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Microsoft Defends Jim Allchin's Comments

By Seumas in Technology
Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:23:39 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Microsoft speaks about Jim Allchin's earlier statements, in which he lobbed a few grenades at open source, which he called both unamerican and an intellectual property destroyer.


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Following up to an earlier statement made by Microsoft's Jim Allchin, Microsoft issued a clarification in Allchin's defense, stating that while Allchin was not misquoted, he was misunderstood.

Microsoft states that when Allchin claimed open source software was unamerican, a threat to innovation and a direct attack on intellectual property, he did not mean all open source software, but specifically tax-payer funded software under the GNU GPL License. They do not explain why he did not make the clarification in his first statement last week. Specifically, they are concerned with paragraph 2B of the GPL, which states "You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License."

A Microsoft spokesperson provides further comment, stating "anyone who adds or innovates under the GPL agrees to make the resulting code, in its entirety, available for all to use ... [which] might constrain innovating stemming from taxpayer-funded software development."

In other words, Microsoft wants to take code from free software projects, alter it to their needs and not be forced to adhere to the terms under which they took the code -- but only if it involves tax-payer funded software. No further explanation was offered as to why tax-payer funded software should be singled out, but it may occur to some that tax-payer funded projects should especially be held to release modifications to the world, instead of stealing from someone else's hard work. It should be noted that Microsoft specifically mentions that the BSD license is an example of an acceptable license.

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Microsoft Defends Jim Allchin's Comments | 104 comments (97 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Microsoft Worried? (3.83 / 6) (#1)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:17:04 AM EST

I have to wonder, is Microsoft just fortifying some sort of defense to lessen the blow when court orders force their operating system code to be disclosed on a larger scale than it is now? Are they afraid of what people will find that they've been plundering code without returning modifications, in the true spirit of open source?
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
Innovation? (none / 0) (#60)
by solri on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 12:02:23 PM EST

I can't believe MS is still using that old "innovation" argument. When has MS produced anything that (a) was innovative and (b) worked? Forget that Windows was basically a kludged clone of another OS, forget the fact that Internet Explorer was not (as many now seriously believe) the first graphic browser, just take one MS product that is actually a fine piece of software: Age of Empires, which is basically real-time Civilisation with groovy graphics (and written by the same people, IIRC). As Dr. Johnson once said, "Your work is both good and original, but unfortunately the good parts are not original, and the original parts are not good."
"Nice philosophy may tolerate unlikely arguments" - John Ford
[ Parent ]
Re: Microsoft Worried (none / 0) (#100)
by eLuddite on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 12:34:29 PM EST

I have to wonder, is Microsoft just fortifying some sort of defense to lessen the blow when court orders force their operating system code to be disclosed on a larger scale than it is now?

Maybe they are testing the waters for a planned court offense against the GPL. I'm not saying they're listening to the pulse of K5 for legal advice but it is entirely plausible that they've gotten expert feedback on both the original Allchin comment and its clarification.

I'm not holding my breath that this is the case but as long as we're speculating, I would like to see it happen if for no other reason than to kill these internecine license squabbles.

I certainly do not think they are worried about being found for "plunderers." All the available evidence suggests that MS is particularly sensitive to protecting their IP and that developers there have standing orders to avoid GPL stuff for exactly that reason. (I'm also hard pressed to think of what they would plunder in the first place. What is under the GPL that they or the BSD dont already have covered?)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

this is completely consistent! (3.10 / 10) (#3)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:29:03 AM EST

No further explanation was offered as to why tax-payer funded software should be singled out, but it may occur to some that tax-payer funded projects should especially be held to release modifications to the world, instead of stealing from someone else's hard work. It should be noted that Microsoft specifically mentions that the BSD license is an example of an acceptable license.

Errrrrr..... well exactly. "Tax-payer funded projects should especially be held to release modifications to the world, instead of stealing from someone else's hard work". However, from that, it's hard to argue that derivative works of taxpayer-funded projects should have to release modifications to the world, if those derivative works are not themselves taxpayer funded. Hence his support for BSD-style licence rather than GPL.

Think about it this way; Microsoft pays taxes. Not as much tax as some would like, but they do pay taxes. So they should be able to get some sort of benefit from taxpayer-funded projects. Which, since Microsoft is a corporation and not a person, means profit. Therefore, releasing taxpayer-funded projects under the GPL excludes people who want to sell software for money (a legal activity, /pace/ Mr Stallman) from using taxpayer-funded code.

Viewed in this light, these comments are actually perfectly sensible.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

hm. (2.00 / 1) (#4)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:38:43 AM EST

That is actually a wise take on it. But it, in my mind, is very inconsistant.

They said their concern was innovation. Yet, they seem to be interested only in monetary innovation, not actual software innovation. Further, I personally don't believe them for a second in this new statement. If they only had a problem specifically with the GNU GPL, why did they attack all of open source last week?
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Source of innovation... (3.00 / 4) (#14)
by B'Trey on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 06:23:20 AM EST

They said their concern was innovation. Yet, they seem to be interested only in monetary innovation, not actual software innovation.

Ah, I wager that you're young and idealistic. You seem to believe that some people are actually motivated by things OTHER than money. I suppose you believe that some people actually LIKE to write code that solves problems, that some people are more concerned with accomplishing something than they are with making money off it. Microsoft, on the other hand, is much wiser and more wordly than you. They're aware that the only real motivation is the desire to reap profit and to dominate an industry. If people can't make money off something, they won't put any effort into it.

PS - if you're sarcasm impaired, please don't moderate this post.

[ Parent ]

Also. (none / 0) (#5)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:42:25 AM EST

Also, the other point I meant to make is that, what would Microsoft's view be on tax-payer funded projects which derived material from GPL'd software? By license, they would be bound to release the tax-payer funded software under the same limits. This most certainly stifles innovation, in government software at least.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
errrm (2.75 / 4) (#6)
by axxeman on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:00:17 AM EST

Let me get this straight. You assert that because Microsoft pays taxes, they are entitled to reap profit from government(ie taxmoney)-funded software projects.

So because a gun manufacturer company pays taxes, they are entitled to profit from army-funded gun research? And this "stifles innvation" because they can't take the government's ideas and build further concepts upon them?

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

not to defend him... (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:31:30 AM EST

Not to defend him, but...

He does have a valid point. Comparing GPL restrictions to abusing federally funded military weapons research is not the same. When the military does vast research on high-tech weapons, they do not make it freely available to everyone who wants it. In fact, they rarely even make it known that the information exists.

In contrast, GPL'd software (created by the government or otherwise funded by them) is freely available, but limited in scope of use. A poor analogy (sorry, I'm sleepy) would be that one is like my giving you a copy of a story I wrote and saying "you can't resell that or make money off of it, but you're welcome to make changes to it, put it out for the public and let myself and others enjoy and use your contributed changes" while the other is like saying "I have a bunch of unpublished stories I've written that I have never released or told anyone about. They're sitting in my desk drawer. You can have all of them and do whatever you like".

Microsoft would not be, in the previous commentor's suggestion, be saying "we want to use the governments stuff for free, however we want" but are saying "we want to use the freely available government stuff however we want". The material is already out there and available, but they want to incorporate it into their own software and repackage it for sale.

Of course, instead of saying this -- Microsoft chose first to bomb open source across the board and only after much heat, restate their position as to involve only one license and a narrow vein of software development.

I doubt the government is going to give Microsoft the time of day on this, but if they do, I would think it would make more sense to say "Okay. We won't use the GPL for this. We'll make our stuff closed source and charge you (microsoft) an arm and a leg if you want it"
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

one certainly CAN make money off of GPL'd works (4.66 / 3) (#19)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 08:37:50 AM EST

I keep seeing this mischaracterization of the GPL and it irritates me.
GPL'd software (created by the government or otherwise funded by them) is freely available, but limited in scope of use. A poor analogy (sorry, I'm sleepy) would be that one is like my giving you a copy of a story I wrote and saying "you can't resell that or make money off of it, but you're welcome to make changes to it, put it out for the public and let myself and others enjoy and use your contributed changes"
This is not the way the GPL works. A story licensed under the GPL certainly could be sold and have money made off of it. I can take a story licensed under the GPL, put it into a book, print the book and sell the book to my heart's content. What I can not do is prevent other people from doing the same thing, even with any modifications I personally make to the story.

If companies couldn't make money off of software that is under the GPL, companies like Walnut Creek, Cheap Bytes, Linux Systems Lab, etc. wouldn't be bringing in money hand over fist by burning CD-ROMs that contain predominantly software licensed under the GPL. The division of Redhat that used to be Cygnus is another example of a company that has done quite well making money off of GPL licensed software. Caldera also seems to be doing fairly well. (I can't imagine all the money it took to buy SCO's Unixware came out of Ray Noorda's pocket.)

