Echo

Avro Vs. Bijoy: Let Language Be Free  

Posted by Rezwan in , ,

The Bangla blogosphere and Bangladeshi Facebook users are infuriated with protests as 'Avro', a freeware and one of the popular and widely used Bangla input systems, was accused as a pirated version of another popular Bangla input system 'Bijoy' and the Avro team was mentioned as hackers.

In an article in a Bangla news daily, Mustafa Jabbar, the proprietor of Bijoy and a pioneer of Bangla computing said hackers were responsible for spreading pirated copies of his Bijoy software on the internet. He also said that UNDP had helped these hackers to be selected by the Bangladesh Election commission for their national database works.

It may be mentioned here that Bangladesh saw more than 20 proprietary Bangla input software from 1984 to 2002 and the most popular of them was Mustafa Jabbar's Bijoy during those days. Many developers worked on its various versions.

But the real boost in Bangla computing came when in 2003 Mehdi Hasan, a Bangladeshi medical student developed Avro, a free but closed source graphic keyboard layout changer, using Unicode which was further developed during last six years by Mehdi and his friends Rifatunnabi, Tanvin Islam Siam, Ryan Kamal, Shabab Mustafa and Nipun Haq.

Bijoy Ekusheyavro4splash

While Bijoy is a ASCII based proprietary Bangla input system software and is sold in exchange of license fees, Avro on the other hand is an Unicode based freeware which has in fact four input system with four keyboard layouts - Avro Phonetic, Bornona, National (Jatiyo) and UniBijoy. The Avro phonetic (or transliteration) input system is the most popular and widely used - especially by the diaspora who do not have access to a physical Bangla keyboard. Using the Avro phonetic transliteration system they can generate Bangla words from Roman typefaces with ease.

After the accusations of Mr. Jabbar the Bangla blogosphere reacted swiftly. Loken Bosh in Amar Bondhu blog challenged Mr. Jabbar to prove that Avro is a pirated software. He wrote:

কম্পিউটারে বাংলা লেখায় বিজয় মাইল ফলক হয়ে এসেছিলো। বিজয়ের অবদানকে অস্বীকার করার কিছু নেই। এখনো প্রফেশনাল প্রিন্টিংয়ের কাজে বিজয়ের বিকল্প নেই।

কিন্তু ইন্টারনেটের এই প্রসারের যুগে বিজয় ধীরে ধীরে অকেজো হয়ে যাচ্ছে। [..] তাই নতুন সময়ের দাবীতেই এলো অভ্র। মেহদী হাসান খান নামের এক তরুণ সম্পূর্ণ ব্যক্তিগত উদ্যোগে তৈরি করলেন অভ্র নামক একটি সফটওয়্যার। এবং যা তিনি বিনামূল্যে ছড়িয়ে দিলেন সমস্ত বিশ্বে। যে কেউ চাইলেই এই সফটওয়্যার ইন্টারনেট থেকে ডাউনলোড করে ব্যবহার করতে পারবেন।

অভ্রর জনপ্রিয়তা এখন আকাশচুম্বী। ধীরে ধীরে শুরু হয়ে গেছে বিজয় বর্জন। [..] মোস্তফা জব্বার শঙ্কিত। তাই এই মিথ্যাচার। নির্বাচন কমিশন যখন ভোটার আইডির কাজে বিজয় না ব্যবহার করে অভ্র ব্যবহার করলো, তখনই তার গাত্রদাহ প্রবল হয়েছিলো। [..] আর পাশাপাশি নিজের খ্যাতিকে কাজে লাগিয়ে চালিয়ে যাচ্ছেন অভ্রর বিরুদ্ধে মিথ্যাচার। আর এই করে করে তিনি নিজেই নিজেকে হাস্যকর প্রমাণ করছেন, আমাদের যেখানে উনাকে শ্রদ্ধা করার কথা ছিলো, সেখানে এখন তার প্রতি ঘৃণা তৈরি হচ্ছে।

Bijoy was a milestone for Bangla Computing. There is nothing to belittle Bijoy's contribution. Even today there is no option for Bijoy in the print industry (Unicode Bangla is not supported in Photoshop).

