Bonum Certa Men Certa

On Mixed Source, Mono, and Other Forms of 'Piracy'

Code contamination possibilities further explored, confusion
and obfuscation in the details


A few days ago we summarised key points about Microsoft's latest "mixed source" chorus and its threats against Red Hat. Glyn Moody, whose writing topics frequently intersect with ours, has just published a detailed analysis in Linux Journal.

What was noteworthy was that at this period Microsoft couldn't even bring itself to utter the words “free software” or “open source”. Instead, throughout the hour-long chat I had with him, the Microsoftie insisted on referring to something he called “non-commercial software”. The intent was plain: only Microsoft and its proprietary chums sold “commercial” software, while the other, unnameable stuff – aka free software – wasn't “real” or “commercial” stuff, but some kind of toy version that no sane IT manager would touch.

[...]

So there we have it: “open source” is no longer a useful term, everything is “mixed source”. Microsoft has obviously woken up to the fact that the “free” and “open” memes are increasingly powerful, as people realise the advantages of sharing and collaborative development. Microsoft has been trying to co-opt that feel-good factor for a while, first with its “Shared Source” label – free software without the freedom – and more recently by getting a couple of its licences approved by the Open Source Initiative.

[....]

Microsoft's Mafia-like obsession with enforcing “control” and demanding “respect” is reflected in a later statement from Gutierrez in the same interview – well, more of a threat, actually:

"If every effort to license proves not to be fruitful, ultimately we have a responsibility to customers that have licenses and to our shareholders to ensure our intellectual property is respected," he said.

Software patents - what he is referring to here - are intellectual monopolies specifically framed to stop the kind of frictionless sharing of programming ideas that lies at the heart of free software, and that powers its unique ability to build on the work of others. In many ways, such monopolies go to the heart of the difference between the worlds of open and closed software: any company unwilling to licence freely software patents it may have acquired (for defensive reasons, say, against patent trolls – the ultimate symptom of a diseased system) is by definition not a company that truly supports free software. There is no “middle” ground – sorry, Horacio.


Over at LinuxToday, Orwell is quoted as saying: "If thought can corrupt language, then language can also corrupt thought." We touched on that before [1, 2, 3] (Microsoft's control of perception using verbiage).

Further down in the discussion thread, this issue is being kicked around a little further and Mono comes up. An anonymous reader, posting under the heading "Beware an enemy bearing gifts," writes:

I wonder if by "mixed source" and releasing some of their old stuff to the open source community, they mean to somehow taint the open source community with their code in hopes that it will make it into some release and strengthen their claims of IP ownership? Maybe not even actual code, but structures, concepts, ideas that were developed at some Microsoft sponsored event,conference, ex-employee, etc etc. Will they try to muddy the lines between what they own and what is GNU licensed enough to drag smaller open source companies into court long enough to bankrupt them and scare other companies into signing Novell type agreements? They've already proven that they can drag out flimsy cases for years (the SCO conspiracy anyone?), so imagine what their lawyers could do after a few years of this. Excuse me if I'm a little skeptical when they stop whining and suing and decide to be friends. Cuz when the drums stop beating, the enemy attacks. An army of lawyers vs a community of coders.

If you can't beat them, give them a present, point at them and yell THIEF!


Glyn Moody's prompt reply to this is that "It's already happening." He gives an example:

Look at Mono, which is based on .NET's structures.


Moody previously shed some more light on Mono (why it's "patently different" from Samba) and in response to the comment above, says El Perro Loco:

I have always seen Mono as a *very bad thing*. In my opinion, it is as close to treason as it can be. I try to keep my machines Mono-free. And, by the way, since de Icaza is involved both in Mono and Gnome, I stay away from Gnome, too.

Just for the record.


It has been known for years that .NET is 'protected' by software patents. And yet, this never seems to bother those who bother with Mono (some of whom are Novell employees).

.Net patent could stifle standards effort



Microsoft is in the process of applying for a wide-ranging patent that covers a variety of functions related to its .Net initiative.

[...]

Patents have become an increasingly common way for software makers to exert control over their intellectual property. One of the concerns about the proliferation of technology patents is the impact it could have on standards development. Some developers fear the trend will let a few patent holders dictate the direction of standards.

It's unclear what effect the Microsoft .Net patents would have on the standards process. Microsoft already has submitted many of the fundamentals of .Net to a standards body known as ECMA, formerly called the European Computer Manufacturers Association.

[...]

People like Free Software Foundation guru Richard Stallman have urged boycotts of companies that aggressively enforce patents.

Meanwhile, Bruce Perens, a consultant and leader of the open-source movement, worries that Microsoft's patents could shut out alternative software development. "Microsoft is being careful to patent every aspect of APIs related to .Net," he said. "It's preventing the open-source community from being involved in this area."

Open-source developers are already hard at work trying to build open-source implementations of .Net. One of them, the Mono Project, provides many of the same APIs as .Net. When the Mono Project is completed next year, developers will be able to build .Net applications that run on Linux and Unix.


Earlier on we also mentioned the "pirate" propaganda from Microsoft, which follows a systematic push for brainwash, just as Microsoft promised its investors and openly states in its SEC filings. One person believes that Microsoft's latest threats under the guise and in the name of "intellectual property" are all related to this. They were in fact discussed in the very same article from Paul Krill, who interviewed a Microsoft legal representative, the man behind the litigious fight against Free software (he consistently plays the role of "bad cop" in this game).