[ Parent ]

more or less the point (none / 0) (#26)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:06:16 AM EST

That was actually the point I intended to make, but I completely butchered it. It happens.

Instead of you can't resell that or make money off of it, but you're welcome to make changes to it, put it out for the public I should have stated you can't resell that or make money off of it, unless you put changes out to the public.

Of course, my/our comparison to a 'book' is a little silly, I suppose. The GPL clearly applies to software and doesn't seem to make provisions for other material which, also, could be GPL'd - so to speak. But in non-software situations, GPL takes on a more generic application in discussion.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

seeing as how you put in a disclaimer (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:33:52 AM EST

I went easy on you because I saw your note about being sleepy. Without knowing that, I likely would have ridiculed you to no end.

[ Parent ]
hey, there's still time! [OT] (none / 0) (#36)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:43:53 AM EST

You still can, you know. Sure, it might look a little funny in consideration of this thread, but I enjoy a good beating now and then, even if it was for something I didn't intend!

What really sucks is that I've been awake for hours and hours and now it's time for work. If I was tired then . . . Hoo boy.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

the numbers don't add up (none / 0) (#56)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:34:49 AM EST

But your examples depend on being able to sell bulk units of commodity CDs. How much software fits this model, and who will develop the rest, if they have to face government sponsored competition in the market for selling software?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Re:What I can not do is prevent other people from (none / 0) (#102)
by eLuddite on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 12:56:30 PM EST

What I can not do is prevent other people from doing the same thing, even with any modifications I personally make to the story.

That's the problem. MS is saying that their use of funded software shouldnt be conditional to them releasing modifications of same. Their modifications (presumably innovations upon) are _not_ publically funded and the original software _does_ remain open, same as always.

They are asking a perfectly legitimate question: Why should they be accorded the rights of 2nd class citizens when their objectives (using and improving upon funded software for a profit) do not agree with yours (oversimplification: free shit)?

If companies couldn't make money off of software that is under the GPL, companies like Walnut Creek, Cheap Bytes, Linux Systems Lab, etc.

The economic model a company chooses for itself is not relevant to the discussion.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

OK, go ahead (2.00 / 3) (#11)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:53:28 AM EST

Let me get this straight.

Ok, go on then. You have my permission, formally and irrevocably granted, to get this straight. Do tell me when you've managed it, won't you?

So because a gun manufacturer company pays taxes, they are entitled to profit from army-funded gun research?

Well, here comes Captain Silly-Example -- munitions research is typically classified. Nor would Microsoft expect to be given access to the taxpayer funded programming of the NSA. So what?

In any case, perhaps you'd be interested to find out a) how much money Microsoft makes out of the Internet and b) which government agency financed the development of the Internet.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

hmmm (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by axxeman on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 08:53:41 AM EST

And how are those two examples you give any more relevant than mine?

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

c'mon, think (2.00 / 2) (#34)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:42:17 AM EST

One is an example of an obviously classified government research, designed to show you why your analogy of gun manufacturers has specific characteristics which remove its force, and one was an example of a defence department project which was in fact opened up to the public, showing you that the government does in fact, when possible, open up its research to the public. Wasn't hard, was it?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
different direction (none / 0) (#97)
by axxeman on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 04:41:10 AM EST

I see you didn't quite understand the analogy the way it was intended.

The issue I was addressing was: i don't think "we pay taxes" is a valid basis on which MS or anyone else can feel entitled to profit(in the direct, monetary sense) from anything the government does.

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

They're already benefiting. (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by Ludwig on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:16:10 AM EST

Just because they can't break the GPL and make their modifications proprietary doesn't mean they're not benefiting from the code being out there in the first place, same as anyone else. (Hint: profitability is not the only metric of utility.) If their business model is based on competing with free software and free software winds up being better, tough shit. There is no "right to make a profit."

[ Parent ]
only a zealot could say that (none / 0) (#49)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:56:27 AM EST

Hint: profitability is not the only metric of utility

Hint: Not for Microsoft, which is why Bill Gates is a billionaire. What other measures of utility might possibly be appropriate for a quoted company with obligations to its shareholders? What else could Microsoft want in return for its taxes?

If their business model is based on competing with free software and free software winds up being better, tough shit

In a fair competition. But not in a competition where the Federal Government subsidises free software out of taxes paid by Microsoft, using a license which prevents Microsoft from making use of the software it has paid for.

There is no "right to make a profit

In fact, numerous judges have decided that the takings clause of the Constitution does amount to a right not to have your profitable business stolen from underneath you by a federally subsidised competitor.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Unfair competition? (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:10:57 AM EST

I'm not sure how you can say that the government would be "subsidizing the competition" given that a GPL'd piece of software is open to all under identical conditions...

A company like Red Hat has no special advantage here over a company like Microsoft.

Perhaps "free software" has an advantage over "proprietary software", but those aren't corporations, those are business models. There's no constitutionally protected right to a business model.

Yes, if Microsoft takes a piece of GPL'd software and modifies it, they've got to release the modifications to their competitors. But that gives those competitors no special advantage because if they modify GPL'd software, they've got to release those modifications to Microsoft.

So while I think the philosophical reasons behind preferring a BSD style license for taxpayer funded software over something more restrictive have merit, I don't think the idea that this is somehow unfair to any particular company has any foundation at all.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Unfair to all companies, not to any (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:25:05 AM EST

I don't think the idea that this is somehow unfair to any particular company has any foundation at all.

It's unfair to companies whose business model revolves around selling software for a profit (a legal activity) rather than on continually tapping the equity capital markets. Red Hat is at an advantage, because Red Hat can incorporate hypothetical government GPL code into its operating system without loss, whereas Microsoft can't.

There's no constitutionally protected right to a business model.

There is constitutional protection against "takings"; an argument could be constructed that this subsidy constitutes a taking of intellectual property. And in any case, the Constitution is a minimum guarantee; the simple fact that something isn't constitutionally forbidden doesn't mean that it is morally and legally acceptable, much less the right thing to do. Microsoft did not claim any constitutional rights; they just made the point that it is perhaps not the wisest of courses of actions to pin the future of American software development on a coalition of amateurs and companies which have never made a profit, particularly when that coalition's highest achievement to date is the reproduction of a 1970s operating system.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Paradox there... (3.00 / 1) (#59)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:54:14 AM EST

I don't see how you can on the one hand claim that something is a huge competitive threat and then on the other knock it ("a 1970s operating system") as something near worthless...

If all open source can do is create archaic OSes, then how on earth could it threaten a modern OS company?
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
applications, not OS (2.33 / 3) (#61)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 12:20:09 PM EST

If all open source can do is create archaic OSes, then how on earth could it threaten a modern OS company?

"With government help", squares the circle pretty well. In any case, the relevant battleground is applications, not OS; the lack of innovation in operating systems by the free software coalition is just the most glaring example of a more general problem.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Uh.... (none / 0) (#62)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 12:44:59 PM EST

So you are saying that because the government helps people create products with no innovation, that somehow this will get people to buy uninnovative products instead of innovative ones?
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
no (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 12:56:02 PM EST

I'm saying that the government works best when it provides basic research and then lets the commercial sector get on with developing it.

So I'm comparing two models:
1) government finances basic research, further development and innovation is carried out on a for-profit, intellectual property rights basis.
2) government finances basic research, further development and innovation is carried out by hobbyists and unprofitable companies (in a bear market; just the hobbyists), on a GPL basis.

I just think that the first model is the proven one, and therefore any experiments with the GPL rather than BSD in government-funded software should be carried out very tentatively.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Not "research" (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:53:00 PM EST

The important thing to remember is that the government will necessarily develop mountains of software irrespective of any research. Any large organization produces huge amounts of "in-house" software that is never meant to be sold. In fact, the amount of software written by corporations for their own internal purposes exceeds the amount written by corporations to be sold for profit.

Much of what we are talking about here is that sort of software. Not software created by the government as some sort of research project, but software created by the government for its own purposes. The question is, what do you do with that software, which is obviously public property...

Research is very much the wrong model here. The software we are talking about is not an intential product but a side-effect of the normal operation of the system.

(Note that a lot of corporate produced GPL'd software is also this sort of thing. It was software that was never created for sale but rather, created for in-house purposes.)
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

I don't think that damages my point (2.00 / 2) (#76)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:36:54 PM EST

For "basic research", I think you can substitute anything which can be used and extended by the non-government sector, without altering the conclusion.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Funny you should say that (none / 0) (#65)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:03:51 PM EST

In a fair competition. But not in a competition where the Federal Government subsidises free software out of taxes paid by Microsoft, using a license which prevents Microsoft from making use of the software it has paid for.
Microsoft gets all sorts of rather juicy subsidies from federal, state and local governments in the form of tax rebates, deferals and other sweetheart deals that ordinary non-multibillion dollar businesses don't get. Why should my tax dollars go to fund Microsoft's profit machinery?

