EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.23.07

Novell’s Dirty Little Secret: It Helps OOXML (Updated)

Posted in Formats, GNOME, GNU/Linux, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents, Standard at 10:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time to spill some beans

An important article has just been published by Bruce Byfield. It highlights conflicting roles and views in the ODF/OOXML debate, which divide Novell and GNOME, respectively. BoycottNovell.com is actually cited by Linux.com (not for the first time), the context being its views on OOXML, Mono, GNOME, Novell and whatever entwines them. Familiarisation with these issues is probably required. From the article:

GNOME Foundation defends OOXML involvement

…I suspect that many in the community would agree with Ossendryver’s statement on his blog that “The participation of GNOME in ECMA TC45’s apparent subversion of the standards process is a major disservice to FOSS and all in the community who have worked so hard for open platforms and open standards.” From this position, what matters is loyalty — and that, for many, seems to mean support only for ODF and a complete boycott of any efforts to make OOXML a standard. Far from clarifying matters, the Foundation’s statement may very well serve only to confirm this position and to justify the paranoia about its motives.

This article follows a press release from the GNOME Foundation. The press release addresses the issues and doubts surrounding OOXML and GNOME’s stance on the issue, which is still mixed.

There is a lot more to come. There are many things which the article does not tell, so we wish to reveal some bits of information that we have gathered thanks to anonymous contributors. The text below blends various views which we are permitted to quote without attribution. Our goal is to inform.

Where do we start? There is so much information owing to transparency in the Free software development world. Here are some highlights the shed light on FOSS bodies and individuals.

We wish not to ‘attack’ (or criticise) the community; rather, we want to concentrate more on Microsoft until March next year. What we do need to consider, however, are those in the community who are possibly doing damage, notably by lending Microsoft a hand.

Jody Goldberg

Here is Jody Goldberg expressing his opinion that OOXML should be a standard:

The effort is hampered by my disagreeing with the opinion you, and much of the community appear to hold. I think OOX should be blessed as a standard, ‘the MS Office XML File Format’…

”The press release and the Linux.com article seem like a case of slight misalignment.“Jeff Waugh assured me that Jody was merely experimenting with OOXML support, but the above shows that he’s in alignment with Miguel de Icaza’s stance. Miguel says that OOXML is a "superb standard". There’s a difference between supporting OOXML as a standard and implementing it because “there’s no other choice”. The press release and the Linux.com article seem like a case of slight misalignment.

Now, watch this new discussion thread from Groklaw, which points to Slashdot. It’s about proprietary extensions in OOXML. Check the followup. This seems like typical Microsoft disinformation, but it come from the mouth of Jody Goldberg. Shane wrote about this before and we are seeing signs of more to come. Why is Microsoft being defended by this developer?

A source tells us that Jody Goldberg and Michael Meeks have a personal vested interested in OOXML becoming an ISO-approved standard. They have already made improvements to OOXML to actually help it become a ISO standard.

Further, we are told that statements such as the following raise deep concern about the interested parties. In a blog post from Jan 30th, 2007 (Miguel de Icaza’s blog):

The original submission to the ECMA TC45 working group did not have any of this information. Jody Goldberg and Michael Meeks that represented Novell at the TC45 requested the information and it eventually made it into the standards. I consider this a win, and I consider those 324 extra pages a win for everyone (almost half the size of the ODF standard).”

Miguel de Icaza

”Why on earth does a Novell employee, who is being paid by Novell for his work, virtually aid suppression of ODF?“This one new observation has been mentioned here before although it was intended to remain secret. Here is Miguel trying to resolve comments in Microsoft’s favour. Why on earth does a Novell employee, who is being paid by Novell for his work, virtually aid suppression of ODF? What is Novell’s stance on this issue? It should be clear by now that OOXML was merely a response to ODF. Its aim was to prevent the industry from establishing a vendor-neutral consensus on standards.

OOXML is about money

Michael Meeks

We mentioned Michael Meeks quite a few times recently due to what we consider an OpenOffice.org fork [1, 2, 3, 4]. The following might be an interesting thread to read (“Regarding OOXML and Microsoft patents”). Meeks seems to come out first attacking ODF, according to one who is familiar with this discussion. Indeed, here is Meeks coming out against ODF in a way.

