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01.06.08

Possible GPL Violator (McAfee) Discredits Free Software

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Security, Windows at 10:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Conflicting agendas” all over it

This one is definitely off topic, but FUD-busting is always justified, if only to illustrate the effects of influence or business relationships in smears and lawsuits.

As you may have read by now, McAfee is handling its share of workload spreading FUD about the GPL at the moment. The host of the FUD is — quite unsurprisingly — DisinformationWeek, with an author whose past writings say a lot about bias. I also noticed that no-one other than Jeff Gould, an anti-Linux crusader, is the one who suggested adding the story to LinuxToday. Apples do not fall so far from the tree and we’re fortunate enough to know who is who and who is friends with who else. Jeff Gould, for instance, has friends in Redmond.

But anyway, back to the point, here is McAfee’s FUD in a nutshell.

In its annual report, Windows security software vendor McAfee told its investors that open source software licence terms it vaguely characterised as ” ambiguous” might “result in unanticipated obligations regarding our products.”

[...]

That statement says several things. First, it reveals that McAfee does use at least some open source software derived code in its products. Second, it betrays that McAfee has misappropriated that open source software and thus is committing copyright infringement, because it doesn’t distribute that open source software derivative source code. Third, by calling its products that include open source software code “proprietary”, McAfee shows that it really doesn’t want to shoulder its GPL licence obligations, but instead wants to both have its cake and eat it too.

It is rather curious and if this looks familiar, it should. McAfee also attacked Linux back in 2006 using very unsubstantiated claims. It accused GNU/Linux of things that it is not responsible for and described it as a risk. That’s how lobbying works and some people said at the time that McAfee accomplished a goal by getting a good pat on the shoulder from the folks in Microsoft, whose problematic and unsafe software McAfee still extracts money from.

GNU on televisionNaturally, McAfee is afraid of Linux because McAfee’s products are irrelevant to the Linux crowd. Linux adoption is frightening news to some security vendors that rely on Windows.

Another issue which is raised in the article above is GPL violations. Did McAfee break the law? Is it trying to justify this now? Whatever the truth is, do bear in mind that McAfee was caught doing illegal things and it settled just a few days before Christmas.

McAfee has taken two major steps toward closing the stock-option backdating scandal that has plagued the company for the past two years.

This isn’t related to the Linux story, but it does say something about the ethics of the company as a whole.

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