Free/Libre and Open Source Software

Google Keeps Close Eye on Open Source

eWeek has a good Q&A with Chris DiBona, a programs manager for Google, talks about how the company uses open-source software and what it contributes to the open-source community.

They also have a good Q&A with James Gosling, the father of Java, about the open-sourcing of Java.

Mark Shuttleworth : Microsoft is not the real threat

Mark Shuttleworth posts a BLOG article where he offers his opinion that Microsoft is not the real threat (to Linux and FLOSS), but that a broken patent system is. I agree and disagree with him. I agree that the patent system is the problem, but to blame governments alone and claim the lobbiest (IBM, Microsoft, etc) who pushed for software patentability are innocent misses the point. Governments can only react to information that they are given, and extremists from the legal community and BSA members are why software is patentable. Yes, we need to get political, but need to realize that the legal departments of companies like IBM and Microsoft are our political opponents, not the government.

The unemployment myth and open source

Dana Blankenhorn has another interesting ZDNet BLOG article about FLOSS. He talks about how there is a myth that FLOSS relies on unemployed workers. He doesn't go as far I normally do which is to point out that while vendor-controlled (AKA: proprietary, "software manufacturing", etc) software only harnesses specialized private sector vendors, FLOSS harnesses all aspects of the economy (public, volunteer, education, both traditional private sector users and producers, etc) as participants in creating and improving FLOSS.

Correcting misinformation "statistics" from BSA/CAAST whenever we see it.

I believe we need to send in letters to the editor whenever we see a media outlet simply republishing the so-called "piracy studies" from BSA/CAAST. The following is a letter I wrote to CBC this morning in reply to their article Software piracy rates steady but losses grow in 2006: study.

CIO Magazine: Microsoft Patents: The New McCarthyism

An article by Bernard Golden for CIO Magazine draws a parallel between McCarthy's bullying charges and Microsoft's latest claim that they have evidence that there are 235 patent violations against them in certain open source products.

Moglen goes all Democratic on Microsoft

While I don't buy the partisan suggestions of this article by Dana Blankenhorn (The DMCA was passed under the Democrats), I do believe that the software patent and digital copyright debate between Microsoft/BSA and the larger software sector is getting more and more political.

Moglen put his answer in terms of a theoretical, a company with patents "of uncertain validity, but in large numbers, which it could conceivably use to scare developers and users." He described Microsoft's strategy as a "Be Very Afraid" tour, making it sound like Bush Administration officials engaged in broadcasting terror alerts.

Is it the Software Freedom Law Center's (SFLC) controlling the US software patent debate?

Some BLOG articles have been wondering what happened recently to make Microsoft re-re-re-announce their claim that various FLOSS projects infringe on their patents. A few ideas have come to my mind about a plausible explanation. Beyond the obvious problem that Microsoft has of the massive growth in the FLOSS marketplace, and the inability of incumbent vendors to compete against a marketplace that harnesses far more software developers, there have been some key article and legal activities.

In the United States, it was a lower court that expanded patent law to allow software patents to be granted. It will take either another court case to overturn this bad precedent or action by the US government to change this. Maybe a software patent lawsuit against FLOSS projects is exactly what is needed to eradicate software patents entirely.

Jack Kapica: Property and piracy

Globe and Mail columnist Jack Kapica posted a BLOG article wrote an article about a Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network study, suggesting it is less that credible. He remarked on how people like myself have been questioning the credibility of their statistical methods for years, and their inability to accurately estimate the demand for software produced and distributed using competing methodologies such as FLOSS.

'You don't scare us', free software proponents tell Microsoft

An ITWorldCanada article by Nestor E. Arellano quotes me talking about how Microsoft's claims about FLOSS projects infringing their patents are unlikely to amount to anything in the long term.

Microsoft patent threat: U.N. resolution violations by the ‘Axis of Good’.

A BLOG posting by Pramit Singh has an interesting spin. While listing the regular reasons why the threat isn't very credable, he starts with the following.

Microsoft says that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents, followed by Linux GUIs which violate 65 patents, Open Office suite violates 45 patents, E-mail programs violate 5, the remaining 68 violations being done by other popular FOSS programs, for a grand total of 255 violations.

Sob...poor company

Sure it reads like a list of U.N. resolution violations by the ‘Axis of Good’.

...

If the issue comes out in the open, the tireless open source programmers would soon get their hands on all the alleged infringements and hack around them.

So, will Microsoft win against the ‘Axis of Good’?
I think not.

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