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Open Source Government Piracy Your Rights Online

Use Open Source? Then You're a Pirate! 650

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the and-proud-of-it dept.
superapecommando writes "There's a fantastic little story in the Guardian today that says a US lobby group is trying to get the US government to consider open source as the equivalent to piracy. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), an umbrella group for American publishing, software, film, television and music associations, has asked the US Trade Representative (USTR) to consider countries like Indonesia, Brazil, and India for its 'Special 301 watchlist' because they encourage the use of open source software. A Special 301, according to Guardian's Bobbie Johnson is: 'a report that examines the "adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights" around the planet — effectively the list of countries that the US government considers enemies of capitalism. It often gets wheeled out as a form of trading pressure — often around pharmaceuticals and counterfeited goods — to try and force governments to change their behaviors.'"
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Use Open Source? Then You're a Pirate!

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  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:00PM (#31264410) Homepage Journal

    Then the world would be a better place. Although, I kinda like the idea of being a pirate. I've always wanted to sail the open seas, plundering vessels, going ashore and plundering the village's wenches. AARRGGG.

  • by nebaz (453974) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:01PM (#31264432)

    what happens if you write/contribute to open source?

    • by medv4380 (1604309) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:06PM (#31264528)
      Then you got a lil Captain in ya
    • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:07PM (#31264544) Homepage
      You get a free pirate eye patch signed by Linus Torvalds.
    • by H0p313ss (811249) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:10PM (#31264598)

      what happens if you write/contribute to open source?

      As everyone else is pointing out, that makes you a Communist.

      Having said that, I would love to see a world where all the OSS contributors gets added to the "watchlists" of the world and all hell break lose every time there's a geeky conference in California or Florida. A "geeks of the world" vs. homeland security grudge match would be a thing of beauty.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:13PM (#31264632) Journal
      Then you support pirates, which means that you must be guilty of "contributory infringement".

      In all seriousness, though, times like this are perfect example of the difference between free marketeers and scumsucking rent-seeking corporatists who don't deserve to live.

      Anybody who makes, and in public no less, the argument that OSS software, voluntarily released by its owners under particular licences, is a "threat to intellectual property" is simply making the petulant demand that "intellectual property" be made to equal "Payments to me, in perpetuity". The intellectual dishonesty is breathtaking.
      • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:38PM (#31264986)

        Canada's proposed legislation C-61 would have resulted in $20k fines for installing Linux since it would "circumvent" some DRM things.

        Seriously though -- I use Linux, and I download music and movies, and sometimes I rip them from library-borrowed DVDs. At work, I do things to hurt actual, real life pirates, who are the scum of the earth, Johnny Depp's romanticized version aside. Some of the work I've done was breaking the communication pathway in a device in order to do a thing, and that end product is being used by people with guns who are engaged with real pirates. Apparently that makes ME the bad guy.

        Big IP houses would love to find a model that's "pay per play, and a monthly fee, and we decide the prices, and anyone who breaks our rules should go to jail and be bankrupt" model. They are the ones that are as bad as real life pirates.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Yaa 101 (664725)

          You mean scum of the earth as in people driven away from their fishing grounds by big multinationals fishing emptying their fish grounds and polluting their sea with poison waste? Yeah real scum!!

      • by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:49PM (#31265142) Homepage

        The problem is, there aren't many free marketers.

        On one side of the aisle you have the scummy rent-seeking corporatists. And on the other side you have the anti-corporate socialist 'progressives.' Neither side of the political debate want a free market. Both sides want the government to set rules to benefit special interests. The only difference is which. And so the free market is strangled to death. Crushed under the weight of regulations, subsidies, fat government contracts and handouts.

        The only times the free market has ever truly reigned is when it explodes and outpaces, for a short time, the long arm of political meddling.

        • by andydread (758754) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:09PM (#31266224)

          Crushed under the weight of regulations,

          The problem is that companies do unscrupulous things in the absence of regulation. Monsanto and PCPs for instance. Do we really want companies pumping toxic crap into our ground water? What about pumping black soot into the sky? How about using melamine in milk to maximize profits? What about all the snake oil stuff that got sold to the public in the 1920s? with the lack of regulation. back then people had all kinds of radioactive products [environmen...affiti.com] back then. No regulation. Look at china today. Look at Bejing. Where they had to take drastic measures to cut smog for the Olympics. The don't use catalytic converters over there. Look at all the companies that know they are selling unsafe products due to internal research yet still chose to sell the product because profits come first. I think its the sleazy players in the marketplace that forces regulators to step in. If the market players had any ethics there would be no need to regulate.

