05.26.10

BSA Attacks the Right to Software Freedom in the Czech Republic; Similar Offenses in the UK, Finland

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 2:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Prague cows
Prague cows, 2005

Summary: The BSA continues to make life a lot harder for Free/libre software; message about the situation in Finland is reproduced

THE BSA is up to old tricks again. It is trying to marginalise Free software either by declaring it illegal, making it inconvenient to get hold of, nearly impossible to pass through the authorities, or more expensive to deploy due to artificial limitations imposed by the BSA and those whom its lobbyists can reach.

This time the BSA’s victim of the Czech Republic:

BSA: Hardware Without Software Not Tax Deductible

The Czech Ministry of Finance along with the BSA threaten to disallow deducting hardware from base tax if purchased without software. This idea stems from their joint proclamation that for software to be used legally, it must be bought – thus completely ignoring the existence of free and open source software which can be obtained legally without any purchase whatsoever. The Ministry and the BSA have issued a press release which basically labels all users of ‘free software’ pirates. Many public organizations and companies (including Red Hat and Novell) have expressed their dismay at such actions of the Ministry.

There are similar stories here in the UK, as covered in our previous posts on the BSA (back in 2007 and later). Other agencies subservient to Microsoft’s interests (and proprietary software at large) include BECTA, but fortunately the British government is killing it (what took so long?). “Good Riddance,” says the headline from Glyn Moody who explains and provides some background:

Not quite on the scale of cancelling the ID cards project, the news that Becta would be shut down was nonetheless further evidence of the coalition government’s new broom whooshing into action.

Although there seems to be a wide range of views on whether this is a good or bad thing – see this post and its comments for a representative selection – for me Becta was pretty much an unmitigated disaster for free software in this country, and I’m glad to see it go.

I write not just as someone who has followed free software for 15 years, but as a parent. Never mind that schools almost without exception are stuffed to the gunwales with Microsoft’s technology – including, unbelievably, Internet Explorer when it was still totally insecure.

What I find particularly outrageous is the fact that even today, some of the educational websites used by schools don’t even work with Firefox, and that there is a presumption that parents have a copy of Microsoft Office at home (whether it was bought or “borrowed” from work doesn’t seem to matter to IT departments much.) Most of the responsibility for this parlous state of affairs can be laid at the door of Becta.

Somebody from Finland informed us of similar injustices in his/her country (relating to copyright, which is similar to the issue of software freedom and the propaganda the BSA spread this month [1, 2] along with Microsoft). For the purpose of wider exposure, we reproduce the comment below.

1. http://yle.fi/uutiset/viihde/2010/05/nettipiratismi_aiheuttaa_suomessa_jattitappiot_1708634.html
(URL title: Internet piracy causes huge losses in Finland)

This is where this all started now on May 25th, once again. I haven’t seen it on *ANY* english pages of any outlet yet.
LYHTY (registered association, just like most of the IP alley dogs barking here in .fi, but for some reason they’re allowed to have lots of publicity AND influence when making the laws)
ordered a questionnaire from “Taloustutkimus” about intellectual property, who then asked 3000 people, from 15 to 79 years.
This was posted verbatim on most, if not all newspapers and www news outlets in the country.

Their main site is at http://www.antipiracy.fi/inenglish/ , with participants listed at http://www.antipiracy.fi/lisatietoa/toimijat/
Same bunch of puppets behind the widenation.fi campaign which got mentioned on http://www.boingboing.net/2010/05/20/finnish-record-indus.html

They now claim that
a) 33% would have bought music from (internet) shops if there wouldn’t have been a free option
b) 16% of all households download “illegal” files
c) average amount of downloaded music per household was 380 tracks, most done by teens and young adults
d) in households of people over 50 years of age, there’s almost no “illegal” downloading
e) 355 million euros lost annually by downloading – but as usual, there are no details at all how this figure was determined

So now lyhty is trying to drive through a two-stop mechanism in Finland, consisting of a warning letter and then suing to court.

2. http://yle.fi/uutiset/talous_ja_politiikka/2010/05/wallin_lupaa_toimia_nettipiratismin_kitkemiseksi_1710113.html
(URL title: Wallin promises actions to curb internet piracy)

Stefan Wallin is the minister of culture in Finland.

Translation:
Stefan Wallin thinks the “new” information about widespread internet piracy is startling.
Says these show that electronic commerce isn’t in shape in Finland.
He promises to propose an amendment in the law already during this year, which is aimed at making “three strikes”-threats possible.
Of course usual BS about letting parents know about their children pirating on the net is included in the reasoning.

3. http://yle.fi/uutiset/kotimaa/2010/05/nettikommentoijat_purkivat_nettipiratismin_taustoja_1709933.html
(URL title: Selected comments to previous article)

4. http://www.uusisuomi.fi/kulttuuri/93366-nettilataaja-viimeinen-varoitus-tulossa
(URL title: Internet downloader, your last warning is about to arrive)

Additional info to the above ones:
Amendment to the law is already done in ministry of education and culture, about to be sent into parliament handling!
( http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Tiedotteet/2010/05/wallin_nettipiratismi.html?lang=fi )

5. http://yle.fi/uutiset/kulttuuri/2010/05/tietoliikenneala_hyvaksyy_varoituskirjeet_tietyin_ehdoin_1710867.html
(URL title: FiCom aka Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics approves warning letters with some conditions)

Reijo Svento from FiCom says: We’re going to live with this new law, in case parliament decides to rubber-stamp on it. He also claims that this is going on worldwide..
It also requires a change into law about electronic privacy, since at the moment ISP’s cannot handle customer records due to piracy suspicions.
FiCom’s conditions:
a) Warning letters must be sent coming from the holder of IP
b) They must also bear the costs
c) ISP’s must not be required to keep records about people who have been suspected for piracy
And a comment from pirate party, see #6.

Suvi Lindén is also mentioned. She’s famous for being minister of communications without a clue how to handle anything regarding to her position.
Read: Whatever IP baddies whisper to her, will happen.

6. http://www.piraattipuolue.fi/ajankohtaista/lehdistoetiedotteet/474-piraattipuolue-ei-halua-uhkailukirjeitae-yhteenkaeaen-kotiin
(URL title: Pirate party doesn’t want threatening letters sent to any homes)

7. http://blog.starwreck.com/2010/05/25/avoin-kirje-ministeri-stefan-wallinille/
(URL title: An open letter to minister Stefan Wallin)

There’s a note in english at the bottom: “This post is in Finnish, an open letter to Finland’s minister of culture, who is ramping up anti-piracy initiatives in a way we find destructive to the media business.”
They are the makers of Star Wreck movie and currently working on Iron Sky.
Very good and thorough points, like why the effort (and money) isn’t spend on making those ecommerce shops available and good enough instead of threatening the buyers?
Another – would Wallin want to have all the mail examined because of financial crimes?

8. http://blog.piraattipuolue.fi/2010/05/piratismi-tuottaa-kansalle-yli-miljardi-euroa-voittoa-vuodessa/
(URL title: Piracy profits the people with over a billion euros annually)

Comment on the debate from blog of Pirate party.

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