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03.01.10

Proprietary Software Encourages Breaking of the Law

Posted in Bill Gates, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballmer money
Steve Ballmer in Windows 1.0 advertisement

Summary: How non-Free software can criminalise a lot of people, whereas Free software begs to be used by people and even spread further

LAST week we explained why Microsoft's use of words like "piracy" is a simple case of hypocrisy. We also showed in some previous posts that Microsoft actually admits benefiting from counterfeiting of its software. The following posts cover the subject with examples:

Several days ago we provided links about the IIPA’s or BSA’s latest smear campaign against Free software, which they try to characterise as criminal [1, 2]. Here are some more articles on the subject (not cited before):

Is Open Source ‘Anti-Enterprise’?

Ignoring all the crap that gets spewed, FOSS has done more good for more people in more parts of the planet than any of those legalised money-grabbing groups ever have.

IIPA’s Section 301 Filing Shows It’s Really Not At All Interested In Reducing Copyright Infringement

But if your goal is to actually reduce infringement, then wouldn’t you want to encourage the use of legal software? And by encouraging the use of open source software, you are making it that much less likely that infringement will be a problem, since the software will be cheaper. Basically, the IIPA is flat out admitting that it’s not actually interested in reduced copyright infringement. It’s abusing the USTR’s Special 301 process to set up protectionist policies for the companies and organizations it represents — and trying to use that process to deny efforts to actually reduce infringement.

Big Content condemns foreign governments that endorse FOSS

Turning open source users into criminals

A powerful US lobby group is trying to have pro-open source countries listed as being “anti-capitalism”

International Intellectual Property Alliance – The Disconnect

Well, needless to say, the IIPA/BSA is lying. It’s just a front group (a group of groups) that promotes the agenda of sponsors including companies like Microsoft, which is facing financial problems [1, 2, 3, 4] and taking it out on unauthorised sellers of Windows and other Microsoft products that cost nothing to spread, starting with Oman last week (although it goes a while back).

As part of its ongoing efforts to curb the spread of pirated software, to protect customers and ensure a level playing field for the region’s legitimate resellers, Microsoft Gulf announced recently that it had filed a criminal complaint which led to three anti-piracy raids on resellers across the Sultanate of Oman, conducted by the Economic Crime Department at Royal Oman Police.

The Associated Press wrote about similar action in the United States. This was posted with slightly different headlines in ABC and in the Seattle Times.

A 44-year-old man accused of selling counterfeit Microsoft software over the Internet for 10 years has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle.

Wayne Shu of Battle Ground, Clark County, was charged Thursday with six counts of mail fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods and trafficking in illicit labels.

From some other sources:

A Battle Ground man was indicted in federal court in Seattle on Thursday for allegedly selling counterfeit Microsoft software on the Internet over a period of 10 years, collecting $1.75 million in one three-year period.

He should have sold Free software, which is legal and usually better (just not better advertised). Needless to say, none of the articles would dare to chastise Microsoft for criminalising shops by putting them in such a sad position. Many shops are doing this. The ‘proper’ line is that Microsoft is a victim and everyone who does not pay the ‘Microsoft tax’ is considered a “thief” (equatable to people who murder on boats).

Here is an example of a news article from Tuesday. It is full of euphemisms and spin and it’s total rubbish which totally neglects to mention that BizSpark is proprietary software with strings attached to it, intended to compete with or replace Free software that truly respects the users.

ENTREPRENEURS looking to set-up in the software sector in Coventry and Warwickshire can take advantage of help from industry giant Microsoft.

The international company is signing up network partners on its Microsoft BizSpark programme, which offers start-up companies the chance to use a range of tools and platforms for free as long as they are less than three years old and are turning over less than $1 million.

What happens when it expires? As Bill Gates famously put it, “they’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.” And speaking of which, here is another mindless article from Saturday. It speaks about the Michigan dumping [1, 2, 3] and does not tell readers that Microsoft just trying to get people “addicted”, to use Gates’ own words.

Elevating America: Free vouchers available for Microsoft training

[...]

As Michigan’s manufacturing jobs take a back seat to information-age positions, more and more workers across the state are expected to have proficient computer skills and knowledge of current programs.

What’s truly disgraceful about these “American EDGI” [1, 2] deals is that they receive endorsement from state authorities. They probably think that they do the right thing, yet they do exactly the opposite.

“No less than Bill Gates himself said in a recent Fortune article that Microsoft competes better against Linux in China when there’s piracy than when there isn’t.

“So, Microsoft actively looks the other way as people pirate its software. It builds its market share that way, and lets people get used to the idea of having Windows at a certain price.”

