Microsft claims Linux is 'anti-commercial'

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Philip, Nov 26, 2005.

  1. Philip

    Philip Guest

    Feast your eyes on this:


    and weep for the poor, hard-done-by, would-be monopolist that sees these
    awful people that don't think making more money for big corporations is
    the most important thing in their lives and are raining on the Microsoft

    Now watch as Microsoft tries to manipulate lawmakers to regulate open
    source software out of contest for public use - see how they've behaved
    in Massachusetts over the state's decision to use Open Document format
    for the public archive.

    They'll be at it here soon, if past experience is anything to go by.
    After all, why should a government use a public, open and free format
    for documents that leaves open the choice of software product for
    reading and writing software, when they could commit to a regular
    programme of costly annual licensing for a proprietary product that
    deliberately differs in one tiny but awfully important detail from
    everything else - and that detail has been patented and is a Great Big

    And how long before they latch on to some demented Orrin Hatch of a US
    Congressman to try to get Open Source outlawed as a threat to the
    American way of life?

    And how long before a future NZ government, pursuing the bubble of a
    free trade agreement with the USA, agrees to change our patent and
    copyright laws to be closer to the dreadful American model - just like
    the Australians have done?

    Linux isn't actually 'anti-commercial' but it is part of a different
    approach to provision of software product that liberates users from
    dependence on a single supplier.

    Microsoft has built its business model first on ubiquity - the original
    IBM PC deal meant a Microsoft OS was what came with the box - and second
    on trying to own the protocols by talking public but acting private.
    Look at the mess that is Internet Explorer, look at Active-X, look at
    Windows Media - all of them closed, proprietary and patented and
    designed to lock out any competition.

    Look at the horrors of Windows Vista and the built-in DRM that will stop
    you enjoying content you've legally bought and paid for if you commit
    the heinous crime of buying it in the wrong country - and may well
    refuse to show it anyway on your choice of screen that you've legally

    How much ownership should any one company be allowed to have?

    Looks like time to defenestrate - as fast as we can.

    Philip, Nov 26, 2005
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  2. Philip

    steve Guest

    Yeah,.....but in the US, if you're "anti-commercial", you're a defacto

    Worth bearing in mind should they begin passing laws effectively outlawing
    things like the GPL.
    steve, Nov 26, 2005
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  3. Philip

    brianM Guest

    Keep in perspective that the U.S. is one country, albeit a rich and
    powerful one, and there is a lot of Europe and Asia out there.
    IBM could put all of Microsoft's assets into it's cafeteria fund, and
    they are not putting all their eggs into the proprietary basket.

    brianM, Nov 26, 2005
  4. Philip

    Impossible Guest

    the GPL.
    Just to clarify -- A service contract is proprietary in exactly the
    same sense that a license is. For the life of that contract (or
    license), no party has options. So, for instance, when IBM contracts
    with Company X to develop and maintain some software, all other
    developers are excluded from the project and Company X is obliged to
    respect that. Any open-source code that's written will be freely
    available, but it's just code. You're free to fiddle with it if you
    want. But the real information you need to do anything useful --
    knowledge of Company X's business processes and how those pieces of
    open-source code fit together with all the proprietary code in the
    system -- is locked up in the contract. You can't get it and Company X
    can't give it out to you.
    Impossible, Nov 26, 2005
  5. Philip

    Peter Guest

    In the New Zealand context any such law could very badly backfire on
    commercial interests. The law needs to state its purpose and the Courts
    are obliged to interpret legislation "in the light of its purpose". It
    could also backfire on authors, artists, composers etc, the principal
    people whom copyright law is supposed to protect.

    At face value, an anti GPL law would also most probably allow that British
    security company to use a tattooed Maori person's face in its
    Peter, Nov 26, 2005
  6. It's only locked up if that's how the contract is written. There is no
    requirement that service contracts or contracts to write code result in a
    closed, inviolable system that neither party can open.
    A growing number of companies that make their money from supporting OSS
    have clauses in their contracts that force all code to be released under
    the GPL or another "free" licence. Those requirements are in effect the
    moment the code is written not just when copyright expires (which will
    currently be never in the US) and the code passes into the public domain.
    Matthew Poole, Nov 27, 2005
  7. Philip

