When Open, Cross-Platform Tools Aren’t
One of the myths I tell myself is that by trying to only use tools that are free to download, based on open source code and work cross-platform in the sense of working on both Windows and Macs (I tend to assume if it runs on a Mac, it’ll also run on Linux), I’m choosing tools to use tools that anyone will be able to use.
This casual thinking is compounded both by working in the education sector, and by the “personal research: label I apply to much of what I do. That is, I don’t work for a private company to use these tools to produce something that will be sold for profit.
So when I read Martin Belam’s review of the FT’s Emily Cadnam’s thoughts on data journalism in a news:rewired panel last week, I was bumped into rethinking things:
Along the way she made a little point with a big implication, certainly one that doesn’t always occur to me. Because the FT is a paid for product, they are actually restricted from using a lot of open source and free tools from the web, which have licenses that forbid commercial use. As an unintended consequence of having a website with a subscription model, they’ve had to make their own versions of several fundamental tools that others might take for granted.
Hmmm… so which of the tools and techniques that I try to advocate are actually closed for journalistic use in commercial contexts?
If the route is by copyright, then is there any notion of a fair dealing exception in the use of tools for the purpose of reporting the news?! (A ludicrous thought, but I thought I’d capture it anyway…;-)
PPS Hmmm, I wonder.. I can imagine patent trolls thinking this through…:
- teach a man to fish, get a royalty payment each time he catches one;
- sell a man a fishing rod, get a royalty payment each time he catches a fish;
- sell a man a fishing rod, get a royalty payment each time he uses it;
- teach a man the idea of fishing, get a royalty payment every time he catches a fish;
- teach a man the idea of fishing, get a royalty payment every time he catches anything (use of idea in derived work..);
There must be an edu-startup killer trollable patent in there somewhere?!;-)