Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Propaganda in Africa Curses the Whole Population

"Once GNU is written, everyone will be able to obtain good system software free, just like air."

--Richard Stallman



Juliao



Summary: This old obsession with daemonising the most enslaved and exploited continent in the world is once again seen thanks to Microsoft's latest charade with the BSA

IN our Wiki we have a fairly new page about Microsoft and counterfeiting. The gist of it is that Microsoft admits benefiting from counterfeiting. Microsoft calls it "piracy" in order to label/portray the victims as a bunch of thuggish criminals and the addicter as a miserable victim.



Two years ago we explained and showed that Microsoft was characterising GNU/Linux use in Kenya as “piracy” and it is a theme we keep seeing and pointing out (it's accusation by subtle insinuation). Last week we explained how Microsoft used its front group, the BSA, to spread some more of that same propaganda [1, 2, 3] and we presented several refutations, which are pretty much the same every year (the propaganda from the BSA and IDC is an annually-recurring event as they are never deterred by facts contradicting their work).

“Two years ago we explained and showed that Microsoft was characterising “GNU/Linux” use in Kenya as “piracy”...”Google News points to over 100 articles this week which mostly focus on Africa in their propaganda against "piracy" (here is just one example). And no, they do not refer to piracy in Somalia; not even once. The word "piracy" is being hijacked by them to pretend that software is a scarcity and Africa is robbing the West of its precious resources (never mind if the physical resources flow in the very oppose direction while the African population is left to die from West-induced pollution). This post is not intended to be a rant about imperialism, so we digress.

Rather than link to the many (seemingly infinite) propaganda pieces that we see in this week's news we wish to draw attention to several weak responses such as:

i. Rampant piracy affects open source in Africa

When people can access cheap pirated software, they do not invest in customization of open-source software, and this "affects the growth of open-source-based businesses and services," said Evans Ikua, chairman of the Linux Professional Association in Kenya.


ii. Reactions to the problem of software pirates

For example, you would pay anywhere in the region of Dh300 to Dh500 for Microsoft Office while there are perfectly good open source systems available for free on the internet.


To state the obvious using an analogy, one might think of a world where fresh water is abundant but where a large company sells intoxicated sweetened water, makes the population highly dependent on this new liquid, and then criminalises the population and pollutes the local water supply. This parable would not be so effective if it were not a real one, too. People in Africa and south America (among other regions) can probably relate and equate Microsoft to those very same companies. The oil wars in Nigeria famously reverse the role of the victim and the exploiter, but again, this goes well beyond our stated scope.

Earlier this year we wrote about the daemonisation campaign that IIPA led against Free software in developing nations [1, 2]. Now is a good time to review this new article where a proprietary software company is belittling the challenge of software freedom but at the same time recognises that it can be harmonious and beneficial to everyone.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recently released the 2010 Special 301 Report on Copyright Protection & Enforcement which claims that open source is responsible for a "tidal wave of losses in U.S. jobs and competitiveness." Indonesia was recently added to the "Special 301 watchlist" because its government encouraged its agencies to use open source software. Many in the open source and technology community have found this indictment ridiculous, yet it illustrates a very real fear that some groups still feel about the open source movement. Years ago, internal emails from Microsoft were accidentally released that exemplified this fear, stating, "OSS poses a direct, short-term revenue and platform threat to Microsoft, particularly in server space. Additionally, the intrinsic parallelism and free idea exchange in OSS has benefits that are not replicable with our current licensing model and therefore present a long-term developer mindshare threat."

[...]

Journyx has benefited from the OSS movement. Though we are not an open source company, our software was built on open source tools like Linux, Python, Apache, and PostgreSQL. These tools allow us to ship a free product, called Timesheet.


Ironically, it is proprietary software which poses a great threat to society and culture at large; and yet, proprietary software companies turn heads into tails (and vice versa) and characterise exploiters as victims.

What Microsoft's BSA 'study' shows us is that Africa is the place most vulnerable to submission in the face of "drug addict" tactics. It makes Africa the biggest victim of Microsoft, as opposed to Microsoft being the biggest victim in Africa.

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

--Bill Gates



"Copying all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free."

--Richard Stallman

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