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Re: [SLUG] Microsoft Executive Says Linux Threatens Innovation

On Fri, 16 Feb 2001, Dean Hamstead wrote:

> >  (*) he's concerned that the open-source business model could stifle initiative
> >      in the computer industry.
> >
> >  (*) Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer
> No, Open Source is just intellectual-property people have chosen to give
> away. MS can still sell its slop. If it was say... removing patents
> then it would be an "intellectual-property destroyer".

I think there are deeper issues here, and this type of attack is likely
to grow more serious as linux gains in popularity. Most developing
nations (including many of those who are now developed) ignore IP, as
they can't afford it. Developed nations, on the other hand, try to force
the developing to pay for IP. Look at the US-China relationship as a
case study, where China's adherence to IP and other status preserving
trade rules is the key requirement for close bilateral trade, not their
human rights record.

As free software becomes a paradigm that competes more and more closely
with commercial software, it will be very attractive to those to whom
paying for IP at inflated prices is a substantial burden. This does
threaten those countries that rely on being the "owners" of IP as a
substantial plank of economic dominance. A campaign to explain this to
politicians in Washington, especially a campaign run by big campaign
contributors, would not sound quite so crazy to them as it does to
us. Especially if it is put to them in dollars, as in "the replacement
of commercial software with free software worldwide would cost $<insert
big poorly justified number here> to the American trade balance per
year". That's exactly the type of argument used to persuade politicians
to vote for the laws that enforce IP rules in the music industry.

At this stage it's hard to see exactly how you could move to control
free software. But at a time when via such excesses as the DCMA
governments are moving to strengthen IP to an insane level, it would be
foolish to think it can't ever happen. What suprises me is how long it's
taken to happen.

> >  (*) I'm an American, I believe in the American Way. I worry if the government
> >      encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of
> >      policy makers to understand the threat.
> Sounds like cold-war propaganda. Lol. MS are really peeing their pants
> at the moment. Its quite obvious that Linux is rocking their boat.

It does sound a lot like cold war propaganda, but cold war propaganda is
among the most successful that has ever been. I think Australian's find
that "American Way" stuff really wierd sounding, but I bet it sounds
quite patriotic and honourable to many Americans.