Summary: Copyleft licences such as the *GPL family are under attack and perpetrators against copyleft often have strong links to Microsoft
THERE are some companies out there whose main output is articles about how “expensive” it is to comply with copyleft licences. One such company, Protecode (see this latest press release), does not seem like it’s connected to Microsoft, unlike other such firms (headed by or founded by Microsoft veterans). It’s quite a new wave of FUD and it seems to be well coordinated. Bruce Perens calls the FUD "BS" although he appears not to even know about the Microsoft connections (he pointed this out in relation to OpenLogic, but not Black Duck, both of which have very strong Microsoft connections).
Recently, a member of the Asay family disseminated some copyleft FUD, receiving some resultant coverage (i.e. seeding the ideas) from unexpected people, including Glyn Moody. Here are some articles that I humbly do not recommend because they are hinged on the idea that copyleft FUD is in fact true:
FLOSS is about Freedom, allowing the recipient of the software to examine the code, run it, modify it and to distribute it under the same terms. A move to put Free Software in the public domain undermines that. A monopolist can take public domain software, tweak it to be incompatible with Free Software that is in the public domain and use leverage to enslave users. Free Software needs copyright as a lingua franca for licensing so that no monopolist can hide the code and force millions into slavery. Public domain would be great if there were no evil people in the world trying to take advantage of people to complete their power-trip.
Of course, moving to PD wouldn’t mean that today’s free software licences disappear – they will still be there for those who wish to use them. As ever, choice and personal freedom are crucial. But I hope that people will think twice about introducing new licences, or even updating old ones. In particular, I hope that there will never be a GNU GPL version 4. Instead, we need to complete the revolution that Richard Stallman began nearly three decades ago by making free software truly free, placing it in the public domain, and severing the chains that still bind it to that three-hundred-year-old monopoly called copyright.
Black Duck, unlike Protecode, is connected to Microsoft, but that is not the main point. The main point is that selection bias in reporting and also in data gathering has helped manufacture that FUD which Microsoft so badly craved. We showed this about 4 years ago when Microsoft signed some deals that feed data bias. Moreover, it has served as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy since 2009, deterring developers from picking copyleft licences. The FSFE’s founder has already responded to Glyn Moody, saying to him the following things:
“Since all the “evidence” for that comes from neo-proprietary proponents, I remain sceptical. My experience tells me the opposite.” [Source]
“..the are the main beneficiaries of the “let’s not use Copyleft anymore” approach. No more CAs required.” [Source]
“but then: Apple also did not fare so badly with its “only take what’s not Copyleft” approach. And Google also is not a fan.” [Source]
“So I see a pattern here, and a marketing/image campaign by the primary beneficiaries of a move away from Copyleft.” [Source]
“”oddly”, I would say. I think I saw this particular wave of spindoctoring peak after GPLv3 came out. What a coincidence.” [Source]
Some former Microsoft staff trying to exaggerate costs of “compliance” is not news. We wrote about OpenLogic almost half a decade ago. There is an agenda there. We need to expose those who are serving this agenda. More importantly, we need to spread awareness that this is happening. In some cases we see Microsoft funding academic staff to manufacture copyleft FUD, corrupting public trust in government-run institutions (Microsoft was also Obama’s #2 funder in the 2012 elections). █
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Microsoft too daemonises GPLv3 because it helps remove restrictions
Summary: Some FUD from patent lawyers and a badge of honour for the GPLv3 (our enemies’ enemy)
The patent lawyers, known for their systematic lying, win another case. They always win, no matter which side gets a favourable ruling. It’s like arms industries during war. So lawyers alone got nearly £10,000,000, enough to buy 100 cheap houses. This is just what we see as the result of one single lawsuit. And yet, with patent debates we usually just see lawyers everywhere. Here, as part of a long-running rigged ‘debate’, is a lawyer at Wired with “It’s Time to Make Vague Software Patents More Clear” (link). Yes, we see calls for more of the same. And no, we oughtn't listen to lawyers when it comes to patent policy and this latest suggestion is definitely not the solution to the problem, it’s a distraction.
