The iPhone’s Challenge to Open Source

Freedom-loving developers have long used open-source licenses as a tactic to maintain the open availability of their source code. With the rise of closed hardware/software platforms like Apple’s iPhone, however, that tactic is being challenged. And that may not be a bad thing.

Today in Cloud

Most constitutional concerns surrounding cloud computing relate to privacy and whether cloud-based data is exempt from unreasonable search and seizure pursuant to the Fourth Amendment. Today, however, a First Amendment issue reared its head when Rackspace took credit for taking down the website of Florida’s suddenly notorious anti-Islam pastor. I understand Rackspace’s defense of its actions, but I think this sets an ugly precedent for free speech in the cloud. There is a fine line between free speech and prohibited hate speech, and it’s a bit scary to think of cloud providers making that determination based on citizen complaints rather on judicial orders. Of all the reasons to fear the cloud, a waiver of free-speech rights shouldn’t be one of them.

Poll: Should FM Radios Be Mandatory in All Phones?

As part of a plan that would expand royalty payments from radio stations, the National Association of Broadcasters is looking for the U.S. government to require FM radio tuners in all future phones. There’s merit to both sides, but do you want an FM radio mandate?

Upset About Your Cloud Contract? Tough Luck.

This week brought news that pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly has ended its use of Amazon EC2 because of an inability to negotiate contractual terms with Amazon Web Services. Thoughsubsequently retracted, the issues the report raises will become more common as large enterprises consider moving more workloads to the cloud.

Today in Cloud

I’ll write more about Eli Lilly’s (rumored) decision to abandon Amazon Web Services in my Weekly Update, but I want to briefly explain why these types of contractual issues won’t likely be overcome any time soon. Cloud provider contracts uniformly absolve the provider of all liability and limit damages to those spelled out in the SLA. This is troublesome to large customers, for whom outages could mean millions in terms of lost sales or lost opportunities. But, by definition, services like AWS are anonymous, and Amazon can’t assume liability for workloads it doesn’t even know are running, nor is it necessarily a wise idea to pick and choose individual customers for special terms. If public cloud computing is ever to catch on among large enterprises, contractual terms will have to evolve.

Today in Social

It’s been three years since Viacom – the TV giant behind MTV and Comedy Central – sued YouTube for not doing enough to stop pirate video appearing online. The case has rumbled away without much public attention, but today a US court is expected to release a tranche of documents revealing the evidence each side has collected. Fireworks are promised.