But in this era of Internet Bijoy is lagging behind. [..] So Avro came with a promise. A young man named Mehdi Hasan created Avro on his own. And he spread it across the globe via internet. Anyone can download the software and use it (for free).

The popularity of Avro is now sky high. Many people are not using Bijoy anymore. [..] Mustafa Jabbar is afraid. When the Election commission chose Avro instead of Bijoy for their voter ID project, he was infuriated with Avro. [..] So he is using his popularity to spread allegations against Avro. And he has created himself a laughing stock. Where we were supposed to revere him, hatred against him is being generated.

Avronil informs in Sachalayatan:

বাংলাদেশের ইতিহাসে এই পর্যন্ত বাংলায় ডিজিটাল তথ্য সংগ্রহের সব চাইতে বড় প্রকল্প 'ভোটার তালিকা ও জাতীয় পরিচয়পত্র প্রস্তুতকরণ' প্রকল্পে অভ্র ব্যবহার করা হয়েছিল। তাদের প্রথম পছন্দ বিজয় হলেও বিজয়ের প্রস্তুতকারক কম্পানি বিজয়ের জন্য কম্পিউটার প্রতি পাঁচ হাজার টাকা লাইসেন্স ফি চেয়েছিল যা পরে বাতিল করে দিয়ে অভ্র ব্যবহারের সিদ্ধান্ত নেয়া হয়। এ জন্য নির্বাচন কমিশনের অভ্রকে দেয়া একটা স্বীকৃতিমুলক সনদের জন্য একটা কাগজ আর সামান্য কালি ছাড়া আর কিছুই খরচ করতে হয় নি।

The Voter ID and National ID project, the largest digital database project in Bangladesh's history, used Avro. Their first choice was Bijoy, but its proprietor company asked Taka 5000 (US$70) license fee for each computer, so they have decided to use Avro instead. In return they only had to give a certificate to Avro.

The claim of Mr. Jabbar is that UniBijoy keyboard system, one of the four keyboards in Avro, is a pirated version of his Bijoy keyboard layout which he copyrighted a few years ago. Here is what Mehdi Hasan Khan responded to Mr. Jabbar:

মোস্তফা জব্বার তার লেখায় ঢালাওভাবে পুরো অভ্র কীবোর্ডকেই "পাইরেটেড" হিসেবে অভিযুক্ত করেছেন। মজার ব্যাপার হল, মানুষজন অভ্র কীভাবে পাইরেটেড প্রশ্নটা করে তাকে চেপে ধরার পর তিনি বললেন অভ্র নিয়ে তার আপত্তি নেই, অভ্রতে ইউনিবিজয় নামে যে কীবোর্ড লেআউট আছে ঐটা তার বিজয় লেআউট থেকে চুরি করা। চমৎকার, আসুন দেখি কী করলে একটা কপিরাইটেড/পেটেন্ডেড লেআউট (অথবা সেটার প্রয়োগ) এ আমরা চুরির অভিযোগ দিতে পারি।

১) অবিকল লেআউট স্বত্বাধিকারীর অনুমতি ছাড়া ব্যবহার করলে:

অনুমতির প্রসঙ্গ যখন উঠলই তখন বলি, ২০০৩ সালে অভ্র ডেভেলপের পরিকল্পনা করার সময় আমি ফোনে মোস্তফা জব্বারের কাছে বিজয় লেআউট ব্যবহারের অনুমতি চেয়েছিলাম। তিনিও তার জবাব জানিয়ে দিয়েছিলেন, তাকে টাকা না দিলে তিনি অনুমতি দিবেন না। বেশ ভালো কথা, আমিও বিজয় কীবোর্ড অভ্রর সাথে দেইনি। [..] ইউনিবিজয় আর বিজয় কোনদিনই এক কীবোর্ড লেআউট ছিল না, এখনও নেই। যেখানে একটা কী এর পার্থক্য একটা আলাদা লেআউটের জন্ম দেয়, ইউনিবিজয়ের সাথে বিজয়ের সেখানে অন্তত ৮ টি কীতে পার্থক্য রয়েছে।

