Bonum Certa Men Certa

Freedom is Not Free

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Richard Stallman in a Free Software Briefing (WSIS-2005)



Summary: How Microsoft is daemonising ordinary people and confusing lawmakers using terminology and imposters who pretend to speak for free/open source software

MOVING to Free (libre) software is a decision which ought to be motivated at least in part by the realisation that freedom is hard to earn and it is very valuable. It's only when it's lost that its value can be appreciated. Microsoft pretends to be countering counterfeiting while in fact it uses counterfeiting to counter freedom, ensuring that populations especially in poor countries have no control over their computing; instead, Microsoft takes control. Glyn Moody has found this post from China about a new and dishonest Microsoft campaign:



One of the biggest issues Western firms have with China is the country’s stance on intellectual property rights. Despite the Chinese Government stepping up its efforts to battle the issue in recent years, the problems still exist.

Whether it be the stalls in Beijing’s Silk Market selling their staggering range of counterfeit designer goods, Chinese media broadcasters using copyright footage without permission, or the ever impressive copycat products (known in China as ‘山寨’ – Shānzhài) such as the recent ‘iPed’ — the fake iPad, there is no doubt about it intellectual property infringements are rife in the PRC.

[...]

For instance in 2008, Microsoft rolled out a program called “Windows Genuine Advantage” which caused “black screens of death” to appear every hour on unregistered versions of the Windows operating system. The only way to resolve the problem would have been to buy a genuine copy of Windows.

Bill Gates in China 1995

Yet, just a year earlier, Bill Gates stated that he liked the Chinese pirating his software over its competitors, because he believed that eventually Chinese consumers would pay for the real thing.


Wikileaks recently taught us something new about the “black screens of death”. To the government, it's about control (being able to suspend computers in a hostile nation), not about so-called 'piracy' (counterfeiting). Be careful of the Microsoft spin, which seems to be everywhere these days.

In a "Guest Post" from Microsoft's Walli [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (who pretends not to understand Free software, e.g. by implicitly comparing it to communism) Microsoft's Outercurve Foundation gets promoted while Outercurve/Microsoft staff continues to redefine open source. It is infiltrating its competition and obscures freedom as in "free to distribute", as opposed to free of charge. Not so long ago the same type of people tried to tell us that RAND was compatible with Free software and they managed to derail the second version of EIF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which more and more groups are not pleased with. The FFII deciphers this message from Dutch:

IT journalist Brenno de Winter is not impressed by the #EIF


That's what will happen if Microsoft is allowed to hijack "open source" and then use mobbyists/lobbyists to lie about what it is. Glyn Moody predicted this would happen when he wrote about it for Linux Journal around 3 years ago.

"There's free software [gratis, dumpware] and then there’s open source... there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with."

--Bill Gates, April 2008

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