Bonum Certa Men Certa

BSA is Lobbying (and Lying) to Exclude Software Freedom From the British Public Sector

Big Ben at dusk

Summary: A Microsoft front group, the Business Software Alliance, leans on the British government to reverse policies that favour software freedom through open standards

THE BSA strikes again. Mark Taylor writes: "Apparently the BSA have started whining about the new Cabinet Office policy on Open Standards... now there's a big surprise" (not!).

Well, he wrote this in Twitter anyway (disclosure: I work for Sirius, his company). Glyn Moody found this accompanying article about the subject, noting: "great slapdown of BSA's kneejerk FUD" (and below are some expansive quotes for future reference).
Government departments were told in a Cabinet Office policy note (PDF) dated 31 January that they "should wherever possible deploy open standards in their procurement specifications". In its note, it defined open standards at those that are "publicly available at zero or low cost" and that have "intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis". On Tuesday, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) lashed out at the policy, which puts software companies with proprietary standards at a disadvantage. [...] However, open-source advocates such as the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) complained that the EIFv2, compared with the first version, showed the Commission had abandoned the idea of mandating open standards as a "key enabler for interoperability". Mark Taylor, chief executive of the open-source systems integration firm Sirius, said the BSA's response to the government policy note was "rubbish" and "absolutely predictable". "A lot of time and effort was spent by those particular interests lobbying in Brussels," Taylor told ZDNet UK. "EIFv2 was definitely a step back from EIFv1." The BSA said that the EIFv2 created a "level-playing field" for all types of software, including open source, to compete in providing the public sector with interoperable solutions. According to Taylor, this statement is "not true" and the new European recommendation is "discriminatory against open source". "Fortunately, the UK government is one of the governments that had identified that," Taylor said. "If EIFv2 hadn't been a step backwards, there would be no need for governments like the UK government to come out with these policies."
Ãœber-lawyer Carlo Piana quotes: "BSA strongly supports Open Standards, if we agree what 'open' means..." In response, writes Piana, "eg h.264 yes, webm no? ie a travesty!" The BSA is trying to characterise proprietary and monopoly as "open" and "choice". It's the same lie Microsoft uses.

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