There is also a very large aspect that is missing. Microsoft could just as easily benefit from software licensed under the GPL as anyone else. It is also quite probable that in many ways they do. One example would be the port of a free compiler (GCC) to MS Windows that directly results in a larger Windows developer base.

In fact, numerous judges have decided that the takings clause of the Constitution does amount to a right not to have your profitable business stolen from underneath you by a federally subsidised competitor.
Really? Which judges in which cases? Next thing you'll tell me that a federally subsidized company like NASA or the USPS is unconstitutional.

[ Parent ]
keep separate issues separate (none / 0) (#66)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:20:42 PM EST

Microsoft gets all sorts of rather juicy subsidies from federal, state and local governments in the form of tax rebates, deferals and other sweetheart deals that ordinary non-multibillion dollar businesses don't get

Indeed, but I think we can agree that these have nothing to do with the matter under consideration. Bad arguments don't support good ones.

Microsoft could just as easily benefit from software licensed under the GPL as anyone else

No it couldn't. It's the owner of the single largest and most valuable piece of proprietary software in the world, to state the obvious. It has far more to lose from general degradation of intellectual property than almost anyone else. And it is hugely handicapped in making use of GPL code relative to someone not working with a massive body of proprietary code to integrate.

For material on the takings clause, check your favourite libertarian loony site. Since I don't really care about the US Constitution, I'll simply state that it is government competition against private industry is unfair, in most cases.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

but the issues aren't seperate (3.00 / 1) (#67)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:29:15 PM EST

You (and Microsoft) are essentially saying that it is not fair to Microsoft for the US government to fund the creation of GPL software because Microsoft can not compete with the monetary resources of the US government. Well, if Microsoft really believes that that argument holds water, then Microsoft should step forward and refund all of the subsidies that they have received over the years from the US government. If federal subsidies are unfair, they are unfair. If they are fair, they are fair. You can't argue that federal subsidies are okay for Microsoft and not okay for Microsoft's competetion.

I also dispute your implication that the GPL leads to degradation of intellectual property. Without the notion of intellectual property, the GPL doesn't work.

BTW, I'm not going to do your homework for you. If you want to make allegations about legal precedent, you have the onus of proof. I'm not going to go digging around in my local university's law library just because you can't be bothered to back up your assertions.

[ Parent ]

get off your high horse (3.50 / 2) (#69)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:40:40 PM EST

and pull your finger out of your bum, probably in that order.

Microsoft's argument is that it is more productive that government software development be carried out on the basis of intellectual property. The fairness or otherwise of federal subsidies is irrelevant in the final analysis; it is also the case that the government hands out subsidies only when it believes (or can convince itself) that there is a net public benefit, which would also apply in this case. The case is that it is better to subsidise Microsoft than what Richard Stallman believes in, and the track record of the profit motive over the last two centuries makes this case quite easy to make.

I also dispute your implication that the GPL leads to degradation of intellectual property. Without the notion of intellectual property, the GPL doesn't work.

Dispute away. GPL degrades the monetary value of intellectual property, which is all that is relevant here. You're now making a case that even Stallman doesn't try to assert. You can look this up on the FSF website, which I'm not going to provide a link to.

BTW, I'm not going to do your homework for you. If you want to make allegations about legal precedent

Wanker on two counts, wrong on one. Quite a good haul for such a short passage. Wanker because 1) you deign to think I have any "onus" to care what you think, 2) because you accuse me of demanding you do research for me, while yourself demanding that I explain reasonably simple economic concepts to you. Wrong because I am not making any assertions about legal precedent because, as pointed out above, the legal questions are not essential to my argument, and I don't care about them for themselves.

Why don't you ever make any assertions of your own, by the way? It's very easy to pretend to yourself, and to the ignorant, that you're a shockingly profound thinker by going around all the time claiming that other people haven't proven their points to your satisfaction. You do tend to get a reputation as an annoying wanker among those who really know what they're talking about, unless you actually say what you think is the correct interpretation and why. Grow some balls.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

who is on a high horse? (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:15:46 PM EST

Why don't you ever make any assertions of your own, by the way?
I make plenty of assertions. Generally speaking, I restrict my assertions to those areas of which I am knowledgable. Perhaps you should consider doing the same. If you don't believe that I ever make assertions, check out the discussion on Denying medical attention on religious grounds = child abuse? and look for my comments.
It's very easy to pretend to yourself, and to the ignorant, that you're a shockingly profound thinker by going around all the time claiming that other people haven't proven their points to your satisfaction.
I could care less about what the ignorant think of me. I ask for evidence because I hold certain views that run contrary to some assertions that some people make. In cases where the assertions are disputed, I ask for evidence so that if I am wrong I can change my mind. I'm not about to trouble myself with changing my mind if the only evidence I have of a contrary point of view is someone with the moniker streetlawyer says that the world is not as I see it.
You do tend to get a reputation as an annoying wanker among those who really know what they're talking about, unless you actually say what you think is the correct interpretation and why.
I could care less about what "those who really know what they're talking about" think about me.

I also don't care what people who can't defend their own viewpoints and consistantly resort to ad hominem attacks think about me.

You say some funny things sometimes. You say in this most recent post that you do not make assertions about legal precedent.

Wrong because I am not making any assertions about legal precedent because, as pointed out above, the legal questions are not essential to my argument, and I don't care about them for themselves.
Previously, it seems that you have made just such an assertion:
In fact, numerous judges have decided that the takings clause of the Constitution does amount to a right not to have your profitable business stolen from underneath you by a federally subsidised competitor.
Perhaps you need to reconsider what making an assertion entails.
GPL degrades the monetary value of intellectual property, which is all that is relevant here.
The GPL actually strengthens the value of intellectual property. Lets take user, Joe who buys some software. He goes to the store and buys a box lableed Windows XP. Joe doens't actually own anything but a box with some funny printing on it. He can't transfer the license to anyone should he decide he doesn't need Windows XP anymore. He can't make a copy of his cdrom with Windows XP on it in case his five year old brother decides to use the original for a frisbee. Now if Windows XP were licensed under ths GPL, its value to Joe has just increased exponentially. He can transer ownership to someone else. He can resell it. He can do anything he wants with it as long as he abides by the license.

Let's take another example, the GCC compiler. Intel, Motorola, Texas Instruments and other companies have all made enhancements to this compiler. Has this reduced the value of the compiler or increased the value of the compiler? Has the increased value of the compiler helped or hindered these companies in selling their intellectual property?

The fairness or otherwise of federal subsidies is irrelevant in the final analysis; it is also the case that the government hands out subsidies only when it believes (or can convince itself) that there is a net public benefit, which
This statement of yours is just plain bizarre. The two situations are exactly analogous. Either government can subsidize what it chooses to or not. It might make sense to sometimes subsidize a company like Microsoft, just like in some cases it makes sense to subsidize a Free Software project as in the case of the NSA doing work on making a secure variant of Linux. But for Microsoft to continue take government subsidies while at the same time raising the spectre of the government also subsidizing the competition is sheer hypocrisy.

[ Parent ]
tedious (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:26:07 PM EST

I could care less about what "those who really know what they're talking about" think about me.

Good; we think you're a wanker.

people who can't defend their own viewpoints and consistantly resort to ad hominem attacks

You'd have had a good time with Socrates, Dr Johnson, Schopenhauer, Jeremy Bentham and Karl Marx then.

Perhaps you need to reconsider what making an assertion entails.

Perhaps you need to reconsider what "not essential to my argument" entails.

While you've got your reconsidering hat on, you also might want to have a go at "monetary value". In the real world, Windows is worth several billion, because it is scarce. In your hypothetical world, it's worth ninety-nine per cent of fuck-all. Joe "can resell it", for an epsilon more than the cost of media, because at any other price, someone undercuts him. Therefore, when considering whether to invest a hundred million in developing Windows 2010, Joe's going to remember that he's not going to be able to recoup the cost. Hence he's not going to do it, or he's going to do it in his spare time, sllooooowly.

Either government can subsidize what it chooses to or not. It might make sense to sometimes subsidize a company like Microsoft, just like in some cases it makes sense to subsidize a Free Software project as in the case of the NSA doing work on making a secure variant of Linux

And all Microsoft is doing is saying that, in the general case, it doesn't usually make sense to subsidise something that's going to be released under the GPL. That's not hypocrisy, any more than it's hypocritical to say that while you have the right to eat nothing but baked beans, having a bit of taost with them will make you fart less.