Other patent lawyers are currently smearing the GPLv3 for what they call “patentleft” (oh, the horror!), showing to us just how apathetic they are towards software freedom. To quote:
The much publicised patent litigation between Apple and Samsung (reportedly the highest-value claim in patent litigation to date) has served as a reminder that software patents are increasingly important. Thus, it is essential to protect patent portfolios from negative impacts – which could be caused by the ‘patentleft’ effect when dealing with open source software.
Some other patent lawyers cite Kappos, another lawyer, as figure of authority and the UK’s Open Source Consortium responds thusly:
Departing #uspto director shows fine sense of #irony “we need to fix #swpats”
This is the same man who has defended software patents (swpats) while he was heading the USPTO. What we really need right now is GPLv3 in EFI/UEFI restricted boot as it would help eliminate FAT patent threats universally. Intel EFI was released under the BSD license or Eclipse Public License (EPL) as TianoCore. EFI was also used to deter against the use of GPLv3, under the premise that it would be incompatible with restricted boot. █
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Summary: Microsoft proxies openwash Microsoft and help suppress adoption of copyleft licences such as the GPL
The creation of Mr. Levin is appalling and it is becoming more blatant about it all. Black Duck, a PR front for many purposes and somewhat of a Microsoft proxy, is openwashing Microsoft and attacking the GPL, especially after entering an agreement with Microsoft (in public) around 2009. Watch this latest nonsense that Levin’s company paid to flood news wires with. Perhaps it pushed journalists too, generating puff pieces like “Microsoft, Yahoo Among Open Source ‘Rookies of the Year’”. It says:
Each year, Black Duck unveils what it calls the Rookie Open Source Projects of the Year. The Massachusetts company sells software for managing open source projects, and its annual list is a way of promoting both itself and the wider open source software community. But the list is also good reading.
This year, Microsoft made a surprise appearance, as did Yahoo, which fell down a bit in terms of developer relations last year, thanks to heavy layoffs and its widely panned patents policy.
Mac Asay wrote this:
It’s déjà vu all over again for Microsoft, as Black Duck Software has named Redmond’s TypeScript project among its 2012 Open Source Rookies of the Year – despite Microsoft spending nearly a decade trying to figure out this crazy communist software manifesto.
Back in 2001, Microsoft labeled open source a “cancer,” “un-American,” and a threat to rich software capitalists everywhere. By 2003, however, it was limping along the right track with the introduction of its Shared Source Initiative, and not long after started releasing open-source code of its own and creating its own open-source software lab.
So why is Microsoft still considered an open-source rookie in 2013, 10 years later?
Asay has had some connections and interactions with Levin et al. so it’s sensible to suspect they pushed him to it (e.g. by E-mail, just like Microsoft Florian). Using prophecies Black Duck has been trying to take companies off the GPL, just like other Microsoft moles (e.g. Walli). Asay helps those people, having himself publicly chastised the GPL (after he had promoted it but then got lobbied). Here we see another Microsoft proxy, OpenLogic, promoting a move out of GPL. And guess who Microsoft hired after many payouts? Apache leadership, which we wrote about before. Microsoft uses Apache againzt GNU GPL. Those who are familiar with history or chronology here will know that it’s evident, and Microsoft hopes to consume FOSS so that it doesn’t use GNU licenses and instead runs on Microsoft stacks, such as Office, SharePoint, SQL Server, etc. █
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Summary: The goals of Black Duck are doubted by former Debian Leader and key OSI man
Bruce Perens, a key person in the FOSS movement, previously named OpenLogic negatively for their founder and manager from Microsoft.
Well, Black Duck is a similar story. It has strong Microsoft connections. It does not like the GPL, either. So who benefits from this if not Microsoft and perhaps some other proprietary software (and pro-patents) companies like Black Duck itself?
