Bonum Certa Men Certa

SCO an Active Litigious Proxy, Novell a Passive Litigious Proxy

Dana Gardner explains (without any shyness, I must add) that Microsoft used SCO as a convenient proxy to do its dirty litigious work. There have been some similar examples in the past, but some are too speculative. Dana opines that, due to desperation, the company has simply moved on to a military state-esque approach, which will inevitably fail miserably.

It's a recurring argument. We have seen articles that mention Saddam Hussein, equate that to “Corporate Terrorism”, or use eye-catching headlines such as “Convicted Monopolist Terrorizes Software Industry“. The approach used here can be assimilated to the approach taken by vicious rulers that take advantage of fear, which is the strongest motivator/driver known to any human being.

The latest moves by Microsoft, however, give them away. Stripped of their proxies, their moves are now more clearly understood to be essentially military. You are the civilians caught between Microsoft's lawyers and their quarry.

[...]

If there was ever a case for open source software, dear readers, this is it.

This is clearly an act of desperation, yet an act from a perceived position of immutable power. Having worked with animals, I can tell you these can be truly dangerous circumstances.


Since we have our eyes on Novell in this Web site, the following new item is worth watching as well. Novell not only enjoys and benefits from the latest friction, but passively it is also used as a weapon against Linux.

According to Microsoft, "The real question is not whether there exists substantial patent infringement issues, but what to do about them." Its immediate solution is for "any customer that is concerned about Linux IP issues…to obtain their open source subscriptions from Novell."

[...]

Fortune says that "Microsoft had hoped that the Novell deal would become a model it could use to collect patent royalties from other distributors of free software. In that respect, its 'bridge' to the free world appears to have failed. That, in turn, seems to have taken us a step closer to patent Armageddon. 'The only real solution that [the free software] folks have to offer,' Smith told Fortune, 'is that they first burn down the bridge, and then they burn down the patent system. That to me is not a goal that's likely to be achieved, and not a goal that should be achieved.'"

[...]

If the next version of the GPL blocks Microsoft from collecting royalties from the distributions then it's back to collecting from major Linux users. Parloff asked Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer if he's prepared to sue his own users à la SCO and the record industry.


The act of collecting royalties, which is something that is already happening, is akin to actions taken by the RIAA. These can be perceived as settlements out of the court, and they will clearly lead to backlash. Unlike pirated music and innocent poor students, here you have legitimate software, wealthy businesses, and a desperate monopoly abuser.

The music industry suffered a 40% drop in just one year. Microsoft could be going down the same aisle if it resorts to extortion (royalties) and/or litigation.

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