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Readers letters from the March 26, 2007 issue
Free For All
The GPL version 2 was written as a license to protect user freedoms that had been eroded by the increasingly closed attitudes of software designers, developers, and distributors ("What Will Drive Open Source?). It was Richard Stallman's intent, with v2, to create a barrier to these attitudes.

The GNU GPLv3 is no different.

What's different now is that the open source movement has sprung up, taking a different view of how software distribution is related to ethical issues. Because the Open Source Initiative refuses to address those issues, and because users identify with "open source" and not "free software," there's some chafing when the next generation of license does the exact same thing the second attempted to: ensure freedom.

The GPL v3 is not an open source license. Since Stallman does not write, promote, or care about open source licenses, it stands to reason he would not comment on them when asked.

At this point, I don't think anybody has a clear idea of what's going to happen with the GPLv3. The Free Software Foundation Web site mentions that there will be a third revision of the GPLv3, and these revisions have been put up for public discussion. My comments are among them, and I'm not connected to the FSF. There are still several large issues to be addressed.

The only thing that's clear at this point: Freedom will be protected above the idea of "adoption" and "market share." And that is a good thing.

Company name withheld by request
Frederick, Md.

Get Used To The Short View
I have a small strategic planning company and agree that long-range thinking, IT or otherwise, is a lost practice ("Is Long-Range Planning A Lost Art In Business Tech?" March 19, p. 68; ). It continually amazes me how few business leaders really look at their companies beyond the next month.

The roots to why strategic thinking is bred out of business leaders are deep, vast, and firmly planted on Wall Street. Analysts whose "expectations" can mean the difference between company profit or collapse now dictate how aggressively (or not) businesses pursue whatever vision they may have.

However, the sky might not be falling yet. What this simply demonstrates is the full entrenchment of an immediate-gratification culture. Societal prophets long ago predicted human "time compression" now accelerated, ironically, by technology. In other words, we're simply reaping the rewards--good and bad--of the technology crop we've been planting all along.

In this era of day traders, instant messaging, and solving complex crimes in 53 minutes, short-term thinking is simply the new long term, and we need to get used to it to survive.

President, Patrick J. Hall & Associates

Real Data Protection
When it comes to identity theft, the financial institutions have to pick up more of the responsibility ("Thoughts On Dealing With Identity Theft). Here's an idea:

  • Financial institutions should offer the customer, for a fee, an extremely secure ID system that can be used over the Internet, by phone, or in person.
  • All should be mandated by law to check if a prospective customer transaction is a part of the system requiring this extra-secure ID. If so, then it must be used before someone can use the credit card, open an account, and so forth.
  • The same system can then be used by airport security to allow a speedy "good guy" clearance through security. Maybe it could be used for medical records. Such uses add value for those customers who aren't afraid of the system.
  • There would have to be an effective way for the user to access his information and have it edited as necessary.

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Indie Producers Rejoice
    In addition to the big studio movies and TV shows available on iTunes, the Apple TV and similar devices are going to lead to a huge surge for independently produced content ("Apple TV Expected To Surpass TiVo And Netflix," March 19; ).

    Indie filmmakers, video producers, podcasters, and video bloggers are going to greatly benefit from having a direct pipe into the family room. Gone are the days of fighting for a traditional distribution deal, getting one or two copies of your indie film on Blockbuster's shelves.

    Now, great content will be delivered over the Net and piped to the family TV set. More work needs to be done to improve how this content is gathered and pushed, but this is a great first step.

    We are very excited about Apple TV and the future of online video.

    Caldwell, N.J.