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Saturday, September 13, 2003

MS FUD: "Linux People Don't Believe in IP"

Mohammed Kateeb, regional director of Microsoft Middle East has just been interviewed by Gulf News ("the leading English language newspaper of the United Arab Emirates"), and the headline is "Linux Usage Raises Big Legal Concerns". He has the nerve to say this:

"Linux people don't believe in Intellectual Property Rights. This is the biggest problem in the Linux world. How can one be sure that the code of software that has been contributed by programmers across the world to create this Linux software is unique and is not lifted from somewhere else? This is a big legal concern.

"That is what the latest SCO-Linux lawsuit is all about. Now SCO is suing every single user of Linux because they believe parts of their UNIX code is being used in Linux. As a matter of fact, the Gartner Group came with a recommendation that every customer should stay away from Linux until this problem is sorted out. This is a serious issue. The model is broken basically.

"But this is not all about it. Let's look at the impact on the economy. How do you expect local software companies in the Middle East to innovate and create a healthy software industry that exports world-class software abroad and get a return on their investment, when Intellectual Property Rights are not protected? Why would they employ people and do R&D in the first place if they can't get commercial returns?"

So that's the big lie being told out there, that "Linux people" don't believe in "Intellectual Property Rights". I'm "Linux people". I believe in copyright, because it's the foundation on which the GPL is built. If Linux people didn't believe in intellectual property rights, then they'd release their software into the public domain. They have chosen instead to utilize the current intellectual property laws, copyright being the underpinning on which the GPL is built.

I would like SCO and Microsoft and all those proprietary dudes to get the message: please respect Linux kernel coders' copyright rights. Please respect the license that the Linux kernel coders have chosen to use, the GPL. If you do not -- and SCO is not -- then you do not respect "Intellectual Property Rights" as you call it. Let's call a spade a spade.

Since we are working hard this very weekend on our community answer to Darl McBride's Open Letter to us "Linux people", I thought everyone would like to know what is being said about us behind our backs, specifically by Microsoft. Maybe they thought we'd never see this interview in a Middle Eastern newspaper in Dubai. If so, they really don't get the internet age the way they think they do.

Sometimes it helps to clarify your thinking when the other side isn't subtle, and Mr. Kateeb lays it out pretty baldly. Of course, what he says is a lie, but who's counting? It's a helpfully egregious example of their FUD, not that SCO doesn't do a fine job with that already, but MS's Mohammed Kateeb has stated it in such a plain, simple way, it's clarifying in a way that trying to parse out what McBride "means" isn't, where there are always several tracks and layers -- what he said, what he didn't say, what he said last month, what he meant, what the truth actually is -- so Kateeb's unsophisticated remark makes a good, clear jumping-off point. You certainly aren't in any doubt as to his meaning. Maybe you have some questions about his truthfulness or his knowledgeability, but not his meaning. He also provides us a Window into Microsoft's "soul", or lack thereof, and a glimpse at their behind-the-scenes role in the SCO saga.

So... this is "the moral high ground"... I guess Darl must be marking on a curve or something.

comment [] 4:38:46 AM    

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