mac users, but it does provide a complex interactive experience no matter what operating system or Web browser is used.
Later, Java became heavily used for writing servlets, small back-end Web applications that add customization and intelligence to Web sites without the need for proprietary interfaces. Businesses that need to develop custom Web services but want to avoid being tied to a specific Web server find Java attractive. For example, a Java servlet initially written for the Tomcat Java servlet environment can work with the built-in Tomcat Web server, or in concert with the Apache Web server, or inside any of a variety of commercial servlet environments on various platforms (including Mac OS X). Recognizing this, and in an effort to boost the credibility of Mac OS X as a server platform, Apple now provides instructions for installing Tomcat under Mac OS X and includes it in Mac OS X Server.
The popularity of Java for applets and servlets doesn’t mean that it can’t be used for full-fledged applications. Java programs are frequently distributed as single files, with .jar or .zip extensions, although those that are tweaked to improve the user experience in Mac OS X go further yet. For example, LimeWire is a client written in Java for the Gnutella music-sharing network. LimeWire uses a platform-specific installer and application shell that provides a nicer user experience than double-clicking a .jar file with a generic icon. When you get it running, LimeWire looks pretty much like a Mac OS X program, with an Aqua appearance. The lack of a real menu bar and the presence of underlines under menu item shortcut letters give its Java heritage away, but LimeWire is still easy to use. For a more-familiar application type that doesn’t fit into Java’s traditional network utility category, check out jEdit, a Java-based programmer’s text editor. It provides a real menu bar, though it still underlines the keyboard shortcuts in menu items, doesn’t use the proper font for the menus, and avoids Mac OS X’s standard Open and Save dialogs. A different approach to the problem of cross-platform interface details is to ignore it, as in the simulation creator Stagecast, whose windows and menus are all drawn inside the program’s single master window, and whose interface widgets are proprietary and unfamiliar.
One question that occasionally arises is whether people can run any Java application in Mac OS X, even if there isn’t a download specifically for Mac OS X. The answer is that you can always try – download it, look for a file with a .jar or .zip extension, and double-click it. The likelihood of the program working is higher than in Mac OS 9, so it’s worth breaking out of the standard assumption that Macs don’t do Java.
Going Mocha — As I noted at the beginning, Java is both a programming language and an operating environment. Although I’ve been talking about Java applications that exist entirely within the Java Virtual Machine, it’s also possible for programmers to use just the Java language to create full-fledged Cocoa applications for Mac OS X. In this scenario, deliciously known as Cocoa Java, the programmer uses stock Cocoa interface widgets and communicates with the Cocoa application by talking to the Cocoa programming interface, but uses Java for all or part of the code, because she either prefers it to Objective-C, or (more likely) knows Java better because it’s more widely used. The Java code runs in the Java Virtual Machine, as usual, but gets its interface from the built-in Cocoa framework, crossing the gulf between the two worlds via a translation mechanism dubbed the Java Bridge. The result is an application that looks like any other Cocoa application, though the overhead of the JVM means it launches more slowly and uses more memory than a normal Cocoa application. For an example, take a look at Tiran Behrouz’s Calculator+; you’ll find that there’s nothing about the interface to reveal that the programmer used Java instead of Objective-C.
Cream and Sugar — Because Java makes the underlying platform less important, it’s particularly attractive to platform vendors looking to entice developers into writing for operating systems other than Windows. This also means that Java poses a threat to the domination of Microsoft Windows, because Java programs – unlike Win32 and Visual Basic programs – are portable to other systems. As a result (and this is an intentionally massive oversimplification of a complicated situation), Microsoft has withdrawn its support for Java, and now encourages developers to use a derivative language named C# (pronounced "C sharp"). C# is nominally an open language, but it’s designed around Microsoft’s Windows operating system and .NET platform.
Apple supported Java poorly in previous versions of the Mac OS with the Macintosh Runtime for Java (MRJ) but has greatly improved the Java Virtual Machine in Mac OS X to provide much more complete and current Java support. Despite the solid Java foundation in Mac OS X, Apple’s initial focus has been on supporting Classic and encouraging developers to use Carbon and Cocoa. More recently, Apple has started paying a bit more attention to Mac OS X’s underlying Unix layer, and the new attention being paid to the Tomcat Java servlet environment in Mac OS X would seem to indicate that Java may be rising on Apple’s list of priorities. In any case, more Java developers are discovering Mac OS X and responding well to Apple’s Java support.
An Embarrassment of Riches — It’s ironic: Mac OS X includes the Classic environment for running existing Mac OS 9 applications, Carbon for developers who are porting large code bases over to Mac OS X, and Cocoa for programmers starting from scratch. Then there are Mac OS X’s full Unix underpinnings and robust Java Virtual Machine, which together bring a veritable host of Unix and Java applications into the fold. With Mac OS X, the Macintosh has jumped from being known as a closed and isolated architecture to supporting far more programming environments than any other operating system. Who’d have thought?