২) ফিজিক্যাল লেআউট অনুমতি ছাড়া বিতরণ করলেঃ
প্রশ্নই আসে না। অভ্র কীবোর্ড একটা সফটওয়্যার মাত্র, এর সাথে বিজয় লেআউট ছাপানো কোন কীবোর্ড আমরা বিতরণ করি না।

৩) কীবোর্ড ইন্টারফেস প্রোগ্রামের কোড অনুমতি ছাড়া ব্যবহার করলেঃ
আবারো বলি, এই পয়েন্টও খাটে না। বিজয় ক্লোজড সোর্স, সেটার সোর্স থেকে অভ্র ডেভেলপ করা সম্ভব না। কীভাবে বিজয় হ্যাক করে অভ্র বানানো হল তার ব্যাখ্যা আপনার কাছে দাবী করছি।

avro keyboard layout

Mustafa Jabbar has accused the whole Avro software as 'pirated'. The interesting thing is when people ask him how Avro is pirated then he says I don't have problem with Avro, but the Unibijoy layout is stolen from Bijoy. Ok. lets see how we can accuse violation of a copyrighted or patented layout:

1) If the clone of the layout is used without permission.

When the question of permission came I called Mr. Jabbar in 2003 when I was planning to build Avro for his permission to use Bijoy. He answered that he will not give permission without a fee. So I did not use the Bijoy keyboard with the (open source) Avro. UniBijoy and Bijoy were never the same keyboard layout, not even now. Where only one key difference creates a different layout, there are a difference of 8 keys between Unijoy and Bijoy.

2) If the physical layout is sold without permission
We never did! Avro input system is just a software. We do not sell any physical keyboard with Bijoy layout.

3) If the code of the Keyboard interface is reused without the permission of the programmer.

I say again, this point does not stand out. Bijoy is a closed source program. Avro cannot be developed from that source code. So how Bijoy was hacked to create Avro - I demand an explanation.

Read his post for detailed explanations and peoples' supports in the comment section.

Zahid Sumon in Projukti Forum detailed the differences between UniBjioy and Bijoy. Here are a few points:

* অভ্রতে জব্বার সাহেবের একটি ফন্টও কাজ করে না। তাই অভ্র ফন্ট পাইরেসী থেকে মুক্ত। সে সর্বদাই ইউনিকোড বেজড মুক্ত ফন্ট এর উপর নির্ভরশীল।
* অভ্রের লিনাক্স ভার্সন রয়েছে কিন্তু বিজয় শুধুমাত্র ম্যাক ও উইন্ডোজে চলে।


* In Avro no fonts of Bijoy software works. So Avro is free from piracy. It is always based on free unicode fonts.
* Avro has also a linux version. But Bijoy runs only in Windows and Mac.

Renowned wikipedian Ragib hasan writes in a comment on Mehdi's article:

২০০৬ এ যখন বাংলা উইকির কাজ শুরু করি, তখন বাংলা টাইপিং এ অভ্যস্ত ছিলাম না মোটেও। আমাদের উইকির কর্মী যারা আছেন, তাঁদের প্রায় সবাইই বাংলা লিখতে শিখেছেন অভ্র ফোনেটিকে। আজ বাংলা উইকিতে ২০,০০০ ভুক্তি আছে, যার প্রায় সবটাই লেখা হয়েছে অভ্র দিয়ে। আগামী প্রজন্মের কাছে বাংলায় তথ্য রেখে যাওয়ার এই প্রয়াসে অভ্র তাই রেখেছে এক বিশাল অবদান।

When I started work on Bangla wiki in 2006, then I was not conversant with Bangla typing. Most of our Bangla wiki volunteers learned to type in Bangla using Avro Phonetic. Today there are 20,000 entries in Bangla Wikipedia and most of them were written using Avro. So Avro has a huge contribution in leaving the next generation a large collection of Bangla content in the internet.

Bangladeshi netizens are showing their support towards Avro in Facebook and blogs. It is unforeseen that three Bangla blogging platforms Sachalayatan, Amar Blog and Amar Bondhu had changed their banner to Avro Logo to show their support in protesting Mr. Jabbar's claims.

