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02.18.09

Whatever Microsoft Touches, Microsoft Ruins

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Law, Microsoft, OSI at 8:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Assimilation strategy revisited

Sheep
Ms-PL and G-PL — which is the black sheep?

INTERNAL PRESENTATIONS which are delivered at Microsoft clearly suggest that the company not only understands that attending competitors’ events/committees upsets the audience; Microsoft actively encourages its employee to exploit this and to ‘crash’ events by merely turning attention to itself and changing the agenda to include more of Microsoft. Recent examples include VMWare, but it's a complicated one. Better examples include the crashing of PlayStation3 launch parties and Microsoft’s flirt with the OSI. This was deliberate and it was nothing to be fond of [1, 2, 3].

Over at LinuxToday, GreyGeek composed a good new post which goes under the headline “The OSI was hijacked.” To highlight a couple of portions:

Linux is where it is today, despite the constant attacks from Microsoft and its sycophants, and other proprietary businesses, entirely because it is impossible for them to hijack GPL code.

So, if they can’t hijack the GPL they tried the next best thing: surround the GPL with licenses which CLAIM to be similar to the GPL but were not. The uninformed, walking into the forest of OSI “approved” licenses, stands a strong chance of being deceived into believing that a license they might choose is “identical” because they heard that the GPL is Open Source and the OSI is the “Open Source” Initiative. What their guides through the forest lead them away from is the TRUE open source license, the GPL.

When you acquire an application that is GPL you are guaranteed that:
1) You have the same rights over that application as the person or company from which you got the application.
2) You have the right to obtain the source code of the binary of that application which, when compiled, produces an EXACT copy of the binary of the application you were given.
3) You can modify the source code any way you wish and
3a) If you don’t share your modified application then you don’t have to share your changes,
3b) If you do share your modified application you MUST give the people receiving it the same rights you were given, which includes access to the original source and the source code you added.
4) If they violate the GPL then they lose ALL rights to distribute the GPL portion of the code, but you do not.
5) You cannot sign away your GPL rights as part of an agreement to recive a GPL application. See #4.

Why do these PHONY FOSS companies want to lure you away from the GPL with PHONY FOSS LICENSES? Simple. If it is not “Bait and Switch” then it’s called LOCK-IN.

[...]

SUMMARY: There is only ONE TRUE FOSS License, the GPL. Any other license gives the user less freedom and/or less security in knowing that the code can’t be hijacked they way Microsoft and Apple HIJACKED the BSD and the FreeBSD.

Jose X argues that “GreyGeek’s reply is missing something. I don’t disagree, but besides the license, it’s the licensor as well as the group that owns the copyrights to the license, e.g. an Ms-* license like the GPL will be interpreted differently by Microsoft and they would likely try to play the version x or higher trick so that later versions of the license are different in spirit, i.e. bait and switch.”

“The OSI may not be the only entity to have been ‘hijacked’.”“Bruce Perens couldn't get elected,” writes Balzac. “He was the most reasonable guy involved, and the most visionary. The OSI is irrelevant to those whose concern is computer users’ freedom.”

Balzac also writes that Bruce Perens was tossed for saying [paraphrasing] “It’s time to start saying free software again. Notice I didn’t say open source.”

The OSI may not be the only entity to have been ‘hijacked’. Some months ago we mentioned Redmonk because they have Microsoft’s money on their table, too. To their credit, they at least admit this upfront, as pointed out in this new post.

Their clients are posted clearly on their site. Every time they mention a client (in a blog or otherwise) they include the disclaimer. I see them as being more of a pulse on what’s going on than a mouthpiece for clients (e.g. Gartner). I never feel like I have to look at their research with a microscope and wonder if any string manipulation is going on. I know that many are curious how many companies have ever been in the Gartner Magic Quadrant without paying fees but if Redmonk had their own, this too would be transparent.

An opposite example used in this case is the Gartner Group, which we already have substantial proof to show as “corrupted by Microsoft.” For details:

Whether output from Gartner should be embargoed or not, well… that’s just left for others to decide.

Counting money

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3 Comments

  1. Lyle Howard Seave said,

    February 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Gravatar

    Nice of you to give props to GreyGeek who is along with Brandioch Oconnor one of the best commenters on LinuxToday.

    Very often Grey’s intelligent interventions are much better than the article he comments on.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 18, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Gravatar

    He has been on LT for ages. He understands what he comments on.

  3. NotZed said,

    February 18, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Gravatar

    The OSI has to keep adding to its set of approved licenses, otherwise their relevance will fade. They don’t really have any other purpose do they?

    Anyway, some of greygeeks objections apply just as equally to the GPL as well, and is actually used as a business model for many companies. For example when a company requires copyright assignment for any contributions – it may be so they can re-license it for other purposes, including proprietary ones. Although it’s a double-edged sword. A project I was working on was completely GPL, but we could not use any other GPL libraries or code because it would have ‘tainted’ the copyright, and messed up the licensing of additional proprietary components which were the mechanism to make money (the code wasn’t written in an externally extensible manner). Although on a practical level it didn’t matter a whole lot – we enjoyed reimplementing everything – it actually meant that it wasn’t so much a piece of free software as an ‘open source’ one, and I found it quite frustrating.

    On the other hand, you have something like the linux kernel with no copyright assignment, so nobody can own it. But now, because of short sighted decisions like removing the ‘or later version’ , they can never re-license it. And despite the shared copyrights, linus’s view is simply `worth’ more than anyone else’s – e.g. the legality of binary modules.

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