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When writing any beginner's Linux book, invariably the topic of DVD playback comes up, and I always wrestle with what to tell new Linux users about the convoluted legal mess that watching a DVD on a Linux machine has become.
In the age of open source and large scale outsourcing, assuring the quality of software must comprise ascertaining its legal compliance as well. Numerous legal cases in recent years have highlighted the business risks and the enormous costs incurred when this is not done properly.
ACTA will lead to a situation where the decision of whether a given content and its use are legal or not is no longer in the hands of a judge, but falls under an automated censorship regime programmed by private parties. As a result, fair use and the right to a fair trial will be crushed.
Free Software Foundation Europe is asking the Members of the European Parliament to wait for legal advice before voting on a unitary patent for Europe. While a proposal is on the Parliament's agenda for the coming week, a legal opinion by the European Court of Justice is expected later this month.
Now that I've got your attention, don't worry too much: Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind the popular World of Warcraft online game, isn't trying to shut down open source software entirely. But in a recent legal filing (reported by the Virtually Blind weblog), they are asking a judge to take an unusual move: prohibiting a developer from releasing a particular bit of code as open source.
Restricted codecs to play formats such as MP3 as well as the issue of playing back encrypted DVDs is a continual problem for Linux users. Basically, in some areas they may be illegal and in others they may not. Unfortunately, without these codecs, many standard functions do not work.