People are creating groups in Facebook and changing their Facebook statuses in solidarity with Avro. Here are a couple of status messages:

নজরুল ইসলাম ভাষা হোক উন্মুক্ত। কোনো বেনিয়ার কাছে আমার মাতৃভাষাকে ইজারা দেবো না... কক্ষণো না

Nazrul Islam Let language be free. I will not lease my language to any profiteer.. never.

অমি রহমান পিয়াল: রক্ত দিয়ে যে অক্ষর কিনেছি তার জণ্যে যে বেনিয়া টাকা খোঁজে তাকে ধিক্কার। ভাষা হোক উন্মুক্ত।

Omi Rahman Pial: We have bought our language with blood. Shame to those who wants to make profit from it. Let language be free.

(First published in Global Voices Online)

This entry was posted on April 21, 2010 at Wednesday, April 21, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

12 comments

Mezba  

Without knowing much about the dispute the comments by some supporters seem typical of Bangladeshis - emotion without logic. As a software developer I support the right of software writers to make money from their software. Everytime someone writes a book in Bangla they are profiting from the Bengali language.

Yes, Avro had a better business model (perhaps - if its intent was market share)  and it succeeded over Bijoy. But shame on those who are against a software developer from making a profit from his product.
Mezba
http://mezba.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 2:41:00 PM
rezwan  

Mezba, The main issue is not about software or literature which are intellectual properties. The debate is that Mr. Jabbar has copyrighted his Bijoy keyboard which was designed from the old Munir keyboard layout. Mr. Munir did not want any copyright for that. There are more than 20 recognised Bangla keyboard layouts out there but only one is copyrighted.

In 2006 I bought a Bangla keyboard for Tk. 250 which was similar to Bijoy but not quite. 2009 when I wanted to buy a thin one for portable use (which I saw in a relative's house) I found that it was out of market. When I inquired about it they said now every keyboard has to have a logo of Bijoy (and pay Mr. Jabbar)- because Bangla keyboard is copyrighted. Then I bought a Big size keyboard with Bijoy logo on it with Tk. 430 (some are more costly which comes with the Bijoy cd).

I do not use Bijoy input system but different systems - like UniBjioy, Somewherein Unijoy or sometimes phonetic. The layouts I use are all different from Bijoy. So why should I buy Bijoy keyboard and pay Mr. Jabbar? Unfortunately we have let him profit out of our ignorance. In India iNSCRIPT is the only standard for all the Indic languages. But you cannot find one single keyboard with iNSCRIPT printed on them by default and nobody claims royalty for it.

I have nothing against Bijoy. Those who wants to use it (especially the printing industry) can of course use it. But its about freedom to choose. Why the shops in Bangladesh cannot sell Bangla keyboards which are a little different from Bijoy layout?

Christopher Latham Sholes created Qwerty keyboard in 1840. How would you feel when one day somebody comes and patent it and all other deviations of keyborads (QWERTZ) etc are not available? Now do those comments from supporters sound the same as before?

If you look at business context - its not about business models. Its about product life cycle. Bijoy is in a declining phase. It should now diversify or make new innovations to match growing demands - (like typing Bangla in Facebook using Linux). Instead Mr. Jabbar is trying to monopolize the market with unethical means. Logically even one key change constitutes a different keyboard layout. So you can have thousands of combinations -Mr. Jabbar only has right to his specific Bijoy layout. He has decided to intimidate the Avro team by naming them hackers (if it was US he would have been sued for baseless allegations) and terming Avro as pirated. Avro never had a business model from what I fathom. It is just another option, never was set to defeat Bijoy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:19:00 PM
rezwan  

Mezba, The main issue is not about software or literature which are intellectual properties. The debate is that Mr. Jabbar has copyrighted his Bijoy keyboard which was designed from the old Munir keyboard layout. Mr. Munir did not want any copyright for that. There are more than 20 recognised Bangla keyboard layouts out there but only one is copyrighted.

