Summary: Microsoft proxies or offshoots are not managing to keep their cover and legitimate figures in the Free software world end up ostracising these
TECHRIGHTS recently wrote about the latest FUD from Black Duck, which has its roots in a person from Microsoft. Bruce Perens said that more people should call out this firm for its dubious claims about the GPL and now we see Simon Phipps, the president of the OSI, speaking about the problem. To quote:
So the real risk is much smaller than the headline numbers suggest. In all this, I can’t help feeling Black Duck want us to be afraid. It’s very important that Github takes its responsibilities seriously, and their new improvements show they are starting to do so. But the headline “60% of open source is dangerous” number from Black Duck, together with the “77% of Github is dangerous” number, seem over stated. Given their business model is to apply reassuring consulting and tools to corporate fears about open source, maybe that’s not surprising. But it’s regrettable.
Open source software is all about developers being able to achieve sufficient certainty to collaborate without the need to spend money on legal advice. OSI’s approved licenses deliver that, and the vast majority of active open source projects have this topic sorted. While Github’s laissez faire attitude to date has led to a good deal of inconvenience identifying the license in use for projects there, as well as pandering to the anti-bureaucratic instincts of the newer generation of developers, it’s now being sorted and it never rose to the level of a crisis for most people.
It must have been frustrating for Black Duck to have the PR spin on their new product thwarted by Github; I just wish they had responded by toning down the “danger, danger” message. Open source has a lower compliance burden than proprietary software and its endless, custom EULAs and developer licenses. Let’s shout that message, for a change.
Not too long ago Phipps also chastised a Microsoft proxy called Microsoft 'Open' Technologies.
After all the GPL fear that was spread by Black Duck it is too hard to believe anything it says. Black Duck was also honouring Microsoft with 'open source' awards (lending legitimacy with mere words and hype), not disclosing that it had a Microsoft business partnership and also a strong Microsoft connection (the firm’s founder) since its inception. The thing to remember about Black Duck is, they’re not selling FOSS or even any valuable information, just FUD and proprietary software. Moreover, they deserve no mercy or the benefit of the doubt (as there is doubt no more and the doubt only ever comes from them, along with fear and uncertainty about using FOSS code).
Yes, how profoundly ‘open source’. As long as the rest is all proprietary, everywhere else inside the stack… █
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“There’s free software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”
–Bill Gates, April 2008
“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
Summary: The ongoing war by Microsoft and its proxies against software freedom, which gives more value to the world’s industry than the FUD would have people believe
There is another reason to abandon the term “Open Source”, which left the term “Free software” more vulnerable to abuse by bad people, makers of proprietary software. Here is Bill Gates’ latest attempt to run over Free/libre software, characterising his trap as “free”. To quote a Romanian site:
Bill Gates had a very interesting opening keynote speech at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2013, explaining that he was grateful for the existence of free software, when asked about patents and their influence on technology.
“Thank God for commercial software. It actually funds salaries, gives people jobs. And thank God for free software, it lets people get things out there, you can play around, build on. The two work very well in an ecosystem,” stated Bill Gates during the Q&A.
This is nonsense, as anybody with a clue knows that commercial means not proprietary and Free/libre can be used commercially, paying wages to users and developers.
A lot of this kind of attacks on Free software usually goes back to Microsoft and its proxies. Right now we have Black Duck, a company created by a marketing guy from Microsoft, throwing around some numbers, looking for sites that will print them. Here is one:
Open source consulting firm BlackDuck says up to $59 billion may be locked up in open source projects with no explicit license. Is that lost revenue for channel partners and software companies?
Here is the press release. What nonsense. Trying to quantify code in terms of revenue is not the only silliness; it is the idea that money is being lost as a result of having no licence. Similar propaganda was previously used to describe FOSS as a jobs destroyer, as if people are writing software with such aims. Some tried to portray FOSS as a cause for losses in the industry, not a saver of money and elevator of productivity (which in turn makes room for more hirings per given budget). This is the type of propaganda we are up against and we keep seeing it brought up also in public talks.
