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09.28.10

Microsoft Front Group BSA Lobbies Against Open Standards and for Software Patents in the UK

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Standard at 9:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is the latest Microsoft-funded lobby which is shown doing Microsoft’s ‘dirty work’ in Europe

THE BSA has a long tradition of lobbying for Microsoft on the subject of patents and standards. It’s just one of those front groups like the ones we mentioned a couple of hours ago.

Not so long ago there was a meeting at Westminster eForum and it was attended by Free software proponents, who were somewhat shocked to find it stuffed by Microsoft lobbyists that use almost the exact same talking points as Microsoft Florian and ACT (RAND proponents because it blocks Free software).

“They all use the same lobbying line, almost as though they study from common guidebooks.”The head of the FSFE, who is currently under attack from Microsoft Florian, said to me that “Two separate Microsoft reps pushed the same (F)RAND position at IGF week before last, plus BSA last Thursday.” He was talking about ACT’s appearance at IGF [1, 2, 3, 4] (ACT had three lobbyists in a row). “I couldn’t be less amazed, really. Just dimly sick. Arguments disqualify their proponents,” wrote Carlo Piana. They all use the same lobbying line, almost as though they study from common guidebooks. “This is like Florian mueller wrote it. Completely pro-M$,” wrote gnufreex regarding this new post about an older leak we covered in posts such as:

Anyway, among those who attended Westminster eForum there was Glyn Moody, who received a compliment when someone said he is “incredibly good at deflating nonsense w/o getting angry. Watch him dissect BSA’s standards FUD” (here are just portions of the post in question):

Last week I went along to the grandly-named Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar on Open source software: in business, in government. The good news was that it offered one of the best line-ups of open source know-how in the UK I have come across. The bad news was that the seminar’s venue was quite small and not even full: these people really deserved a much bigger audience. The poor turnout was a sad reflection of how far open source still has to go in this country in terms of mainstream recognition and interest.

Things began with Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundaion Europe, giving a nice, gentle intro to all the basic concepts. There then followed a number of sessions, all of which had names that will be familiar to readers of this column.

For example, one on “Implementation and the costs of open source and free software” had fellow blogger Andrew Katz, as well as Alan Lord, Director of the Open Learning Centre (his speech is now online). Taking part in a discussion of “The challenges of deploying open source software in the public sector” was Mark Taylor, a tireless advocate of open source in business and government, and also a blogger here on Computerworld UK.

[...]

So once I had focussed my age-addled brain on the presence of the BSA at this event, I then re-read the title of the talk – “The European debate on software interoperability, openness and freedom of choice”, and noticed the words “freedom of choice”. I suddenly knew exactly where this one was going.

[...]

My impression was that Mingorance’s presentation depicted such RF licences and the software that required them in a rather negative light. The GNU GPL, for example, which is one of the main licences that cannot accommodate FRAND licensed-standards, was described by him as “IP-restrictive.” Since “IP” is actually a government-granted monopoly – and most people agree that monopolies are bad things – that’s like describing the police as “criminal-restrictive”: true, but a decidedly odd way of looking at things.

[...]

The trouble, then, is that BSA is inconsistent: it asks for “dogmatic preferences” to be avoided, with no “favour” being shown to “one software development model”, but fails to recognise that its own preference for FRAND, rather than RF, licensing is “dogmatic” in precisely this way, since it favours certain development models over others, like those producing GPL-licensed software.

So when it comes to creating level playing-fields through open standards, let’s avoid double standards. RF licensing discriminates against no one, and favours no one; it maximises the number of rival offerings and hence increases the overall competition. This allows customers to procure their software “based on functionality, performance, security, and cost of ownership”: who could possibly be against that?

Microsoft lobbies extremely heavily against Free software right now. Those who have not noticed probably don’t know Microsoft’s lobbyists. Microsoft rarely lobbies directly just as it rarely markets its products and stalks its opponents directly. We gradually map them.

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