If you look closely, there are also signs of questioning Groklaw’s credibility (smear campaigns come to mind again). This isn’t the first time that Novell does this to discredit Groklaw. Stepping on one’s reputation is something that is still happening. Only 4 hours ago, two separate threads were ‘placed’ in several newsgroups (to be mirrored on the World Wide Web) which say that schestowitz.com and boycottnovell.com are attacking with Trojan horses. It’s a lie and a false accusation. It’s probably part of an attempt to have the sites blacklisted (never mind reputation) and these attempts are coming from anonymous posters on compromised (zombies) PCs around the world. Groklaw had a similar story to tell a few years ago (Maureen O’Gara, her publisher, and SCO were probably the only parties involved after the stalking). Anyway, anyway, anyway… back to the point now.

Kohei Yoshida

the Position Statement from GNOME says that they support ODF, but GNOME members who are associated with Novell (past and present) appear to be pushing for OOXML. It also looks as though they are now working on OOXML filters, which will be entered into GNOME’s OpenOffice.org with the help of a Novell employee (Kohei Yoshida).

Then we come to Evolution, which recently we found out something unpleasant about. Miguel de Icaza wants to add Mono extensions to it, although it is not necessary and many people depend on this core application. Here you can see Novell and GNOME (yes, they are listed as a pair) supporting Microsoft services. Is this Microsoft Linux in the making? Well, it’s a partly sarcastic approach, but it no longer seems so far fetched.

OpenSUSE/GNOME/Novell

At the bottom of the page of the press resource for GNOME, it should be totally inappropriate for a non-profit free software foundation to be promoting a commercial product. And yet, Kevan Barney from Novell is listed as “Contact for questions about the Novell Linux Desktop”. Is GNOME promoting Novell’s products? Is it an endorsement? A dependency?

To quote the source which found this out, “It feels like GNOME is letting Microsoft control the Free Desktop through the backdoor, so we must stop it.” Novell is apparently directing Gnome activities too. Let’s not forget Mono’s increasing role in GNOME. Mono is only sponsored by Novell.

”It also gives a bridge for Microsoft to invade GNOME’s decision-making procedures.“Some of the findings above are both baffling and worrisome. This makes not only Novell and Mono inseparable. It also gives a bridge for Microsoft to invade GNOME’s decision-making procedures. The separation between Mono and GNOME seems to be gradually fading.

Check this out this discussion about the vote in Geneva. It comes from the GNOME Foundation’s mailing list:

6) OpenXML vs ODF

The announcement of the first ISO vote on OOXML has been published. A second very important vote will take place in February in Geneva and only technical comments will be considered by ISO at that time. Anne believes that GNOME should have a position on OOXML as an open standard. Even if GNOME can not influence the first vote, GNOME can still air a general view on the standardization at stake

What is the question here? The answer should be “No”. OOXML is not suitable, unless you are Microsoft, in which case it’s all about your financial interests (by Microsoft’s own admission). Why be so equivocal on this issue when your goal is to create a free desktop?

To quote another source, “It is troubling that Gnome is still having an internal debate to come out with a simple statement and help the ODF/FOSS at large [, such as] “We do not support OOXML as and ISO but will work on interoperability as our users begin to need it. We are members of the ODFAlliance.org and support ODF.”"

Jeff Waugh

Jeff is a polite person, but we are left with some unanswered questions. I know he has a consultancy that he runs with his wife (or something along these lines). He appears in the Australian press when Free software issues come up, so his presence is difficult to ignore. He also markets GNOME or supports those who do market it, based on what I can gather.

”The main question to ask here, given what we have seen above, are there any increases in terms of GNOME donations that arrive from Novell?“We are not exactly sure, however, if Jeff and the other GNOME board directors make a living only from their own businesses? The main question to ask here, given what we have seen above, are there any increases in terms of GNOME donations that arrive from Novell? What about the patent deal? Did the deal with Microsoft play a role? I am merely asking because I have not inquired, so these are not facts. Let’s just assume that it’s all false.

