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So-Called ‘Trade’ Treaties Like TPP and TTIP Threaten to Legalise Software Patents in Europe and Even Effectively Ban Software Freedom/Copyleft

Posted in GPL, Law, Patents at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trading the world for money and power

World trade

Summary: Revelations about the world’s largest secret collusions teach us about what rich and powerful people have in store for software patents, Free/libre software, and digital sharing economies

TECHRIGHTS does not and has not written much about so-called ‘trade’ agreements such as TPP and TTIP (there are several more, usually affecting other countries/continents). It’s not because the subject is not important but because we must focus on a narrower spectrum of topics, including the European UPC. News about ‘trade’ agreements usually just ends up in our daily links, under “Leftovers”, so it’s not being ignored.

We’re living in an age when if those in power commit crimes against millions of people (not just wars of conquest abroad but also domestic wars on the local population with its diminishing rights), they just simply rewrite the law to legalise these crimes after the act (e.g. CISA and Investigatory Powers Bill) and if there is something that bothers them (e.g. law-abiding citizens who are activists) or threatens their monopolies (anonymity-wielding protesters, software freedom etc.), they will simply try to demonise or altogether ban those things. It means we must always stay very vigilant and fight back, at the very least by informing peers.

It is becoming increasingly hard to overlook or ignore the impact of these aforementioned ‘trade’ agreements because the EPO‘s President meddles in them, as we showed less than a couple of days ago.

Benjamin Henrion, a longtime activist against software patents (especially in Europe), has noticed some rather disturbing things in the relevant TPP chapters, which Jamie Love has looked at and explained.

“This looks like it was composed by lobbyists of Free software foes, e.g. Microsoft.”“TPP chapter on software presumes software is patentable in the first place,” Henrion noted, pointing to this curious article titled “TPP has provision banning requirements to transfer or or access to source code of software”. In section 4 it says: “his Article shall not be construed to affect requirements that relate to patent applications or granted patents, including any orders made by a judicial authority in relation to patent disputes, subject to safeguards against unauthorised disclosure under the law or practice of a Party.”

This looks like it was composed by lobbyists of Free software foes, e.g. Microsoft.

“The TPP chaoter on software is basically trumping licences like the GPL with contract law,” Henrion later added. “Am I right?”

“Software patents boundaries will be challenged through ISDS courts and TPP,” Henrion added and Glyn Moody, who has become quite an expert in this area having covered it for years, responded with “same will be true under #TTIP: will be effectively impossible to remove *any* area from patentability – eg #swpats [software patents].”

The article in question is this one, which says: “Instead of combatting the ability to bring cases such as Eli Lilly’s, the TPP’s investment chapter invites them. Any time a national court – including in the U.S. – invalidates a wrongfully granted patent or other intellectual property right, the affected company could appeal that revocation to foreign arbitrators. The new language would also make clear that private companies are empowered by the treaty to challenge limitations and exceptions like the U.S. fair use doctrine, or individual applications of it. Adoption of this set of rules in the largest regional trade agreement of its kind would upset the international intellectual property legal system and should be subject to the most rigorous and open debate in every country where it is being considered.”

There is also this about TRIPS: “The investment chapter provisions on prohibited performance requirements includes a number of exemptions for intellectual property rights, compulsory licenses to patents under Article 31 of the TRIPS or for copyright, or remedies to anti-competitive practice, that protect U.S. state practice in those areas.”

It is imperative that people everywhere become familiar with these to-be-signed treaties before they are signed (if ever). It’s like ACTA from the back door and even if corporate media doesn’t write so much about it, this doesn’t make it any less important or urgent a matter. It’s often that case that the corporate media covers up (if it covers at all) and misleads the public about these treaties. At the end of the day we know who wants to see these treaties passed and at whose expense these can become a reality. It’s class warfare.

“There’s been class warfare for the last 20 years, and my class has won.”

