Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Real Debate About OIN

Scarecrow



Summary: The main downside of the OIN is not its secrecy but its function as endorser of software patents; Groklaw and Müller carry on arguing

YESTERDAY we wrote about Canonical joining the OIN. This reopened the debate about OIN, mostly comprising OIN sceptics and OIN proponents (the debate about how OIN should be operated from within is a minor one*). As expected, the legal side from Groklaw defends OIN, which is also aligned with the interests of IBM. Pamela Jones portrayed Florian Müller's criticism as one that refers to secrecy (the minor debate, not the real debate) by writing:



Bergelt is highly respected in the FOSS community, as is OIN, as you can verify by looking at the lists of those signed on as licensees. I see Florian Mueller immediately attacked OIN. Yes, again. He's wrong again, of course, and all I ever see from him is attacks on those working hard to protect FOSS from the patent threat. His complaint this time is that OIN isn't transparent enough.

You know who I think would *really* love OIN to be transparent? Microsoft. Then it could avoid getting checkmated by OIN next time. Remember, it was OIN who blocked Microsoft's attempted sale of antiLinux patents to patent trolls last year. Florian didn't do that. I didn't do it. You didn't do it. OIN did it. And he thereby protected Linux from an evil machination designed to tie Linux to the railroad tracks, as I wrote at the time. For this one act alone, the community owes OIN our thanks to time indefinite. Yes. Really. I'm guessing that is why OIN is now a target for FUD attacks.


Jones is right about the latter point. The OIN did well on that occasion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], but it's hard to find other examples. A lot of effort could instead be spent explaining to legislators why US patent law is the black sheep when it comes to software patents. The US ought to be brought into alignment with global patent law, not the other way around. The same goes for copyright law, but that's another story we generally don't cover at Techrights.

In response to Groklaw's post, Müller had this to tell us:

The thing PJ gets wrong intentionally is that I never said they should be transparent about everything they do with those patents. Of course they can have a confidential strategy every time they use those patents, just like everyone else would. My original blog posting on OIN made it absolutely clear that there's simply no transparency about how they define what "the Linux System" is, and that's the scope of protection of the entire license agreement. They can boost or disadvantage certain GNU/Linux-based software by including or excluding it, and they can do so at a moment's notice if they want.

I also think it's quite weak that the OIN announces the new category of Associate Members and provides no explanation of what rights and obligations those Associate Members have (as compared to Licensees). Usually someone who wants to generate publicity for a new initiative wants to provide at least a minimum level of substance. All they talked about was protecting the Linux ecosystem, which would apply to Licensees just as well. So the difference isn't specified in the slightest.

Finally, PJ's claim that I don't deal with where the threat is coming from is preposterous given the diversity of topics covered (and companies criticized) on my blog. It's actually PJ who doesn't want to deal with threats coming from IBM and its allies.


Let's emphasise that software patents ought to be abolished (including IBM's). OIN does nothing to get us there; au contraire -- the OIN only legitimises them. The OIN is to patent law what crutches are to foreign policy and war. A more transparent OIN would also respond to these reasonable criticisms. ___ * It is a common debating strategy to shift attention off one debate and onto a non-existent one, e.g. claiming that scientists in one field disagree among themselves not about minor points but about substantial theories as a whole. Strawman arguments are related to it in the sense that they rely on falsehoods or distortions. Another technique is the use of emotionally-charged words like "believer" or "denier" (connotation with religion or with the Holocaust, respectively) to make one side of a debate look irrational and sometimes dangerous.

Comments

Recent Techrights' Posts

Sven Luther, Lucy Wayland & Debian's toxic culture
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
 
Links 19/04/2024: Israel Fires Back at Iran and Many Layoffs in the US
Links for the day
Russell Coker & Debian: September 11 Islamist sympathy
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Sven Luther, Thomas Bushnell & Debian's September 11 discussion
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
G.A.I./Hey Hi (AI) Bubble Bursting With More Mass Layoffs
it's happening already
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, April 18, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, April 18, 2024
Coroner's Report: Lucy Wayland & Debian Abuse Culture
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Links 18/04/2024: Misuse of COVID Stimulus Money, Governments Buying Your Data
Links for the day
Gemini Links 18/04/2024: GemText Pain and Web 1.0
Links for the day
Gemini Links 18/04/2024: Google Layoffs Again, ByteDance Scandals Return
Links for the day
Gemini Links 18/04/2024: Trying OpenBSD and War on Links Continues
Links for the day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, April 17, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
North America, Home of Microsoft and of Windows, is Moving to GNU/Linux
Can it top 5% by year's end?
[Meme] The Heart of Staff Rep
Rowan heartily grateful
Management-Friendly Staff Representatives at the EPO Voted Out (or Simply Did Not Run Anymore)
The good news is that they're no longer in a position of authority
Microsofters in 'Linux Foundation' Clothing Continue to Shift Security Scrutiny to 'Linux'
Pay closer attention to the latest Microsoft breach and security catastrophes
Links 17/04/2024: Free-Market Policies Wane, China Marks Economic Recovery
Links for the day
Gemini Links 17/04/2024: "Failure Is An Option", Profectus Alpha 0.5 From a Microsofter Trying to Dethrone Gemini
Links for the day
How does unpaid Debian work impact our families?
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Microsoft's Windows Falls to All-Time Low and Layoffs Reported by Managers in the Windows Division
One manager probably broke an NDA or two when he spoke about it in social control media
When you give money to Debian, where does it go?
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
How do teams work in Debian?
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Joint Authors & Debian Family Legitimate Interests
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Bad faith: Debian logo and theme use authorized
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 17/04/2024: TikTok Killing Youth, More Layoff Rounds
Links for the day
Jack Wallen Has Been Assigned by ZDNet to Write Fake (Sponsored) 'Reviews'
Wallen is selling out. Shilling for the corporations, not the community.
Links 17/04/2024: SAP, Kwalee, and Take-Two Layoffs
Links for the day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, April 16, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day