          • by Phrogman (80473) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:29PM (#31266452) Homepage

            By their nature - a focus on increasing profits at all costs - the corporation is inherently amoral. Oh, they may choose to act in a moral or responsible manner for sure, but there is nothing inherent in the concept of a corporation that actually encourages that attitude.
            If a company discovers its product is a health hazard, its in their best interest to cover it up, try to fix the problem as quietly and quickly as possible - and carry on, all the while hoping no one notices or sues them. Anything else will reduce sales, open them up to lawsuits and consequent penalties, and decrease profits.
            As I see it (and IANAL), the chief problem is that we allow corporations to act as individuals. If the presidents & officers of corporations were personally (and financiallly) liable for the actions of a corporation, then we might get less objectionable actions from companies and more responsibilities. OTOH who would want to be a corporate head?
            Currently a corporation has *more* rights than a private individual, and less liability in many ways (they can be fined etc, but don't go to jail).
            I don't support Communism, it hasn't worked, but that fact doesn't mean that its opposite, Capitalism, is inherently perfect either.

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:56PM (#31265264) Homepage

        The intellectual dishonesty is breathtaking.

        Intellectual dishonesty is one of their primary forms of intellectual property!

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:15PM (#31266300) Homepage

        Make no mistake: we're in a propaganda war. You might call it "marketing" or "public relations" or "lobbying" or whatever else you want to call it, but the intention is the same. Publishers of games, books, movies, music, and software are all trying to convince you of a particular view of "intellectual property". They're not trying to convince you through honest rational arguments, but rather through logical fallacies and mass brainwashing.

        They're trying to convince us all that they are, as industries, entitled to exist, and entitled to a governmental guarantee of profitability. They're trying to convince us that copyright was always considered an inalienable human right, and that authors of creative works have always been entitled to absolute control of their creations in perpetuity. Further, they're trying to convince us that they, the publishers, are the true authors of these works. The guy who wrote the song or the novel, the band who performed the song, the developer who actually wrote the code-- these people are just employees. They're assistants in the process, but the company who funded the work is the true author, and the only one entitled to protection.

        That's the propaganda being sold to the public. Don't think for a second that we're involved in an honest debate.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:13PM (#31265510)

      If you use open source [whitehouse.gov], then you're a pirate? Ok, slap him [barackobama.com] in prison. go on, I'd love to see them try :)

  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:02PM (#31264444) Homepage
    The article quotes the IIPA recommendation on Indonesia:

    Rather than fostering a system that will allow users to benefit from the best solution available in the market, irrespective of the development model, it encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.

    I think this is is seriously flawed logic. It appears to falsely equate "value" and "intellectual creation" with a proprietary, commercial development model. Proprietary IP rights are a way to exploit the value of intellectual creations. But proprietary rights are not the source of their value. We can give "due consideration to the value of intellectual creations" without discriminating against open source. Maybe buy the developer a beer or send them a thank you note, or better yet, a bug report or patch?

    We used to laud those benevolent spirits who contributed to the public good with no thought of remuneration. Now it seems we try to outlaw them. There might be a movie idea here.... The Police unions get together and sue Batman for doing pro bono work...

    • by dvlhrns (1681218) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:05PM (#31264510) Homepage
      I could not agree more !!! It used to be that if you did something for the good of the public you were praised...now it seems we are gonna be prosecuted.
    • by Rysc (136391) * <sorpigal@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:05PM (#31264512) Homepage Journal

      It's only okay to give things away if you assign them to the public domain so that companies can take them and re-sell them with slight modifications for right and just capitalist profit.

    • by Angst Badger (8636) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:13PM (#31264626)

      I wondered when they'd get around to doing this. Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't try it sooner.

      You can safely assume that if used clothing became fashionable amongst the moneyed classes, clothing manufacturers would try to force Goodwill and the Salvation Army out of business. Value is tied to scarcity, so trying to generate artificial scarcity is a pretty standard tactic. In a field like "intellectual property", where all scarcity is artificial, sharing is viewed as a sin.

      Of course, the real irony here is that artificial scarcity itself is an attack on the capitalist free market. But the free market only appeals to the little guy. To established interests, the free market is a threat. Ergo, companies like Microsoft spend most of their time trying to suppress competition, which is almost guaranteed to work, as opposed to actually competing, which carries a much larger risk of failure.