Generally speaking, I restrict my assertions to those areas of which I am knowledgable

I take it, then, that your participation in this thread is at an end; indeed I'm surprised it didn't end long ago.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Goodbye (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:39:50 PM EST

This is likely to be my last comment in response to you ever. I'd respond in more detail, but its not worth it. I'll just close by noting the irony in your listing Socrates in a list of people I am supposed to think have great minds. Socrates gained his fame, not by making assertions, but by asking questions. He consistantly doubted what people said and asked them to prove their reasoning. Apparently, the same behavior by another name does nothing more than irritate you. Perhaps you are unable to deal with the inadequacy of your own beliefs.

[ Parent ]
Hey, you know... (none / 0) (#82)
by trhurler on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:29:09 PM EST

If everyone worth talking to refused to talk to him... maybe he'd go away:)

He still replies to the occasional post I make. I still ignore him. If someone references something he said, I occasionally click the link if it seems important to understanding something that isn't really to do with him, but that doesn't happen often, and when it does, reading his yabber about "those of us who know what we're talking about" and so on gets old pretty quickly. His friend from school is entertaining, though, if only in an incredibly juvenile way. (What can you expect?)

I'm starting to think I'd derive more entertainment from flaming him than I do loathing from having to read his replies, all the same. Old habits die hard... but as yet, k5 hasn't degenerated to the level I'd have to employ to make it entertaining, and I'd rather not contribute to that. Not only would I rack up zero ratings, but, more importantly, I'd encourage other people to do so, and most of them probably don't have the fine sensibility needed to restrain their attacks to worthy targets:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
if only. . . (none / 0) (#86)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:46:12 PM EST

If everyone worth talking to refused to talk to him... maybe he'd go away
That is a pleasant thought. However, such is my faith in the inadequacy of human nature that I highly doubt it. At this point I have complete faith that streetlawyer will stick around no matter what, if only to be a royal pain. This is the fist time, ever, that a single person has made me wish for a killfile. Back when I was a usenet junkie many moons ago I would often put whole classes of people in my killfile, but this is the first time that an individual has rankled me enough that I would put him in if k5 had one.

Maybe its time for me to look at the scoop code.

[ Parent ]

A Client side (none / 0) (#95)
by titus-g on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 12:22:23 AM EST

killfile K5 washer wouldn't be hard too write.

Admittedly it doesn't save you any bandwidth, but it would be quicker than trying to get it implemented in Scoop.

Or you could do it in wetware, close your eyes and scoll down :)

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

GPL Devalues Intellectual Property (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 06:17:43 PM EST

The GPL actually strengthens the value of intellectual property. Lets take user, Joe who buys some software. He goes to the store and buys a box lableed Windows XP. Joe doens't actually own anything but a box with some funny printing on it. He can't transfer the license to anyone should he decide he doesn't need Windows XP anymore. He can't make a copy of his cdrom with Windows XP on it in case his five year old brother decides to use the original for a frisbee. Now if Windows XP were licensed under ths GPL, its value to Joe has just increased exponentially. He can transer ownership to someone else. He can resell it. He can do anything he wants with it as long as he abides by the license.

Your assertion illuminates the fact that you have no idea what people mean by intelectual property. Intellectual property is the right of an author over works they have created. The GPL's express purpose is to undermine the rights of the authors of software with regards to a.) making money of software and b.) making sure that no one can close the source.

Whether the GPL is beneficial or not is tangential to whether it undermines intellectual property. The GPL is a fantastic hack of the copyright system which uses the system against itself. RMS is anti-intellectual property , and in fact in almost every interview he has ever had he has decried Intellectual Property.

[ Parent ]
GPL and IP (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 09:05:57 AM EST

Your assertion illuminates the fact that you have no idea what people mean by intelectual property. Intellectual property is the right of an author over works they have created. The GPL's express purpose is to undermine the rights of the authors of software with regards to a.) making money of software and b.) making sure that no one can close the source.
Just because I hold a different opinion than you does not mean that I have no idea what people mean by intellectual property. I know full well what people mean by the phrase "intellectual property." Your assertion is factually wrong for two reasons: (1) the GPL has never had an express purpose of preventing people from making money off of software; if it did, it would prohibit selling software for money, which it doesn't unlike many anti-commercial licenses I have seen; and (2) the GPL is a way to for an author to maintain control over his or her code, an author that releases under the GPL knows that his or her code will always be handled in a way he or she approves of.

The GPL is probably one of the strongest protectors of intellectual property ever seen (and here's the provisio that most people miss) provided the author agrees with the license. For an author that does not agree with the license, licensing software under the GPL is lunacy. Fortunately, to license under the GPL or not is a choice. There is no person or agency forcing people to use the GPL or to use software that is licensed under the GPL.

If the government were to force all software (including that written by private individuals and corporations) to be released under the GPL, I would hesitantly agree with the assertion that the GPL weakens IP. (In that case, though, it wouldn't really be the GPL, but rather the forced use of the GPL that weakens IP.) Using the GPL license is a choice, which makes all the difference in the world.

Your complaint really boils down to the complaint of people that want to modify and redistribute code licensed under the GPL without having to also release their modifications. These are the people that are claiming that their IP is being weakened or watered down. The problem is that the code isn't these people's IP to begin with. If it was, they could release it under whatever license they wanted along with the GPL. The GPL does not revoke copyright, nor does it eliminate the concept of IP.

RMS is anti-intellectual property , and in fact in almost every interview he has ever had he has decried Intellectual Property.
This much, I will concede. Although, I think it might be a little more accurate to say that RMS simply has a differing notion of what IP entails.

[ Parent ]
Real world example of Open Source vs. IP (none / 0) (#93)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 07:29:37 PM EST

I also dispute your implication that the GPL leads to degradation of intellectual property. Without the notion of intellectual property, the GPL doesn't work.

Richard Stallman is fond of saying that "Without intellectual property there would be no need for the GPL". The GPL simply uses the current copyright system to subborn itself. As for Open Source undermining intellectual property, one doesn't have to look further than ssh vs. OpenSSH battle where an author is being undermined by his own intellectual property which he no longer controls because he Open Sourced it.

Note, I am not saying Open Source is bad, but just pointing out that your claims that the GPL/Open Source doesn't undermine Intellectual property runs counter to what the most of the world realizes including the major proponents of Free Software.

[ Parent ]
Re: this is completely consistent! (none / 0) (#101)
by eLuddite on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 12:40:43 PM EST

Your arguement is that publicly funded gpl work shouldnt be viral which does has some merit. However, in the MS case,

Think about it this way; Microsoft pays taxes.

is incorrect. MS, the corporation, paid precisely 0$ in taxes last year. Exactly the amount they were assessed.

You dont get to be the poster boy of capitalism by giving money away :-)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

That's intestesting (4.16 / 6) (#7)
by rabbit on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:05:10 AM EST

My mom, actually works for this company named EDS. For you young-uns that's the company found by H.Ross Perot. You know...the stuper rich guy that ran for president?

Anyway. EDS does an *INSANE* amount of government work.

Every single line of code they write is, by law, public domain.

At least, here in california, it is.

I find that to be interesting. I wonder what other software is out there that has been written with tax dollars. I wonder if any of it is written by Micro$oft.

-- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
Are you sure? (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:34:15 AM EST

Are you sure it is public domain? If it is, then Microsoft doesn't have a problem with it. Material released into the public domain has NO restrictions on it. Anyone can do anything for any price anywhere with any intent for any reason with it. This is what Microsoft would prefer to see over GPL, which would require modifications to be released back into the public and the material derived from the GPL'd code to be licensed under the same.

What gets me is that Microsoft, as big and rich as they are, is concerned about pilfering some free software instead of just writing their own.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

no money (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by spongman on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 06:26:32 AM EST

what he's saying is that any innovation done under GPL cannot be leveraged in a competitive market. which is anti-capitalist, and as such not helpful to the american economy. or so he says.

[ Parent ]
central to the arguement (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:27:50 AM EST

Does that really make sense though? Why can't innovation under the GPL be leveraged in a competitive market? Just because you can't be the only person with the new innovation (because you have to provide the modifications to the world) doesn't mean you can't profit from it.

I'm astonished by the greed of wanting to build on the innovation of others without returning your own additional innovations that came from that foundation and are perfectly attributable to that software/project. I guess this is how the American system of patenting has worked for decades, though. You build on the innovations of previous innovators, even though their stuff was "closed source", in a manner of speaking.

