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Video: Free Software, GPL, DRM, Copyrights, and Software Patents

Posted in DRM, FSF, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents, Tivoization, Videos at 11:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In a video that was uploaded to YouTube a few days ago, Richard Stallman talks about Free software, the GPLv3, and mixing ‘intellectual property’ with ‘software patents’ — something that Microsoft deliberately does in order to confuse.

To say more on Free software, it is still largely misunderstood in the business world. Only days ago, Mark Pilgrim was ranting about Gobuntu. Gobuntu was born to serve specific needs. It is built for users to whom freedom is an important quality of the software that they use and there is a lot to be said about the qualities of truly free Linux distributions. It’s an article that I published on Monday.

Acacia’s Lawsuit Must Face the ‘Acid Test’ of a Broken System

Posted in America, Asia, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 11:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

All your one-click shopping with clean URLs are [sic] belong to Amazon

In Slashdot, the absurdity of the US patent system is put up for show.

On Tuesday, Amazon search subsidiary A9.com was awarded U.S. patent no. 7,287,042 for ‘including a search string at the end of a URL without any special formatting.’ In the Summary of the Invention, it’s explained that ‘a user wishing to search for ‘San Francisco Hotels’ may do by simply accessing the URL www.domain_name/San Francisco Hotels, where domain_name is a domain name associated with the web site system.’

No, it’s not a joke. It’s real. It’s unbelievable.

According to the following source (assemblage of several others), patent litigation by Acacia could actually face the peril which is patentability of software. Several months ago we saw cases where this type of patentability was tested and failed.

Before open source-specific issues can be decided, however, the court will have to decide a broader question: Is software even patentable?

This case can apparently go on for years, which brings to mind the bogus SCO litigation. It lasted for more than 4 years, essentially serving as long-lasting and free-of-substance FUD. Questions remains about Microsoft’s connection to Acacia, but evidence is still very compelling.

Is all this smoke [Acacia-Microsoft links] just coincidence? It may well be. But the smoke gets thicker by the day.

Korea has meanwhile revamped its patent system.

With the quality of its administrative service, education and patent security revamped to keep abreast of global standards, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) is winning international recognition as a world-class intellectual property agency

Speaking of patents, Boycott Novell is actually being cited in Wikipedia (e.g. [1, 2], even on software patents.

More on Why the Agreement in Europe Simply Sucks!

Posted in America, Europe, Finance, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 11:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The other day we suggested the the agreement in Europe was actually a victory for Microsoft, even though the press would like you to believe other things. A day went by and FFII, among other parties, have had time to study the deal and respond.

EU tells open source to start paying MS patent tax

EU Commissioner Kroes’ deal with Microsoft creates real dangers to Europe’s growing open source economy, warns the FFII. Using patent licenses that exclude businesses, the software monopolist has turned the EU competition ruling into a victory, and now gets implicit support from the Commission to proceed aggressively against its competitors.

Mr. Webbink says more:

Yes, open source will have access to the interoperability information on “reasonable” terms (ask independent open source developers how many can afford to cough up the $15,000 such access will cost), but nothing in this statement indicates the Commission has overcome Microsoft’s “refusa[al] to make the [patent] licence compatible with the open source business model.” In fact, we can expect that nothing about that patent license will be compatible with the most widely used open source license, the GNU General Public License.

From Michael Goulde:

It will benefit purveyors of proprietary software but not open source developers, agreed Michael Goulde, analyst of open source strategy at Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass. “Some open source developers believe that Microsoft should make its protocols available for use royalty free. In some cases, there are open source license restrictions that make it not possible for the software to include Microsoft licensed code – because you can’t downstream the license. So, unless Microsoft goes way beyond what it has agreed with the EU to do, only a subset of open source developers will have much interest. They’ll continue reverse engineering Microsoft protocols and doing the best they can.”

In a later post, Dana at ZDNet appears to be missing the point. He concentrates, as usual, on this decision’s effect on the US economy.

If open source developers find greater protection for their work and its results in Europe than in America that’s where they will gravitate. That’s the kind of regime the EU is trying to create. We ignore that and dismiss that at our peril.

This is a political or nationalist approach, not a technical one. And for what it’s worth, he is right. The US is still worse off in this regard. Microsoft wins at the expense of the United States as a country. The same goes for the EU. It’s corporatism where companies overtake the governments. Why would citizens allow and endorse it? It’s not just Free software developers that should go vocal. It’s everyone that should because it costs everyone in terms of money and innovation (no real competition).