Warren Buffett


GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software Dominance: What It Comes Down to is Patents

Posted in Apple, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Patents at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Proprietary software companies like Microsoft, Apple, Oracle etc. want lawyers to run their business

On legality

Summary: A decade after Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) surpassed its proprietary counterparts on technical terms/merit it is facing an increasing number of patent challenges, as well as disruptive takeover attempts

TECHRIGHTS was born out of the need to tackle Microsoft’s patent war on GNU/Linux. Back in 2006 Microsoft saw innovations such as Compiz whilst it had a lousy operating system called Vista (which even Microsoft executives were internally ranting about). It knew it was only a matter of time until Windows loses dominance outside the server room. Fast forward to 2016 and Android is expected to have nearly 90% of the market. Windows is in a state of disarray and Microsoft now tries to force people to use it, even if they don’t pay for it and don’t want it at all.

“Microsoft promotes lawyers to high management and tries to make patent extortion its new cash cow.”Microsoft tried to evolve, but it was all in vain. Remember the Microsoft Stores? Remember Surface (both the old and the new)? Microsoft is losing a lot of money in the hardware business (faulty by design [1]) and the online business (promises are being broken now in an effort to raise money [2]). Microsoft is now borrowing money — a lot of money in fact — to pay debts [3], confirming what we knew all along about Microsoft’s real financial situation.

As a result of Microsoft’s panic (losing billions of dollars) the company launched patent assaults on various companies (OEMs) that distribute Linux/Android. Microsoft promotes lawyers to high management and tries to make patent extortion its new cash cow. It is also disrupting Android from the inside, in an effort to better control it. Last month we wrote about Xamarin‘s (Microsoft proxy) takeover of RoboVM [1, 2, 3, 4] (still a subject of critical debate). Paul Krill wrote that “Hammond sees the bigger issue as Xamarin’s acquisition of RoboVM and its desire to support RoboVM iOS apps in the Apple App Store, which has taken a dim view of GPL licenses to date.”

Apple — like Microsoft — is also attacking Android backers like Samsung, using software patents that are inherently incompatible with the GPL. Apple is still bickering over patents in an effort to derail the dominant Linux-based platform, Android, according to this new report.

We expect the last remaining barrier for the triumph of Free software everywhere to be patents, and especially software patents. We are changing our site’s focus accordingly.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft’s Surface Book laptop is almost impossible to repair

    IFIXIT HAS taken Microsoft’s first laptop apart and found that it’s probably not a good idea to try to fix it yourself.

    Microsoft’s latest device went on sale last week in the US and has yet to see a UK release, but the people at iFixit have cracked it open and explained exactly what’s going on inside. And it’s not good.

  2. Microsoft is breaking its cloud-first promise

    There’s already a backlash against Microsoft’s surprise announcement, and it’s not a good look for the company given its impressive focus on mobile and the cloud. Microsoft is fighting a war against Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and many others for the business side of the cloud, but its consumer efforts are starting to look a lot more like Apple’s iCloud offering. Apple offers the bare minimum of free storage and entices consumers to pay more for iCloud by making its apps and operating system make the most of the cloud. Microsoft is now bullying OneDrive users into paying for the free storage it is now taking away.

  3. Enslaving M$

    It’s kind of embarassing to have to borrow money to pay debts… but that’s what M$ continues to do. It has $100 billion in liquid assets but it can’t repatriate them to USA without forking out a ton of money to Uncle Sam for taxes, so it borrows money at this end to pay for what it does day to day. The problem is chickens come home to roost. When the day inevitably comes that the world sees M$ has no clothes and that M$ is not the one true source of IT, the gravy train ends but the debts will have to be paid. At the last 10-Q quarterly report, M$ reported $36billion in short+long term debt. Now about half it’s liquid assets will be needed just to repay that debt.


Microsoft-Connected Xamarin Demolishes the Freedom of Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, GPL at 2:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s war on Android surely a benefactor here


Summary: An essential Android tool, RoboVM, turns into proprietary software just shortly after Xamarin, which is financially assisted by Microsoft veterans, takes over it; time to fork?