ECT

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14 Comments

  1. Robotron 2084 said,

    March 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s headlines like this that really drive home how extreme Microsoft hatred can be. Following this logic, beautiful women encourage rape. Amazing.

    Of course, proprietary software doesn’t encourage breaking the law, but some are tempted to break the law by pirating software. Mainly because it’s so easy to do and hard to get caught. The same goes for music, movies, and other media. Yes, in some way the creators of media benefit from the increased popularity that pirated goods generate, but there needs to be some pressure to preserve a system that isn’t perfect, but at least helps those who crate media (music, movies, and software) earn a profit.

    Next Roy blames Microsoft for pursuing legal actions against companies that profit from selling pirated software. Note how Roy thinks it’s OK for people to break the law by pirating software, but it’s not OK for Microsoft to break the law itself. People are the victims and Microsoft is the bad guy. A theme you will see repeated throughout this website.

    Jose_X Reply:

    A reply to parent was instead misdirected as a top level comment http://boycottnovell.com/2010/03/01/proprietary-software-criminalises/#comment-84213

  2. Jose_X said,

    March 1, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Gravatar

    The title of this posting is “Proprietary Software Encourages Breaking of the Law.” Some of the main themes deal with “piracy”.

    >> Following this logic, beautiful women encourage rape.

    You slipped, didn’t you?

    Proprietary software encourages the equivalent (in degree of seriousness) of physical rape?

    Are you suggesting high cost software easily picked up from friends (and strangers), mixed in somewhat randomly with not too dissimilar quality software that is completely legally $0, and where no one suffers any harm and in fact where content providers grow market share and a number of them grow richer, is not the phenomenon described by the title?

    What does the title have to do rape?

    What I am tempted to find to be a very sad condition is that someone would take a look at a fairly accurate description of piracy today, where there is frequently very little harm being done by it to some of these commercial vendors, Microsoft specifically, and contrast that with widespread physical rape.

    [Content providers should be thrilled that the government is backing up their at least borderline unconstitutional monopolies and also that individuals that otherwise likely would not buy their products are becoming comfortable and dependent on said products.]

    If you didn’t slip, I’ll assume you were exaggerating significantly.

    >> Next Roy blames Microsoft for pursuing legal actions against companies that profit from selling pirated software.

    Roy is likely pointing out the hypocrisy of large wealthy vendors (including monopolists) with over-sized influence within government attacking “piracy” as evil yet relying on that very “piracy” in order to help gain and preserve market share among similar open source products that normally sell for $0 legally.

    >> Note how Roy thinks it’s OK for people to break the law by pirating software, but it’s not OK for Microsoft to break the law itself.

    I not sure how he feels about piracy, but I think there is a big difference between (a) a commercial entity that is very wealthy, has many years of experience making many billions off copyright, and employs many many lawyers, going out and violating copyright repeatedly against GPL open source software, or when such an large wealthy entity engage in (antitrust) actions that damage markets and put many people out of work while raising the costs for almost everyone, and (b) when individuals “pirate” overpriced software here or there. I’m not condoning the latter, but I think there is a big difference with the former.

    This said, I think this site is trigger happy when it comes to attacking Microsoft and friends. It’s too bad for Microsoft that trigger-happiness (more like trigger-sadness) does not negate their illegal and unethical abuses. I think this site would be a bit more moderate if Microsoft was a little more moderate and paid a higher price more on par with their level of wrong-doing.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You forgot the gymnastics in logic, trying to equate this post to racism.

    The trolls are becoming rather libelous.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    I’m flattered, but at the end of the day you need me like the Joker needs Batman.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    No. Let’s read a key part of my post again. You may have had trouble with this part:

    “Following this logic, beautiful women encourage rape.”

    Assuming you aren’t trying to be obtuse on purpose, and I strongly suspect that is the case, the only possible explanation I will accept is that English isn’t your first language. If that is in fact true then let me explain the meaning of the phrase “following this logic”. This phrase is typically used after an example of seriously flawed logic to show that if the same absurdity were applied to other sceneries the results would be equally ridiculous.

    It DOES NOT necessarily mean that the example given after “following this logic” is in fact true. I think that’s where you may have went astray.

    To say that beautiful women encourage or are to blame for rape is ridiculous and borderline offensive.

    Likewise, to say that proprietary software encourages breaking the law is equally foolish. Lucky for you my lessons are free.

    Jose_X Reply:

    >> Lucky for you my lessons are free.

    Heh, help is always welcomed. The freer the better.

    >> Likewise, to say that proprietary software encourages breaking the law is equally foolish.

    You explained what you meant, and that’s good enough, I think (for me anyway).