Jeff’s position on ODF has always been ambivalent and he doesn’t speak about it very clearly and openly. He was asked on the ODF list (by Lars) about the Foundation’s support for the ISO policy of “one standard, tested per field”. Jeff would not answer. He brought up arguments against this, which flies in the face of what FOSS stands for. He also said something to the effect that GNOME ships of code all over the world. The question to ask is, “what code and to whom?”

Whether money goes into GNOME and types like Jeff through Novell (Microsoft by association?) is an interesting question to ask. They would then become protective as far as Novell and OOXML go (less likely to extend to Microsoft, having seen the press release from Jeff). The same goes for Miguel de Icaza.

Another source which spoke to Jody (and Jeff) says that hope of convincing them to strictly support ODF was lost. Jeff and Jody apparently don’t contradict one another. Jeff compares OOXML (e.g. in Gnumeric) to Samba, but see this recent comment on this issue (from Béranger). It’s not that simple a comparison.

There are probably several discussions about this, but the one at hand is said to be “quite contentious and did not end on a pleasant note with Jeff and Jody.” That’s what we’ve been told anyway.

From The ODF thread where Lars asks Jeff questions:

Lars: GNOME could easily clear up this misunderstanding by publishing a statement clarifying their opposition to MSOOXML, the independence of individual developers to do what they want, and the support for ISO’s “one standard” policy.

Jeff: The GNOME Foundation could say such a thing, but it wouldn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of GNOME developers, corporate contributors, etc.

Besides, in what way do you suggest we “oppose OOXML”? Entirely? Should we oppose implementation of it? Should we oppose our users using it? Should we stop our developers from supporting it? Should we oppose its acceptance as an ISO standard? Most of these are entirely unrealistic.

Lars: GNOME backs ISO’s “one standard” policy

Jeff: We’d love it if organisations would focus on collaborating around a single standard, but I’m not sure we’d say this as a matter of opposition to OOXML. Think about this for a minute: When we put Free video codecs on the agenda for ISO standardisation, would you like someone to come back with, “But we already have MPEG4″? Perhaps arguing for “one standard” is not the best way to achieve your aims.

I think an important distinction to consider is that GNOME, supported by the GNOME Foundation, is not principally an advocacy organisation: We write and ship code for users who work in the real world.

Others

There are other board members, whose affiliation and stance we know very little about (if anything). These include:

  • Behdad Esfahbod
  • Glynn Foster
  • Quim Gil
  • Anne Østergaard
  • Vincent Untz

What Lies Ahead

Here is a prediction of things to come. This was sent in by a reader. These are merely some thoughts about how Microsoft can sabotage the process in the future, especially when everything goes back to ISO:

  1. Try to bargain with the NBs. “We’ll fix it in release 2.0″ or “We’ll harmonize with ODF, but only once we’re approved”.
  2. Try to take over the NB by signing up more MS partners. When February comes along and NBs decide whether to change their vote, what prevents another herd of partners from joining the NBs on the last day to vote? It almost worked before and there has been no rebuke by ISO. Microsoft just needs to repeat that approach and they are guaranteed to win. Main thing is to avoid their memos becoming public, as in Sweden.
  3. Escalate the decision. Most ISO NBs are run by the government. What we see in the industrial west with independent vendor forums is the exception. So Microsoft can directly appeal in most of the world to the administrations, where offers of discount enterprise agreements or free software for schools have been effective ways of molding behavior in the past. Even in the US we saw such direct appeals from Microsoft to the Commerce Dept, and these were effective, getting the government members of our NB to flip their vote from No to Yes.

Well, Microsoft has already ‘dumped’ some charity on India just shortly (a few days) after India said it would vote “No” on OOXML.

Elsewhere, a FFII campaign spotted a new case where tries to take over the proceedings in Portugal (again).

Last but not least, let’s remind ourselves of OOXML patents, whose existence Microsoft wished to deny or not talk about. A reader says:

If you go to WIPO and search Keywords “Front page = Microsoft XML”, you will see a few recent PCT applications since Microsoft’s pledge not to sue. The question to ask then is, “are any of these applications related to OOXML and, if so, which ones are?” If some are, to me it seems strange that they make pledges and then still file patents.

IBM made a similar pledge some months ago and it even annulled a poor patent that got spotted and ridiculed in Slashdot. As far as Microsoft goes, it remains somewhat of a mystery. Remember that Microsoft uses OpenOffice.org and OOXML ‘protection’ to create divide between ‘legal’ Linus distributions and ‘illegal’ ones.