The difference in that being that building on the foundation of a previous innovation like the hair-dryer (a concept) is not the same as physically taking the actual code from a program and 'innovating'.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

public domain <> GPL (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by spongman on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 06:22:48 AM EST

Jim Allchin wasn't complaining about public domain. I'm sure he loves the ideo of public domain. What he's concerned about is the fact that something that's under GPL is always under GPL and no part of it can ever be used in a closed-source project.

[ Parent ]
copyright (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:21:12 AM EST

That is one of the best points I've seen so far, but I think there is a flaw in it.

It states that copyright protection is not available for any work of the United States Government. It specifically states that it is not precluded from receiving and holding those rights which have been given to them.

So, if they hire someone to write some code for them, that person copyrights it and sells it to the government -- bam -- copyright.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Naw (none / 0) (#83)
by cpt kangarooski on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:29:14 PM EST

I don't think that would hold up. (not that I would have expected half the crap that has so far held up in the lower courts to hold up) If the govt. hired someone to write it, it's a work for hire, where the copyright is held by the govt. Which they can't. But OTOH, if I write a novel independently of the govt, and give them the copyright, they're allowed to hold it. Personally, I can't say that I'm all that impressed... I would prefer that the govt. drop everything it gets into the public domain, where it's really useful.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
Just a quick reminder: (4.00 / 4) (#16)
by i on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 07:39:13 AM EST

NSA is unamerican. I urge US taxpayers to get rid of those commie-loving, GPL-touting, innovation-threatening, intellectual-property-destroying pink hippies</grin>.

<serious>
Me: Ok, so GPLed software constrains innovating stemming from taxpayer-funded software development. But closed-source software constrains it even more. You can use GPLed source, albeit in limited ways; you cannot use closed source at all.

Them: But we can pay the government for rights to the source!

Me: Aha, I see. So you can have the source made available to you, unconstrained, in exchange for money. But you can also pay the government for rights to GPLed source. In which case the source will be available to you, unconstrained, in exchange for money. Just the same as with closed source. This is fine with me. So please remind me, what was the controversy again?
</serious>

Isn't it funny: Microsoft takes sides in the GPL-vs-BSD licence flamewar?



and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

A Blow (none / 0) (#54)
by Devil Ducky on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:19:44 AM EST

This could be a real blow to the BSD community.

Where Microsoft goes, the OSS community avoid.

Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
[ Parent ]
Research (3.75 / 4) (#17)
by Nyarlathotep on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 07:41:55 AM EST

I doubt that Microsoft is scared that Gnome will get some sort of gov. funding. It's more likely that they are scared of researchers moving all academic software to the GPL. Microsoft may not use a lot of academic software, but the "replacment value" for wierd academic projects could be much higher then for Gnome.

Personally, I think we should all be tring very hard to get academic instatutions to adopt a GPL style lissence for all projects (copyright or patents). RMS has says that the GPL will not work for patents since they cost too much to inforce, but the universities are already inforcing their patents, so it's just a matter of convincing them that the "mission of the university" is best served by switching to a GPL for patents. (i.e. the GPL dose not reduce your profit making opertunities when the only way to make a profit is to distribute a non-GPLed version.) Actually, many universities probable use simillar lissences for patents, but they say "non-commercial use" instead of "must continue under this lissence."

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
-1:Redundantly lends MS yet more false credibility (2.20 / 5) (#20)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 08:46:46 AM EST

[rant]

Good Lord, how many of these Microsoft spin "Allchin was right, Allchin really meant [insert microsoft spin here]" stories do we have to endure here?

[/rant]

As I pointed out before, it is a common misunderstanding that one must "tell both sides of the story" no matter how absurd the other side is. White Supremecist and Neo Nazi groups have used this notion to get their ideas aired publicly in forums (such as semi-serious national television broadcasts) that lend their notions a legitimacy based not on their content, but the medium through which they were aired.

There appears to be an effort on the part of the anti-Free Software crowd to do the same, namely lend an absurd comment some legitimacy by airing it in respectable forums such as this. This is the first of two "pro-microsoft POV" stories appearing in the queue, the second arising this morning, claiming 'studies' which claim to support the notion that government sponsorship of free software is bad for business (studies which are remeniscent of those which claimed black folk were less intelligence because the measure of their heads was smaller -- studies all but the most blind and hateful recognize as profoundly bogus, unscientific, and provably wrong) but which, in their day (not so long ago BTW), were lent an undeserved air of legitimacy because of the medium which presented them.

The anti-defemation league, among others, has often spoken out about this issue. Consider the impact of having a debate on the existence of Santa Clause on the McNiel Lehrer News Hour. A nonsensical point of view, debated (and almost certainly demolished) by its opponents. The very fact that it is being discussed seriously on such a program, or medium if you will, would lend the notion of the existence of Santa Clause some credibility it wouldn't otherwise have, particularly to those uninformed on the subject (small children, someone from a culture who had never heard of the silly fat man, etc.).

It is sometimes a difficult balance to maintain, between the desire to present opposing points of view and the desire to not promote absurdity as plausible. Dismissing the comments of Jim Allchin as nonsense is not, as the author of this article states, zeolotry any more than the dismissal of the existence of Santa Clause would be. It is simple, critical thinking, nothing more. Is the converstation generated really worth promoting such notions, particularly when other stories on the very subject have already been posted to the front page?

Vote your conscience, but consider that by promoting this nonsense to the front page you are, in fact, lending support to the underlying notion whether you intend to or not.


--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
enlighten me (2.00 / 1) (#27)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:11:00 AM EST

Please. Oh wise one. Enlighten me.

Just how is my submission pro-Microsoft? Did you actually read what I wrote? I tried to remain generally unbiased, but if anything my distaste of Microsoft slipped through. It's amusing that you seemed to classify my view as "pro-MS POV".
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

It takes two to tango (3.33 / 3) (#31)
by inert_mass on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:30:03 AM EST

The argument that you have presented is certainly a semi-valid one. If you do not present both sides of an argument that is as silly as this one, then you do not promote the underlying notion that this was not absurd. However, you are also trying to censor someone. The whole idea of critical thinking is based on the idea that two opposing sides are equal before arguments are made. To eliminate one side is to eliminate the argument.
In mathematical terms:
x=1
If you take away x, or 1, what do you have? A statement of fact, or an unknown. What you do not have is an argument. Sure it is silly to believe the spin cycle of M$, but, you have to allow people the chance to decide for themselves. Anything else is playing the "Mother Knows Best" game that (specifically) governments around the world play.
It is bad for us.
</rampancy>

------------------------
"This is the end..."
</i_m>
[ Parent ]
um.. hey there (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:49:19 AM EST

Just wanted to point out that the main reason his arguement doesn't make sense is that he's accusing me -- not just the Yahoo article I linked to -- of writing a Microsoft-biased article, playing into the MS spin like a mushy-brained fool. Considering that I don't think I really took any stance in the brief article I submitted, it seems to be a fairly extreme response.

Not to mention the fact that I quite clearly dislike Microsoft. And no, that isn't my viewpoint because of the fact that my employer is one of the greatest critics of Microsoft known to man -- it's my viewpoint because I've watched Microsofts behavior over the last 20 years.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

the accusation was not a personal one (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:58:52 AM EST

The accusation of a pro-microsoft bias was not a personal one aimed at you. It is my opinion based upon the content of both the yahoo article and its presentation here (not overt, and perhaps not intended, but there nevertheless). If one presents an absurd idea as reasonable and begins a discussion from that point, one has lent the idea credibility and thereby, directly or indirectly, lent support to said idea.

The yahoo article more or less echoes Microsoft's spin control on the trial balloon ("Free Software is a Threat to the American Way") floated by Allchin, with only vague (and unflattering) characterization of the opposing side and no presentation of the opposing arguments, despite numerous insightful and well articulated points debunking Allchin's stance posted here and elsewhere.

This is clearly a biased "pro-MS POV" article, and your neutral introduction of such lends a net "pro-MS" POV IMHO. That is your right (whether or not it was your intent), just as it is my right to speak out against it and try (very possibly with no success) to dissuade others from voting for the story.

Certainly no personal attack or offense was intended, however, I stand by my earlier remarks as regards the content of the story in question.


--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
weird (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:04:41 AM EST

See, I don't see such a leaning on either my comments in the article or in the Yahoo! article itself. The Yahoo! article, in fact, seemed very straight-forward and unbiased to me. Microsoft made some comments, Yahoo! included a few of them in the article. Then they included a few comments from the opposing view. I don't see that there was enough depth in the article to actually have a biased toward Microsoft or open source, period. Then again, I'm not expecting to see "Microsoft is run by idiots -- look at these stupid comments!" from any major media source or distributor.

