Bonum Certa Men Certa

Fake Friends of Linux or Software Freedom

Florian Mueller



Summary: Timely reminder of the fact that software patents opposition is not the same of Free software advocacy

THE MOST effective lobbyists are sometimes those who pretend to be the very opposite of what they are. There are many example of that, extending well beyond the realms of IT. We wrote about "controlled opposition" in April [1, 2] and in June when we gave Association of Competitive Technologies (ACT) as an example.



Yesterday we wrote about OIN -- the body which endorses Linux and software patents at the same time. It's bizarre, no doubt about it, but that's how companies like IBM seem to perceive Linux (more on that in the next post). Others join this same bandwagon for practical reasons [1, 2] that are simple to explain.

Here is what someone wrote to Bradley Kuhn (FSF/SFLC) a short while ago: "Wouldn't OIN being proactive against [software patents] nullify some of their own member's patent claims? That would explain their approach."

The CEO of OIN (Bergelt, the successor of Rosenthal from IBM) says that he is in favour of "good" software patents -- whatever that actually means.

“My guess is that he [Florian Müller] is being paid handsomely to act the way he does.”
      --Stefan Gustavson
Groklaw wrote about OIN the other day (not explicitly referring to IBM's role), defending it unquestionably, as usual. The president of the FFII quoted Groklaw as saying that "Bergelt is highly respected in the FOSS community, as is OIN"; What did he label it? "When Groklaw get it wrong" -- that's right, the FFII was never a big fan of the OIN, either. Certain things which the OIN does are commendable [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], but there might be better ways to defend the freedom of GNU/Linux. On the other hand, there are those who consider OIN's foes to be foes of GNU/Linux.

Over at Groklaw, Stefan Gustavson writes: "You may be confusing the Florian Müller from 2005 with the person we see blogging now in 2010. He might have been honest then. At least he did some good when the EU patent "reform" was shot down. He certainly isn't honest any longer. He spreads lies about free software and its proponents, and throws mud in any general direction where Linux is being discussed in public, with a clear intent of spreading FUD. He is not stupid, so he can't be excused for not knowing better. My guess is that he is being paid handsomely to act the way he does."

Müller does not seem to have responded to that yet. When we had our suspicions about him and people started to turn up the heat he ended closing comments on his blog. It makes a more controlled platform for him, but he can't control Groklaw, which continues to accuse him sometimes. Other former colleagues of Müller are equally suspicious.

One thing is for sure; Müller is nothing like the lobbyists from ACT and especially Jonathan Zuck (see video below) who denied wrongdoing in his E-mail to me.



4.4M



ACT Microsoft



It is astonishing that the European authorities even give this man a seat after he produced fake letters 'on behalf' of dead people, as always in support of Microsoft which funds him. It's people like these who tear down Europe's software sovereignty, just as Hollywood's lobbyists are subverting copyright law in Europe and in Canada (the latter is hot in the news at the moment).

Going back to Müller, he seems to have a fixation targeted at IBM (a bit like Jeff Gould with his anti-IBM rants that he pushed into GNU/Linux Web sites in the form of submissions from "AlexGr"). Müller may be against software patents, but he is not a proponent of GNU/Linux or software freedom. We also know that Müller is close to Monty, who is in Microsoft's CodePlex. Glyn Moody has just written this detailed article which explains why CodePlex is still an embodiment of Microsoft, even the CTO. [via]

Not surprisingly, CodePlex has been subject to much suspicion – and derision. It was a pretty blatant attempt to jump on the open source bandwagon, in a form that was strictly controlled by Microsoft, which allowed it to place its own interpretation on what open source meant (by including licences that weren't on the OSI list, for example). And so no surprise, either, that the open source world has pretty much ignored CodePlex as a result. I must confess that I am guilty of this sin too, and that is unfortunate, because something is happening there that is potentially very interesting.


CodePlex is based around .NET, Microsoft licences, and other parts of Microsoft's proprietary stack. Open Source projects for .NET developers are no better than Mono and Moonlight. They are actually worse because many of them are Windows-only, SQL Server-only, and SharePoint-only. That's not Open Source, it's a farce. But Windows sites happily defend this.

Speaking of suspicious 'friends', somebody from Finland has told us about the latest giveaway from Tuxera:

Directly related to this is the European case of looming software patents. Today Mikko Välimäki from Tuxera wrote several blog entries on their law firm's page, main one is this:

http://www.turre.com/2010/06/softan-patentoinnille-euroopassa-lopullinen-ok/

Title in english: "Final ok for patenting software in europe?"

He even goes to say that decision to allow/approve software patents in Europe would be JURIDICALLY correct. What a nice bat called FUD that is. And "oikeusvarmuus" is translatable to "assurance of juridical rights", the same once again.. pay us or be sued.


In conclusion, some who protest against software patents are not in favour of Free software, some who develop for Linux are in favour of software patents, and in the next post we'll put our sceptical eye on IBM (yet again).

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