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10.20.10

Mobbyists and Lobbyists (Notably BSA) Marginalise Free Software in Europe Using Lies About RAND

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Standard at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BSA

Summary: The lobby for software patents inside standards that everyone must implement is growing in Europe and those who are behind it are also tied to Microsoft

ACT, the Microsoft pressure group which fakes the voice of European SMEs, is getting some backup from other lobbyists who push Microsoft’s interests in Europe, especially when it comes to software patents.

Using “SMEs” as an example or excuse, now it’s Dewar who is promoting a back door to software patents in Europe: [via FFII]

“There are a whole host of policies in the flagship which will favour SMEs. On intellectual property, for example, the EU patent would dramatically reduce the cost of patenting in Europe, which would particularly benefit SMEs. But in addition, the commission will make proposals for a European knowledge market for patents and licensing.

“The EU patent plus the European market place for IPs would allow SMEs both to patent more of their inventions, and also to trade and exchange them on equal terms with larger companies,” Dewar told the meeting.

She went on, “This is particularly critical in sectors such as semi-conductors and telecoms where companies need to bundle together many existing technologies and therefore require access rights to a range of IPRs.

Dewar probably means well, but she needs to understand what Vincent Van Quickenborne ought to understand too [1, 2, 3]. The unifications they crave provide an opening through which software patents can reach Europe. It’s no coincidence that Microsoft’s lobbying blog and lobbying group ACT both lobby for it. This would be bad for software freedom.

Generally speaking, a lot of disinformation agents of Microsoft appear to be multiplying. The very GNU/Linux-hostile Jeff Gould is back to his old routine after a couple of years away. Microsoft Florian is back too and having already spread disinformation about RAND over a months ago he is doing it again. LWN should reconsider its policy because it has been giving a platform for this mobbyist to spread lies and now it is feeding Gould as well, despite a consistent record of attacks on GNU/Linux.

The Gerson Lehrman Group’s site is carrying this missive from Jeff Gould giving a rather wild-eyed analyst view of Oracle’s enterprise kernel update.

The mobbyists have begun more transparently adopting the same tactics and party line as the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Glyn Moody says that the “US Attorney General parrots BSA’s nonsense about software piracy…”

The BSA is deceiving for living, not just bullying businesses. Well, that’s how politics works, too. The software landscape may be no exception after all.

Carlo Piana writes: “I’m disturbed by claims that RAND is compatible with FS. It is NOT, by&large, it’s against Freedom # 2.”

FSFE says: “exactly. We (FSFE) are rebutting BSA wanting all RAND acceptable. Not arguing “#swpats MIGHT be compatible w/ FOSS””

“I’m disturbed by claims that RAND is compatible with FS.”
      –Carlo Piana
Andrew Katz, a lawyer, has already put the kibosh on the mobbyists’ lies about RAND. He writes: “my personal view is that RAND is against all freedom in spirit, and against some licences in word (e.g. GPL)”

Piana adds: “in other words, yes, if you imply open standards as in FSFE def. (incl. no running royalties forever)”

This won’t stop Microsoft Florian, for example, from lying. He is still pushing the same line as BSA and ACT, Microsoft’s front groups on these issues; the difference is that he pretends to be pro-FOSS (which he is not) and against software patents, but he is pushing the BSA’s party line. Some ‘reporters’, only/mostly in ZDNet on the face of it, are still willing to chew the falsehoods from lobbyists and mobbyists. It’s just sad. Regarding the BSA-FSFE altercations [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] David Meyer writes: “Lobbyists clash over open standards in Europe” (it makes it sound like FSFE is a lobbying group).

In its letter to the Commission (PDF), dated 7 October, the BSA called for “an express endorsement of technologies made available on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms”, rather than the preference for open specifications that apparently exists in the draft EIF revision.

The BSA said a tilt towards open specs would “undermine the innovativeness of European standards”, adding that the recommendation suggested that such standards should be “free of intellectual property rights”. The organisation also pointed to many technologies that are licensed on FRAND terms, such as Wi-Fi, GSM and MPEG.

The FSFE sent its own letter to the Commission on Friday, saying the BSA’s letter showed “a gross misconception of standards, their role and their working”.

“Business Software Alliance pressuring the European Commission to remove support for Open Standards,” says this tweet which refers to the FEFE’s ongoing struggle to restore or promote software freedom in Europe. In a new post titled “Battling the Hydra” (by Karsten Gerloff) there are some updates on the subject and Dana Blankenhorn is still acting as Microsoft Florian’s sidekick. In a new post titled “How open source advocates beat themselves” (Summary says “Calling someone else “IBM Stu” or “Microsoft Dave” is what gives vendors their power over open source”) Blankenhorn seems to dismiss FSFE as just a lobbyist (Microsoft Florian loves throwing blows at FSFE/FFII, claiming them to be IBM lobbyists). To quote part of this awful post which looks like it was ghostwritten by or written in the spirit of Microsoft Florian:

But there was a time, long before ZDNet, when I did some consulting. A company I worked for had contracts with some very big vendors indeed, under strict non disclosure agreements (NDAs).

I learned a lot from those contacts, about the decision-making process within those clients. Did it make me their lapdog? Not at all.

My point is that the assumption of corruption in others does grave damage to the cause. The use of rumors — calling someone else “IBM Stu” or “Microsoft Dave” — is what gives vendors their power over open source.

Not surprisingly it soon turns out that Blankenhorn and Microsoft Florian have just met. “Pretty crazy” called it someone who told us about it via mail. “Has FOSS lost the battle against patents” is the post under which Blankenhorn reveals his affinity for Microsoft Florian.

It’s Florian Mueller (right), and he wrote it on his FOSSPatents blog last week, shortly after I met with him in Munich.

Well, at least he no longer pretends to be pro-FOSS. And the “Linux and Open Source” blog at ZDNet has become somewhat of a platform for Microsoft Florian to spout out his inaccuracies and lies. What a shameful situation. The FFII has meanwhile responded to the acts of the BSA; it labels it “espionage” and says: “Like a thief returning the product: BSA sent the Commissioners a letter commenting on unreleased official drafts.”

In summary, Microsoft’s lobby for software patents in Europe (mostly through RAND) is gaining steam and those who are behind it are in Microsoft’s pocket, as expected.

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