I would be curious to see how Wired presents it. Sometimes they can be rather insightful and unbiased, and other times they can be idiotically lead by their noses, kissing Microsoft ass all the way.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Let's agree to disagree (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:20:01 AM EST

I think we simply are reading the same material and reaching different conclusions. It is possible my perspective is colored by other more blatently pro-MS POV stories which have been posted here and elsewhere, and my reaction to your post heightened accordingly. It is also possible that your perspective has been influenced differently.

There does appear to be a widespread campaign on the part of Microsoft to legitimize the comments of Allchin, in preparation for an all-out assault (both PR and lobbying-wise) against Free Software and the GPL in particular, in both business and government. Part of that strategy appears to include making absurd comments such as Allchin has done, then backing off from those comments with "clarifications" which in turn represent a slightly less absurd (but nevertheless still outlandish) position which, in comparison to the original stance taken, appears reasonable.

Posting such spin to k5 helps this effort along, and while your story is not as extreme in this regard as an earlier one posted here, it does IMHO fall into that category.

While we appear to agree in part on the overall issue, clearly we disagree on the specifics of the Yahoo! article and this story. Just as clearly, based on the running score, my opinion is in a minority here. Not a big deal; this isn't the first time I've espoused an unpopular opinion, nor will it be the last.

Let's simply agree to disagree, chill on the personal innuendo, and leave it at that.


--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
the point of voting stories yeah or nay (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:50:17 AM EST

It is not censorship to vote a story down because its premese is absurd, uninteresting, or inappropriate according to whatever the norms of the moment are in the k5 community (constantly changing as the demographics of the site's users change).

Whether or not this particular story is voted up or not, the user is perfectly free to comment as they see fit in any of the other several stories on this subject which have been voted up on K5, or to post the identical story in their diary for any and all to read, regardless of the prevailing k5 opinion.

It is interesting that the censorship argument is used for denying a critical revue of a posting and voting accordingly (and yes, I think that includes voting agianst a story representing views one finds indefensible or absurd). White supremecist and neo-nazi groups often use identical verbiage when demanding media airtime to vent their views, when in fact no broadcaster is obligated to given them the time of day, much less a forum for airing their ideas. This is not censorship; such groups remain free to publish their material and ideas as far and wide as they like, on their own dime.


--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
[OT] Hey! Don't malign Saint Nicholas. (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:42:07 AM EST

The very fact that it is being discussed seriously on such a program, or medium if you will, would lend the notion of the existence of Santa Clause some credibility it wouldn't otherwise have, particularly to those uninformed on the subject (small children, someone from a culture who had never heard of the silly fat man, etc.).
Saint Nicholas is most certainly real. In fact he was a fourth century bishop in the city of Myra in Asia Minor. There is good reason to believe that some of the legends about him (such throwing bags of gold through the window of a poor man about to sell his daughters into prostitution to convince him otherwise) are true while others (such as slapping the heresiarch bishop Arius across the face at the council of Nicea only to be imprisoned and then freed when Jesus appeared in a dream to emperor Constantine and instructed Constantine to free Nicholas).

Of course Saint Nicholas, being mortal, has been dead for close to 1700 years so I doubt he flies around in a sleigh full of reindeer to deliver presents. I also doubt that a bishop from Asia Minor had even heard of reindeer, much less involved himself in the rather arduous task of trying to figure out how to make them fly.

[ Parent ]

[OT too] santa == saint Nicholas? (none / 0) (#68)
by ooch on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:30:18 PM EST

Here in Holland we celebrate saint Nicholas-day instead of christmas. but that is on december 5th. Nicholas was the protactive guardian-saint or something of all sailors, and because we dutch sail a lot we celebrate his birthday(which was actually december 6th). I never knew the american Santaclaus was the same guy.

Enlighten me:-)

[ Parent ]

Santa Claus == Sinter Klaas (none / 0) (#70)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:47:55 PM EST

Surprise! Yep, the American legend of Santa Claus is derived from Saint Nicholas. The shoes filled with treats have mutated into stockings hung from the chimney. Rudolph was the additon of a early twentieth century department store advertising campaign. You might find the articles Santa Clause or Saint Nicholas and THE TRUE STORY OF SANTA CLAUS interesting.

[ Parent ]
hehe (none / 0) (#103)
by ooch on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 05:07:05 PM EST

Here in Holland many people are afraid that more and more people celebrate christmas instead of Sinterklaas. But it is one and the same guy! I still like sinterklaas better though:-)

[ Parent ]
Free Speech + Public Debate != Instant Believers (3.50 / 2) (#45)
by discoflamingo13 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:18:08 AM EST

My friends and I have a saying - "When it gets to the point where one side has to demand that people take their idea(s) seriously, you've already lost." This is otherwise called the "Invisible Holocaust Factor." Whenever Pat Buchanan (the greatest [sic] Holocaust revisionist of all time) demands that people pay attention to his theories about why the Holocaust didn't happen, it is no longer in the spirit of free and open debate. It is a vile rhetoric that says "the right to free speech is the right to free believers." This idea, just from pure common sense, is patently false; but, sometimes, pretending that it's all in the spirit of fair play gives your opponent just enough rope to hang themself by. (wink wink, nudge nudge)





The more I watch, the more I learn ---
If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
--- Course of Empire

[ Parent ]
Spin? (2.00 / 1) (#50)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:58:53 AM EST

Actually, if you read Alchin's comments in context, this is indeed what he said. Lots of people had the knee-jerk reaction that Microsoft wanted to "ban open-source software" when nothing of the sort was proposed, The issue was always about software written by government employees.

True "balance" is not taking both sides as equal. It is reading information critically and not jumping to conclusions.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
BSD (2.85 / 7) (#22)
by hardburn on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 08:58:28 AM EST

It sure is a good thing they like BSD, being that they took *BSD's networking layer and put it in Windows.

BSD people: How does it fell to be liked by Microsoft?

Yes, that was flamebait.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


Wouldn't it be obvious? (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:13:38 AM EST

Microsoft likes BSD People the same way most people like an easy lay. It isn't that there is any particular appreciation or regard for them -- they just happen to have something Microsoft wants and are willing (via their licensing) to give it up. Hell, where would Microsoft's networking be without BSD?
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
BSD People Like It (none / 0) (#63)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 12:49:37 PM EST

Unlike the GNU/Linux crowd and others who are quick to jump on the Microsoft bashing bandwagon, the BSD people have one goal: To write good software and get as many people as possible to enjoy the fruits of their work.

With Microsoft using their code, they are a success. More people are benefitting from BSD's TCP/IP stack than from Alan Cox's Linux code. If I were a BSD developer who worked on the stack, I'd be pleased. Once you realize that the BSD people just want people to benefit from their code, instead of being in some anti-Microsoft, RMS-is-God, frenzy all the time, then it makes sense.

[ Parent ]
This is really quite silly (4.57 / 7) (#24)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:03:28 AM EST

GPL'ed code: innovation happens, all interested parties become aware, all interested parties my add to that innovation. Every fork has the potential to cross breed with other versions. Innovation has the potential to happen at a geometric rate.

BSD'ed code: innovation happens, and unless it is by us "unamerican" free software/open source zealots, nobody else sees it. You might be able to buy it, but you'll have to reverse engineer it, and then risk the legal wrath of the "innovative" company. All commercial forks become kingdoms to themselves, and innovation happens more linearly, and cross-breading only happens by imitation and guesswork.

Here's the absurd part: The demand for software exists regardless of the development methodoligy and regardless of the license. Software will still get written and people will still be paid well to do it. Innovation happens because people needs it happen. Innovation doesn't stop under the GPL, it only constrains the ways Microsoft can make use of it, which is contrary to their "you're gonna pay out the ears while we keep everything secret" profit model. What they're really doing is whining because they'd rather not use code under the GPL, and if they won't do it, they want none of their competitors doing it either.

demand (5.00 / 2) (#29)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:21:42 AM EST

You're absolutely right when you elude to demand existing under each form of licensing.

Microsoft seems to believe in innovation, as long as they can get their hands on it and take control of said innovation. Microsoft's problem with the various open-ended licenses is not that it hampers demand. The problem is that they open doors to additional supply. Supply and demand to them simply means, market until you've generated demand and then control every aspect of supply.

Oh wait. Isn't that called a monopoly?
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

BSD license (2.33 / 3) (#25)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:05:26 AM EST

Lots of stuff in the conversation on slashdot about the BSD license aspect of this. I'm posting the link because no one here has mentioned that aspect yet and I think it is as important as the taxpayer funding aspect.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage

Obligatory Conspiracy Theory (2.00 / 3) (#37)
by Alarmist on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:48:26 AM EST

Microsoft says that taxpayer-funded OS software is fine to borrow from.

