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Free Software Must Not Fight Fire With Fire

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Novell, OIN at 6:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Further to the Linux Foundation’s implicit acceptance of software patents, we present another new dilemma (OpenGov/OSFA)

THE Linux Foundation funds development of one of the most important Free software projects out there. But it does not mean that we should blindly agree with everything that it is doing (the same goes for Red Hat). There was one example yesterday where we criticised the Linux Foundation for supporting or silently endorsing software patents like its masters at IBM. This is not helping, especially not when it comes to Free software outside the kernel (and yes, OIN covers more than just kernel space, but still, the Linux Foundation is feeding the USPTO by gestures of legitimacy).

“They are participating in a broken system rather than repair it or at least mend its modus operandi.”The fact that the Linux Foundation is also feeding IDC (sometimes with Novell) is not helping either. To expose IDC's financial relationship with Microsoft, for example, would no longer help the Linux Foundation as it would rightly be called a “hypocrite”.

We dislike this idea of the Linux Foundation et al lobbying the government, which means that they fight fire with fire rather than put out the fire and strive to reform inherently broken systems (such as the USPTO).

According to this couple of reports, the OSFA is lobbying the government now:

Check out OpenGov Tracker. The ideas are there, with good discussion, but I’m doubtful about the numbers. The “top ideas” all have under 100 votes. It’s a new site, sure, but I wonder if people can get enthusiastic about trying to influence the government.

They are participating in a broken system rather than repair it or at least mend its modus operandi. Later on we will write about Microsoft’s anti-Google lobby and explain why abolishment of lobbying — not a fight between lobby groups (or between patent arsenals, or analysts for sale) — is the only ethical way to go. Howard Zinn once said something along the lines of, just because you believe you fight against “Evil” does not make you “Good”; you can both be “Evil”. Free software should challenge morbid aspects of the system that is hostile towards it; the system ought to adapt to its original goals rather than participants adapting to this derailed system.

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”


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A Single Comment

  1. satipera said,

    February 25, 2010 at 9:26 pm


    I have for some time been of the opinion that all any of us can do is support what we think is right, remain open minded and keep the situation under review. This is going to involve disagreeing in part with people that on the whole we regard as natural allies. Specifically, recently I am concerned by the issue you have raised of the perceived champions of floss having contradictory pressures put upon them by those who support a system of state sponsored monopolies that are supposedly designed to foster innovation. I welcome your call to criticise where it is warranted and hope that those criticised will not assume an unconstructive and hostile disposition

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