CAAST/BSA/etc

Reports from or about the Business Software Alliance (BSA), Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST) and other regional lobbyists for the legacy "software manufacturing" methods of creation, distribution and funding of software.

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.

Canada still counted among countries with lowest "piracy" rate

An ITWorldCanada article by Nestor E. Arellano talks about the latest BSA study.

An open source software advocate in Canada, however, expressed doubts over this survey method.

"I believe CAAST considers the installation of open source software as piracy and is uses this to skew survey results in their favour," said Russell McOrmond, policy coordinator for the Canadian Linux Users Exchange (CLUE), Ottawa.

Also published in Canadian Dealer News.

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.

New BSA/CAAST study indicates 34% of Canadian computer users were not their customers in 2006.

According to a press release from CAAST/BSA, approximately 34% of the software Canadians are using doesn't result in royalty payments to BSA members. What isn't disclosed or even accounted for in these studies due to the poor methodology is how much of that is perfectly legal use of FLOSS and how much is infringement of BSA member copyright. I know that all of the desktops I own count as part of the 34%, and I don't infringe the copyright of BSA members.

Latest version of CAAST amnesty promotion.

I was just called by Kathleen Lau at ITBusiness.ca about the latest version of the CAAST amnesty promotion. I suggested, and was quoted in her article, that this campaign is aimed not at reducing copyright infringement, but reducing migrations to competing software.

Some past links:

Analysis: Microsoft's Vista Sales Claims Don't Add Up

A Microsoft Watch article by Joe Wilcox describes how Microsoft's alleged sales figures for Vista are inflated. It seems that their sales figures are about as accurate as their so-called "piracy" statistics.

Whether for public relations or political reasons, it seems that playing with numbers is all too common for these legacy vendors.

Microsoft's Jeff Raikes says : If you must pirate, use counterfeit Windows

Confirming what our community has been saying for years, a Register article references Microsoft business group president Jeff Raikes as stating that "If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else".

To summarize the hierarchy of what Microsoft wants.

  • Use and pay for their software
  • Use but not pay for their software (infringe copyright)

What Microsoft does not want to ever happen is that people switch to competing software, especially legal royalty-free FLOSS software such as Linux, OpenOffice.org or Mozilla.org.

UK schools and secret pricing for software?

While it is sometimes controversial when I state that the underlying source code to all software should be accountable and transparent to its users, I hope there is no controversy in stating that the prices that public sector entities (including schools) are paying must be public. A Register article discusses this issue focused on the UK, although I believe the problem is similar in Canada.

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) has signed a secrecy clause with Microsoft which prevents it from disclosing the prices schools are paying for software licences.

Figures released by the Department for Education and Skills show that in 2005-06 schools spent £615m on ICT, including Microsoft products. But when Conservative MP Brooks Newmark asked the government for details of purchasing agreements with Microsoft, schools minister Jim Knight said the information is confidential.

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