Open Source Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)

I just read an article that Andrea sent me a while back titled, Lobby Group Says Open-Source Threatens Capitalism. I must say that I am a little shocked. But before I rant about why, take a few minutes and read the article. I’ll be here when you get back.

Read it? Good. Time for my rant.

In case you have a horrible memory (or more likely you did not actually read it, yet. Tisk. Tisk), the short version of the article is that an intellectual property group has requested that certain countries be added to the “Special 301 watchlist” because they advocate using open source technologies for government work.

The first issue that came to mind when I read that is that the organization forgot to request the same status for Oregon and Massachusetts. You know, states that are part of the United States. I am sure that I could have dug up more states if I had spent more time with my pal Google. But 2 minutes seemed like enough to prove my point.

To address the second issue, I need to draw your attention to the organization’s own words. Let me paraphrase.

“The Indonesian government’s policy … weakens the software industry … [because] it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights.”

Ugh! Without strong intellectual property rights open source would not be possible. Every open source license builds on the foundation of the author’s copyright as established by law. These licenses provide authors with a legal framework for granting permissions to others.

<sigh/>

I really hope this request was not taken seriously. I had thought that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) attacks against open source were behind us. This was a tactic that Microsoft employed very heavily during its spats with Netscape and the U.S. Department of Justice.

But in recent years, Microsoft has started developing new products out in the open that are under open source licenses. This is in addition to the large amount of code that was initially developed internally and then later released to the public as open source. New projects include, IronRuby and the ASP.NET MVC library. While the other class includes WiX[1] and a host more.

[1]: Shameless plug: I have contributed code to the WiX project, and it was accepted!

The final issue that I will point out is the incredibly large number of companies that this group represents. It does not represent any company directly, but instead does so through other industry groups. But the list is quite large. And amusingly enough, if you dig deep enough into the member lists, you will find some big corporate open source supporters such as Adobe, Apple, IBM and Microsoft.

  • Association of American Publishers (AAP) – [274 members]
  • Business Software Alliance (BSA) – [35 members]
  • Entertainment Software Association (ESA) – [29 members]
  • Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) – [143 members]
  • Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – [6 members]
  • National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) – [more than 800 members]
  • Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) – [3905 members]

(Note: the member counts may be a little misleading, because many companies are represented by several of these groups. Don’t just add them all up if you are trying to get a total count.)

This is normally where I would stick a nice little conclusion paragraph to tie my whole post together, but I am too tired. So, I’ll leave that part as an exercise for the reader. What conclusions do you draw from this information? Leave them in the comments.

One Response to “Open Source Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)”

  1. Denis Goulet says:

    Great article. Although Microsoft was the most obvious FUD monger, don’t leave IBM out. Look who’s dancing the Linux dance now!

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