Here comes yet another criticism of Microsoft — and perhaps indirectly — Novell as well, for their systematic spreading of FUD about the GPLv3.
Mark Taylor, a former head of the Open Source Consortium in the UK, thinks the whole thing is being blown out of all proportion.
He told us: “The only people worrying about the GPL draft are people like ACT. Everyone else is really pleased with the draft. The original GPL aimed to prevent deals like the one between Novell and Microsoft. They just found a loophole. This draft closes it.”
It is sad to see that there is a struggle of minds and interests here, which leads to disinformation. It is inexcusable. It gets some developers unnecessarily scared of GPLv3. Not everyone judges the text for themselves, so judgment is often made ‘second-hand’.
Media manipulation does not stop there. C|Net has recently published two columns from Microsoft lobbyists, who criticise the European Union for its decision on protocols. It is related to Novell’s effect on Samba. C|Net offers no balance at all, which adds insult to injury, given plenty of their Microsoft adverts that give you “the Facts”.
For context and further reading, here are some related articles on the topic of anti-GPLv3 FUD.
Some of the bad publicity about GPL3 is deliberate. A particularly bad article by Dan Lyons of Forbes magazine painted an offensive picture of GPL3 and Richard Stallman, even accusing Stallman of having sex with flowers (!!!) after Lyons failed to comprehend a scientific joke.
“Let’s make it clear that [ACT] is Microsoft’s lobbying front and that they are going to paint as negative a picture as they can,” Perens told eWEEK in an interview.
“Obviously, GPL software is displacing Microsoft enough to have them concerned, and it’s doing it at customers who are important to them. A lawyer’s job is to scare the other side if they can–because they know it’s cheaper than winning a case in court,” he said.
But ACT, a Washington-based technology lobby group whose membership includes large companies like eBay, Oracle, Orbitz and VeriSign, and which was founded in 1998 in response to the Microsoft antitrust case, is largely dismissed by those in the open-source community as nothing more than a lobby group for the interests of Microsoft and those other large corporations.
“ACT has been accused of being an industry front for Microsoft, promoting a Microsoft-friendly agenda in relation to property rights and anti-trust legislation.”
Long before it employed bloggers to do the job for it, Microsoft hired sympathetic members of the public to make its case in online forums, posing as disinterested citizens. Things got much more professional as the antitrust trial unfurled. After hiring DCI in the late 1990s, Microsoft created two new trade groups, the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), and the Americans for Technology Leadership (ALT), and marshaled campaigns such as “Freedom to Innovate” – encouraging Windows users the chance to make spontaneous gestures of support for Chairman Bill.
These weren’t always too successful. A campaign in 2001 to petition 17 state’s Attorney Generals – who had pooled resources to bring their own antitrust action against Microsoft – resulted in supportive letters being written by dead people.
And the astroturf taint continues today.
Most recently, a spoof video portraying Al Gore as a Penguin was reported to have originated from a computer registered to the DCI Group, although the lobby group said it did not fund or approve the video.
Surely, exectutives at Novell will be pleased to see how ACT is trying to save it from the GPL guillotine. ACT’s anti-Free software agenda, on the other hand, is rather damaging. A love-hate relationship? A foe turned into a friend? One thing seems certain. The line that separates Microsoft and Novell is becoming disturbingly distorted. It sometimes seems as though Novell works with Microsoft, rather than against it. So who is Novell’s rival now? Red Hat Linux or Microsoft Windows?
The mind continues to wander aimlessly. There is clearly a conflict of interests here. Novell, having paid the ‘schoolyard bully’ some ‘protection money’, now relies on the bully. The bully attacks other ‘children’, such as the Free Software Foundation, leaving Novell gleeful over its new protection racket scheme.