“It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does [...] Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really ‘fundamental’ patents [...] The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection.”
–Linus Torvalds, 2007
Summary: Defense of Torvalds’ stance on patents and criticism of the spineless ‘Guardian’, which has become preoccupied and entangled with bizarre corporate agenda
IT HAS got to be hard for Torvalds to speak out. When he criticises Microsoft or Apple technologies, then the Wintel press portrays him as a basher, as someone who is immature and disrespectful. When he announced Linux 3.0 Microsoft Jack decided to go with a rather malicious headline and spin that negatively, as expected. When he speaks out against software patents Microsoft Florian repeats his smears of the funding sources of the Linux Foundation (which have the same inclination as many of the FSF’s funders) and other Microsoft boosters point to Torvalds’ patents that are not software patents and were acquired on behalf of an old employer of his. Linus Torvalds does not advocate software patenting and he never caved and got lured into it. “Muchas patentes son totalmente ridículas” says a new headline from Argentina (in Spanish), which basically quotes Mr. Torvalds. It is abundantly clear what his position is and nevertheless, Microsoft apologists for the most part wish to distort this fact. Likewise, some detractors of Techrights tried to portray yours truly as an apologist or hypocrite on the subject of software patents because some people in my field — not myself — are pursuing patents. I do not publicly attack other people my field or even my colleagues, but I do attack the practice of patenting in general. To expect Torvalds to attack his paymaster IBM in public is unreasonable. He probably knows IBM's stance and just being paid by IBM (like the FSF is) does not mean he inherits the same principles. There is some serious distortion of views these days, sometimes being the fault of lawyers who try to make it seem like their views are the views of programmers. Likewise, news which professes to be a watchdog has in fact become the rich men’s attack dog.
Glyn Moody, who used to write for the now-Gates-funded Guardian (which is promoting patents, even in Europe), has had enough of that. Not only does he show that Gates is a hypocrite but he also shows that the Gates-funded Guardian has lost its way. To quote:
That’s what Bill Gates said in 1991. He changed his mind, of course, when he realised that Microsoft could use its huge wealth to acquire vast numbers of software patents and deploy them as a weapon to crush or tax competitors. Granting software patents in the UK would simply allow that strategy to be applied here. It would be insanity to hand over such a huge advantage to the well-funded, established US software houses in this way.
That’s why the Hargreaves report was quite correct that the status quo must be preserved: to do anything else would probably spell the end of the UK software industry as we know it.
If the errors of the article are easy enough to rebut, there remains one more troubling issue: why on earth is the Guardian running it? At least the attack on open source that it published last week was flagged up in the headline as a comment piece – that’s fair enough. But the current post in the Guardian Technology Blog has no such heading. The author’s background is given at the foot of the piece, but a naïve reader would still assume that his views are shared by the Guardian. Are they? Does the Guardian really believe that the UK should emulate the US and allow software patents? If so, what on earth is it the guardian of, these days – intellectual monopolies?
I have occasionally read The Guardian since I was a teenager, even on this PDA on which I am typing this blog post. This publication is no longer to be treated as defender of the people. Many publications perished because of the Internet; The Guardian is now surviving in rich men’s pockets. It is no way to be credible. It’s more like controlled opposition, depending on who pays.
One of Gates’ boosters, Heim, wrote that “Cooper, the journalism professor, finds it “laughable” when media claim Gates money doesn’t influence their coverage.”
“It would be naive to believe big-money foundations don’t play the same game that corporations and other special interests do,” wrote Cooper. Since Gates owns a lot of key outlets and uses them to seed his propaganda, we should not expect much resentment against patents coming from these sources. Gates adores patents, it’s what he is all about and what he invests his money in.
In order for GNU/Linux to ‘win’ software patents must die. Do not expect those in power to want software patents to vanish. Protectionism supports and increases the power of those already in power. This includes patent bullies like Steve Ballmer. █
‘A fund manager from one of Microsoft’s largest shareholder’s reportedly told Reuters, “Bill Gates is a ruthless capitalist. If he wanted to, he’d walk Ballmer to the door himself”.’ [Four days ago]