OOXML patent issue prompt

Summary

This post was just a collection of thoughts, streams of consciousness, and few speculations that require further evidence. In any case, it seems like Novell’s role in GNOME is not healthy to GNOME’s existence (let alone the success of ODF), to say the very least. Only yesterday, we delved deeper into the connections between Microsoft and Novell, which desperately needs Microsoft's money. It is worth stressing that Novell should be approached very cautiously by the Free software world. Novell deserves to be perceived as somewhat of a Microsoft subsidiary at this stage.

Update: we have just been reminded of another item that we had spotted and mentioned a couple of weeks ago. The gist of it all is that Novell will be presenting in the upcoming XML 2007 conference in December. Microsoft has a sponsored track and Novell will prop up OOXML.

Well done, Novell. Your paymaster will be very pleased and will possibly permit you to sell more ‘Linux coupon’.

Novell gets 'bribed'

Astroturfing Examples: Learning How Microsoft Tames the Internet

Posted in Bill Gates, Marketing, Microsoft, Windows at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Due to recent (and suspicious) trolling activity I’ve promised to post some new examples of Microsoft astroturfing.

Let it be clear that the following are not speculations. Most of them are clear examples that are well recorded, confirmed, and they are also quite recent (there are far more known examples if one goes further into the past). The issue has become so serious that the EU has decided to crack down on fake blogger astroturfing.

But back to the web, and with sneaky marketing campaigns likely to be more effective than upfront marketing campaigns, what is stopping companies from simply risking it and continuing existing practices?

First, you are encouraged to have a look at this comprehensive ‘smoking gun’ court exhibit. Therein, Microsoft actually provides an admission that it intends to pay supposedly ‘independent’ professionals to praise Microsoft in public. But let’s consider some more recent evidence and examples, shall we?

Here is a case that got exposed a few months ago. Microsoft secretly paid influential bloggers to recite Microsoft slogans.

The stodgy old media industry has a rule that newspaper reporters, and TV news hosts, shouldn’t trade on their public trust to endorse products.

They got exposed and harshly criticised (only by a single site). Where was the press? No coverage of Microsoft astroturfing? Is the story not important enough? Were journalists scared of Microsoft's wrath? Regardless:

What would possess a collection of online publishers and venture capitalists to pimp a Microsoft advertising slogan?

Valleywag today reported about a site tied to a Microsoft ad campaign where the likes of Michael Arrington, Om Malik and others seemingly lend their support to the “people-ready” catchphrase.

I sent e-mails both to Arrington and Malik and–surprise, surprise–heard nothing back. (Obviously, they are not yet sufficiently “Coop-ready.”) Microsoft was still checking for me into whether money exchanged hands. But even if not a single shekel exchanged hands, I must wonder about the absence of common sense. Why would ostensibly independent voices come across as Microsoft shills? If they were hoping for a free dinner with Bill Gates, there are smarter ways to go about it.

Here’s more from the marketing person who is responsible for this scam.

“The main thing I’m pissed off about right now is that they pulled all the ads, which mean we’re taking a revenue hit. We’re running a business here, and have payroll to make. We run ads to make that payroll. Those ads have now been pulled.”

Microsoft once again corrupts confidence in the blogsphere. They turn ‘citizen journalists’ to marketing people in disguise.

Microsoft uses proxies to hire its shills, but you can always follow the money (if you try hard enough) and find Microsoft.

The sad fact is that Microsoft needn’t even hire many shills when it can keep its own employees very busy.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates emphasized the importance of blogging in a May 2004 speech during the company’s annual CEO summit. But Gates doesn’t blog; same for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

[...]

Many Microsoft employees do blog, reportedly more than 4,000 of them. The number of employee bloggers was comparatively quite small, about 300, before the launch of Channel 9 and the success of Scoble’s blog.

Last year could be called year of the blog at Microsoft. Employee blogrolls swelled and Microsoft bloggers disseminated lots of vital information about the company. Increasingly, employee bloggers are becoming Microsoft’s primary evangelists. They are certainly a group over which the company can exact some control and which can spin information to Microsoft’s advantage.