LAST WEEK we wrote about Xamarin‘s disturbing takeover of RoboVM [1, 2], which was a threat to Microsoft’s monopoly and domination of APIs (especially on the desktop). Xamarin, for the uninitiated, creates proprietary software that strives to spread Microsoft’s .NET to mobile (including Android) devices.

“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin, the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”
      –Abel Avram
It has only been less than a week and now we learn from Abel Avram that “RoboVM Is No Longer Open Source”.

“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin,” explains Avram, “the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”

“The community has wondered what would happen to RoboVM now that they have been acquired by Xamarin,” Avram noted. Well, now we know. Bye bye, community.

To quote further: “RoboVM is no longer providing the source code except to enterprise customers. [...] Several RoboVM components used to be made available under the Apache 2.0 license while the compiler was open sourced under the GPL license.”

It has gotten so bad that RoboVM might be forked. To quote Avram, “some developers consider that closing down the source code has to do with Xamarin’s acquisition. And some are discussing forking the project, perhaps starting with the sources v. 1.8 which will be pushed to GitHub this week, according to Zechner. It remains to see how successful they are in their endeavor considering that RoboVM is not a trivial piece of software.”

Xamarin and Mono were never about Free software and GNU/Linux; they were just a parasite trying to exploit Free software and GNU/Linux to spread .NET and now they serve to convert Free software into proprietary. Microsoft must love what Miguel de Icaza has been up to recently.

“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately [sic].”

Miguel de Icaza


Media Filled With Spin and Lies Amid Microsoft’s Admission of Internal Usage (and Modification) of GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 5:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “Microsoft loves Linux” lie… on steroids

Hilton hotel

Summary: Further analysis of Microsoft’s admission that it uses Linux internally and the media’s poorly-researched response to that

EARLIER this week we mentioned GPL-related issues pertaining to Microsoft's so-called 'embrace' of Linux, to put it crudely. Some people in various Web sites have pointed out that since Linux is not AGPLv{X}, this oughtn’t be a problem. “Dirty trick from Microsoft for ACS GNU/Linux distro,” Bob Summerwill called it, because “they stick with GPLv2 so they don’t have to share code.” These are actually legitimate points. Our headline was an open inquiry that said “But Where is the Source Code (GPL)?” This question mark at the end indicated that we were still looking for some answers. It has all been rather vague and widely misreported.

Amid the latest Microsoft openwashing by a Microsoft-associated network of propaganda sites (yes, they still want us to believe that Microsoft is an open source company!) we are looking for clarifications as to what Microsoft is really doing internally, hence secretly. It created some kind of proprietary version of “Linux”, or a derivative thereof. They built things on top of it, modifying GPL-licensed code (it won’t disclose what exactly was changed, when, why, and how).

Here is the ‘damage control’ from Microsoft, courtesy of Microsoft Peter, who previously helped Microsoft amid clear GPL violations that we covered in length [1, 2]. Peter is trying to frame this as something that it probably isn’t, shedding off obligations to release code changes. Given Peter’s history amid GPL violations from Microsoft (we covered this extensively at the time), we cannot take his arguments/claims at face value. A lot of the corporate media continues to refute Peter by saying that “Microsoft Launches Linux Operating System”, that “​Microsoft’s love affair with Linux deepens”, or that “Microsoft’s Linux-based cloud OS scores a win for SDN”. They’re obviously paying no attention to Peter, whose employer (an sworn apologist of Microsoft) has spread the ‘damage control’ to two Web sites (identical text, different headlines), one of which pretends to be British.

We continue to be disappointed to find very poor press coverage of this. One financial site was calling this exploitation of Linux code “Microsoft goes open source”. Well, they don’t even release any code, so how can that be “open source”? Lousy journalism.