    Impossible Guest

    What required in any contract is a function of the business
    relationship, and in part that depends on which party is stronger. So
    yes, if Company X is the stronger partner, it could demand a very
    open-ended contract in the which the developer carries most of the
    risk. However, if IBM is the developer, then that sort of relationship
    is very unlikely. IBM will almost certainly close every loophole in
    order to ensure that it retains exclusive control of the
    development/maintainence process. It might choose to out-source some
    development work to others, but that too would be on terms most
    favorable to IBM.
    Releasing code under the GPL doesn't eliminate the issue of
    proprietary ownership. Code is just code. You might read it and think,
    "That's a clever idea I can use elsewhere", or "I can do this better",
    or whatever. But as I said, what makes a service contract valuable is
    not the code itself (most of which is probably stock-standard,
    borrowed from someone else, and not very interesting at all) but
    knowledge about the business process and all the proprietary and
    non-proprietary software linkages involved. If this weren't the case,
    there would be no future for any OSS developer.

    My point is simply this -- whether you trade in service contracts or
    software licenses, you are trading in proprietary rights. I fail to
    see the distinction in terms of "fairness' that is sometimes attached
    to one or the other.
    Impossible, Nov 27, 2005
  8. Philip

    thing2 Guest

    I dont know how they can overturn the GPL, because in effect its
    copyright....so having one piece of software un-copyrightable but
    another copyrightable is plain silly...mind you that wont stop the beast
    from trying.....US Senators have deep pockets and MS is prepared to fill
    them, once passed in the US such laws have a habit of suffusing
    abroad....Lets not forget that a "free trade" agreement with the USA
    means they can rape us as much as they want but we still have to say

    I dont think the big battle will be the GPL but the "open standards" and
    "open formats" MS is fighting this tooth and nail....

    Good thing about the Internet is it is a pretty public fight, in PR
    terms it is doing itself huge damage IMHO.


    thing2, Nov 28, 2005
  9. I thought that the GPL was designed to prevent lock-in like you've
    described above.

    All software based on any other GPL'd software, must be released under the
    same GPL, and the source code must be supplied and made available.

    Undeniably Sluttish
    Mr Undeniably Sluttish, Nov 28, 2005
  10. What is proprietary about a service contract to clean/maintain toilets for
    a client?

    And how would that differ from a service contract to maintain software for
    a client?

    Surely, in both cases the client is the one calling the shots. If the
    client wanted to take their business to another contractor, then they are
    perfectly free and able to do so.

    And surely the contractor would not be free to use any information given
    by the client to the contractor, in order for the contractor to meet their
    contracted obligations, for any other lawful or legitimate purpose.

    Undeniably Sluttish
    Mr Undeniably Sluttish, Nov 28, 2005
  11. Philip

    Fran Guest

    "must be supplied OR made available."

    Fran, Nov 28, 2005
  12. Philip

    Impossible Guest

    Odd choice for a comparison, but ok. The terms of the contract would
    probably include the right of the cleaning company to choose its own
    cleaners (subject maybe to a security clearance and/or drug screen)
    and cleaning supplies (subject maybe to some health code), and the
    right of the client to choose the cleaning schedule.
    Depends on who the client is, who is contracting to do the service,
    and the nature of the software project. There would be plenty of of
    projects, I suppose, that aren't much more complicated than cleaning
    toilets, in which case the client would have many potential vendors to
    choose from and so would have most of the leverage. In other cases,
    the specifications of the project are so demanding that a client is
    going to have to select a vendor from a very short list. I assume that
    IBM, for instance, doesn't get many calls to do toilet cleaning -- it
    targets the high end of the market and so the prorpeitary rights it
    can leverage are going to be much greater.
    In the abstract, of course. But that assumes a market in which all
    developers are equal -- the market for toilet-cleaning projects would
    probably fit this model, but for anything more demanding that's
    plainly not how things work. The specifications of the project limit
    the range of vendors to those with the capacity to meet those
    specifications. And within that framework, terms of cost and control
    are all subject to negotiation. Clients and contractors alike are then
    only "free" to do what they've agreed to do.
    Surely not. But you miss the point. Developing and maintaining
    software for a client first and foremost involves acquiring knowledge
    of a company's business processes and its people. Coding can be farmed
    out to anyone with the appropriate qualifications, but no client wants
    to be going through the same costly process of developing a business
    relationship with a developer every time they need something new.
    That's the leverage that service-oriented companies like IBM have.
    Their formal proprietary rights will vary from project to project,
    depending on the the amount of non-GPL-related software, and all the
    customized linkages, that are built into the project. This could be a
    lot or a little. But in any case they certainly own the
    client-specific knowledge they've acquired in the process, and that is
    likely over time to become the most valuable asset they bring to
    contract negotiations. Clients are not literally "locked in" to an IBM
    service contract for all time, any more than they would be "locked in"
    to a Microsoft license. If the service/product can't, or doesn't for
    some reason, deliver the goods then the client will look elsewhere
    once the contract/license has expired. But their is a very strong
    incentive in either case to stick with the arrangement in which you
    have already made a substantial investment. Microsoft knows this, IBM
    knows this, and so do the clients if they're smart.
    Impossible, Nov 28, 2005
  13. Philip