The Fourth ‘Patent Deal’ was with Europe… and the Sixth Deal That Won’t be

Posted in America, Antitrust, Bill Gates, Deception, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Protocol, Servers, Steve Ballmer at 10:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Europe’s agreement on patents predates the Turobolinux announcement

Having watched how Microsoft included patents in its deal with then EU (more on this in the next post), it is worth pointing out that the US won’t extend antitrust sanctions, despite rising opposition and the recent decision in Europe.

Here is the latest:

The U.S. Department of Justice said it will not seek to extend the restrictions placed on Microsoft Corp.’s business practices following its antitrust settlement with the U.S. government in 2002.

Many of the restrictions are due to expire Nov. 12, and last week several U.S. states filed motions in favor of extending them for a further five years. Four of those states — New York, Maryland, Louisiana and Florida — had previously said they opposed an extension.

The DOJ had also opposed the extension, and on Friday it made it clear that it would not be making a turnabout like the four U.S. states.


The DOJ didn’t explain its decision Friday. In August it said it felt the judgment had been successful in preventing Microsoft from continuing its exclusionary behavior.

The states who favor an extension disagree. They say operating systems haven’t evolved as quickly as people thought they would in 2002, and that Microsoft could still use the dominance of Internet Explorer to choke competitors in the emerging Web 2.0 world.

A status hearing that will likely address extending the restrictions is scheduled for Nov. 6 with District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

The other states pushing for an extension are California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Separately last month the DOJ raised hackles in Europe by criticizing the European Union’s decision to reject Microsoft’s appeal of its antitrust decision there.

So, complaints are simply being ignored and no reason is even given. One ought to know that the U.S. Department of Justice has already been caught leaning the Microsoft way in unlawful ways. Examples include:

Microsoft Finds Legal Defender in Justice

Nearly a decade after the government began its landmark effort to break up Microsoft, the Bush administration has sharply changed course by repeatedly defending the company both in the United States and abroad against accusations of anticompetitive conduct, including the recent rejection of a complaint by Google.


In the most striking recent example of the policy shift, the top antitrust official at the Justice Department last month urged state prosecutors to reject a confidential antitrust complaint filed by Google that is tied to a consent decree that monitors Microsoft’s behavior. Google has accused Microsoft of designing its latest operating system, Vista, to discourage the use of Google’s desktop search program, lawyers involved in the case said.

Remember what happened when the EU ruled against Microsoft? The US government got involved in a fashion that it must never embrace. Here is the response that came from Neelie Kroes:

Kroes said that it was “unacceptable” that a representative of the US judiciary should criticise a court of law outside his jurisdiction.

“It is absolutely not done,” she told journalists on Wednesday.

“The European commission does not pass judgement on US rulings and we should expect the same from the US.”

Not only Europe complained about the DoJ’s gross bias in favour of Microsoft. Here is what the American Antitrust Institute had to say.

The AAI comments on the European Court of First Instance’s upholding of the EC’s Microsoft decision, taking the USDOJ to task for poor diplomacy and mistaken policy in its criticism of the EC.

If you though the DoJ was embarrassing enough, have a look at these other Microsoft-funded lobbying arms, ACT and CompTIA. Here is what happened upon Microsoft’s legal defeat in Europe:

Microsoft may have lost in court, but it quickly tried to win the war of media reaction via organisations like CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association and ACT (the Association for Competitive Technology) which both intervened in court on its side.

“To make matters worse, the government as a whole was caught lobbying for Microsoft in Europe.”This is not the first time that ACT and CompTIA attack the EU. Both are funded by Microsoft, but have fancy names that hide their motives and bias. ACT and CompTIA also attack Free software, Linux, the GNU GPL, various products that rival Microsoft’s, OpenDocument format, and more. To make matters worse, the government as a whole was caught lobbying for Microsoft in Europe.

Who could ever forget heavy lobbying (bullying) in Florida, lobbying by Steve Ballmer, and lobbying by Bill Gates? They seem to be in total control of the government. There are many more, including Bingham McCutchen.

Microsoft Paid Paid Bingham McCutchen $160,000 to Lobby Federal Gov’t in First Half of 2007

There are many, many more, but it would take time to fetch the references and post them here.

At the end of the day, the situation in Europe is a poor one. Microsoft made its agreement incompatible with the GNU GPL and included patent provisions. In the US, there won’t even be an (sixth) agreement because the government keeps offering Microsoft ‘protection’, which is mutual. Hopefully you can see that politics simply cannot be separated from what ought to have been a purely technical and litigious discussion. There’s sheer abuse in the system.