Either way, since Microsoft hides what it has done and has not yet released any code, all one can do is guess. Relying on claims from Microsoft boosters and apologists is the worst one can do at this stage, especially with history in mind. Remember that Microsoft views the GPL as a “cancer” and moreover, because this so-called ‘cancer’ is so good, Microsoft has violated the GPL until it got caught (repeatedly).


Microsoft Claims to Have Built ‘Windows’ on Top of Linux, But Where is the Source Code (GPL)?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What if Microsoft® Windows Azure is actually what Microsoft calls “piracy”?


Summary: Microsoft cannot rely on Windows anymore, so it takes GNU/Linux code and puts its own brand on it, without even releasing the changes (as per the GPL’s requirements)

THOSE who pay careful attention to details and have fairly good memory can still recall that Microsoft had violated the terms of the GPL before it finally compiled. This happened at least once if not twice around the time Microsoft assaulted Linux to promote its proprietary hypervisor (obviously with back doors as Windows is a requirement) and later, just shortly afterwards, lifted some social media code. To Microsoft, GPL is still like “cancer”, to borrow the words of Microsoft’s CEO at the time. Microsoft is just trying to find a way to live with (or co-exist) with “cancer”.

There have been many reports that mostly emanate from Microsoft’s own, self-promotional claims. The Register has one of the earliest reports about this, followed by some Linux sites which asked the right questions, such as: “We don’t yet know when and if Microsoft will release the source code of the project and which licence they will use for it; the Linux kernel is licenced under GNU GPLv2, so it has to be a compatible licence.”

Various news sites twisted the story, if not just in the headlines, then in the body too. Microsoft boosters took this the furthest [1, 2] and rather than admit that Microsoft is more or less defeated by GNU/Linux (at the server level at least), they tried to belittle the importance of these revelations, which would inevitably have come out (Microsoft chose a ‘controlled’ release of the news). “Microsoft has built a Linux-based operating system” was the headline of one such report, but another way to put it is, Microsoft built its proprietary framework using GPL-licensed code from Linux. When will we see the source code and what does it say about Microsoft’s appreciation of its own code, which is obviously unfit for purpose in such complex environments of a very large scale?

To put the story in just one sentence, Microsoft realised that its own code/workforce is unable to put together a reliable hosting platform, so it turned to Linux, took some “cancer” it liked, then put its “Windows” and “Azure” branding on the whole lot. That’s ‘innovation’ the Microsoft way (there are many prior examples) and it may actually — for now at least — be a violation of copyright law. So who’s the “pirate”?


Microsoft’s Mouthpiece Mary Branscombe Tries to Shoot Down Free Software, But Fails Miserably

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: At the CBS-owned ZDNet, which is Free/Open Source software-hostile, new FUD surfaces, but the FUD is so flawed that a full rebuttal is easy and almost imperative

Microsoft still chronically hates Free/libre software (especially classic copyleft) and it is desperately craving for some ‘dirt’ on it, no matter how hard it is to find. Microsoft propagandist (for nearly a decade now, or at least half a decade, both at CBS and at IDG) Mary Branscombe decided to pick on Free/libre software. The result is laughable. It’s a terrible piece. ZDNet, part of CBS, published this nonetheless. The editor (probably Larry) was apparently OK with that.

With fair use in mind, we are going to deconstruct everything in Branscombe’s article and show that it’s just a pile of baloney. Let’s start with the headline:

“Open source: Free as in speech, beer – or puppy?”

Not even original. Sun’s old CEO used this analogy (“puppy”) a very long time ago, before Sun defected to Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and got a new CEO. Branscombe is just copying or even ‘stealing’ the analogy without any attribution.

“It’s hard to give developers more control over how their work is used and still keep it open source.”

That’s an insane talking point. It’s like saying that the needs of the developers to oppress the users outweigh the needs and the interests of users. Branscombe encourages and advocates user-subjugating software. How ethical does it make her seem? Moreover, as we shall explain later, this affects all types of software, including proprietary software. It’s not a FOSS issue at all.