“I think it’s 100% B.S. And it appears to me that it’s driven by Black Duck and it really is time that someone called them upon it. ”
–Bruce PerensPerens was asked the following question some days ago: “What is your reaction to the frequent stories in various media about people migrating away from the GPL ”
Perens replied: “I think it’s 100% B.S. And it appears to me that it’s driven by Black Duck and it really is time that someone called them upon it. I think the stories get them publicity, and maybe they are appealing to a prospective customer base who are indeed nervous about the GPL. But the trend they portray isn’t a real one.” █
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Summary: Tracking the latest of Intellectual Ventures, Black Duck, and Ohloh, which were all founded by Microsoft veterans and executives
We recently discovered that attempts are under way to make public a lot of information about about the secretive patent troll that Microsoft created to extort a lot of companies behind closed doors. Mr. Masnick’s great Web site says:
We’ve written about patent trolling giant Intellectual Ventures many times, including how it is notoriously secretive about almost everything. Its deals with companies (often involving them forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to not get sued) are hidden away behind strict non-disclosure agreements. It also hides the various patents in over 1,000 shell companies. At other times it “sells” patents to independent trolls, but most people believe that it still gets a cut of any revenue that comes out of those trolling operations.
An operation called IP Checkups — a “patent analytics firm” — is trying to shine some more light on IV’s secret patent portfolio and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to investigate the company’s patents.
We have already gathered a lot of information about it, and much of it is bound together by our wiki. We correctly identified this racket as a source of future abuse back in 2007. Another firm that got our attention is Black Duck because that too is a company founded by Microsoft folks, who later hired yet more Microsoft folks (Ohloh) and used as their main output GPL-hostile messages (every few months for years). Some of the Microsoft veterans boast code search, but they had always been Microsoft-leaning, even before Black Duck acquired them. Here is the latest:
Black Duck Software today announced enhancements to Ohloh, the world’s most comprehensive developer resource for evaluating and tracking open source projects, contributors and code. Organizations can now aggregate their open source contributions across many projects, providing new visibility into community growth and top contributors. In addition, Ohloh Code, the leading open source code search engine, has graduated from beta, providing fast access to the world’s open source code base.
As we showed years ago, Ohloh is saturated with C#. Be wary of companies set up by people from Microsoft. The problem is, the vast majority of people do not know which companies those are. Another such company, founded and run by an ‘ex’ Microsoft manager, is called OpenLogic. It too has spread GPL-hostile messages while selling proprietary software (not “open” like the company’s name).
Techrights is not out to daemonise companies or individuals; it strives to alert when FOSS-hostile forces masquerade as pro-FOSS (e.g. Microsoft Florian on Microsoft’s payroll), so it’s merely a reactionary force. It’s self defence. █
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Summary: Arguments against the GPLv3 turn out to have come from companies which all along were nothing but trouble
HE third version of the GPL is largely accepted, widely adopted, and those who are affected by it are mostly out of business, e.g. Novell. Novell and SUSE opposed the GPLv3. “Linus is changing distros,” told us iophk, quoting Linus Torvalds as saying:” I gave OpenSUSE a try, because it worked so well at install-time on the Macbook Air, but I have to say, I’ve had enough. There is no way in hell I can honestly suggest that to anybody else any more.”
“That’s good news,” says iophk. But another company which the GPLv3 affects is TiVo, which not only pioneered the malpractice now known as “TiVoization” but also became a patent aggressor with growing appetite (it wants of billions of dollars from software patents). TiVo is a very bad company, no matter if it leverages Linux. See our TiVo wiki page for details. Might all Americans with cable television be forced to pay “TiVo tax” for some software patents?
The GPLv3 sought to address two problems which TiVo makes real. The obvious one is “TiVoization”; The other one is software patents. Sadly, a Microsoft marketing executive created a company which routinely bashes the GPL. It is called Black Duck and days ago we found yet more statistics that contradict its dubious, proprietary output (saturated with Microsoft input after a Microsoft deal). We put that in our daily links.
In other news, trolls suffer a loss against Nintendo in the US:
Today sees Nintendo of America prevailing in a patent infringement lawsuit. At the center of the case was the Wii remote, Wii Balance Board, and Wii Fit software. Impulse technology claimed that these three devices or software infringed upon their patent (U.S. Patent No 5,524,637) which was issued in 1996.