In 2006 I bought a Bangla keyboard for Tk. 250 which was similar to Bijoy but not quite. 2009 when I wanted to buy a thin one for portable use (which I saw in a relative's house) I found that it was out of market. When I inquired about it they said now every keyboard has to have a logo of Bijoy (and pay Mr. Jabbar)- because Bangla keyboard is copyrighted. Then I bought a Big size keyboard with Bijoy logo on it with Tk. 430 (some are more costly which comes with the Bijoy cd).

I do not use Bijoy input system but different systems - like UniBjioy, Somewherein Unijoy or sometimes phonetic. The layouts I use are all different from Bijoy. So why should I buy Bijoy keyboard and pay Mr. Jabbar? Unfortunately we have let him profit out of our ignorance. In India iNSCRIPT is the only standard for all the Indic languages. But you cannot find one single keyboard with iNSCRIPT printed on them by default and nobody claims royalty for it.

I have nothing against Bijoy. Those who wants to use it (especially the printing industry) can of course use it. But its about freedom to choose. Why the shops in Bangladesh cannot sell Bangla keyboards which are a little different from Bijoy layout?

Christopher Latham Sholes created Qwerty keyboard in 1840. How would you feel when one day somebody comes and patent it and all other deviations of keyborads (QWERTZ) etc are not available? Now do those comments from supporters sound the same as before?

If you look at business context - its not about business models. Its about product life cycle. Bijoy is in a declining phase. It should now diversify or make new innovations to match growing demands - (like typing Bangla in Facebook using Linux). Instead Mr. Jabbar is trying to monopolize the market with unethical means. Logically even one key change constitutes a different keyboard layout. So you can have thousands of combinations -Mr. Jabbar only has right to his specific Bijoy layout. He has decided to intimidate the Avro team by naming them hackers (if it was US he would have been sued for baseless allegations) and terming Avro as pirated. Avro never had a business model from what I fathom. It is just another option, never was set to defeat Bijoy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:19:00 PM
Anonymous  

If you got the idea that people are rallying against software developers making a profit from their product, then either you read it wrong or you read one of those few people's comment who are on the wrong track.

The issue here is about Mr. Jabbar trying to make a profit by placing baseless allegations against Avro solely because of his loss due to having a free software out there that can compete (but was never created to 'compete') his product. He is using his connections and his image to establish a lie for profit. This behaviour is clearly unethical both from a business and an engineering point of view. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 9:59:00 PM
Sakib bin Sharif  

I stand for the motto : "Let Language be Free"
i do not support Mr. Jabbar... neither do avro. But what Mr. Jabbar has done is completely insense.. and as a software developer i hate him personally.1st of all he is the man- creating obstacles all the time till today to estublish a unique layout for BENGALI Keyboard.. whenever this subject is projected he always rose his BIJOY .. never think about the nation. . about the future..  for a new beginner who wants to learn bengali typing has to go through his critical keyboard layout and has to memorize it.. for this reason majority of the new generation always reject his BIJOY layout and then Mr. Jabbar just pushed the opportunity of being unified away...

It should really be ashamed of as software giant like microsoft rejected/did not take/get any keyboard layout to integrate in their products.. they took the layout of West Bengal....

from my point of view Mr. Jabbar is solely responsible for that. it is because he was the incharge ICC of bangladesh that time (till today) and he used his power for unethical business.. he tried to push his bijoy to the world as the universal layout .. but didn't try to call the ICT Community to seat and hand over a a research basaed and quick to learn - easy to use type layout..
and that is why we are where fighting like cats and dogs- biting our flesh for WHO VS WHO like compitition..

obviously avro carries a big support of young generation as they provide phonetic layout which is much more easier to learn and to use but again avro does not have any support for printing and publication media ... as Avro is also a closed source software we the developer community can not help to research and to update it for printing media  so that it could be used evrywhere....

If the Logo is "LET LANGUAGE BE FREE" then i would say YES LET LANGUAGE BE FREE... Hand over it to evryone to open it .. to develop it.. to use it... to update it...

