07.15.07

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Even GPLv3 Skeptics Have Begun to Realise It Has Value and Appreciate Its Effect

Posted in Deals, Formats, FSF, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Interoperability, Kernel, Law, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenOffice, Standard, Xandros at 2:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

First, Microsoft ignored the GNU GPLv3. The lawyers did not foresee its impact.

Then, Microsoft started to ridicule the licence and spread disinformation. It even had its lobbyists do some of the ‘legwork’.

Then, Microsoft fought the GPL. In an interview, Microsoft admitted that GPLv3 was the last straw which led it to making threats in the middle of May. This is where we stand at moment, awaiting the fourth and final stage.

Microsoft’s fear of the GPL is explained in a very recent article. They would rather run away from the license than actually face its consequences.

Microsoft is extremely keen to avoid “legal debate” over whether its recent partnerships with Linux firms such as Novell, Xandros, and Linspire, mean Redmond must assume any of the new licenses’ legal obligations.

There are some blog reactions of interest as well.

This is Thursday’s IT Blogwatch: in which Microsoft squirms out of GPLv3′s clutches, perhaps.

There are some decent interpretations in this digest. The more interesting short article, however, has just come from the Managing Editor of LinuxToday. Brian used to criticise GPLv3, but no longer does he appear to feel the same way. Here’s why:

So, by threatening everything and promising nothing (because would Microsoft really sue anyone for patents, knowing how many competitors in the Linux community have patents of their own?), Microsoft has skillfully managed to get open source players to endorse Open XML. A variant of the classic Badger Game if I ever heard one.

Faced with cons like this, I am beginning to realize that having something like the GPLv3 around is a very good idea. Even though the new GPL could not have prevented this scam, it may help in the future.

As we pointed out yesterday, GPLv3 may have already played a role in the ‘deal’ with Turbolinux, which ended up as more of a technical partnership.

Chalk up the name of another Linux watcher who was a GPLv3 skeptic and now offers a little bit of support. He learned to stop worrying and love… errr… the licence, not the bomb. Linus Torvalds gradually softens as well, but some publications apparently hide it.

Be aware that some publications appear to be muddying the waters. Over time, InformationWeek has been caught with several articles that appear to be anti-Linux and/or anti-Free software. Taking the words of Torvalds out of context was probably part of the plot to add unnecessary drama. Yesterday, Groklaw decided to sniff around InformationWeek, challenge them, and set them straight.

What is going on at InformationWeek? Let me guess. Nah. You are sophisticated enough to figure it out. But I think it’s clear there is afoot an attempt to create the impression of some schism in the FOSS world.

From my personal point of view, InformationWeek has been publishing a lot of Linux material recently. Rarely does it offer any encouragement. Some of it defends Microsoft’s side. From what I could gather, InformationWeek tells us that you can’t install Linux on laptops, that Linux users are a cult, that GPLv3 is evil, that Microsoft has legitimate IP claims against Linux, that OpenOffice.org is ‘dangerous’, and that Linus Torvalds calls people at FSF “hyprocrites”. Keep InformationWeek on your mental FUDlist from now on. This suspicion seems justifiable.

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3 Comments

  1. gpl1 said,

    July 15, 2007 at 3:10 am

    Gravatar

    I agree, those recent articles in particular have made me question (Dis)informationWeek. We all know that MS/Waggener Edstrom love to astroturf and pay journalists like MOG to spread FUD.

    BTW, your link to the third quote box goes to Dr Strangelove at IMDB for some reason :) The correct link is http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007071302826OPMSPB

    “There’s an interesting article in the April 2007 issue of Harper’s magazine about panels, audits, and experts. It is called CTRL-ALT-DECEIT and is from evidence in Comes v. Microsoft, a class action suit in Iowa. Here’s a paragraph from a document admitted into evidence, called “Generalized Evangelism Timeline,” about guerrilla or evangelical marketing:

    Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology is a key evangelism function. “Independent” analysts’ reports should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent consultants should write articles, give conference presentations, moderate stacked panels on our behalf, and set themselves up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour. “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and granted research money).

    They advise cultivating “experts” early and recommending that they not publish anything pro-Microsoft, so that they can be viewed as “independent” later on, when they’re needed. This type of evangelical or guerilla marketing is apparently quite common in the high-tech fields, and seems to be used liberally by open source developers.

    The document admitted into evidence also says, “The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator,” and explains how to find “pliable” moderators–those who will sell out.

    It is all a big money game. Most activists in any field know of countless “hearings,” in which hundreds of citizens would testify before a panel, only to be ignored in favor of two or three industry “experts.” When a panel is chosen, the outcome seems to be a foregone conclusion. As with elections, they don’t leave anything to chance.”
    (a post from a Mark E. Smith about exhibit PX03096 “Evangelism is War” from Comes v. Microsoft).

  2. gpl1 said,

    July 15, 2007 at 3:19 am

    Gravatar

    and just in case you’re wondering, that quote is from pg 53 of 167 from PX03096. Gotta love a quote to start off a paragraph like, “Guerilla marketing is often a long, hard slog”

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 15, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Gravatar

    > “BTW, your link to the third quote
    > box goes to Dr Strangelove at IMDB”

    Whoops. That’s a bizarre mistake that I made while editing. I should really test the links. It’s not the first time you correct them and it’s very much appreciated.

    A quick search brought up:

    A Caution on De Facto Standards
    The Iowa Comes v. Microsoft case – quote taken from one of the
    documents from Microsoft made public:

    http://www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/3000/PX03096.pdf

    “Our mission is to establish Microsoft’s platforms as the de facto standards
    throughout the computer industry. …
    Every line of code that is written to our standards is a small victory; every
    line of code that is written to any other standard, is a small defeat. Total
    victory, for DRG [Developer Relations Group], is the universal adoption of
    our standards by developers, as this is an important step towards total
    victory for Microsoft itself: ‘A computer on every desk and in every home,
    running Microsoft software.’”
    - Effective Evangelism

    A friend of mine has a mirror at:

    http://antitrust.slated.org/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/3000/PX03096.pdf

    There are some more memos that I came across in the past. In one of them, Joachin (of Microsoft) talked about astroturfing as a strategy (the other one being OEM chokehold, IIRC).

    Comes vs Microsoft is a whole huge project in its own right and it deserves a separate site. A friend of mine is OCRing those 3,000 documents, so we can hopefully have them indexed quite soon.

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