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11.18.09

Revisionism and Moles in Land of the Fee

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

20 dollar bill

Summary: Microsoft and its apologists rewrite the story of GPL violations; Microsoft is seen invading more competitors and panels, using money at times

AS we showed over the weekend, a Microsoft Vista 7 tool had broken the law as stated by the GPL [1, 2, 3, 4] and Bruce Perens made the argument that this can help Microsoft.

Now is the time for Microsoft to spin it all. “Revisionism revisionism revisionism revisionism,” as Steve Ballmer might put it. We see a lot of revisionism these days and Microsoft did the same thing when there were GPL violations in its loadable module for Linux [1, 2, 3].

Here is a Microsoft-sponsored news site getting close and personal with the developer who saw someone victimised and here come the usual apologists to Microsoft’s rescue.

First off, Microsoft deserves credit for doing the right thing in a timely way.

Credit for what exactly? For violating the law? To deserve credit, Microsoft ought to have obeyed the law in the first place, not after getting caught. Here is more apologism:

Redmond’s response to the problem “does indicate a growing maturity with respect to free and open source licenses,” said RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady.

Obeying the law after violating it is not “growing maturity”, but Microsoft is among RedMonk’s clients, so it is not exactly an unbiased source. Money matters, so the whole embarrassing situation becomes a PR thing.

“It is the same spin as when Hyper-V led Microsoft to a GPL violation.”Watch the coverage from IDG (which relies on Microsoft as a large source of revenue [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). Holy cow. Look how IDG spins Microsoft’s violation of the law. It is the same spin as when Hyper-V led Microsoft to a GPL violation. Microsoft tried to redo the story as “we’re kindly releasing GPL-licensed code”.

Matt Asay goes further and uses Microsoft’s violation of the law to actually daemonise those who watch and criticise Microsoft for attacking GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Wow, just wow! How does Microsoft do that? That’s PR genius (but then again, that’s the same guy who also invited Microsoft/ushered it into OSI).

Microsoft has just found another body that’s associated with “open” to throw money at, just like with Apache [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]. It takes very shallow minds to actually buy this gesture.

Microsoft is joining at the promoter level, which is OFA’s highest membership level and gives Microsoft a seat on the OFA [OpenFabrics Alliance] board, full voting rights, membership in all working groups, and the opportunity to influence the long-term evolution of the most widely adopted middleware for high-performance computing, networking and storage.

This is not charity. This is Microsoft buying seats so that it can influence the OpenFabrics Alliance. It gives them some influence on the cheap.

To say more about influence, Google has foolishly hired Don Dodge. That is the same person who earlier this month promoted Microsoft's software patent deals regarding Linux. He is now added to Google, but there’s more:

Which sounds quite close to the truth. But we can’t help but wonder: Now that this Microsoft evangelist has suddenly disowned five years of Microsoft evangelism, shouldn’t we apply a certain, well, skepticism to anything he now says about Google?

So at Microsoft he was an “evangelist”, eh? In a way, that’s euphemism for AstroTurfers [1, 2, 3, 4], just like the undercover "evangelists" who were trolling Boycott Novell on Microsoft's payroll.

Whose “perception management” [1, 2] will Dodge do? Will he promote .NET and ActiveX in Google, for example? Our reader who links to this item writes: “This is the kind of person who tirelessly defended Microsoft’s technologies in the face of nasty inconveniences like facts.

“The closing line ought to be re-worded: “he will likely be a great asset to Microsoft in dealing with Google’s developer community.”

“I wonder what Matt Assay will have to say about it in his apologies for Microsoft?

“Google can’t employ Microsofters without them bringing the quality and mind set that Microsoft has been infamous for.”

Speaking of deception and spin, also from IDG we have this familiar troll and Microsoft shareholder Bill Snyder mocking Free software. It’s all about money to him.

I don’t write for free; my editors don’t edit for free. I know, I know – some of you are going to bring up open source.

He has used the same type of daemonisation repeatedly, so this is not the first time. He also uses Microsoft talking points like “no free lunch” and TechDirt shreds his arguments to pieces.

And, of course, that’s the problem with Snyder’s analysis. It doesn’t take into account the wider business model. The reason that Snyder’s article is available for free is because InfoWorld has decided that it has a better chance of monetizing that content by offering it for free and selling advertising. It’s other option would be to charge people directly to read Snyder’s economically confused analysis — but then no one might pay. So which makes more sense? According to Snyder, the latter.

[...]

Snyder figured out the wrong thing. Yes, getting paid is important, but the question is what you get paid for, and he’s asking people to charge for the parts of a business that make the most sense being free — and doesn’t explain why he gets to decide what should be free and what shouldn’t. The answer, really, is that none of us decides: basic economics tells us. If you have a competitive product with no marginal cost, it’s going to eventually get driven to free. Whether you like it or not. And then you shouldn’t whine about the evils of “free.” You should instead figure out ways to use that to your advantage.

There is nothing wrong with being gratis and libre. In fact, Google is now using both of these to market Android and Chrome OS. We need to work together with our neighbours on this planet, not against one another based on borders or commercial boundaries. The real troublesome borders are ones of control, power, and class. Those who use technology and intellectual monopolies to rule the majority would be weakened if this same majority shared knowledge and worked cohesively to produce powerful systems that put control in the hands of all users — those who do not merely rent or acquire permission to use one single corporation’s tool, whose structure is secret (and is illegal to probe thanks to self-guarding laws such as DMCA). Why aren’t proponens of proprietary software described as “zealots” or “dangerous”? It’s probably because they still control the press (and thus perception).

“There is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes or makes it the official duty of a president to have anything to do with criminal activities.”

Sam(uel) James Ervin, Jr.

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