I’ve personally seen cases where Microsoft employees in disguise attacked the authors of open source blogs. It was only IP address lookups that revealed this.

The following two reports lack confirmation, but they are noteworthy nonetheless.

1. Example from October 2007:

Unleash the Astro-Turfers!

Already on Apple oriented developer mailing lists one can see the astro-turfing has begun. A really amateurish attempt by ‘Mac Developer’ (no one uses a stupid handle like that) turned up today.

2. Just shortly beforehand:

It’s unfortunate that paid blogging is becoming all the more prevalent in communities like 1UP. And it’s not just the blogs or reviews, it’s also the message boards. Microsoft, for instance, also has a person (or people?) who is paid to post on some of the popular gaming boards (and no, Jeff Bell wasn’t part of that plan). But it’s not just Microsoft — I know of a few other game publishers who pay users to blog. They don’t necessarily require bloggers to say positive things about their products, but it’s certainly implied with the paychecks.

What bums me out about all this viral stuff is that, to some extent, you don’t know who to trust anymore. There was a time when, if you no longer believed in what the professional editors where saying, you could at least count on your fellow gamers for honest opinions. Not anymore. In a sense, perhaps that helps elevate the importance of the professional word once again, which I suppose is a good thing for us. But I’m still not happy about it.

What do you think about this one?

Microsoft regularly flies customers and industry experts to its campus in Washington to listen to the feedback given by those people.The company invites dozens of key customers and partners to the event,where they spend brainstorming as a group.But as of late, Microsoft has changed it’s strategy and the company is making extensive use of blogs to get direct customer feedback.

Within a year,more than 1000 Microsoft employee blogs featured developers and product managers talking directly to customers every day, instead of once a year.Microsoft employees read dozens of blogs every day to see how customers react to Microsoft products and services. In fact,Microsoft employees have taken a bigger leap and even contribute to other’s blogs in the expanding space of Blogosphere.

How about this one?

Microsoft has announced the “Microsoft BlogStars” contest, to Hunts for Developer Bloggers in India. After feeling the power and increase of the Bloggers community in India, Microsoft tries to trap and hunt Bloggers in India to buildup the blogging community, for writing blog posts supporting towards Microsoft Technologies.

Remember the Ferrari laptops fiasco?

A former Microsoft manager said it was a case of bribing bloggers.

This is the most frustrating thing about the practice of giving bloggers free stuff: it pisses in the well, reducing the credibility of all blogs. I’m upset that people trust me less because of the behavior of other bloggers. Don’t even get me started about PayPerPost.

Another article: Microsoft’s Laptop Giveaway Becoming PR Disaster?

This thing is starting to feel like a PR disaster. Bloggers are starting to smell blood and this thing very well may begin to turn into yet another episode of bloggers gone wild.

And another one from eWeek: Bribing Bloggers

It’s a bribe. Period. You say nice things about us, you get nice things from us. Heck, just say neutral things about us-we’ll give you a killer new laptop and we know that you’ll be inclined to say better things about us.

You must have gotten the impression that Microsoft had learned its lesson and stopped that sort of laptop giveaway. But no! 4 months later I found evidence that Microsoft carried on with this malpractice.

Microsoft Belgium rang me yesterday (I don?t think they realised it was a public holiday here!).

[...]

The phone call yesterday was to confirm my address – the laptop (a Sony Vaio – dunno which model or spec yet) is en route with Vista Ultimate and Office Ultimate pre-installed.

Let’s not get started with the issue of brainwashing and pressuring journalists because that could make another very extensive post. To give just a couple of examples, consider these:

1. The Inquirer, renowned for its anti-Microsoft biases, got invited for some Microsoft ‘treatment’.

The Vole (Microsoft) supposedly invited The INQ over for tea because we are notorious “Microsoft doubters” – and we were accompanied by other supposed Vole doubters such as the folk from lifehacker and a very nice man from Slashdot, as well as some Microsoft MvPs.

As you can see, the Inquirer was not alone. There was a party, and there was plenty of Kool-Aid for everyone!

