Saturday 20 October 2007

RMS gets it right (yet again).

Here is the latest on Microsoft embracing open source.

They got their licenses approved by the OpenSource Initiative. The people at OSI argued that it was a good move by Microsoft; and the people who warned about Microsoft's bad intentions and arguing against approval of the licenses were de facto ignored.

Now, the people at Microsoft (oh; yes, not Microsoft, the corporate entity) are calling the licenses "Shared Source". There appear
to be other licenses which are not approved by the OSI which Microsoft calls "shared source".

Given the enormous public relationship machinery they have, Microsoft is going to re-brand the OSI approved licenses as "shared source"; and in public eye, "open source" is going to be associated with "shared source".

This is what is bringing me to RMS. I am often wonderstuck at RMS' ability to foresee the future.

His statements on use of the term "Open Source" are turning out to be prophetic. People often insist that the term ``free software'' is confusing; and RMS used to (and still does) insist that the term open source is even more so.

With this googly from Microsoft, one needs to wait and watch for one or two years to find out which term is going to be more confusing; and which term is going to be associated with users' freedoms.

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Organised Power of the State

I was taught (and used to teach) that the heavy burden of proof laid on prosecution in criminal cases was because the prosecution is the ``State'', with the ``might of organised power'' behind it. That was (and is) perfectly true and valid.

That that is one of the reasons I used to support, (at debates between us lawyers, law students and teaches) the diluted burden of proof in prosecutions for terrorist activities.

Not anymore. Guantanamo is only one reason.

The other is what we are hearing from Gujarat - a lady and her husband were burnt (for god knows what) in a fake encounter.

The Gujrat incident reminds me of the famous ``Rajan Case'' (see http://www.hindu.com/2006/04/14/stories/2006041415240400.htm and http://rediff.co.in/news/2000/jun/26george.htm) of the emergency era, when an engineering student was picked up, rolled using a heavy wooden rod used for de husking rice, and when he died, his body was burnt using sugar - so that it does not leave behind even the ashes.

It took a confession of one of the police officers involved to bring the final details to light.

These incidents emphasises that retaining the strict burden proof on the prosecution is required, even in prosecutions involving use of organised power of the criminal mafioso or terrorist against the state.