The lesser known part
of Microsoft (photo from Wikipedia)
Summary: Another example where Gates senior may be clearing legal obstacles for Microsoft and creating some obstacles for Free software
ON SEVERAL occasions in the past month we have given examples where Bill Gates’ dad removed legal hurdles for his son [1, 2, 3]. Since the early days of Microsoft, this man has been greasing up politicians behind the scenes and also interacting with people like his now-notorious employee, Jack Abramoff (serving time in jail). Gates senior apparently used him to get cheaper labour for his son.
Having just glanced over at Linux Journal, we found this old article which sheds light on the BSA and its connections to the Gates family. The BSA is responsible and known not only for its direct services to Microsoft but also for its fight against Free software [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], particularly at the political and legal arenas.
Business Software Alliance
Better known as the BSA, this firm is the most formidable opponent of open-source software of which I know. BSA employs many former members of Preston, Gates & Ellis (PG&E), a practice specializing in intellectual property law. Many registered lobbyists in Washington DC work for PG&E and represent Microsoft and the BSA.
In reviewing registered lobbyists in Washington DC, we found employees of PG&E and BSA practicing in the area. They refer to themselves as the foremost organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal on-line world. BSA also claims to be the voice of the world’s commercial software industry before governments and the global market. The BSA employs highly dedicated and capable people. They believe in their cause and have a track record for getting the job done. Consider BSA to be of the highest professional caliber and experts in copyright law.
Initiative for Software Choice & CompTIA
In August 2002, Microsoft became a member of the Initiative for Software Choice. The ISC has close associations with the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) based in Washington DC. The ISC supports four principles: software should be procured on its merits, the promotion of government funded research, the promotion of interoperability through platform-neutral standards and the maintenance of strong intellectual property protections.
In August 2002, the organization reported it opposed legislation in four countries—Israel, Portugal, Colombia and the Ukraine—that require the use of open-source software in state institutions. I guess they read that Texas was once a country and decided to show up at the hearing.
We are still seeing the BSA nipping at the heels of Free software in European venues. The BSA is lobbying for software patents in Europe and it goes far beyond that. It’s a lobbying gun for non-Free software.
A reader suggested that we revisit software licensing now this this article appears about enforcement which sometimes takes people to jail. Other than hunting people down, the BSA is also responsible for propaganda whose purpose is promote the agenda of companies like Microsoft. We’ll come to this in a moment. Before we do, since CompTIA gets mentioned in the above article as well, here is a timely mention of CompTIA intercepting yet another open source report in Europe a few years back. The pressure came from Microsoft.
Microsoft leaned on EC to spike open source report
The European Commission has resisted efforts by Microsoft to make it abandon its report into open source software, it was revealed this week. But the EC was swayed into allowing a 10-day period for feedback before completing the report.
Harnessing the opportunity to provide feedback, Microsoft produced 25 pages of arguments as to why the report – which quantified the benefits of open source to European organisations – should be shelved. The software giant also commissioned a respected university academic to back its case and enlisted the help of a trade association, CompTIA.
This is highly relevant to us because it’s happening again at this very moment, so we can do something about it.
Still, as more Asians have purchased PCs, the size of the software industry’s losses to counterfeiting has soared. In 2003, according to the BSA, piracy cost software vendors $7.6 billion in lost sales. By 2007 that number had leaped to $14 billion. In India, the losses grew from just $367 million in 2003 to $2 billion in 2007. In China, they jumped from $3.8 billion to $6.7 billion. With the huge populations of China and India, “even if the piracy rates drop, the losses from piracy grow,” says Hardee.
This is PR stunt because Microsoft's actions in Asia speak volumes. There happens to be another piece of shameless deception right now, with Microsoft claiming credit for something called the “Elevate America initiative” — essentially using a global crisis to make even more money and to spread Microsoft’s software and lock-in. Likewise, the Gates family is using deadly disease to make profit.
In 2007, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) donated $432 million in cash and software.
How much of it was software, which does more harm than good and also increases Microsoft’s revenue in the long term? We explained this point in greater depth back in January.
In education, Microsoft is known to be sabotaging migrations to Free software not only by dumping but also by bragging about the imaginary value of software that was not needed in the first place. Catalonia is the most recent example among many more that exist and which we may have covered. Microsoft is doing unethical and potentially illegal things and dares also to claim generosity for it (dumping of software cast as “donations” of software). It’s all PR. For those who are not familiar with how it works, the following is required reading:
- Is Microsoft ‘Pulling an EDGI’ on Kerala? (Updated)
- Microsoft Vice President Teaches PR People How to Spin Anti-Linux Programme
- Microsoft Dumps on India, South Africa, Malta
- At Microsoft, “Fear Uncertainty Doubt (TALKING POINTS)” is Formal Strategy
- Microsoft’s Dumping Strategy Versus GNU/Linux (EDGI Continued)
- Extended Windows 98 EOL to Block Government Migrations to GNU/Linux and Free Software; More ‘Donations’
- Microsoft on “Maintaining Gap vs Linux” Using “Patents“, “Children’s Software“
- Microsoft’s Internal Presentation on How to Fight GNU/Linux
- Microsoft Chief: “Under NO Circumstances Lose Against Linux”
- Microsoft’s EDGI in India: Fighting GNU/Linux in Education
- EDGI Finale: Microsoft’s “Linux Compete Squad”
There is more to gratis software than initially meets the eye. █
“That particular meeting was followed by an anonymous smear campaign against one of the TC members. A letter was faxed to the organization of the TC member in question, accusing the TC member in question of helping politicize the issue (which is, of course, untrue). I too had the dubious pleasure of hearing first hand how Microsoft attempted to remove me from the TC (they did not succeed, thanks to integrity and cojones of the organization I am affiliated with).”
“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).“