BSD was developed at a state (therefore, taxpayer-funded) university.

(insert obvious conspiratorial ploy here)


They're oppose the Copyleft (not Open Source) (3.75 / 4) (#42)
by tnt on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:09:53 AM EST

So basically, they are opposed to the idea of copyleft, and not open source. (At least not opposed to open source that is not, at the same time, copylefted.)

Of course, I guess the rhetoric they were trying to express would not have been as effective if they would have said copyleft instead of open source. It is not like the media really acknoledges the free (as in freedom) movement (a.k.a. the copyleft movement). In the media's eyes, this is all the open source movement. (To them, the ideas of free (as in freedom), copyleft, and open source are all the same,... even though the are seperate [but not necessarily distinct] ideas.)



--
     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
__________________________________________________
  Kuro5hin user #279

WHAT!? (4.00 / 8) (#48)
by jabber on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:55:04 AM EST

Did I misunderstand this? Can someone clarify if I have?

open source software was unamerican, a threat to innovation and a direct attack on intellectual property, he did not mean all open source software, but specifically tax-payer funded software

Let me explain how that reads to me.. Microsoft is saying that software the development of which is funded by tax money is specifically the software that should be copyrighted and not made public?? Things paid for by the public should not be public?

I would think that it should be exactly the other way around! All tax-payer funded source code should be available to the tax-payer, free of charge. It is, after all, our property! WE are the ones who paid for it.

The GPL is the perfect tool for enforcing this BTW, since anything based on tax-funded software should also be public domain - but here I'm showing my socialist spots.

If a private developer releases source to the public domain, they do so of the kindness of their heart. If they subsequently reach an agreement with Microsoft that allows MS to use that source, modify it, and NOT re-release it to the public, that is their (the original developers) right.

If a public developer, paid for with tax money, writes software, that software should necessarily be public domain. If that software is then the basis of 'for profit' efforts, those efforts should either be public as well, or only use an unaltered form of the public software. In any case, any money made as a result of using public software should be taxed more heavily than in the case of private software. Otherwise, tax money is being used to increase the profitability of a company, without the tax-payers deriving a direct benefit.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Precisely (2.50 / 2) (#84)
by scruffyMark on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:36:04 PM EST

since anything based on tax-funded software should also be public domain - but here I'm showing my socialist spots.

Exactly what Allchin meant - expecting that the people obtain maximum benefit for what they payed for is unamerican!

In any case, any money made as a result of using public software should be taxed more heavily than in the case of private software. Otherwise, tax money is being used to increase the profitability of a company, without the tax-payers deriving a direct benefit.

Please proceed to the nearest Bureau for Jingoism and Apple Pie and have yourself registered as a Dirty Marxunderstanding Motherstabbing Crimethinking Commie at your earliest convenience.

[ Parent ]

public domain (5.00 / 3) (#85)
by kataklyst on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:45:39 PM EST

I think you're misusing the term public domain. Normally this term is used to refer to works which have no copyright restrictions whatsoever. Releasing code under the GPL is not the same as placing it into the public domain.

Microsoft is not saying that the government should write Windows 2010 and give the source only to Microsoft. They are saying that the government should place whatever code it writes into the public domain. The Free Software proponents can relicense it under the GPL and start an open source fork. Microsoft can slap their EULA on it and start a closed source fork.

Suppose the closed source fork meets some people's needs better than the open source fork. Some people may value Microsoft's inovations more than having free software. Others may value the open source innovations and or freedoms more. Consumer choice is increased. Competition decides who wins, not government mandate. Maybe it's better if the government just picks the "good guys" and makes sure they win, but I'm reluctant to accept that.

[ Parent ]

Re: WHAT!? (2.50 / 2) (#92)
by Vann on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 06:41:32 PM EST

Don't be silly. If the public owned what was created with US tax dollars, we ( US citizens ) would own the internet. Or at least, the population of the world would. Such is the way of buisness and government, I suppose.
____________
Sex is tedious all year except on Arbor Day. -- Rusty
[ Parent ]
Taxes and ownership (none / 0) (#104)
by JonesBoy on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:15:25 AM EST

Hmm. My tax money paid for the space shuttle, therefore I get to take it for a joyride? Anyway, what kind of software do you think the government is writing, and why do you want it anyway? Say some government worker writes software for the guidance system of an ICBM in some secretive project. Should this software be released -just cause you paid for it? Bad logic there..
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
-1. (1.75 / 4) (#52)
by rebelcool on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:10:57 AM EST

In other words, Microsoft wants to take code from free software projects, alter it to their needs and not be forced to adhere to the terms under which they took the code -- but only if it involves tax-payer funded software. No further explanation was offered as to why tax-payer funded software should be singled out, but it may occur to some that tax-payer funded projects should especially be held to release modifications to the world, instead of stealing from someone else's hard work. It should be noted that Microsoft specifically mentions that the BSD license is an example of an acceptable license.

Come on now. Theres no proof that m-soft wants to do this. This isnt slashdot, we shouldnt just make up interpretations and claim them as fact.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

you're joking, right? (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:13:04 AM EST

You've read lots of stuff that's posted right? When someone doesn't make personal views and claims in a story, they're strung up for "not adding your view points" and just writing a straight out story. Besides, the view I extrapolated from Microsoft's behavior and recent comments is not at all impossible -- or even unlikely.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
its the way its stated (2.50 / 2) (#57)
by rebelcool on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:36:05 AM EST

if you had said "the way I see it is... because of..." and so on. The "in other words" kind of things always implies putting words into the mouths that didnt speak them.

I suppose its a minor gripe, but thats the way I read it was that you were attempting to pass it off as an obvious "fact" that this was microsoft's intention.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

perhaps (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by Seumas on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 01:23:55 AM EST

I suppose that could have come across that way. I honestly didn't intend to present it as a fact. I do believe everyone should agree with my point of view, though. ;)
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Microsoft Logic (4.42 / 7) (#58)
by kostya on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 11:52:01 AM EST

This is what Microsoft is saying (IMO):
Publicly funded software (paid for with taxes, supported through gov't funding, etc) should be totally free to the public to do with what they wish. And if the public wants to improve on that software, and then sell that improvement for profit, they should be able to. The gov't should not license "public domain" software in such a way that it takes away from the freedom of the public. Especially if the public wishes to use that public domain software to create innovations (IP) and profit from it.
This logic has its own kind of beauty to it--you have to admit it.

Now, what any FSF member or open source advocate can plainly see (IMO):

If software is publicly funded, then it should be public domain. If software is publicly funded, licensed to the public domain, then any improvements made off that publicly funded work should be also released into the public domain. Otherwise, the public domain suffers. Additionally, why should any member be allowed to profit off the public domain without giving back to the system which enabled them in the first place?
Perhaps the nuances of the free software people might be lost on the average Joe, but I think when you explain it Microsoft's position as (buzzword alert) "Corporate Welfare" and the free software people's position as a way to stop such corporate welfare, most people will agree that the "idea" behind the GPL is a good one.

Remember, Microsoft has built their vast fortune on the idea that "Software is a Product". Free software proponents do not believe that, and most of their actions are aimed to making the software business into "Software is a Service". Microsoft is just being savy as always--the FSF's attempt to hack the copyright using "copyleft" may work. And where would that leave Microsoft?

I personally expected something more crafty. Perhaps Microsoft is getting more stupid as it gets older?



----
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
public domain (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by cpt kangarooski on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:26:26 PM EST

Really it depends on how closely derivative of the public domain work it is.

I don't begrudge Disney a copyright on 'Beauty and the Beast,' which is certianly clearly derived from the fairy tale of the same name. There's surely enough originality there to justify a copyright - though one limited to what they introduced, and not to what's in the public domain story.

On the other hand, I carry such a large grudge against Disney for their continual causing of the copyright term to be lengthened (protecting 'Steamboat Willy' and thus the entire Mickey Mouse trademark) that I have to carry it on a handtruck.

Just as they had the opportunity to add to and improve the scope of knowledge, _I_ want the opportunity to do the same. They're not entitled to get all the profit from Mickey Mouse. Never have been. Why then, should they continually be allowed to do so at the expense of the public of all the materials derived from that that could be?

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
You're not being rational here (2.00 / 6) (#72)
by Bob Abooey on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:08:09 PM EST

As someone with years in the software industry I feel the need to speak up. You can twist the words of Mr. Allchin all you want, but what he said is basically the Gods truth. Now I can only speak for America but the needs of this country are met through some very simple supply and demand economics. If there is a demand for a product then some company will supply it. Consumers purchase it if they view it as something with a fair market value. Pretty simple eh? Now then, when there is enough of a demand you will see innovation enter the picture. This is what separates the leaders in an industry from the followers. But note that in almost all cases there has to be a certain payoff implied before this happens. It could be many different things but usually it is financial security.