“When you put your code out under an open source licence, how much control can you expect over what it’s used for?”

Free software developers are developing because they want people to use their software. If Branscombe had spoken to any developers (even those of proprietary software), she would quickly realise that exercising control over the users is not the goal of these developers. Exploiting users is often the job (or the goal) of non-technical managers, who sometimes share users’ data with marketers, spies, etc.

“Open source has often been described as ‘free as in speech, rather than free as in beer’. Yes, it’s software that’s free to use, but the lack of a price tag isn’t always the main point.”

That’s quoting Richard Stallman without naming him. But to say that free software means “free to use” is to show lack of comprehension of his points. Free/libre software isn’t about “free to use”; the four freedoms which Stallman speaks about are what it’s really about.

“For some it’s about not being encumbered by limiting commercial licences or patents and royalties, for others it’s about the importance of being able to see and modify the source code of what they’re running (or distributing source so users can see it).”

By “commercial licences” she means proprietary licences. That’s a different thing. Regarding “patents and royalties”, this may inadvertently refer to software covered by the terms described under the text of the GPLv3.

The point about “distributing source so users can see it” is bizarre because visibility alone does not make software “Free software” or even “Open Source”. That’s just how Microsoft fraudulently openwashes a lot of its software. Branscombe helps this villainous mirage.

Now comes some of the more horrid stuff, as Branscombe probably believes that she kindly introduced FOSS in a fair and balanced fashion.

“And as I’ve long said, open source can also be ‘free as in puppy’; you take on the responsibility of care and keeping when you start to depend on open source software.”

Right, because nobody ever comes to depend on proprietary software? Whose stewardship and maintenance are both monopolised by people whose agenda differs from yours? This, if anything, is a point against proprietary software.

“You can run into problems if the project is no longer developed, or pulled suddenly when the company is bought by Apple and you discover you were using open source components that depended on a closed source core like FoundationDB, and that core is no longer available.”

Because proprietary software companies never get bought? Or discontinue a product? Oh, wait, they do. And often. If it’s Free software, then you can at least take charge or rely on others to take charge (e.g. forks or newly-created successors). Again, if anything, this is a point against proprietary software. Branscombe twists a problem with proprietary software as one exclusive to Free software. We saw other examples of that shameless spin very recently, as recently as one week ago.

“That makes it vital to always look carefully at the licence for open source software, especially if your business is involved (that’s part of the care and keeping of the free puppy).”

Right, because proprietary software licences never change? Or the EULA (see how Vista 10 trashes privacy this week)? You don’t even get to vote on or reject those. If a Free software project diverges from a licence in a way that people are opposed to, they can then fork while maintaining the more desirable licence. This, in turn, puts more pressure on the developer to obey the needs of the users. It keeps developers honest and obedient to their users; they cannot merely ‘occupy’ and thereby mistreat users. Isn’t that a positive thing in a moral society?

“But for some software developers, the free speech comparison is getting more relevant.”

The example she thus provides is irrelevant to free speech:

“Take the GIMP project, which stopped using SourceForge to distribute the Windows installer for its open source image editor in 2013, because of the ads that started appearing on the site featuring download buttons for alternative versions of the software.”

Advertising is not a matter of free speech and denying advertising is not a matter of free speech, either.

“GIMP left the site up because there were so many links to it online, but stopped updating the installers there. SourceForge deemed the product abandoned and started mirroring the releases from GIMP, but it also ‘experimented’ with wrapping the GIMP installer with adware.”

Therein lies the problem. Adware. It’s not just about ads on a page. It’s proprietary garbage that is not wanted and is improperly bundled.

“The GIMP team wasn’t happy (and SourceForge stopped wrapping the installer, although it didn’t stop mirroring it). But because GIMP is under the GPL and LGPL licences SourceForge did nothing wrong: those licences allow software to be repackaged.”