Here is another new example of Black Duck being used to reinforce FUD — namely the idea that Free software is about cost, not freedom, and that it is chosen for price, not other qualities. Watch how the Black Duck-run Future of Open Source survey [1, 2, 3, 4] is being used to spread misconceptions. This new FOSS-hostile article (“The Hidden Cost of Free”) says: “Bottom line, open source may be “eating the software world,” but not all of it. For ISVs and other software development professionals, open source is a no-brainer. We use it in development and in our commercial products wherever and whenever it makes sense. It is free, after all, and the quality is second to none, as this year’s Future of Open Source survey reinforces.”
Black Duck reinforces all sorts of proprietary software talking points. Black Duck is, after all, a proprietary software company.
“This is the type of propaganda we are up against and we keep seeing it brought up also in public talks.”Speaking of FUD against FOSS, the latest Android security fear-mongering comes from a Microsoft partner created and managed by a Microsoft guy (who hopes to turn Android perceptions into Windows perceptions when it comes to security). To quote the company’s description: “He is also a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Visual Developer Security, a frequent speaker, press resource, and is featured regularly in the Associated Press and global security media.”
“Bluebox was founded in mid-2012,” it says, and it was groomed by the Gartner Group (currently fully dedicated to Android FUD and monetisation attempts, akin to Black Duck).
The war on FOSS is very real and Microsoft partners are trying to remove the F from FOSS or altogether make it proprietary. A few days ago we showed how three Micrososft-controlled entities threw around (or under the bus) and blurred out the FOSS identity of Zimbra (here is more on that); we should also pay attention to the hallmark of effective FOSS FUD because it’s quite consistent. As explained a week ago by Eben Moglen at the EU Parliament, the GPL brought enormous value to the industry, more so than Apple and Microsoft combined. Unfortunately the video is only on YouTube, hence embedded below.
Will politicians ‘get’ it? █
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EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. Credit: EU OPEN DAYS 2012
Summary: Reminder to defeatists who believe that we should all ride Microsoft’s coattails rather than challenge unjust behaviour that may also be illegal
THERE are people out there who want us to believe that to play along with Microsoft on schemes like UEFI restricted boot is a necessary evil and maybe just necessary, not even evil. These people are serving Microsoft’s interests because they weaken antitrust complaints which exist rather than bolster these complaints. Here is a recent tale, as covered by Mike Masnick, of how regulatory intervention did help justice.
The United States’ highest court, SCOTUS, recently shocked a few people by ruling against large corporations’ interests (patents on genes). It later said that patents (referring to pharmaceutical patents) can violate antitrust law. Now that very ridiculous patents get granted and sometimes get ISO endorsement, as in the case of MPEG-LA patents, FOSS is facing anticompetitive practices from the likes of Nokia, Microsoft, and Apple. Google, for instance, is being almost prevented from giving codecs for free, even though it has copyrights on all the code, which is Free/open source software. To quote one recent piece about this subject:
A couple of years back, Techdirt wrote about Google’s laudable attempt to open source its VP8 video codec, based around technologies it had acquired with the On2 company in 2009. That was not simply a matter of releasing the code, though, because of claims by some that VP8 infringed on their patents. MPEG-LA, the private company that manages the H.264 patent pool, even went so far as to put out a call for patents that might cover VP8, which in turn led to the US Justice Department investigating whether the move violated anti-trust law.
Remember that Nero had filed an antitrust complaint. That was before other complaints.
This is what led to a deal that makes YouTube videos, for example, mostly accessible (soon entirely accessible) using Free/libre software acquired at zero cost (and GPL-compatible). Nokia, led by Microsoft, is still trying to interfere with this.
When people insist that there is no point to antitrust complaints tell them that many things including sexual and racial (e.g. slavery) discrimination did not end by passive action and hardly even by civil disobedience. People do need to take action. It’s not “whining”, it’s just not complicit with the abuser. █
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The slandering of copyleft just two degrees away
A new paid ad in YouTube for Xamarin, an "open core" company serving Microsoft interests
Summary: The anti-copyleft camp grows with new additions and gradually-accumulating evidence from Black Duck, OpenLogic, and Outercurve (Microsoft proxy)
The head of a proprietary software company, not a FOSS proponent by any stretch of imagination, wrote the following article a few days ago. It got published in a high-profile news site:
Open source software is now a massive force in technology today. Yet many of us aren’t aware of the reach and influence open source has on our personal and professional lives.