YOU CAN NOT SAY 'LET LANGUAGE BE FREE' with a Closed Source software... what if one day avro will charge you to use it ???? Surely it might be.. Cause it is a closed Source... and anytime there is a chance to let it be closed for free distribution....

SO LET LANGUAGE BE FREE... FREE IT ... MEAN IT... SET IT FREE...

Thursday, April 22, 2010 3:18:00 PM
Sakib bin Sharif  

I stand for the motto : "Let Language be Free"
i do not support Mr. Jabbar... neither do avro. But what Mr. Jabbar has done is completely insense.. and as a software developer i hate him personally.1st of all he is the man- creating obstacles all the time till today to estublish a unique layout for BENGALI Keyboard.. whenever this subject is projected he always rose his BIJOY .. never think about the nation. . about the future..  for a new beginner who wants to learn bengali typing has to go through his critical keyboard layout and has to memorize it.. for this reason majority of the new generation always reject his BIJOY layout and then Mr. Jabbar just pushed the opportunity of being unified away...

It should really be ashamed of as software giant like microsoft rejected/did not take/get any keyboard layout to integrate in their products.. they took the layout of West Bengal....

from my point of view Mr. Jabbar is solely responsible for that. it is because he was the incharge ICC of bangladesh that time (till today) and he used his power for unethical business.. he tried to push his bijoy to the world as the universal layout .. but didn't try to call the ICT Community to seat and hand over a a research basaed and quick to learn - easy to use type layout..
and that is why we are where fighting like cats and dogs- biting our flesh for WHO VS WHO like compitition..

obviously avro carries a big support of young generation as they provide phonetic layout which is much more easier to learn and to use but again avro does not have any support for printing and publication media ... as Avro is also a closed source software we the developer community can not help to research and to update it for printing media  so that it could be used evrywhere....

If the Logo is "LET LANGUAGE BE FREE" then i would say YES LET LANGUAGE BE FREE... Hand over it to evryone to open it .. to develop it.. to use it... to update it...

YOU CAN NOT SAY 'LET LANGUAGE BE FREE' with a Closed Source software... what if one day avro will charge you to use it ???? Surely it might be.. Cause it is a closed Source... and anytime there is a chance to let it be closed for free distribution....

SO LET LANGUAGE BE FREE... FREE IT ... MEAN IT... SET IT FREE...

Thursday, April 22, 2010 3:22:00 PM
Mezba  

Rezwan, no argument against your points but I had issue with some of the comments - especially "Let Language be Free" - what does it even mean?

Any Bangla keyboard made by anyone if not following the Bijoy model is not breaking Bijoy's layout as per my understanding of copyright.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 4:53:00 PM
rezwan  

<span>"Let Language be Free" - means to stop the claim of Mustafa Jabbar that his Bijoy is used by 99% users and all similar layouts like Unijoy, UniBijoy are pirated (thus putting a stop to those freewares available to millions of Bengalis across the world)- and the claim that he does have the sole right on Bangla keyboard. More debates on the keyboard layout is here:</span>
http://www.sachalayatan.com/mukit_tohoku/31714

I think Bangladesh government need to step in and standardize one keyboard layout (like US 101) for the country - for which no individual will receive profit - we have none!

Saturday, April 24, 2010 9:48:00 PM
Anonymous  

I'll have to voice my support for avro. I'm a heavy computer and all along I never had the guts to type Bangla; Bijoy was sluggish and the keyboard was tough to learn. Now that there's a software out there that allows a layman like me to confidently write my one language, why should I be barred from using it? All I think is that Mr. Jabbar is daunted by the fact there's competitor out there threatening his monopoly and he is now resorting to baseless allegations to defame it. And even if it is about profit rather than ethics, why isn't the 'expert' of bangla keyboard layout trying to improve the Bijoy so that it would be worthwhile pay tk 5000 for license instead of getting a freeware? After all, isn't counter-competition how a reputable firm should behave.

Friday, May 14, 2010 7:13:00 PM
tamanna  

hi can u help me?
with my bijoy key board.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 10:18:00 PM
সিফাত হোসেন  

ভাষা উন্মুক্ত হবেই.......

Sunday, June 13, 2010 1:09:00 PM

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