    My objection was the degree you used in your analogy. For example, there are many illegal things one might do to an attractive female (to stick with the stereotypes). I felt choosing “rape”, though at least somewhat making your point, was not fair to the title you were criticizing. Looked at differently, it would appear “rape” was being downplayed in its seriousness and, simultaneously, copyright violations were being made out to be much more serious than they actually are (ie, contrasted with rape).

    Anyway, you used a set of tools we all use.

    When I consider Microsoft, what I see is a company that has avoided justice, continues to benefit significantly from their past wrong-doing, and continues trying to expand their reach/control in ways (legal or otherwise) I think are dangerous to society and costly to individuals (eg, in freedom).

    Though I recognize that Microsoft attacks here tend to be one-sided, I find that perspective much more tolerable than one that would defend Microsoft without proper accounting of Microsoft past and existing failures.

    Jose_X Reply:

    The consequences of rape are not at the forefront of my mind. This means I will be insensitive here and there. This much might be clear from parent comment where I placed more emphasis on the correctness of analogy and the attack on this top level blog posting than on horror that likely can be “rape” to a victim.

    I think it’s normal for people not directly affected by something too strongly to leverage such a thing, eg, in analogies.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    I think the trouble is that you misunderstand the purpose of analogies in general. Though varied, in this case the purpose of my analogy was to show the brand of absurdity in Roy’s poorly chosen headline. It did not matter how light or severe the crime was because readers who understand how analogies work would have understood that the severity of the crimes was not being compared. You simply drew a comparison where none was intended.

    In fact, this particular analogy was not intended to compare anything at all. Rather it was to show the results of shifting the blame for a crime in the wrong direction.

    Bear in mind analogies are not meant to be perfectly fitting examples in all aspects, but simply as a way to look at the same problem from another angle.

    Jose_X Reply:

    You already explained this. My reaction was to your entire comment (ie, the context surrounding that analogy).

    I’ll quote your very first sentence:

    >> It’s headlines like this that really drive home how extreme Microsoft hatred can be.

    I think your choice of analogy was purposeful in order to create a context of: Roy is so hateful that it’s accurate to use an analogy about rape rather than a more modest one.

    It looked to me like if you were using the analogy (eg, its degree) to help build a case against Roy’s sense of judgment, and, by inference, communicate that the little horns Roy paints around Microsoft’s head exist primarily because of a bad sense of judgment and irrationality.

    Consequently, my attack was not on the technical correctness of the analogy you used but was intended to be a questioning of your own judgment.

    I should have made my point clearer. I was questioning the merits of your case, not the technical accuracy of your analogy with some of its context removed.

    PS:
    I would not have questioned you under different conditions (after all, we are all imperfect, and who doesn’t love a good extreme analogy or wants to spend extra time uselessly arguing on forums?), but I won’t let Microsoft off the hook.

    You could point out problems with this site AND with Microsoft, but you seem almost obsessed with finding faults with this site while avoiding saying almost anything against Microsoft.

    saulgoode Reply:

    If that is in fact true then let me explain the meaning of the phrase “following this logic”. This phrase is typically used after an example of seriously flawed logic to show that if the same absurdity were applied to other sceneries the results would be equally ridiculous.

    Pretty much along those lines is how I interpreted the title of this article: that is, “following the logic” of the IIPA and BSA that using Free Software amounts to stealing from vendors of proprietary software, let’s employ similarly absurd logic and posit the notion that selling proprietary software contributes to stealing.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That was the intention.

  3. Jose_X said,

    March 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Gravatar

    The link below gives a peek into some of the reasons why I think more people should refuse to use or buy Microsoft products until Microsoft releases its source code in a way where the source code can be built up into the precise product they ship.

    http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2010030102535NWMS

    [A few days back when I got word of the testing, I too was interested in looking at the javascript code and analyzing it further. Rob Weir did a much better job than I likely would have done given the time constraints.]

    Note, that the statistical results is not a fixed condition dependent only on the faulty javascript. Which browser ends up in which position is determined only when you mix in other dependencies, such as the initial order on the webpage of the browser choices (ie, before the javascript has had a chance to run) and the details of the javascript sort() and randomization functions on the browser at the time that webpage is displayed.

    Regardless of why this failure by Microsoft in their product Q&A (and/or business decision-making) happened (eg, we can even assume benign reasons), an important point is that with open source more mistakes are found. This is important to the end user. It’s important from the security and privacy perspective, for example.

    Having access to the source code makes the application more valuable. For really important software (eg, operating systems of machines where you would like privacy or security), people may want to insist on source code.

  4. Agent_Smith said,

    March 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Gravatar

    Micro$oft rapes us all with lousy products, draconian DRM and skyrocket prices. Period.

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