      • by handy_vandal (606174) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:46PM (#31265960) Homepage Journal

        Goodwill and Salvation Army have made serious efforts to put each other out of business. One of them (I forget which) sued the other, back in, oh, the late eighties, over the right to sell rags to China. If I recall correctly, I read this in the Wall Street Journal.

        Several years ago, some of the second-hand stores here in Minneapolis/Saint Paul shut down. The way I heard it (anecdotal word-of-mouth), larger local business interests pressured the city to impose reporting requirements too burdensome for the second-hand places to bear. Similarly, years ago, you could volunteer at a food co-op and get a discount. Now there's not a single co-op left in the Twin Cities that accepts volunteers. Same (anecdotal) story: bigger business interests (Whole Foods?) pressured regulators to impose reporting requirements too burdensome for the co-ops to justify using volunteers (you had to treat "volunteers" as real employees and do all the paperwork that goes with it.)

    • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:29PM (#31264868)
      If you think I would prefer a bug report over a beer then you have some serious brain damage.
    • Flawless logic. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)

      It's not flawed logic.

      It's flawed English, both semantically and syntactically ("does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.")

      The logic is faultless. What these vendors of proprietary software are saying is that open source competition will reduce the value the market assigns to their products.

      The question is whether you share the unspoken assumptions: that this is a bad thing, and that the government should do something about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Proteus (1926)

      Rather than fostering a system that will allow users to benefit from the best solution available in the market, irrespective of the development model, it encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.

      We can give "due consideration to the value of intellectual creations" without discriminating against open source. Maybe buy the developer a beer or send them a thank you note, or better yet, a bug report or patch?

      More to the point, open-source licenses gi

  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:02PM (#31264450) Journal

    The GPL is, arguably, the most popular and most well-known open source license. Without strong copyright law protecting the rights of creators, the GPL could not exist, depending as it does on copyright enforcement to effect its clauses. So I'm not sure what world this lobbying group lives in where FOSS is incompatible with copyright.

  • by Jabrwock (985861) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:03PM (#31264472) Homepage
    OS = piracy? I thought OS = communism was pretty stupid, but "using free software = stealing" takes the cake.

    So now it's pretty obvious what the 301 is. Not a tool to protect IP, but a tool to excuse protectionism.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      OS = Operating System, actually. You want OSS or FOSS, though the F is almost always redundant.

      OSS != communism, certainly, but it is a form of socialism. It's like sharing, it's voluntary so it's not just no big deal, it's friggin awesome. It's the coersive forms of socialism that can be scary and nasty.

      As for this IIPA group, they are either incredibly ignorant (possible, but if so it must be by choice), or they just want to manipulate the system to their advantage - which is probably the case.

      • by megamerican (1073936) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:49PM (#31265144)

        OSS is free market enterprise and has nothing to do with socialism.

        Socialism is when the government forcefully confiscates someones time, money or resources and gives it to someone else.

        OSS is 100% voluntary and thus is free market enterprise. Voluntary associations are essential to any capitalist society because individuals and corporations can not fill the needs of everyone.

        The kind of society we are living in now is Piracy, where large corporations can keep their profits and then plunder the public treasury when things go bad. Piracy is what this IIPA organization is advocating, not capitalism.

        As funny as it may sound, when you freely give away your time and money to a cause, such as OSS you are being a capitalist and when you pay any non-voluntary taxes you are participating in socialism.

        • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:50PM (#31266628) Homepage Journal

          You know there is such a thing as market socialism [wikipedia.org], right?

          People get the concepts of capitalism, free markets, socialism, and communism far too confused.

          • Capitalism is most strictly a system where control (ownership) of the means of production (capital), as opposed to the end-products of production (e.g. various goods), is seen as key element of economic structure. More loosely and colloquially, it is a system where ownership of capital is utilized to acquire further control of the means of production; or in other words, where concentrations in wealth lead to further concentrations of wealth, because the new wealth generated via labor upon said capital is distributed primarily to the owners of the capital rather than to the laborers. Capitalist is not necessarily free-market: corporatism, where the state backs particular agents in the economy, is capitalist but far from free-market.
          • Socialism is a system which aims to circumvent such concentration of wealth for the public good by having capital controlled either by a representative of the public at large (which would not be free-market) or directly by the workforce (which would be very free-market); or in non-propertarian forms of socialism, not controlled at all.
          • A free market is a system where control of capital is determined through a series of uncoerced, voluntary exchanges, rather than by a central agency (which may or may not itself be publicly controlled, and thus may or mat not be socialist), or not at all (as in non-propertarian forms of socialism). While all markets are capitalist in the strict sense, a free market may either be capitalist in the loose sense (where there are few owners) or socialist (where there are many owners), though most argue that free markets will naturally tend toward capitalism (in the loose sense) over time.
          • Communism, in its original sense, is a system where the means of production are entirely uncontrolled; where there is no such thing as property, and thus nobody owns any capital. In its more modern sense, communism is a system where the distribution of capital ownership is managed by a central, publicly-controlled agency. Communism in either sense is thus a non-free-market form of socialism.