Note that this is an American lawsuit. Nintendo is not an American company, but this is where the patent system breeds trolls. We need the GPLv3 to prevent this, but first the licence must become widespread. It’s clear why Microsoft spreads a lot of FUD about it, usually through proxies. █
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Summary: The company which bullies Red Hat using software patents makes itself an enemy of GNU, too
The case of Twin Peaks was covered in several legal sites before. Groklaw says that GPL has become central in this case, and one might say in a very familiar way. To quote Webbink, writing about his former employer: “In the following paragraph (33) Twin Peaks accepts the Court’s observation about open source software, but Twin Peaks then denies any of the remaining allegations of paragraph 33 of the counterclaims. Effectively, Twin Peaks thus denies that in Jacobsen the Federal Circuit held open source licenses enforceable under copyright law. Really?
“In paragraph 38 et. seq. Twin Peaks denies sufficient information to admit that the GPLv2 places restrictions on distribution. Twin Peaks denies sufficient information to admit the very provisions of the GPLv2 that Red Hat cites. In paragraph 45 Twin Peaks denies that the program in question (util-linux and the “mount” program) are licensed under GPLv2.
“The bottom line is that Twin Peaks is going to attempt what others have attempted, i.e., to prove the GPL is either inapplicable or unenforceable. The problem Twin Peaks will face is the fact that not one, but two, separate Courts of Appeal, one of which is the Federal Circuit, have already addressed this issue as well as the issue of injunctive relief.”
Cases that challenge the GPL are important for all sorts of reasons (we covered them before). They strike at the core of copyleft. So far, the GPL has always won. █
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Summary: The latest FUD from Microsoft and some of those who attack Free software
Professor Moglen wrote about the case of a parasite versus Red Hat, noting that GPL violation is now being alleged by Red Hat: “Twin Peaks Software, Inc., which makes proprietary data replication and cloud storage software, sued Red Hat and its subsidiary Gluster for patent infringement back in February. Last week, Red Hat filed a counterclaim in that litigation, alleging copyright infringement by Twin Peaks in misappropriating GPL’d software.
“Red Hat’s counterclaim asserts that Twin Peaks has copied GPL’d code, from mount, into their proprietary mount.mfs utility, which is distributed to licensees of their data replication products. Red Hat holds copyright on most of the code in the relevant version of mount, which is part of the util-linux package.”
As put by another site, “Red Hat Says Twin Peaks In GPL Violation, Seeks Injunction”. As a reminder, it is copyright law that helps enforce the GPL. To quote the article: “If you remember, Red Hat was sued by a company called Twin Peaks over patent infringement. In its lawsuit filed in March 2012, Twin Peaks alleged that Red Hat and its newly acquired subsidiary Gluster infringed upon its U.S. Patent 7,418,439 Mirror file system. The patent was filed in 2001 and issued in 2008. According to the patent description, A mirror file systems (MFS) is a virtual file system that links two or more file systems together and mirrors between them in real time. Twin Peaks seek injunctions and damages for the alleged patents.”
So it is clear that the GPL finds copyright law a necessity, not wholly a nuisance. In that case, why does Microsoft continue to abuse the population of Kenya [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] by showering it with lies? Here is the latest lie: “Information Technology firms are warning of increased cyber-attack should the Government move to ditch copyrighted software.
“We expect Microsoft to play dirty and to lie as it always does in Kenya, based on what we saw.”The headline says “State warned on ditching copyrighted software”. To quote further: “Last week, the Government issued a warning that in the next three years it will move its IT operations to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), a move that will reduce cost by more than half in IT expenses.
“Microsoft said the move is risky and bound to make Government systems more vulnerable to hackers.
““We agree with the open standards but not the free and open source software strategy,” said Paul Roy Owino, technology advisor, Microsoft East and Southern Africa.”
We expect Microsoft to play dirty and to lie as it always does in Kenya, based on what we saw. █
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