10.21.10

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Free Software Proponents Expose the Microsoft-Funded (F)RAND Lobbyists and Their Lies, Microsoft to Lobby Directly in SOSOCON 2010

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 9:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SOSOCON 2010

Summary: Microsoft’s lobbying for the exclusion or at least marginalisation of software freedom in Europe is intensifying as Microsoft adds its own weight to proxies like ACT, BSA, and campaigners (liars) for hire

THE MANY RAND-RELATED FSFE VS. BSA posts that we already have probably cover the key issues [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and it has been a success story for the FSFE, whose advocacy of software freedom (not any particular corporation) has reached the press and had other Microsoft pressure groups like ACT exposed for all to see. As The H put it: “The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), whose head Jonathan Zuck has been calling for software patents for years in Europe, and CompTIA have apparently been working to considerably weaken the EU’s plans with proposals for specific wordings. For instance, one passage would stipulate that the growth of open source software should not be especially fostered. Furthermore, lobbyists have attempted to put the focus on “mixed solutions with open and proprietary code” and have FRAND licenses declared compatible with open software.”

The mobbyists have nothing left to do but call the FSFE “lobbyist”. That’s just how a lobbyist is trying to justify his/her own side — accuse others of one’s own behaviour, even if it’s utterly baseless. Anyway, much to the regret of mobbyists, OIN has just grown yet again (blackPanther OS is joining as a member). The patent battle may gradually be won by Free software thanks to formats and software like WebM/VP8 and it’s driving companies like Microsoft just nuts. Things are getting better for Free software, not worse. Microsoft very much relies on poisoning everything with RAND, which is inherently incompatible with Free software.

In order for Microsoft to continue to lie about the GPL and RAND, for example, lobbyists or paid campaigners (or mobbyists) may not suffice. As The H put it, “lobbyists have attempted to put the focus on “mixed solutions with open and proprietary code” and have FRAND licenses declared compatible with open software..”

“[S]o that’ll include RAND sentiments with ‘promises’ to licence patents to ‘conforming implementations’?”
      –John Drinkwater
In Identi.ca, Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer says that “Microsoft will explain Open Standards and Interoperability in the Open Source track of #sosocon http://is.gd/g9z2D #notkidding”

This was RT’ed even more rudely, e.g.: “rt @jwildeboer Micro$oft will explain Open Standards/Interoperability in Open Source track of #sosocon ⇒ MICRO$OFT ?!? ⇐ http://ur1.ca/24m8n”

Yes, here is the page (in German). John Drinkwater tells Wildeboer: “so that’ll include RAND sentiments with ‘promises’ to licence patents to ‘conforming implementations’? #blergh”

Wildeboer responds with: “Yes, that is most likely. Maybe I should attend the session and ask questions ;-)”

Glyn Moody has also just published “A (Final) Few Words on FRAND Licensing”

The issue of Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing has cropped up quite a few times in these pages. The last time I wrote about the subject was just last week, when I noted that the Business Software Alliance was worried that the imminent European Interoperability Framework (EIF) might actually require truly open standards, and so was pushing for FRAND instead.

[...]

First, note the clever blurring of the distinction between “royalty-free” and “patent-free”. No one is talking about patent-free, since that’s plainly not possible with a benighted patent system that gives patents for trivial and obvious ideas at the drop of a digital hat. What is being discussed is “royalty-free” (strictly speaking, restriction-free, because there are other ways in which restrictions can be placed on the use of technologies for which patents are claimed.)

As for the idea that no one will ever contribute to a standard that requires RF (royalty/restriction free) licensing, the experience of the World Wide Web Consortium contradicts that, as I’ve pointed out before.

That’s just a sample of the BSA approach, and how it doesn’t stand up to detailed analysis. If you want more of the latter, the FSFE have carried out a full fisking, complete with detailed references, so I won’t duplicate their work here.

People ought to avoid the spurious “F” in FRAND, which makes it sound like “friend”. The “fair” does not add anything to “reasonable” and FRAND is neither “fair” nor “reasonable”. It’s monopolistic by its nature, but it uses euphemisms.

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