          So if we presume that a hunk of information like software constitutes a form of capital, then open source of any variety most definitely is socialist (it's seeking to distribute said capital broadly instead of concentrating it in the hands of a few), and thus not capitalist in the loose sense, but most certainly not communist in the modern sense (its distribution is anything but centrally controlled), and thus it is most certainly compatible with three free-market.

          Of course those like me who deny the legitimacy of copyright entirely (thus undermining the premise that something like software constitutes capital) would look like communists in the original sense to those who disagree, but we in turn see the very presumption of copyright to be contrary to the free market on scarce physical goods (by legislating what can and cannot be done with peoples' own equipment), which certainly takes precedent over the market on infinitely reproducible intangible goods.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        OSS != communism

        No, OSS is the Open Sound System, which is the standard way sound interface for UNIX-like operating systems. Not sure why you think that's relevant though...

    • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:29PM (#31264858)

      What do you think the concept of IP is, except protectionism?

  • by samuraiz (1026486) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:03PM (#31264474)

    The NSA's SELinux, anybody? Obama administration Drupal sites? Forge.mil?

    These morons can ask all they like but I don't think they're going to get anywhere.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      The problem is that these idiots are scaring away potential business users of open source software.
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:04PM (#31264486) Homepage
    I suspect that to some extent the IIPA sees the US policy as an extension of their own economic interests. For much of history that's exactly how things have worked with colonial powers forcing things on colonies and subservient or conquered countries to serve their own economic interests. However, the end result of this will be pretty clear: If this does go through then people will simply take the 301 Watchlist much less seriously, which will actually hurt the copyright holders and others because the list contains examples of countries that really are abusing copyright in very serious fashions that actually should be dealt with.
  • by BatGnat (1568391) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:04PM (#31264504)
    William "Bloody" Gates III, Aaargh.

    I preferred to called a privateer...
  • by Dialecticus (1433989) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:08PM (#31264552)
    ...that you're a thief if you drink from a public water fountain?
  • "IP" != capitalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:09PM (#31264572) Homepage
    Quite the contrary. Copyrights, patents, etc are monopolies created and granted by government to selected individuals and companies and therefor are the very antithesis of capitalism (which is orthogonal to the question of whether or not they should exist). In a totally free market anyone would be free to manufacture and sell any object even if it was a copy of an object first made by someone else. The express purpose of copyright and patent laws is to prevent competition.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slimjim8094 (941042)

      The 'important' people in the US stopped caring about capitalism a long time ago. See, in capitalism, they would lose money if they fucked up. Fox et.al is too happy to go on with this new "corporatism", in which somebody gets a big powerful corporation and are tithed to, and people get awful militant (literally) if you suggest that maybe that's not the best thing in the world.

  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:12PM (#31264616)
    To their checkbooks it is equivalent to piracy. However, if they view legitimate (albeit free) competition as criminal, then they are admitting to their monopoly and/or price fixing. If their competition releases equivalent software for free, then their justifications to sell software licenses for $90+ are unsound and possibly illegal. If they want piracy to equal using open source solutions, then instead of going to an open source solution, I should have no moral qualms of pirating software. Thanks to them!
  • whatever (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:17PM (#31264680)

    Not only did the British government changed the wording around its controversial 'three strikes' proposals,...

    That's around the part of the article where I stopped reading it. If one can't bother to at least proofread their own drivel, then I'm certainly not going to bother reading it myself.

  • now they fight FOSS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by keeboo (724305) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:17PM (#31264684)
    I'm probably the Nth person to quote this, but it's so fitting:

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Looks like something screwy happened and turned all your number values into their ASCII characters.

      I really doubt you're only the 78th person to have said that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GF678 (1453005)

      "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

      A very romantic notion sure, but although it worked for Gandhi, 99 times out of 100 you will NOT win. It's not a rule that works in general, and it's extremely dangerous to become cocky that things will work out for you in the end.

