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.

Open Letter: Questions about Microsoft Corp. "Intellectual Property"

(Also carried by p2pnet)
People will have read by now that Microsoft is alleging that Linux is infringing some undisclosed "intellectual property" from Microsoft. This is part of their larger rhetoric against FLOSS, and it is important for people to realize that there is little substance to what Microsoft is claiming. This is based entirely on Microsoft's ideological belief in marginal-cost based business models for knowledge.

LXer, a Linux news site, sent an Open Letter to Microsoft. In it there were a number of questions.

I believe the community already knows the answers, and I am publishing my own.

Piracy stats don't add up

An AustralianIT article by Simon Hayes includes:

The draft of the institute's intellectual property crime report, sighted by The Australian shows that copyright owners "failed to explain" how they reached financial loss statistics used in lobbying activities and court cases.

Figures for 2005 from the global Business Software Association showing $361 million a year of lost sales in Australia are "unverified and epistemologically unreliable", the report says.

Red Hat: We will be here in one year, Novell will not

A SearchOpenSource article by Jack Loftus offers some positive thoughts from Red Hat general counsel Mark Webbink on what he calls 'Microvell', the partnership between Microsoft and Novell which is spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about patent based lawsuits against Linux and other FLOSS.

This is not about IP. This is about the freedom to meet customer needs and to create competition. That problem is, you can be either for freedom and collaboration, or you can take a different approach. These companies are trying to do both. I can at least respect Microsoft, because they don't pretend to be an open source company.

More discussion in CLUE's general forum.

Sookman clouds over number of issues: Geist and 2 related letters

This October 30th, 2006 issue of the Hill Times includes 3 letters to the editor in response to Canadian Recording Industry Association lobbyist Barry Sookman's opinion piece titled "Copyright reform: let the light shine in". His article was itself in response to a previous Hill Times opinion piece by Michael Geist titled "The Parallel Politics of the Environment and Copyright".

Please see Michael Geist thoughts on his BLOG, and an article titled "CRIA lobbyist Barry Sookman" on p2pnet.

Article temporarily removed

I have temporarily removed an article that was a letter to the editor of the Hill Times. While they have no problem with people self-publishing their letters, it was inappropriate for me to put it on my site ahead of when they publish in their weekly newspaper.

The Hill Times regular circulation represents an important audience for this area of policy. I will be ensuring I do not pre-publish in the future. I apologize to the Hill Times for my error in self-publishing too soon.

Vista's new security feature ‘undermines user rights’

This ITWorldCanada article by Nestor E. Arellano includes:

Microsoft Corp.'s new anti-piracy feature for its yet-to-be-released Windows Vista and Longhorn operating systems (OS) runs the risk of undermining ownership and privacy rights of computer users, according to two Canadian privacy advocacy groups.

My interview with Nestor focused on the general concept of DRM (use of technical measures to ensure that the owner of the computer is not in control of their own computer), and not on the so-called "anti-piracy" features of newer Microsoft operating systems. I don't know how new the Vista/Loghorn system is, given it sounds similar to what Apple uses to authorize devices capable of accessing iTunes managed multimedia.

Toronto firm fined for unlicensed software use : Move sparks piracy debate

This IT World Canada article by Nestor E. Arellano includes:

The anti-piracy body acted within its rights in leveling fines, but its actions exhibit a failure to adjust to technology and economic trends, according to Russell McOrmond, policy coordinator of CLUE (The Canadian Association for Open Source). CLUE promotes the use and development of free and open-source software.

"CAAST's problem is not the lawlessness of their customers, but their own failure to embrace new business models suited to the Internet era," said McOrmond.

U.S. 'lobbied' the EC over Microsoft fine..

An article by Richard Thurston, Special to CNET News.com, includes:

The U.S. government sought to influence the European Commission over Microsoft's antitrust case, according to Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Kroes said the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, had asked her to be "nicer" to Microsoft ahead of her decision to fine the software giant 280 million euros ($357 million) in July.

A look at the bigger picture tells us more. Many of these antitrust problems have their roots in governments granting too strong rights in the form of copyrights and patents. Rather than protecting creativity or innovation, recent changes have had the root intent of lessening competition by creating platform monopolies (so-called "anti-circumvention" in copyright law) or other excessive monopolies (patents on manipulations of intangibles such as information processes, which by their nature have no marginal cost).

Vista launch estimated to cost European economy $40 billion

A Reuters article discusses a study that Microsoft hired IDC to do that discusses the estimated costs associated with the roll-out of their Vista operating system.

I have always found press releases from the Business Software Alliance to be interesting, given they seem to exist in an alternate reality than the rest of us. For everyone but these single vendors their products represent costs of doing business, and thus need to be put on the expenses side of the economic analysis. When they include the losses to retail channels when people use software that doesn't go through the retail channel, they have always tried to suggest that this increased efficiency is a loss to the economy. This is the same mindset that thinks that war, natural disasters and disease are good things as they all cost massive amounts of money (to cause and to clean up).

Man in USA gets 7 years for "software piracy"

An article by Steven Musil, Staff Writer, CNET News.com offers the same confusion that many articles on this topic do. It talks about a man sentenced to 7 years for for-profit commercial copyright infringement, and ends with the questionable statistics from the BSA that relate to the alleged "losses" due to copyright infringement generally. Those losses are not from for-profit copyright infringement, and given how bad their statistical methods are we aren't even sure how much of it is from infringement at all. Their methods don't adequately differentiate between copyright infringement and people switching to competing methods such as Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS).

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