    PAM. Guest

    IIRC, you can grab the software for free, and add your own bits and then
    pass it on, making your own bits a pay for product and not GPL. You can
    therefore make available the source for the initial part you got for free
    but your own stuff you can keep and not let go.

    PAM., Nov 28, 2005
  14. IOW, there is no difference.

    X company contracted to do work for Y company does so on terms mutually

    And if Y company wants to have their software released under the GPL then
    they have every right to have that in the contract.

    If Y company wants to own the copyright of the software then they have
    every right to have that in the contract.

    X company works to the terms of the contract, unless X company wants to
    be sued for breech of contract.

    The complexity of the task is irrelevant. The contract governing the work
    done for the client *is* relevant.

    The contractor has no relevant proprietary rights. The contract is the
    only thing that is relevant. And if the client wants the software
    developed and released under the GPL or LGPL, then the client has the
    right to specify. Likewise, a developer has the right to negotiate what
    sort of licence the software would be released under.

    "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

    Possibly at question are the proprietary rights of the organisation
    contracting to have the software developed.

    Undeniably Sluttish
    Mr Undeniably Sluttish, Nov 29, 2005
  15. All things are subject to negotiation if a developer wants the work.

    This is what is called "competition in the marketplace."

    Micro$oft is a different situation. Micro$oft does not compete on merit.
    It bribes and cajoles and forces and lobbies and tilts the "playing field"
    to make it impossible for others to play fair and win.

    Undeniably Sluttish
    Mr Undeniably Sluttish, Nov 29, 2005
  16. Unless you're a state government seeking to use open and free standards
    and formats, in which case your contractor will force you to take its
    software - even if that software does not support your published
    requirements; and then your contractor will bribe corrupt politicians and
    change your circumstances so that you cannot ever again consider software
    by any other contractor.

    Undeniably Sluttish
    Mr Undeniably Sluttish, Nov 29, 2005
  17. "must be supplied AND made available."

    To supply it is to make it available.


    Undeniably Sluttish
    Mr Undeniably Sluttish, Nov 29, 2005
  18. No. All software with any GPL'd code (even one line) must be released in
    it's totality under the GPL, without exception.

    The sort of licence that works similar to how you say is the BSD licence,
    only you don't even have to release the source code - you can just take
    BSD licenced code and use it how you wish, so long are the orignal
    copyright atributions remain in the source code, and then release the
    finished product under any licence you choose.

    Undeniably Sluttish
    Mr Undeniably Sluttish, Nov 29, 2005
  19. Philip

    Impossible Guest

    Not true.


    "These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If
    identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program,
    and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in
    themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those
    sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you
    distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based
    on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of
    this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the
    entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote
    "Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest
    your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to
    exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or
    collective works based on the Program."

    Impossible, Nov 29, 2005
  20. Philip

    Impossible Guest

    Sure. But whether Y company actually wants to do that depends on
    whether they think the advantages in opening up the market for service
    on a piece of software outweigh the disadvanatges in revealing to the
    world aspects of how they conduct their business. In the real world,
    this is not the cut-and-dry issue you make it out to be. Most "OSS"
    projects end up being hybrids, with a mix of proprietary and
    non-proprietary programs knitted together.
    You forget the part where contracts are negotiated. At that stage,
    complexity, competence, and all the issues concerning proprietary
    rights are up for grabs.
    Just what we need to clarify this discussion, cliches. You try calling
    IBM to develop a piece of software for you, with all the sort of
    requirements you've been referring to. Be sure to tell them you're the
    piper. See how that works out.
    Impossible, Nov 29, 2005
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