MS attacking government use of "open source"

Bob Drzyzgula bob at
Thu May 23 18:27:13 PDT 2002

* First off, I'm sorry if anyone thought I was defending
Microsoft here. That was not my intent. I was attempting
to answer the previous message, wherein it was stated

  "I don't understand why many people (not just MS)
   are so adamantly opposed to the GPL."

I was attempting to explain my understanding of one
reason why many people were so opposed to the GPL, not
why the GPL was good or bad. I recognized that it was
quite possible that I got some parts of it wrong; thus I
invited correction. I am pleased that at least some of
the following discussion did just that.

* Of course the GPL is a "flag of convenience" for many.
However, it is the GPL that is under the greatest attack
by Microsoft. Again, I was attempting to explain why, not
argue one side or the other. Since many of us on this list
depend on GPL'd software in their jobs, these attacks are
cause for concern, no matter what your feelings are about
intellectual property, royalties and rentals, the GPL,
or Microsoft.

* Also I don't find much to disagree with in Robert's
message, except to say that I'm additionally sorry if
anyone got the impression that I thought the GPL had
much to do with the rejection of the concept of or the
right to own intellectual property; I didn't think that
I said that. In fact, the GPL uses the only legal means
at its disposal -- copyright and license -- to implement
the FSF's goals. I won't be the first person to point out
that one thing that RMS does *not* GPL is the GPL itself,
which is copyrighted and allows redistribution but not
modification. If the whole thing was about the rejection
of the ownership of intellectual property, the correct
mechanism to implement *that*, AFIAK, is the public domain.

* I don't think this is a good list for MS bashing,
although I do think that it was fair to point
out Microsoft's attempts to get the government to
stop supporting GPL'd stuff, since many beowolves are
government-funded, and the whole concept was developed by
Donald while he was under contract to a government agency.

* I will say that the government shows preference for one
vendor over another every time it makes a purchase. By
spending tons of money on Microsoft, the government
supports Microsoft over their competitors.  However, if the
government works on GPL'd code either itself or by paying
contractors to do so, and release the results of their
efforts, they support Microsoft's competitors -- but only
because Microsoft has chosen not to find some way to take
advantage of GPL'd software. If the government provides
monetary support to Microsoft and non-monetary support to
their competitors, I fail to see the unfairness in it.

* The security argument they make, however, is just
generally laughable. Reading the following account of
their testimony in the antitrust proceedings, one begins
to appreciate the level of their concern here...

  "A senior Microsoft Corp. executive told
  a federal court last week that sharing
  information with competitors could damage
  national security and even threaten the
  U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. He later
  acknowledged that some Microsoft code was so
  flawed it could not be safely disclosed.",3658,s%253D701%2526a%253D26875,00.asp



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