2. Linux.com (yes, a Linux site) is no exception.

I spent December seventh, eighth, and ninth in Seattle as Microsoft’s guest. Microsoft flew me there from Florida at its expense, put me up in a nice hotel, provided decent food, and comped me and four other invitees to this “special conference” with presentations about the marvels of Vista and other recent or upcoming Microsoft products. They didn’t quite play the old Beatles song “Love Me Do” in the background, but it was the event’s unstated theme.

What do you reckon? Would that journalist think twice about criticising Microsoft after a jolly good time and freebies from Microsoft?

Going further into the past, there are far more examples, but in order to keep the length of this post moderate, we’ll provide just two examples:

1. The Los Angeles Times ‘dared’ to expose the sort of manipulation we are still seeing today (even amidst the ISO/OOXML fiasco).

In 2001, the Los Angeles Times accused Microsoft of astroturfing when hundreds of similar letters were sent to newspapers voicing disagreement with the United States Department of Justice and its antitrust suit against Microsoft. The letters, prepared by Americans for Technology Leadership, had in some cases been mailed from deceased citizens or nonexistent addresses.

Notice the fact that once again, as usual, Microsoft uses one of its proxies to do the ‘dirty work’. One need only follow the money though.

2. Going further into the past, remember OS/2?

Some years back, Microsoft practiced a lot of dirty tricks using online mavens to go into forums and create Web sites extolling the virtues of Windows over OS/2. They were dubbed the Microsoft Munchkins, and it was obvious who they were and what they were up to. But their numbers and energy (and they way they joined forces with nonaligned dummies who liked to pile on) proved too much for IBM marketers, and Windows won the operating-system war through fifth-column tactics

Should honest guys finish last?

The GNU GPL is Already Proven and Tested in Court

Posted in America, Courtroom, Europe, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 1:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microvell

Microsoft should come clean

Several months ago, Microsoft snubbed the GPLv3 as though it does not apply to Novell and Microsoft. It insisted that it’s not bound by the GPLv3 and allowed the conversation with the FSF to just cool off. Here are some of these past developments, listed in a chronological order:

  1. GPLv3 Cluebat Hits Microsoft, Which Has Just Entered the ”Denial” Stage of Its Agony (Updated)
  2. Without GPLv3 Obligations, Microsoft and Its Linux Partners Stay Stuck in 2007 (Updated)
  3. Amid the Recent Developments, Where Does Novell Stand?
  4. Kevin Carmony Responds, Linspire on Permanent Feature Freeze for GPLv3 Software
  5. Patent Lawyer in Microsoft’s Defense on GNU GPLv3 Issues
  6. With Novell’s Deal, Microsoft is Already Bound by GPLv3

We don’t typically cover GPL stories other than ones that involve GPLv3 (for the parts of it which address Novell-like deals and patents). Making this post the exception, let’s just mention that The Software Freedom Law Center has taken action to defend the GPL.

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) today announced that it has filed two more copyright infringement lawsuits on behalf of its clients, two principal developers of BusyBox, alleging violation of the GNU General Public License (GPL). The defendants in the lawsuits are Xterasys Corporation and High-Gain Antennas, LLC. BusyBox is a lightweight set of standard Unix utilities commonly used in embedded systems and is open source software licensed under GPL version 2.

As you will find below, to the SFLC this is not a case of seeking legal precedence. Rather, it’s about establishing a strong relationship with its clients and defending the licence, as one should. It’s the developers’ right.

Here are the stories (reverse chronological) about the first lawsuit attempt.

There is another new and interesting situation in LWN.net.

A GPL compliance case against Iliad

[...]

Several free software writers have called Iliad, one of the main telecom companies in France, to respect their work, and a judicial proceeding has begun to demand the respect of their licence. This action follows repeated refusals of Iliad to publish the source code of the Free Software included in their Freebox. Although the writers appreciate “the innovative contributions that Iliad has made in the telecommunication industry, along its historical inclination toward Free Software”, they are concerned about the reasons that may have led Iliad to this philosophical swing.

Not so long ago, LWN.net had its eye on Yoggie because of its Linux-based USB firewall.

Skeptics Abound…

There will always be a self-serving voice which will tell you that GPL violations are impossible to detect and keep track of. Some further exploration suggests otherwise and squashes this type of GPL FUD.

