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Business - Written by on Monday, June 16, 2008 12:21 - 1 Comment

Denis Hancock
A lesson in give and take: Nokia urges Linux developers to learn their business

David Meyer has posted an interesting story on ZDNet, where Dr. Ari Jaaksi (Nokia’s VP of software) argues that open source developers targeting the mobile space need to learn business rules – including DRM. Here are a few of his relevant quotes:

“There are certain business rules [developers] need to obey, such as DRM, IPR [intellectual property rights], SIM locks and subsidised business models.”

“Why do we need closed vehicles? We do. Some of these things harm the industry but they’re here [as things stand]. These are touchy, emotional issues, but this dialogue is very much needed. As an industry, we plan to use open-source technologies, but we are not yet ready to play by the rules; but this needs to work the other way round too.”

“The original mistake we made was to take the code to our labs, change it and then release it at the last minute. The community had already gone in a different direction than [us], and no-one was pushing it other than [us]. Everybody wants to make their own version and keep it too close to their chest, but that leads to fragmentation.”

I find the second quote to be the most interesting, as it seems to succinctly capture a regularly occurring issue as companies and open source movements collide – we’re not quite ready to play by your rules, but you’re not quite ready to play by ours either. Implicit is the belief that neither set of “rules”, on their own, are correct – so the big question is what are the best rules to bring the two sides together? One quick thought is that focusing on IPR might gain a little more traction with open source developers than, say, DRM…

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Jun 16, 2008 14:43

Maybe Dr. Ari Jaaksi should learn a few rules of economics. Eventually, all IP gets commoditized, Linux is just part of that process. If it wasn’t Linux it would be BSD doing exactly the same thing.

Believers in DRM are in a position where they need everyone else to also believe in DRM, else the DRM boat will sink. However, every DRM device is that bit worse for the consumer (remember, the money comes from the consumer) and that bit more expensive for the producer.

They tried selling region-locked DVD players, but the cheapest DVD players were also the easiest to unlock so everyone bought those. Now pretty much every DVD player is trivial to unlock. Now we see most of the online music suppliers have given up DRM for the same reason — one of them started selling DRM free music and the customers all went that way.

Most Open Source developers already understand that putting time and effort into DRM support is a loser’s game.

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