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Sunday, April 08, 2007

AOL Bullying Gaim!

This is deeply troubling:

AOL is forcing Gaim to change its name

Please kindly contact AOL, and bring these points to their attention:

  • The users of Gaim are highly technical and the probability of them making a confusion between AIM and Gaim is infinitely small
  • Searching for AIM on search engines (like Google, Yahoo or does not bring up results with Gaim on the first page (in fact it consistently gives the official AIM site as the first result), so there is no risk for the average user to confuse Gaim with AIM
  • Gaim has alredy changed its name once at the request of AOL
  • Gaim (the project) does not make any money off the fact that their connect to AOL's network. In fact it is run by a volunteer community who donate their time to the project.

Having all these points in mind, the action of AOL is both immoral and without sense from a money stand point. It can only be classified as meaningless bullying on the open source community!

Please let this be an Aprils fools joke (although it really doesn't seems to be since it was posted on the 6th and who would joke about legal action)

Update - the story got posted on Slashdot and here are the most informative comments:

The facts laid out by the Gaim developers were:

  • GAIM had the name first
  • AOL forced them to take the name GAIM because "GTK + AOL Instant Messenger" was too infringing.
  • When AOL decided to trademark AIM, GAIM became too infringing
  • AOL systematically and repeatedly harassed the developers until they gave up

It's not Pigeon - it's 'Pidgin', which refers to a number of English-derived dialects spoken in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. The language is simple in construction and has a very limited vocabulary, but it can be quite poetic. I speak Bislama, the Vanuatu version of the language, which contains elements of French as well as English. The syntax is very much like English (subject - verb - object), but its idiom is derived from the hundreds of local languages. I don't know whether the team were aware of this when they chose the name, but Bislama and the other South Pacific Pidgins are spelled phonetically, which makes it really easy to understand. Example: Mi wantem toktok long yu Means "I (me) want to talk to you." This phonetic spelling makes it absolutely ideal for texting, because there are few if any of the crazy English spellings that stretch on forever without adding anything to the word - 'thought', for example, is simplified to 'ting'. When SMS was recently introduced into Vanuatu, even expat folks like myself found ourselves texting in Bislama, because it's more concise. So with all that in mind, I'll simply say, "Mi ting se 'pidgin' hemi wan gudfala nem blong givim long kaen software olsem. Smol tingting blong mi nomo.'

"Pidgin" is actually an adjective describing a simplified combining of languages, not a specific language family. There are pidgin languages spoken all over the world combining many languages, not always English. Many pidgin languages are named some variation of "Pidgin" but they don't have exclusive claim to the title. More information here:

There is no such thing as "Intellectual Property". It is propaganda. There are copyrights, patents, and trademarks. They are very different from each other. Anyone using the term "Intellectual Property" to group the three of them is either confused or is trying to mislead others. Watch This speech [] by Richard Stallman. Warning: it's 2 hours.

Well, I often have a problem with that too. People of other religions often assume that *my* religion requires a kind of faith similar to theirs, and that it affects my life in similar ways to theirs. When in fact different religions often have strikingly different effects on the societies in which they exist: for example, it's often said Islam encourages a confluence of spiritual and temporal authority, while in most Christian-majority societies this has rarely been the case since the Reformation. But I digress... A lot of FLOSS people despise the term "intellectual property" since it's often used intentionally to confuse people, by encouraging the belief that trademarks, copyrights, and patents give the same kinds of monopoly rights. When in fact, this is far from true. For example, Linus Torvalds holds the TRADEMARK for the name "Linux". But he does not hold the copyright for most of the code in the Linux kernel, since most of it has been written by other individuals and companies. And IBM may hold the patents on some algorithms used in the Linux kernel, but again this does not mean they hold the copyright for all of the code. None of this is a problem as long as no one is suing anyone. But then we get ass clowns like SCO or Microsoft who come along and make threats about how "Linux is infringing on our 'intellectual property' rights." That frightens a lot of users needlessly, and it's complete bullshit unless they care to specify exactly what rights they are talking about: trademark, copyright, or patents. All have COMPLETELY different repercussions. The FSF are totally right to deplore the use of the term "intellectual property" in my opinion. It is meaningless except as FUD.

Also many people bring up the Lindows vs Microsoft action, but the interesting fact is that Lindows didn't loose, they willingly gave up the name.

They also switched to monotone for version control and they will start accepting donations, as can be seen from the following quote (previously this was not possible):

Next I'd like to address paying for Pidgin. In the past this was not possible for numerous reasons, including taxing and trusting individual people with the money. Now, however, when the infrastructure is in place, anyone who wants will be able to "pay" for Pidgin by donating to the project and the Instant Messaging Freedom Corporation. Just be patient a bit longer and such things will be in place so anyone who wishes to contribute money may do so.


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