Bonum Certa Men Certa

Proprietary Software Turns Users Into Informants Against Their Neighbours

Summary: An example of anti-social aspects of proprietary software and a look at recent news about intellectual monopolies that go way too far

ONE of the best examples of anti-social behaviour is Facebook, where people are basically carrying out surveillance on their friends, family, colleagues, etc. and then send it in image/video/text form to authorities and to other people. This may be counter-intuitive given the marketing with "social" theme, but that's what it is. Taking this even further, the Apple- and Microsoft-backed front group BSA is now offering useds [sic] of Facebook money to rat on their 'friends' who may be using proprietary software without a licence. As TorrentFreak (a news site banned for some people in the UK, thanks to ever-increasing government censorship) has put it: "The Business Software Alliance, a trade group representing Adobe, Apple and Microsoft, is offering hard cash to Facebook users who report businesses that use unlicensed software. The anti-piracy group is running an ad-campaign luring people with the prospect of a "free" ski-trip."



This is what proprietary software does to people. It sure seems like proprietary software promotes behaviour that alienates oneself, leaving people suspicious of one another and generally divided. Hopefully, now that Windows turns into a security threat to many (not just back doors), more people will turn to Free software through GNU/Linux. Not only XP users are being deserted. Vista users too are left out in the cold. There is news related to this. "Microsoft confirms both IE9 and IE10 contain vulnerability, urges customers to upgrade to IE11; leaves Vista users out in the cold," Gregg Keizer writes. This is yet another example of neglect -- a common symptom of proprietary software. Users are pressured to pay through the nose for an upgrade (or "die").

There is clearly something wrong with this current system where copyright makes the singing of “Happy Birthday” an infringement [1] and even linking to a site an infringement (this is challenged by EU reforms [2] and court cases [3,4]) right now). In the US, which is run by the copyright monopoly [5] (at a legislative level), the military is trademarking everything [6,7] and the telecoms cartel trademarks even colours [8]. All sorts of trade deals are only threatening to make things worse (e.g. expansion to Europe), but fortunately the push back against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example, is proving to be effective [9].

A society of few proprietor and many people who are by design "infringers" (similar to incarcerating by wide classification like that of the "War on Drugs") is a society of selected rulers and many slaves. We need to reject proprietary software and we need to encourage or promote a culture of increased sharing. It's an ethical matter. It improves co-existence/cooperation and speeds up advancement.

Related/contextual items from the news:


  1. “Happy Birthday” copyright defense: Those “words” and “text” are ours
    There may be no song more widely sung in America than "Happy Birthday," but it isn't free to sing. Warner/Chappell music licensing, which has long claimed copyright to the words, typically dings filmmakers and TV producers a few thousand bucks for a "synchronization license" any time the song is used in video. Warner reported that by the 1990s the "Happy Birthday" licensing enterprise was pulling in upwards of $2 million annually.


  2. European Commission Public Consultation on Copyright: La Quadrature du Net's Answer
    The European Commission's public consultation on copyright reform is open until 5 March [The European Commission extended the deadline by a month]. This consultation represents an important opportunity for European citizens to demand that access to culture and knowledge be recognised as their fundamental right. It also allows the interests of authors and creators to be defended against those of the cultural industries, major distributors and intermediaries, and heirs of rightholders who currently receive the greatest share of income from copyrighted works. La Quadrature du Net therefore calls on the maximum number of citizens and organisations to reply to the consultation and support a positive reform of copyright.


  3. Hyperlinking is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules
    Does publishing a hyperlink to freely available content amount to an illegal communication to the public and therefore a breach of creator's copyrights under European law? After examining a case referred to it by Sweden's Court of Appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today that no, it does not.


  4. Europe's Highest Court Says Linking Doesn't Require Permission
    Recently, Techdirt has reported on a number of important judgments from the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU's highest court. Here's another one that represents a good win for common sense. It concerns hyperlinking to copyright materials held on another site (pdf).


  5. Another Friend Of The Recording Industry Joins The House Subcommittee On Courts, Intellectual Property And The Internet
    There's a new ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and it's another copyright maximalist. Mel Watt, the former ranking member and one of SOPA's biggest supporters, has moved on to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Before Mel Watt, there was subcommittee chair "Hollywood" Howard Berman, whose nickname clearly spells out which side of the copyright argument he espoused.


  6. US Military Looking To Trademark Everything
    As we've noted plenty of times in the past, works produced by the federal government are not subject to copyright. However, they are (almost inexplicably) subject to both patent and trademark protection, where those things apply. A little while back, Jim Gourley over at Foreign Policy looked into how the Pentagon has gone trademark slap happy over the last five years or so (the headline of the article falsely implies that it has also gone copyright happy, despite barely mentioning copyright, and in the one spot it does, totally confusing copyright and trademarks).
  7. Jim Gourley's Military Culture column: Who knew? The Pentagon is TM and ۩
    Christmas is almost upon us, which means military brats, Twitter junkies, and Google Earth nuts around the world will gather online for NORAD's yearly tracking of Saint Nick as he delivers presents across the globe. How the tradition began is a heart-touching story that demonstrates the holiday spirit. The tradition now enters its 58th year, and despite some PR snags you can keep faith that the Air Force will ensure it's an authentic experience.


  8. Court orders AT&T to stop infringing on T-Mobile’s magenta color


  9. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is in Trouble Thanks to Grassroots Pressure
    Multilateral trade agreements like the TPP are virtually impossible to enact without fast track, which allows the executive branch to submit a treaty to Congress for an up or down vote, without amendments.




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