Saturday, November 02, 2002

All Your Code Base Belong to Us

Saturday, 2 November 2002

I've been holding this item over for a quiet day, but as it seems that I'm not going to get one of those for a while, I might as well post it now. I was alerted to this story by a friend who does serious social research, as distinct from the quick trolls for a worthy piss-take that I prefer.

According to an article from Le Monde Informatique reprinted in PC World Malta, the Commercial Court of Nanterre convicted the world's most popular software giant of software privacy and fined their French subsidiary 3 million francs (US$422,000). A spokesman from the defendent's law firm said:

My clients do not wish to make any comment. We are confident and have decided to appeal the Tribunal's decision.

Although this item seems to have escaped the notice of newspapers in the major English-speaking nations (and Australia) it didn't go unnoticed in the Linux community (no surprises there) or in Peru. When a bill came before the Peruvian Congress requiring that all Government agencies use only open source software, Alberto Gonzalez of Microsoft* Peru, wrote to Peruvian Congressman Edgar David Villanueva Nunez, the bill's chief sponsor in defence of the rights of proprietary software developers everywhere. He claimed that the bill:

...imposes the use of open source software without considering the dangers that this can bring from the point of view of security, guarantee, and possible violation of the intellectual property rights of third parties ...

This earned the following riposte from Nunez:

The inclusion of the intellectual property of others in works claimed as one's own is not a practice that has been noted in the free software community; whereas, unfortunately, it has been in the area of proprietary software.

[An example is] the condemnation by the Commercial Court of Nanterre, France, on 27 September 2001 of Microsoft* to a penalty of three million francs in damages and interest for violation of intellectual property (piracy, to use the unfortunate term that your firm commonly uses in its publicity).

In July, according to Wired, Microsoft decided to put its taxes to work by enlisting the support of the US Ambassador to Peru.

Obviously, with the events of September 11 2001, and the year since, none of this could be expected to make the front pages. But you'd think the weekly IT supplements might have picked up on it.

* - You knew it was them all the time, didn't you?

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