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'When you disagreed with Steve Jobs, you lost'

Plus: 'It's the biggest copyright blag in UK history'

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Quotw This was the week when Android updates started making their way very slowly to Samsung Galaxy S2s and HTC mobes.

And there was loads of chat about the imminent arrival of the new iPad, including the shock news that there would be shortages on the day of release. Gasp! (Fanbois were hurt in the making of this story).

This was also the week when Apple's problems with ebooks came into sharp relief as the US Department of Justice threatened to follow the European Commission's example and open up an investigation of the fruity firm and five major publishers.

Apple and publishing houses Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and Harper Collins are accused of acting together to fix the prices of ebooks and forcing Amazon to play with their ball.

EC antitrust head honcho Joaquin Almunia said there might be a way out for the firms, but if they wanted a deal, they'd better be prepared to make sacrifices.

The possibility of a settlement is only open if publishers are ready to address all our objections.

Robert Vidal, UK Head of Competition, EU and Trade at law firm Taylor Wessing, told The Register that to disprove the allegations, Apple and the publishers would have to prove that they didn't act together and outlined the repercussions for the companies if they're found guilty.

He said:

If they all came to the decision by themselves, their defence would stand, however the point is how likely is it that all the publishers independently came up with exactly the same strategy to basically stop Amazon from pricing its ebooks aggressively – most people would argue that it's unlikely.

And at the centre of it all were the words of Steve Jobs, as told to his biographer Walter Isaac, which are being pointed to as the smoking gun proving the collusion:

We told the publishers... you set the price, and we get our 30 per cent, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway.

[The publishers then] went to Amazon and said, 'You're going to sign an agency contract or we're not going to give you the books'.

In other Steve Jobs news, the father of modern email, Dr Nathaniel Borenstein told The Register on the anniversary of his invention of the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) protocol just why he turned down a job with Jobs, not once but twice.

He said:

I knew a lot of people who were happy to be his kids, but I knew a brilliant designer who left to go to IBM because when he found out that when you disagreed with Steve Jobs, you lost. I wouldn't have lasted.

Speaking of big personalities in the tech world, Megaupload kingpin Kim Dotcom was back in the news again this week, with his threats to reveal the supposedly many US government users of his outlawed file-sharing site.

Dotcom claimed:

Guess what – we found a large number of Mega accounts from US Government officials including the Department of Justice and the US Senate. I hope we will soon have permission to give them and the rest of our users access to their files.

Mozilla had to delay its update for Firefox as Microsoft issued six new patches on this month's Patch Tuesday, including one for a hole that Redmond warned could be hit any day now.

Microsoft's security research centre blog said:

We are not aware of any attacks in the wild. However, due to the attractiveness of this vulnerability to attackers, we anticipate that an exploit for code execution will be developed in the next 30 days.

Johnathan Nightingale, senior director of Firefox engineering said on the browser's blog:

In order to understand the impacts of Microsoft’s “Patch Tuesday” fixes, we will initially release Firefox for manual updates only. Once those impacts are understood, we’ll push automatic updates out to all of our users.

And Mozilla also said that it had started work on a Firefox port that will run in the Windows 8 classic desktop and the tablet-friendly Metro user interfaces.

The open-source foundation wants to make a Firefox that can supplant IE10 on machines running Windows 8.

Mozilla Firefox director Asa Dotzler blogged:

We should be able to build a single product, that when installed into the Classic environment via traditional means – a download from www.mozilla.org – will be able to become both the default browser in the Classic environment and in the new Metro environment. We'll, of course, have a Metro-specific front-end that fits in with the new environment, but we will not have to deploy two completely different browsers.

And here in Blighty, a nationwide school arts project has been vilified as the "biggest blag in the history of the UK".

The project requires kids to upload their self-portraits to Face Britain, a world record-breaking attempt to get the most artists working on the same art installation. Little do the budding Rembrandts know that they are surrendering their intellectual property rights when they hand over their pics.

Photographer and parent Justin Leighton told The Register he couldn't believe it when he saw the terms and conditions:

It's presented as a charitable endeavour to support the arts – but it does so by ripping off every artist who takes part.

It's the biggest copyright blag in the the history of the UK – it's IP theft on an industrial scale. I don't care if you're six or 60: you need to know your rights.

The foundation's boss, Jeremy Newton, protested that the project requires full rights in order to transform images for use on a composite projection of the Queen. But the fact that the foundation is also going to be making money from T-shirts and mugs with the paintings on them was an issue.

Newton said that 20 per cent of the profits would go to the foundation, and anything left over after production and distribution costs would go to the organisation's charitable works. ®

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