Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why is IDG News Service Attacking the GPL?

Richard Stallman



Summary: The smears against the GPL need tracing back to their roots

FOR people's awareness, it seems important to alert that attacks on the GPL have risen in number. These are not the typical attacks and they are accompanied by personal attacks, as stated earlier.



We found out that a PR agency from the United States is sending people semi-personalised press releases about a debate which seems hostile towards the GPL, based on the participants (what's called a "stacked panel"). Somehow they ended up getting my E-mail address, scooping it from somewhere and then striving to promote this nonsense, which they did. It came from IDG (which relies on Microsoft as a large revenue source [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and also employs Microsoft/Apple investors as writers). IDG is being mentioned in the form of InfoWorld, which also fed this to the news feeds. It was IDG that published and spread an article which was moronic, boldly stating in the headline, "is the GPL irrelevant?"

“It was IDG that published and spread an article which was moronic, boldly stating in the headline, "is the GPL irrelevant?"”That was of course a nonsensical contention to start an article with. The GPL is used by most Free/open source software projects and it is by far the most ubiquitous software licence in the world. How does irrelevance come into it?

Attacks on the GPL and anything and anyone associated with it are not news.

Black Duck -- with some roots in Microsoft -- was funneling in Microsoft-centered code automatically (no filtering) to saturate its pool and then claim a dip in GPL. This deceptive claim is still being parroted today and also today we've heard of private stories where similar anti-GPL actions were taken in Europe. Programmers are being pressured by bosses (maybe Microsoft-guided) to abandon the licence, maybe because of all the FUD, some of which comes from Microsoft lawyers [1, 2]. Such dissemination of lies (or myths) about the GPL leads to further misuse and misappropriation, as expressed in the following new story:

A report published Sunday in The New York Times says Aleynikov told FBI investigators that he had inadvertently taken about 32MB of proprietary Goldman Sachs software while taking open-source code that he said can be used freely by anyone.

Aleynikov, a high-level developer for Goldman Sachs, was arrested by the FBI on July 3 on charges of stealing computer code that automates the firm's high-volume trading on stock and commodities markets.


As Sam Dean puts it:

The case discussed in the post concerns a Goldman Sachs Group programmer, Sergey Aleynikov, who was arrested--by the FBI, no less--and charged with stealing computer code designed to automate Goldman Sachs' massive trading business. Aleynikov's defense was that he was only trying to download open source software governed by the GPL.


The truth -- or at least the verdict -- remains to be seen, but why is it that the perception of free as "illegal" lives on?

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