Nobody ever alleged that SourceForge had violated any software licences, so it’s unclear where Branscombe is going with this. No point is being made except the fact that developers can revoke endorsement (not distribution) of some piece of software if inappropriately packaged. GIMP developers packed up and moved. That’s a good thing. Some call it “free market”.

“Android tool developer Collin Mulliner was equally upset to discover that Hacking Team (an Italian company that sells surveillance tools to governments) had used his Android framework to build their Android voice call monitoring software.”

That is a licence violation. So what’s her point?

“”For the future I will use a license for all my software that excludes use for this kind of purpose,” he said in the blog he wrote to make it clear that he didn’t work on the Hacking Team tool. But that might be hard: writing a licence that lets people use your code freely means they can use the code for anything they want.”

But Hacking Team violated the terms of the GPL. Therein lies the main issue. Proprietary software would not have done any better at preventing use for malicious purposes, so how is this even relevant?

“Douglas Crockford famously added a line to his licence for JSON that said it couldn’t be used for evil (and just as famously said that IBM had asked for a variation because they couldn’t guarantee that their customers wouldn’t use it for evil).”

Is that a bad thing?

“Yes, the GPL has repeatedly been used in court, but mostly to force companies to comply with the rules about open sourcing their own code if they’ve published software based on GLP-licenced code.”

The typo/bad English aside (the verb has an “s” in it, but maybe this poor pieces was composed in a rush), is Branscombe trying to insinuate that honouring a licence is a bad thing?

“Commercial use is easier to police, but anyone who is going to use open source code for evil is unlikely to pay much attention to licences that say they can’t, and having people use your code for purposes you don’t approve of is pretty much the definition of free speech.”

Proprietary software (commercial software as Branscombe calls it) has exactly the same issues, so what is her point anyway? Where is that “free puppy” point ever coming into play?

“It’s going to take some careful writing of licences to give developers more control over how software they open source is used in the ways they want, without stopping the open uses they want to enable.”

Again, nothing to do with “Open Source” (Free software) at all. Branscombe takes an issue that applies to all software and frames it as one pertaining to Free software. But why? Just look at Branscombe’s history of badmouthing Microsoft’s competitors.


Not Only Vista 10 Crashes a Lot, Any .NET Application Does Too (Updated)

Posted in GPL, Microsoft at 10:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘We had some painful experiences with C and C++, and when Microsoft came out with .NET, we said, “Yes! That is what we want.”‘

Miguel de Icaza

Summary: Microsoft software is quickly becoming synonymous with crashes as any piece of software developed with Microsoft’s tools, not just the underlying platform, crashes chronically

LESS than an hour ago we noted that the corporate media had finally realised that Vista 10 crashes a lot (we knew about it for quite a while because people from Microsoft told us).

Now that very severe .NET bugs are coming to the surface (as only some of the source code is being revealed) a friend of Microsoft reveals that not only .NET is unstable; any application developed with the “just-released .NET 4.6 runtime” is basically breaking, so badly in fact that there are chronic crashes. To quote Microsoft’s friend, Tim Anderson:

A critical bug in the optimizer in the just-released .NET 4.6 runtime could break and crash production applications, we’re warned.

“The methods you call can get different parameter values than you passed in,” says Nick Craver – software developer and system administrator for Stack Exchange, home of the popular programming support site Stack Overflow – in a post today.

This is what we have come to expect. It’s just Microsoft ‘quality’. With bugs like these, many applications could be compiled to include involuntary back doors. Microsoft now hopes to inject code into BSD/GNU compilers. These projects, in turn, should be principled and strict enough reject Microsoft’s shoddy code. When it comes to compilers, there is an increased security risk too, as our recent articles about Visual Studio explained [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], especially this article. You cannot build secure and robust software on a flaky and insecure (often by design) foundation.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Update (30/7/2015): Microsoft now acknowledges but downplays the issue.