“A paper to be presented at the upcoming academic conference Automated Software Engineering describes a new method to detect code theft and could be used to detect GPL violations in particular. While the co-called birthmarking method is demonstrated for Java, it is general enough to work for other languages as well…”

Let’s not forget Black Duck, either. We mentioned this company on a couple of occasions that involved Novell.

Over at the 451 Group’s blog, I found myself facing geo-centricity which assumes nothing is true until its arrival in America. It’s something along the lines of “innovation exists only once Microsoft implements (imitates) an idea and mass-markets it. Anyway, the assumption there was that the GPL requires a test case in court. This isn’t quite the case though. Here is a quick list of GPL court wins:

German district court Munich has convicted Skype of violating the GPL. One of the VoIP telephones sold by Skype run Linux, but the GPL text was not handed out together with the phone, although the GPL requires that.

Open-source programmer Harald Welte said Thursday he won a civil court case in Germany centered on the General Public License (GPL). The license governs many open-source projects and permits anyone to use software covered by it, but requires that companies incorporating GPL software make the underlying source code available.

D-Link Germany GmbH, a subsidiary of D-Link Corporation, Taiwan R.O.C., distributed DSM-G600, a network attached storage (NAS) device which uses a Linux-based Operating System. However, this distribution was incompliant with the GNU General Public License (GPL) which covers the Linux Kernel and many other software programs used in the product.

It is worth remembering that Daniel Wallace’s attempt to declare the GPL illegal failed miserably [PDF] earlier this year (appeal declined also). On the other hand, Microsoft’s notorious EULA may have no legal basis, but who would ever challange Microsoft over this in the courtroom?

There is nothing wrong with the GPL other than perceptions that were developed around it by masterminds of the proprietary software industry. Would Dostoevsky Use the GPL?

Apple Files for Junk Patents, Stifling GNU/Linux Development

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Patents at 12:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We are probably pushing the boundaries of this Web site’s scope, but to demonstrate the ill effects of software patents on innovation, let’s quickly consider Apple. The news is that Apple has once again sought a patent on very trivial things which it had not invented.

The application also sets out the processes for shipping and using the adaptor, which can be summarised as “if the adaptor is expanded, collapse it and then pack the disc and adaptor” and “expand adaptor, fit disc into centre of adaptor, then use disc.”

That seems pretty obvious to me. Doesn’t prior art in a variety of industries (including flat-pack furniture and telescopes) have these concepts covered?

I have no fundamental problem with the idea of patents, but to my mind the degree of innovation behind this application is too trivial to deserve protection.

”The developers implement features which they later decide not to deliver due to fear of Apple.“Of relevance to us is the fact that Linux is sometimes a victim. Consider Compiz-Fusion (this one used to speak about a an Aladdin lamp-like effect) and AWN (implementing stacks from Leopard) get crippled due to Apple patents, regardless of prior art. The developers implement features which they later decide not to deliver due to fear of Apple. It is worth appending a list of patent stories which we’ve collected about Apple.

Examples from the past year where Apple is seemingly abused:

Examples from the past year seemingly abuses:

The story about Google and Apple (patent disagreement) seems to indicate that Apple is still on the wrong (pro-abuse) side of this debate.

Amazon Likes Linux and FLOSS, But Also Loves Patent Abuse, Apparently

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Patents at 12:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just because everyone does it, should you?

What is Amazon trying to do to its public image? Despite awareness of the harsh criticism, it’s pressing on with its clicks and presses.

Amazon Sneaks One-Click Past the Patent System

By changing the word ‘a’ to ‘the’ and adding the phrase ‘purchasable through a shopping cart model,’ lawyers for Amazon.com have apparently managed to reinstate two of CEO Jeff Bezos’ 1-Click Patent claims that were rejected a month earlier.

If you ever needed an illustration of the sad state of the US patent system, this one is a classic. Recent developments include:

Amazon does not need to go down this road of patent system abuse. Its relationship with Free software and Linux is (arguably) healthy, so why ruin it? Only days ago it unveiled a Linux-based gadget, which was sold out within hours. The nastiness of DRM aside, this shows that Amazon is no foe to Linux. Other examples of Amazon using and/or relying on Free software (from recent months alone):

Amazon could do better than this by withdrawing this patent. It could at least make a pledge. IBM did both things in recent months.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts