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.

What is "Software Manufacturing"

In the FLOSS community you often see people referring to software using other methodologies such as what Microsoft does as non-FLOSS or proprietary. While that might work for those in the FLOSS community, I have always felt that it is better to try to refer to a community not by what outsiders would call them but what insiders call themselves. This keeps conversations at a much more friendly and respectable tone.

Microsoft's Linux overture: More sizzle, less steak

This Globe and Mail article by Shane Schick includes:

Evan Leibovitch is co-founder of the Linux Professional Institute and executive director of the Canadian Association for Open Source. He characterized Microsoft's Virtual Server move as a bunch of hoopla over nothing.

"What benefit does a business -- especially a small business that basically uses the computer as a tool like a cash register -- get from running two different platforms?" he asks. "What happens is, the administrator has more work to manage the virtual environment and play traffic cop between them. Virtualization may be good fashion for the vendors, but that doesn't mean the customers have to run after them."

Advocates of non-proprietary software find the ultimate comeback for Microsoft

This ITBusiness.ca article by Shane Schick includes:

It is a real sign of the open source community’s maturity that it can pitch something like OpenOffice on the basis of protecting customers from Microsoft’s piracy police and its complex licensing agreements. Less than two years ago, Microsoft reacted to SCO’s prosecution of various Linux companies by insisting its products were safe from litigation. Now it’s the open source firms that are promising protection, but of an altogether more common form of prosecution.

Re: Canada faces IP shortfall in the face of piracy: panel

The following letter to the editor was published by ITBusiness.ca

Re: Canada faces IP shortfall in the face of piracy: panel (April 10)

The panel was entirely of proponents of the “software manufacturing” methods of production, distribution and funding. Their proposals were unsurprisingly aimed at benefiting these old-economy models from competition and the transformative changes underway in the software marketplace.

Proposals include making enforcement of legacy business models against competitors cheaper, as well as making copyright “stronger” and “longer,” which only protects the interests of the incumbent copyright holders over the interests of future creators and innovators. The claim is always that they want to “update” copyright laws, but then give a laundry list of proposals which protect only the interests of the status-quo business models (whether used by old companies or by some young “prodigy” -- or is that Microsoft protégé?)

How to get Vista back on track: open source it

An article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols suggests:

If Microsoft really wants to make Vista a great desktop operating system, it should open-source it.

I'll bet you think I'm being sarcastic. I'm not. I'm quite serious.

Vista is a mess. I know it. Windows experts know it. Even Microsoft's own aren't happy with it.

There are a variety of hybrid business models which allow the core operating system to benefit from the open scientific peer review benefits of OpenSource, while still allowing things like the look-and-feel to be a "secret sauce". This is what Apples does with MacOS-X, and with Apple going head-to-head with Microsoft on Intel platforms (currently only on Intel Mac hardware, but that will change soon enough), Microsoft may have to modernize their software development processes to not fall too much further behind the marketplace.

China president at Gates house, not White House

This Reuters article includes:

SEATTLE--The first lavish dinner of China President Hu Jintao's historic visit to the United States next week will be in a big, secure house in Washington where the host is one of the world's most powerful men.

The White House? No.

It won't be in Washington D.C., but Seattle, and the Tuesday dinner will be held at the $100 million lakeside mansion of Microsoft founder and the world's richest man, Bill Gates.

The approximately 100-person guest list is a who's who of the U.S. Pacific Northwest power elite, including Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz and Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, said event organizers.

Non-news: Software manufacturers want to protect software manufacturing from competition.

Two articles today about a one-sided round table discussion on intellectual property rights sponsored by Microsoft Canada. (See ITWorld Canada and ITBusiness.ca). The panel was entirely of proponents of the "Software manufacturing" methods of production, distribution and funding. Their proposals were unsurprisingly aimed at benefiting these old-economy models against competition and the transformative changes under-way in the software marketplace.

Proposals include making enforcement of legacy business models against competitors cheaper, as well as making copyright "stronger" and "longer" which only protects the interests of the incumbent copyright holders over the interests of future creators and innovators. The claim is always that they want to "update" copyright laws, but then give a laundry list of proposals which protect only the interests of the status-quo business models (whether used by old companies or by some young "prodigy" -- or is that Microsoft protege).

The uninformed comments about the "private copying" regime were amusing, given it is the same model (statutory licensing) which legalized the recording industry, commercial radio and the cable companies.

Comparing apples-to-toasters: how big is the FLOSS marketplace?

(Also published on p2pnet)

I was reading an interview that ITBusiness.ca gave of Novell CEO Jack Messman which spoke about their ongoing migration to the FLOSS marketplace. It made me think about the transformative changes happening in the larger software marketplace.

One of the statistics that people like to hear about with FLOSS is the size of the marketplace, seeking to compare it with the incumbent "software manufacturing" marketplace (sometimes called "proprietary software"). The problem is, while it is easy for our "software manufacturing" competitors to count boxes and claim that the retail channel is also part of their value-add (See the "piracy statistics" that claim declines in the legacy distribution channels are also a cost of their aleged "infringement"). They are counting how much "money making" that the vendors and distributors are doing, and ignore the larger marketplace that includes the users of that software.

A tale of two competitions...

I have a theory when it comes to what is happening in France, and I am looking for feedback.

In the pay-per-download music marketplace there are really only a few groups of competitors: Apples "FairPlay", sites using the Microsoft DRM (Puretracks, Napster, etc, etc), sites using RealNetworks or other obscure DRM, and DRM-free files. The bill makes clear that compatibility with DRM-free files will not be offered, since converting to a DRM-free file has excessive penalties.

Apple dominates this market, and Microsoft is not happy with this. Microsoft and their dependants (The major labels seem to be in this camp) have been lobbying hard to make Apples FairPlay compatible with Microsoft's DRM. The government and these lobbiests can't be honest and name Microsoft, so they claim to be trying to make all DRM compatible, even if there are really only two competitors worthy of mention.

Lawyer insists Microsoft infringed antipiracy patent

This CNet news.com article by Anne Broache and Declan McCullagh includes:

A Texas lawyer named Kenneth Nash owns a patent on a method for detecting pirated software by assigning each program a unique ID and verifying it over the Internet.

Nash sued Microsoft over its product activation program
...
Software patents have irked the free software community and many programmers, and have been rejected in Europe. So-called "patent trolls"--people who never use a patent except in litigation--have drawn fire from Congress and companies like Hewlett-Packard and Intel. Last week's narrowly averted shutdown of Research In Motion's BlackBerry service has also spurred calls for patent reform.

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