Spinning Proprietary Software Dangers as Dangers of Free/Libre Software

Posted in Deception, FUD, GPL, Microsoft, Security at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “legally-binding” and “transparency” conundrums grossly distorted

Vintage marriage license

Summary: News sites mislead their readers, teaching them that the biggest dangers associated with proprietary software are in fact problems exclusive to Free/libre Open Source software

FOR Microsoft to ever pretend to care about security would basically mean to lie, blatantly. Microsoft works hand in glove with the NSA and it has, on numerous occasions, admitted that true security isn’t the goal. Its actions too show this repeatedly. Known flaws -- or holes, or bug doors, or whatever one frames them as -- are not being patched unless the public finds out about them.

In order to bolster security perceptions and to give an illusion that Microsoft actually cares about security and invests in security, the company has just hired some staff in Israel (acquisition is one other way to frame this). The media calls it “security provider”, but given Israel’s record on back doors, cracking (e.g. Stuxnet development), wiretapping etc. this is rather laughable. A lot of Microsoft’s so-called ‘security’ products are made in Israel, and some companies in this military-driven industry facilitate and cater for spies using back doors, usually under the guise of ‘security’ (they mean “national security”). We wrote about this in past years.

“This proves that security through obscurity is a myth that merely encourages people to rely on poorly implemented programs with shoddy security, whereupon developers choose to hide the ugliness of the code.”We were rather disturbed to see this bizarre article yesterday. Titled “Hackers targeting .NET shows the growing pains of open source security”, the article is a big lie. The headline is definitely a lie. .NET is PROPRIETARY (still), it has holes in it, and some fool tries to use it to call Free/libre software “not secure”. Let’s assume for a second that .NET code becoming visible to the world exposes many holes, indeed. It proves exactly the opposite of what the headline says then. If anything, it shows that Microsoft keeping the code secret assured low quality code and bred vulnerable code. Once shown to the world, these holes are being exploited. This proves that security through obscurity is a myth that merely encourages people to rely on poorly implemented programs with shoddy security, whereupon developers choose to hide the ugliness of the code. A lot of the claims from the article come from a FOSS foe, Trend Micro, but they can be framed correctly to state that, if anything, a public audit of .NET now shows just how terrible proprietary software can be, having never been subjected to outside scrutiny.

In other disturbing headlines we find another inversion of the truth. The Business Software Alliance (BSA), or the EULA police, has done a lot to show how dangerous proprietary software licences can be. Nevertheless, Slashdot with its pro-Microsoft slant as of late [1, 2] gives a platform to Christopher Allan Webber.

“Is this another false “I really like the GPL except” post,” asked us a reader. To quote the author: “The fastest way to develop software which locks down users for maximum monetary extraction is to use free software as a base” (oh, yes, those greedy Free software developers!)

The article has a misleading/provocative headline (hence we provide no direct link) and Bruce Perens, who had already accused Black Duck of FUD against the GPL (“I think it’s 100% B.S.,” he said three years ago), responded to the piece by stating:

I help GPL violators clean up their act, it’s my main business.

Every one has had a total lack of due diligence. I will come in and find that they have violated the licenses of 21 proprietary software companies (this is a real customer example) by integrating their code into their main product, just like the GPL code. Some of them only had an “evaluation” license, some not even that, some wildly violated the terms of any license they got.

Most of them are in silicon valley. They seem to have the attitude that they will clean up their legal problems when they’re rich, and nothing but getting their product out of the door matters until then.

They don’t ask me to feel sorry for them. I bill them a lot, and in the end, they’re clean and legal.

When it comes to legal risk and licensing, nothing beats proprietary software. It’s risky, it’s expensive (lock-in makes the exit barriers considerably higher), and it is very hard to obey or comply with, especially when you are low on staff and funds (must renew licences all the time). Contrariwise, it is very easy to comply with copyleft; there is no renewal work required and no renewal fees. All one is required to do is to maintain the copyleft of the code used. The rules are very simple.

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