So there is an obvious demand for software, that is a given. There is a tremendous amount of financial gain to be made by supplying software to needy consumers. So what we see here is a company, Microsoft in this case, working hard to meet the demand of its customers, with security as the payoff. Since security is one of the basic human needs they are very driven to perform well and to be the leader in the industry.

So then what happens when open source software comes along. All of a sudden the demand is being met for free. So what is Microsoft to do? They can continue to fight a loosing battle, or move their efforts into another industry where their needs (security) can be met. Thus you have stopped their innovation and damaged the industry. So then open source will still continue, but lets face it, without the big bad evil empire to hate are the coders going to be as driven to stay up late and write code? That remains to be seen. I do not write these words lightly, I have lived through many paradigm shifts in this industry, and while I like Linux I am not able to see the truth for what it is.


-------
Comments on politics from a man whose life seems to revolve around his lunch menu just do not hold weight. - Casioitan
rationality (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by Seumas on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:29:15 PM EST

No offense, but I think you're being a little irrational. Because Microsoft finds it more difficult to make a buck when someone else make stuff open/free (as in speech), Microsoft should be catered to? Why is Microsoft more legitimately deserving of a break, over open source? Is it because they make money and open source is in it just for the code? Microsoft and open source can both exist -- and if Microsoft can't co-exist, well, tough -- that's the darwinistic nature of an open market.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
That's right (none / 0) (#87)
by Lion on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:01:54 PM EST

What strikes my curiosity is the following:
This whole affair about innovation pictures the situation as if all those engineers and the like, now working at those innovating companies are goint to get stuffed in a gas chamber and all anhilated. Certainly that won't happen. Are those people going to become car or shoe salespeople or something? (no offense to sales guys out there intended! :). Again I think that won't happen in most cases.

I think that if companies actually have a great product, people will still buy it. No need to protect mediocrity. MS and other companies leeched the consumers for long enough with their inflated prices.

Innovation won't die.

[ Parent ]
Irrational is good (none / 0) (#80)
by Scrutinizer on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:06:21 PM EST

What's really going on here is that MS sees a lot of software out there that works really well, with a lot of nice features, released under the GPL, that they would dearly like to engulf & devour, thus upping their profits for a minimal investment.

But the GPL means that they can't do this without releasing the source code of their innovations to the world at large. Note: They CAN use it internally all they like, they can give it away, they just can't SELL it without releasing the source code changes along with it.

This kind of shoots large, gaping holes in their buisness plan of "squeeze 'em until their ears bleed, then abandon them", a la DOS (and now win95).

<rant>
THAT WAS THE IDEA ALL ALONG! IT'S WHAT COPYLEFT IS DESIGNED TO DO! IT'S A FRIGGIN' VIRUS, OKAY?
</rant>

Sheesh...


[ Parent ]
Simplified View (2.75 / 4) (#79)
by zephiros on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:03:32 PM EST

Scenario: Government develops software under a closed-source license.
Impact: No code is available for any private sector application. Everyone loses.

Scenario: Government develops software under GPL license.
Impact: Code is only available for GPL reuse. Private sector commercial interests lose.

Scenario: Government develops software under BSD license.
Impact: Code is available for any reuse. Everyone wins.

The MS company line, while clumsy, is a valid point. GPL is great and all, but it doesn't play well with non-GPL licenses. Government subsidy of GPL software is, in essence, government support of an anti-commercial, collectivist ideology. Considering software development is one of last competitive advantages the US has, decisions like this could have far reaching consequences.

While I don't totally agree with MS here, I do think this is an issue that needs to be subjected to some pretty heft scrutiny. Despite the hype from both camps, the issue is more complicated than "is the GPL anti-american?"
 
Kuro5hin is full of mostly freaks and hostile lunatics - KTB

Over-Simplified View (4.50 / 2) (#88)
by mwa on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:27:14 PM EST

Scenario: Government develops software under GPL license.

Impact: Code is only available for GPL reuse. Private sector commercial interests lose.

Private sector commercial interests are just as capable as using the GPL code as anyone else. They just have to play by the same rules, and return their enhancements. This will result in better software for the government, and more value per tax dollar paid. Since taxpayers funded the original product, it's only fair that they are entitled to any enhancements made.

Microsoft would like the goverenment to use a BSD style license so they can rape taxpayers as effectively as they do their customers. We should deemand that the governement use the GPL in order to secure ongoing taxpayer and government rights to the evolving code.

Note: I am not a GPL maniac. It is not the end-all, be-all license. Developers and companies have a variety of good reasons not to use it. The government does not. They do not do software development for money. They lose absolutely nothing by using the GPL and reap all the benefits of any outside participation.

[ Parent ]

Re: Over-Simplified View (none / 0) (#94)
by zephiros on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 07:55:28 PM EST

Private sector commercial interests are just as capable as using the GPL code as anyone else. They just have to play by the same rules, and return their enhancements.

And any software using GPLed components becomes GPL-contaminated. Which means either the private entities convert their entire software line to GPL or they create a wall between the GPL and non-GPL sides of the business. Neither of those options are particularly attractive. While VALinux might make a manageable living doing consulting, they employ a few less people than, say Oracle or Microsoft, for example.

We should deemand that the governement use the GPL in order to secure ongoing taxpayer and government rights to the evolving code.

Personally, I think it makes sense for government to pay for the software, not all possible applications, extensions, and related programs forever and ever. From a holistic standpoint, I think it's important for the government to avoid subverting one of the country's key industries. I suppose the cost of that is supporting software developed in a way that conflicts with FSF ideology.

I suppose it may be tempting to look at this as a civil rights issue, and demand that the government put the bolts to big corporations in favor of individual citizens. It's probably also tempting to demand the government tax big corporations out of existence, and then deposit fat checks in our mailboxes. Neither of these, however, are sustainable solutions, and both suffer from myopic radicalism.
 
Kuro5hin is full of mostly freaks and hostile lunatics - KTB
[ Parent ]

I Cannot Believe This (3.28 / 7) (#89)
by Robert Uhl on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 06:04:07 PM EST

For the first time in my life I actually agree with something advocated by Microsoft. Why? Because they're right. Taxpayer-funded software should not be copyrighted but should be in the public domain. Anyone should be able to do anything with this software: make it proprietary, place it under the GPL, place it under the BDS &c.

The GPL relies on copyright. GPLed code has an owner. In the case of GPLed code this owner would be not the taxpayers but the government. This is a dangerous precedent to set. Taxpayer funded software should be owned by all taxpayers equally--Microsoft as well as you and me. We should each be able to do whatever we wish with it. In this case the BSD license more accurately reflects this. However, it is important to note that government should not be licensed--it should be really and truly free; i.e. in the public domain.

Wise spending (2.00 / 1) (#99)
by Eccles on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 09:49:34 PM EST

Taxpayer-funded software should not be copyrighted but should be in the public domain.

The government funds a lot of software. Much of it is proprietary, and most of that is from Microsoft. It's a long way from public domain.

The government should be spending its software dollar in whatever way most efficiently gets it what it needs. Given how many computers it buys, buying machines in bulk set up with Linux (or *BSD) should cost it less than Windows machines, and have the advantages of having the source available. Extending GPL code and thus havng to make any extensions licensed under the GPL is a small price to pay for the software.

Even more important than the OS, however, is having a documented storage format for data. Government documents stored in and distributed in proprietary, not-publicly documented formats is sheer madness. It's far more "unamerican" than threatening Microsoft's gravy train...

[ Parent ]

License of Gov't Software (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by jck2000 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 06:26:32 PM EST

I am not sure that one can decide on purely logical grounds which is the most appropriate license for government produced software -- GLP, unconstrained public domain, some BSD variant or some more traditional commercial license. If it wasn't for the legal provision described above limiting U.S. Gov't ownership of copyright, I would have expected the gov't, in this entrepreneurial era, to try to exploit their IP via more traditional commercial licensing. I can see the argument for unconstrained public domain release of software, however -- a variety of the other "public goods" created by the gov't are more-or-less unconstrained in how they may be used. To pick a silly example, there are not generally limits on how infrastructure (e.g., highways) may be used for commercial purposes (I know there is a plethora of laws, and on some roads commercial vehicles may be restricted, but in general this is true). What would be objectionable (and what the opponents of gov't use of GPL would probably want), is the gov't forcing public domain or a particular style of licensing on an institution merely because it received some funds from the gov't (as do probably the majority of non-commercial enterprises).

Microsoft Defends Jim Allchin's Comments | 104 comments (97 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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