This was written by the head of Black Duck, a company created by a guy from Microsoft. This is a proprietary software company which collects software patents and defends this practice, too. Another company whose head is from Microsoft says that “Monty Widenius, a primary author of MySQL, argues that typical open source licensing is a problem for entrepreneurs, and that a change is needed.”
This is subverting copyleft. The CTO and Founder of OpenLogic asks himself, “Change OSS Licenses to Make More Money?”
Using terms like “commercial license” to mean proprietary he concludes: “Even though OpenLogic provides support to enterprises in tracking and managing open source requests, approvals, policies, and governance, and we could certainly assist in automating processes around “business source” clock expirations, I hope – and expect – the impractical idea of “business source” will die on the vine.”
Remember that Monty worked for Microsoft, even if briefly. The disdain of the GPL there should not be all that shocking.
So basically the above firms don’t promote FOSS, they just provide advice on use of FOSS code. Steven L. Grandchamp, the President and CEO of the latter firm, comes from Microsoft, unlike the CTO. What we generally found is, both of these firms usually advise against copyleft. We gave plenty of examples. These firms are becoming parasites whose main goal is to discourage developers who choose a GPL-like licence. Joining those firms are other Microsoft proxies like Outercurve, which has just gotten itself another person qualified to antagonise copyleft. “Jagielski takes over the role of President from Sam Ramji of Apigee, who held the position for the past three years,” Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols says. His article’s summary is: “The open-source software foundation announced that Jim Jagielski, co-founder of the Apache Foundation and a Red Hat consulting software engineer, would be taking over as its President.”
The predecessor was a malicious mole inside the FOSS community [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] and we can expect Jagielski to serve the Microsoft agenda of ending copyleft and weakening the likes of the FSF.
Those who believe that Microsoft cares about FOSS ought to know that Microsoft cannot stand the “f word” in FOSS. Microsoft is just trying to change FOSS, not embrace it. And at the core Microsoft wants proprietary software like Windows and Excel. It is not hard to see that. The evidence is too strong. █
“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
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Summary: VP8 is freedom-respecting even after the deal with a patent troll, according to a leading authority in this area
The SFLC, a recognised authority in the area of free (as in freedom) licences, analysed the licence (draft) of VP8 following the MPEG-LA deal, refuting what Simon Phipps had said [1, 2].
“Mr. Phipps is not hostile towards Free software. He even uses this term despite being the head of the “open source” camp.”The announcement says: “SFLC, like its client the Free Software Foundation, believes that software standing alone should not be patentable subject matter. We join skeptics of the VP8 license and the broader FOSS community in rejecting software patents in all forms, and we will continue to oppose them. But until software patents no longer threaten FOSS, we will look for every opportunity to preserve community development from their destructive effects. The VP8 cross-license provides such an opportunity, in an area of particularly active patenting. It’s not perfect, but no other modern web video format provides nearly the same degree of protection for FOSS implementations.”
Pamela Jones notes: “This is important news, because there have been several articles claiming the opposite, and it’s good to be precise and careful. It’s why I waited until the Software Freedom Law Center could tell us whether Google’s VP8 patent cross-license is or is not compatible with FOSS licensing.”
Mr. Phipps is not hostile towards Free software. He even uses this term despite being the head of the “open source” camp. A response from him might therefore be imminent, maybe a “mea culpa“. █
Update: Mr. Phipps has clarified his position by stating: “I just had a long talk with Aaron and we actually agree. I said that if it were part of a license it would render the license non-free. He agrees, but points out that it’s not part of a license and further that the clauses of GPLv3 that deal with patent license have a loophole that makes Google’s patent license technically OK.
“I still maintain that the Google license needs a great big sign over it saying “we don’t think you actually need this, it’s just to stop OEMs and pro-patent lowlife saying there’s a problem”.
Update #2: This new report from The H takes Phipps’ reaction into account. Privately, or rather publicly (available for viewing in Twitter/Identi.ca [1, 2, 3]) in a few exchanges with Phipps, I was told a couple of times that Microsoft Florian was behind some of the smears against him.
Update #3: Phipps has just published “Google’s VP8 codec license is OK after all” over at IDG.
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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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