  • Age old strategy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:21PM (#31264750)
    If you can get the government to make consumption of your product mandatory, then you're set for life. This is just like the single company in the US that manufactured catalytic converters lobbying congress not to mandate emissions standards, but to mandate that all cars be equipped with a catalytic converter -- regardless of their emissions. They've been mandatory since 1975 despite the fact that they reduce horse power and fuel economy [ehow.com]
  • Should be named... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrTripps (1306469) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:24PM (#31264792)
    Institution of International Pathetic Asshats. Here is what that haven of piracy Canada has to say about it when they were put on the list: "Canada does not recognize the Special 301 process due to its lacking of reliable and objective analysis, and we have raised this issue regularly with the U.S. in our bilateral discussions." Even our mild mannered neighborino to the North told them to go suck an egg. I have yet to see any reason why being on that list should bother a country in the slightest.
    • by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:08PM (#31266212) Homepage Journal

      Here is what that haven of piracy Canada has to say about it when they were put on the list: "Canada does not recognize the Special 301 process due to its lacking of reliable and objective analysis, and we have raised this issue regularly with the U.S. in our bilateral discussions." Even our mild mannered neighborino to the North told them to go suck an egg.

      Well, actually, the first draft of the response went like this:

      CHORUS OF MOUNTIES AND ESKIMOS: FUUUUCK-ALUKALUKA YOOOOUU-HOO!

      The editor of the document, however, was a Presbyterian second-son of the Empire, and translated it back into Ontarian for publication.

  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@ e m a.il> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:26PM (#31264816) Journal

    A few notes:

    • What does a pretty traveler on the beach have to do with the story? Is it supposed to entice viewers to read it?
    • The main article is Slashdotted, so here's Google's text-only cached version: link [74.125.93.132]

    On the article, the main qualm for the author of the main article seems to be with Indonesia's inclusion into the Special 301 list. For those that didn't read the article but don't know what that list is, the Special 301 list monitors countries that are known for infringing IP rights on a wide-scale (or at least that's the jist I got from reading the articles).

    If one reads at least the Executive Summary for Indonesia's report, it is made pretty clear that the analyzed paragraph is not the reason why Indonesia was included on that list. Their issues are, like many second- and third-world countries, much more far-reaching that.

    Firstly, it is important to recognize that these are not governmental mandates. These are requests. While there is some legitimacy in claiming that the exclusive use of (free and) open-source software imbalances the playing field for companies looking to make a profit, it is very weak. Nobody complained when Germany or France switched over to OpenDocument format and Linux on government desktops, even though that both of those actions, according to the IIPA, would be guilty of the same thing. It should be a government's decision to determine whether they want to adopt a purely free and open-source computing environment; in fact, it is actually a pretty good decision for them since it would help them deter privacy at-home (which is ultimately what these folks want) while saving them massive dollars. I highly doubt that this will be followed through; too many questions would be raised.

    Secondly, one the real reasons why Indonesia is on that list is clearly stated if one reads a bit further down into the report. They are reported as ranking in the world's top 12 countries for business software piracy. That more than likely means they get lots and lots of copies of Office from TPB or wherever. I'm not against piracy, but that would definitely be a legitimate cause for landing up on that list. They are also reported to have lots of other issues with illegal copying/selling/et al.

    I am not against piracy (at least on a personal level), but I am against sensational journalism that only blows up a few pixels out of the bigger picture instead of looking at the whole image. This is hardly an attack on open-source; it's just a "thing they noticed."

  • by recharged95 (782975) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:38PM (#31264978) Journal
    "Use Open Source? Then You're a Pirate!"


    Then a Pirate Arg Be.
  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:45PM (#31265074)

    What I believe the IIPA is saying that mandates to use open source without considering other alternatives is something they see as a barrier to market access and what they consider to be a non-illegal but misguided solution to the problem of piracy. They're not saying that using OSS users are pirates.

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:16PM (#31265550)

    I wish i could open source some of these people's skulls with an axe.

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:19PM (#31265596)
    ... and you must be a pirate. Why hide something when you haven't done something wrong?
  • Flawed Summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brit74 (831798) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:34PM (#31265830)
    Could someone please point me to the section of the article which substantiates the claim that open-source is equivalent to piracy?

    I've read the entire article, and the only thing I can find is the *article author's interpretation* that the document says encouraging the use of open-source software is in the same category ("Special 301 watchlist") as piracy. For one thing, saying they're in the same category is not the same as saying they are the same - just like shoplifting and murder are in the category of "criminal behavior" but that doesn't mean "they are the same thing".