Related articles:

E-mails released by the committee show that Abramoff, often with the knowledge of the groups’ leaders, exploited the tax-exempt status and leveraged the stature of the organizations to build support among conservatives for legislation or government action sought by clients including Microsoft Corp., mutual fund company DH2 Inc., Primedia Inc.’s Channel One Network, and Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Continuing on the theme of which politicians are receiving money from who. Here is a list of candidates who took money from MSFT.

Microsoft took first place with $651,100 given out, while Hewlett-Packard gave only $185,550, and Gateway gave a paltry $2,000. Microsoft’s donations certainly illustrate well the true size of the company and the extent of its political concerns.

Another Small Company Joins the Ever-growing ODF Club

Posted in Apple, Formats, Interoperability, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spread ODF

Babya is worth congratulating for its new membership in OpenDocument Format Alliance.

Babya today announced that it has become an official member of the OpenDocument Format Alliance.

This is good news and an encouraging sign of the growing acceptance of ODF. Not so long ago it was Apple that began embracing ODF. Also, via Bob Sutor, the following is quoteworthy:

Bringing the whole ISO process into disrepute is an offence that Microsoft won’t escape from lightly in the end.

Never forget what happened in the ISO, e.g.:

OOXML is fraud

SUSE Goodbyes and Bloggers

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mandriva, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Here is another story (among many others) about a distro hopper that decides to seek greener pastures.

On Wednesday of this week I wiped openSUSE off my machine and decided to try Mandriva 2008 next.

Steve Ballmer rides SUSEInterestingly enough, some people who leave SUSE cite our Web site as the reason for doing so. In this case, no real reason is given for the change, but one must remember that SUSE as a free platform is no more.

“And you’ll see, as well, an economic commitment from Novell to Microsoft that involves a running royalty, a percentage of revenue on open source software shipped under the agreement”

If you are after a decent distribution of Linux, then Mandriva 2008 is worth a look. It has received many positive reviews and it comes with KDE and GNOME, just like OpenSUSE.

Citrix, XenSource, Xen, and Their ‘Commitment to Continued Innovation on the Windows Platform’

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Oracle, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just like the press puts it

The best acquisition strategy is one which maximises damage to rivals (or coversely — maximises benefits to self). Microsoft has such a strategy figured out and it is related to — if not includes — a patent deals strategy. Consider Citrix/XenSource as an example. The acquisition has just been approved (press release). Here is an article that omits the promotional pitch.

Citrix has completed its $US500 million acquisition of XenSource, the company founded by the original developers of the open source Zen virtualisation software.

Watch the picture at the top of the following new article because it says a lot about the future direction of the Xen hypervisor.

Citrix’s virtualization strategy is based on a partnership with Microsoft and a commitment to continued innovation on the Windows platform. The two companies share a strategic relationship in server and desktop virtualization aimed at interoperability between Citrix’s products and the upcoming Microsoft Windows hypervisor, code named “Viridian,” according to Citrix officials.

See our past writings about XenSource to find out more about the reasons for such developments. Also remember that Microsoft plans 20 (potentially open source) acquisitions per year and it has just signed another patent (or so-called ‘collaboration’) deal with Turbolinux. The ambitions here are to buy out the threat, subvert its agenda, and have its community dissipated.

Oracle, by the way, isn’t better off. It has its share of questionable and self-serving plans for RHEL.

First, let’s make this clear. Oracle Unbreakable Linux was, is now and is for the foreseeable future going to be based on Red Hat’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux codebase. It is not, however, going to be simply RHEL’s twin in every way.

On the brighter side of things, Oracle gives high market presence to Linux and it even joined OIN. Oracle’s relationship with Linux could even evolve to become that of a guardian in an age of patent madness.

Oracle may have no commitment to Red Hat, but it has future stakes in Linux (not so with Free software in general, e.g. MySQL).

Turbolinux Sells Out

Posted in Deals, Microsoft, Patents, Turbolinux at 5:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This does not come as a total shock, having already watched Turbolinux running into Microsoft’s arm for the OOXML ‘translator’ projects. Now there are patents involved as well.

Turbolinux has become the latest Linux company to sign an IP-protection assurance deal with Microsoft, following in the footsteps of Novell, Xandros, Linspire.


Finally, expanding on earlier agreements that involved Turbolinux collaboration with the Open XML document format and the use of Microsoft WMF, Turbolinux desktops will now feature Live Search. Microsoft’s answer to Google search, Live Search, has not been doing well in recent months.

By all means, boycott Turbolinux. It is another company that plays nice with the neighborhood bully and even liaises with him. Things were simpler when Turbolinux only helped the Office monopoly with the ridiculous (and impossible-to-implement) ‘translator’ project.


Shane, is http://www.boycottturbolinux.com/ up yet?

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