You can’t have everything both ways

Posted on Tue 15 May 2007 in Uncategorized.


Microsoft and its attack dog, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), have both been in the news today.

MS because it has announced that FOSS possibly infringes 238 of their patents, and the BSA complaining about the lack of progress against pirated software.

OK then. MS is trotting out it’s FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) about Linux and FOSS because of the recent Dell moves to support Ubuntu Linux. The Fear comes from “use Linux, get sued by Microsoft”; Uncertainty from MS not specifying the supposed patent infringements, and Doubt because MS have not actually stated they will file lawsuits.

MS also know that a large collaboration of companies with interests in Linux, such as HP, Red Hat, Novell, Sun, Oracle and most importantly IBM won’t sit idly as FOSS is sued in court; between them they have a vast array of patents to retaliate with.

Someone should probably inform MS that the biggest fish in the patent pond, IBM, supports the opposite side.

Personally, I would like to point out that an audit for possible patent violations in Linux was carried out in 2004 by Open Source Risk Management, which found 283 unproven patents that Linux may violate. In contrast, MS has been in court many many times over patent violations in Windows and Office.

Since MS knew for over a year that FOSS possibly infringed on their patents, they should have done something then; they loose the right to sue if they don’t proactively pursue infringers (from what little I know of patent law). MS are just generating a lot of hot air to cause FUD in IT managers, however I think a lot of IT managers now are wise to this tactic and take MS’s FUD with a pinch of salt.

The BSA however are complaining that the UK has a piracy rate of 27% for business software, and that the government should take a proactive role in reducing this.

Right. Government, which gets it in the neck from business when they legislate against business practice (minimum wage, HSE requirements) should legislate for business to stop piracy.

The way to do this? “… governments could reward firms that had licences for all the software they used, she said. Corporate tax breaks could help drive piracy rates below current rates.”

Government should reward companies for having licenses for software with tax breaks? I’m all up for that. I use FOSS, which is all correctly licenced. I’d like my tax break and the savings I have from buying software please. I bet the BSA didn’t think of that.

However, there would have to be a substantial reduction in tax to make it worthwhile; you pirate a £500 piece of software 100 times (saving £50,000) or get £10,000 in tax rebate for being fully licenced; it isn’t really an incentive.

I’ve finished ranting now.

I’ve exams this wednesday, thursday and same again next week, then thats it for the 2nd year. I’m fairly relaxed about everything (as ever).

My car brakes have been tested a lot this weekend gone, someone pulling out in front of me at a junction (didn’t even bother to look, fools) and the rain soaked roads making it extra fun. It seems to be bearing up quite well :-)

Not a lot else on, I’m slowly updating packages in lapwing and still need to finish the installer off. I will get round to it.

Job hunting also these next few weeks, I cannot afford a repeat of last year.

I also recommend watching (if you haven’t done so already) the panorama report on Scientology from last night: : it is hilariously scary.

Back to revising … ish. ;-)