    As far as I can see, the article says that companies are complaining that countries that encourage the use of open-source are interfering with the market forces by producing a bias against closed-source competitors. While I don't agree that this is a legitimate complaint, I can accept the argument that undo preference for open-source software could cause countries to use less capable (free) software over more capable (purchased) software - if an open-source equivalent is inferior to some closed-sourced software. No doubt, open-source advocates would absolutely consider this kind of bias to be evil if those same countries reversed their position and said that they favored closed-source software over open-source competitors.

    At this point, I'm considering Slashdot's interpretation of events to be unfair and biased. Why am I getting used to seeing news stories misinterpreted when I visit Slashdot? The fundamental thrust of this article seems to be: companies producing closed-source software are evil, and piracy isn't bad - it's just inaccurately labeled as bad by the same people who hate open-source; i.e. anti-piracy/anti-open-source is merely an attempt by money-grubbing companies to control the market. Both of those "lessons" are flawed.
    • Re:Flawed Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mr_matticus (928346) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:44PM (#31266582)

      You're right--no on can point that out to you...because it's not true. No claim has been made that open source users are pirates. The organization's complaint is exactly as you summarized--that policies requiring or expressly favoring open source solutions are trade barriers that IIPA members would like to see go away. They've asked the USTR to look at some trading partners with a frowny-face for a while in the hopes of shaming them to change their policy.

      It's obviously advocacy, but it's not even particularly zealous advocacy. The same kinds of complaints are made by open source advocacy groups regarding corporate and government policies that prohibit open source consideration in bidding and/or deployment. I doubt IIPA is going to get much traction on their argument, and they shouldn't, because their members have benefited from agreements and policies going the other way for years. OSS trade groups complain, usually rightly so, about the "no open source" policies all the time.

      It's certainly a far cry from the IIPA calling anyone pirates, and the telephone game of sensationalism starts in the article. The IIPA says that product evaluation should be based on the best solution, not the development model. That's a correct statement, and one used by both sides. Each issues that statement when they're on the losing end, and say nothing when they're benefiting. That's just politics.

      It says that failure to do so "encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations." This doesn't mean piracy--it means that it removes from consideration a value argument. They're saying that commercial licensing can't compete with free unless they can make a better overall value proposition, something that they can't do if they're not allowed to bid on an equal basis.

      They're certainly not saying that OSS products aren't intellectual creations or that the developers or users are pirates. The letter isn't even about the competitors. It's about bidding and implementation policies at the user/customer level, including local and national governments.

      The Slashdot summary just amps up the Guardian's usual sensationalism by a factor of ten, trolling for incensed Slashdotters, page views, and pirate jokes.

  • by twmcneil (942300) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:35PM (#31265842)
    From the long version of the report speaking about OSS use in Indonesia:

    For example, in March 2009, the Ministry of Administrative Reform (MenPAN) issued Circular Letter No. 1 of 2009 to all central and provincial government offices including State-owned enterprises, endorsing the use and adoption of open source software within government organizations. While the government issued this circular in part with the stated goal to "reduc[e] software copyright violation[s]," in fact, by denying technology choice, the measure will create additional trade barriers and deny fair and equitable market access to software companies.

    There they go using backwards English again. They admit that Indonesia was trying to reduce copyright violations with this advice. Then they turn around and claim that adopting OSS solutions creates trade barriers that deny them fair and equitable market access. Whiskey Tango, Foxtrot? Did these guys go to a special school to learn how to talk like that?

    If OSS is so hard to compete against maybe you should give some thought to your business model and realize that it needs some serious fixing. No, easier to get the government to take out the competition for you. Lazy Bastards.

  • Misleading summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by bartwol (117819) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:37PM (#31267840)

    The article summary (and the Guardian articles) mis-state that countries are being cited "because they encourage the use of open source software." In fact, in reading IIPA's Special 301 recommendations for Indonesia [iipa.com] and Brasil [iipa.com], those countries are being cited because they are trying to require by law the use of open source (in government usage). That's very different from simply encouraging FOSS use as the summary suggests.

    What would one expect the position of an intellectual property trade organization to be regarding countries that are trying to outlaw the use of commercial intellectual property?

    Further, as indicated in the linked briefs, the issue of open source treatment is only a small one in the context of much larger intellectual property issues. To suggest that countries would be put on a watchlist simply "because they encourage the use of open source software" is to ignore the many other and weightier intellectual property concerns that have nothing to do with open source software. (Just because we're an open source community doesn't mean everything is an open source issue.)

    There's nothing significant here.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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