A few years ago, the patent wars saber rattling was going on a lot more than now. microsofts home made 'talk-like-a-pirate' day was yesterday, and this line no doubt reflects that.


Those who look carefully at the interview with Paul Krlll will easily find that IDG weaves in the 'fight on piracy' with the issues of software patents and GNU/Linux. This proximity impacts perception -- a perception that even the FSF has just published an article to complain about.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced something they called "Global Anti-Piracy Day".

Software companies like Microsoft often refer to copying they don't approve of as "piracy." They suggest that such copying is ethically equivalent to murder and robbery. Even these far-fetched analogies are not enough for Microsoft, who in their press release yesterday updated the comparison to draw a connection between such copying and organized crime: "There is growing evidence that highly organized, transnational criminal organizations and networks are involved in the counterfeiting of software..."

Even the US Senate, while recently considering legislation addressing unauthorized copying, had the sense to strike the term "piracy" from its text. You know the term is over-the-top when people receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the entertainment industry still feel shy about using it.


Watch this space as we shall follow up on that shortly.

“There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers.“

--Bob Muglia, Microsoft

Comments

Recent Techrights' Posts

[Meme] Objective Objection at the EPO
No more quality control
EPO Staff Explains Why It Cannot Issue EPC-Compliant European Patents (in Other Words, Why Many Fake Patents Get Issued)
chaos inside
Links 24/02/2024: More Sanctions Against BRICS, Software Patents Squashed
Links for the day
Microsoft's Demise on the Server Side Continues Unabated This Month
Netcraft says so
Bonnie B. Dalzell Explains Her Experience With Richard Stallman
new essay
Gemini Links 24/02/2024: OpenBSD Advocacy and Nonfree Firmware Debated
Links for the day
Mark Shuttleworth & Debian Day Volunteer Suicide cover-up
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
IRC Proceedings: Friday, February 23, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, February 23, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Links 24/02/2024: EA Planning Layoffs and 'Liquor Regulators Are Seeking Revenge on Bars That Broke Pandemic Rules'
Links for the day
Gemini Links 24/02/2024: In Defense of Boilerplate and TinyWM Broke
Links for the day
Microsoft's Pearls of Wisdom: Layoffs Are Growth
Microsoft boss: layoffs are "long-term growth."
[Meme] Hide the Bodies
hiding EPO's role in funding Lukashenko
Josef Kratochvíl and All the European Patent Organisation's Chiefs (at the Administrative Council Too) Notified That Over 1,000 Members of Staff Demand Action on Patent Quality and Compliance (Industry Too is Alarmed That Many Invalid Patents Get Granted)
Huge corruption
Microsoft Lacks a Solid Strategic Plan Other Than Buying Its Own Stock (and Paying Staff in Shares)
Beware and be cautious of bubbles
Debian trademark canceled
Debian trademark canceled
Links 23/02/2024: Feed Aggregator and 2 Years of Invasion, Alexei Navalny’s Mother Blackmailed
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/02/2024: Getting 'Sick' of Modern Tech and Deletion of One's Reddit Account
Links for the day
Links 23/02/2024: 227 Microsoft Layoffs Noted in Santa Clara and Disaster in Rivian
Links for the day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, February 22, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, February 22, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
[Meme] It's NOT Your PC
losing control of hardware
Microsoft's Chatbot Strategy Resulted in Massive Losses, So Now It's Trying to Reinvent Itself as 'Hardware Company' (Once Again, Years After XBox, KIN, Windows Phone and Surface Failed Miserably)
revenues associated with Windows has fallen sharply
Gemini Links 22/02/2024: Removing Radio Ads and Being Seen on the Internet
Links for the day
Mark Shuttleworth and the Question of Liability (Debian Volunteers He Pressured Before the Suicides)
Humanity for me
Mark Shuttleworth's (MS) Canonical Running Microsoft (MS) Ads, Mischaracterising Mass Surveillance as 'Confidential' (the Usual Lie)
The money talks, so the facts are absent
Ads as 'Articles'
Money buys perception manipulation (or reputation laundering) campaigns
Abraham Raji & Debian, DebConf kayak death: search abandoned, evading liability
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 22/02/2024: Chatbots Failing 'Big Time' and More Condemnations Appear of Bill Gates
Links for the day
There May be Close to 100,000,000 Laptops and Desktops Running GNU/Linux Around the World in 2024
hard to track the number
Search Engine Market Share Worldwide Shows How Badly Microsoft's Chatbot Strategy (Hopes) and Vapourware Have Failed
Bing, which was marketed as the forefront "product" for chatbots (Microsoft paid the media a lot of money for hype campaigns), gained nothing at Google's expense
[Meme] Demoralising and Putting Down Your Staff
unproductive and dangerous approach
This Week's Letter to António Campinos About Mean-Spirited Line Managers at the European Patent Office (EPO)
Seems like a way to get rid of staff. Some will resign in anger.
Software in the Public Interest (SPI) & Debian obfuscated structure fooled suicide victim's family: the ultimate example of bad faith
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Gemini Links 22/02/2024: What We Pass On and HTTP Header Viewer
Links for the day