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A Black Duck Loses Its Head

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Microsoft, Novell at 9:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


he last time we wrote about Microsoft insiders, we also mentioned Black Duck as a possibility. Some insiders don’t perceive themselves as such, yet they naturally function in this way.

Here you have a Microsoft employee founding and heading a company that sells services around Free software FUD. The company has developed proprietary software only. It has nothing to do with Free software, yet its CEO moderates panels that discuss the subject. In a way, the CEO sought some authority over GPL matters, which is astounding. It’s a case of “do as I say but not as I do”.

Anyway, here’s what just happened at a very interesting moment. We won’t draw conclusions; rather, we simply present the case as-is.

Black Duck Software — a pioneer in the open source legal consulting business — has lost its CEO.

On Thursday, Douglas Levin, the company founder and a director at the Waltham, Mass.-based company, announced his resignation, effective Sept. 1.

The announcement came the same day that a federal appeals court issued a decision maintaining that open source licenses are valid under copyright law. Black Duck Software is a software and services company that advises developers and corporations about open source licensing requirements and compliance.

Are the two related?

No, Levin said in a broadcast email and blog posted yesterday.

Sheer hypocrisy of the company aside, recall this story. They also pretty much stole GPLv3 data from Palamida, which recently lost its GPLv3-tracking person. Black Duck is based in Waltham, Massachusetts where Novell’s headquarters are located too. Black Duck commented extensively on the GPLv3. It still does so in press release that it issues. According to this, “He [Doug Levin] moderated an OSBC panel with Microsoft just as Novell was preparing to release details of its deal with the company.” Remember that OSBC is funded and was at least partly founded by Microsoft to serve Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

There are some more details about this surprise departure in the blog of the 451 Group.

For his part, Levin sees proprietary software not being displaced by open source, but vendors being forced to evolve and, in the process, accept and embrace open source more themselves. As for open source companies, they are increasingly opting for dual-license and subscription strategies that rely on commercial licensing. Levin says open source is still very significant and now represents a checkbox item not only for companies interested in supporting or developing software, but deeply and broadly in enterprise IT beyond the LAMP stack to a host of open source components. Along those lines, Levin says he is not sure what his next move will be, but whatever it is, it will have something to do with open source.

Taking this paragraph apart, there’s room for sensing a lot of what we find in Microsoft’s ‘open source’ endeavours.

…proprietary software not being displaced by open source, but vendors being forced to evolve…

…increasingly opting for dual-license…

…beyond the LAMP stack…

This has shades of Stephen Walli, but maybe we are being overly picky. By allowing certain individuals to gain influence, their former colleagues (who tend to be clannish) can use them to steer developers in particular directions. It’s part of a very broad affinity charade [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

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  1. Jose_X said,

    August 16, 2008 at 1:21 pm


    The good news about clans/loyal followers is that they have to be in a minority when such groups rely on extreme greediness since you can’t split the pot with everyone. Unfortunately, if you look at the group of most highly skilled individuals, these are a minority, too. Fortunately, everyone can be very highly skilled in various ways, and, as just stated, you can’t split the Pot of Greed with everyone.

    We need to find defenses against the buying off of “principles” using the money from illegal leveraged closed source monopolies or any other source. People would gain to learn that the freedom that comes from downplaying the value of money itself comes with a very good sensation (one you can’t buy). The more we can enable the “poor” to effectively communicate, have influence, feel comfortable, eat, have fun, etc, the less value money in huge amounts will have.

    We also need to find defenses against the fact that companies and individuals have skeletons in their closets. You never know how embarrassed someone might feel by what others might consider to be minor.. partly because of how much we place ourselves in the center of the universe [just look at the focus of Olympics coverage on prime time TV of trying to create god-like individuals.. it's human to do that]. We can fight this by recognizing that we all stand out, just not in everything all the time. With FOSS there is plenty of room for almost anyone to stand out quite a bit. Of course, nothing is for free. One must focus on something well to stand out. Also, expect Monopolysoft to gain access to your skeletons, the more so the closer you bring in individuals that may be out to help Monopolysoft. In any case, remember to fight fire with fire. Those playing dirty likely believe they have a lot to lose themselves and have great fears. Afterwards, however, remember that everything is forgivable once the person recants and accepts the mistake (through both actions and words).

    Being significantly open is challenging but fun and safer in the long term. [Secrets are what fuel dirtiness and weakness like Monopolysoft.] This is why Linux and (real) openness are going to help bring about a very positive future for many people.

  2. Jose_X said,

    August 16, 2008 at 1:35 pm


    >> The more we can enable the “poor” to effectively communicate, have influence, feel comfortable, eat, have fun, etc, the less value money in huge amounts will have.

    I should clarify: the goal is to find ways to do these things (enjoy self and feel valuable) without relying on money.

    This is why those wishing to use (eg) money for influence quickly set out to treat and indulge their targets with items apparently only accessible through money, connections, influence, etc, that come from the host. It’s to create the (false) connection in the target’s mind that reaching happiness requires something the host and few others are capable of providing.

    I am fortunate to have been born with access to some key things, but without having to rely on oodles of money or exclusivity.

    Remember that exclusivity is actually lonely or at least limits your company to a small group who themselves have issues. :-P

  3. Jose_X said,

    August 16, 2008 at 1:59 pm


    >> In any case, remember to fight fire with fire.

    Just read http://boycottnovell.com/2008/08/01/diplomacy-with-microsoft/ so feel obligated to clarify that the context around “fight fire with fire” in the above comment is different.

    It’s important to return pain in some way when pained first. Sometimes it can be done the same way, but other times it’s best to play by different rules. The point is to make the connection between “mess with me and you’ll get stung” clear. Of course, don’t use the same sort of fire they used if they are masters at wielding it while you are not.

    >> Afterwards, however, remember that everything is forgivable once the person recants and accepts the mistake (through both actions and words).

    All sides probably believe in this idea that if you join us or accept X condition then we will treat you well. It makes sense…

    ..However, being a part of the Linux/open community can be much more inclusive than being a part of the Monopolysoft ecosystem, as the latter is completely lopsided with Monopolysoft exclusively holding all the valuable information necessary for significant and FAIR individual customer/partner growth and with Monopolysoft making the serious bucks as this secret information (which includes lock-in secrets and NDAs) is exploited and used AGAINST the customers/partners. They are just being Monopolysoft. Use their Monopolyware, and you volunteer to have them pimp you out. We know how highly pimps think of “their” goods.

    The whole value of Linux stems from the fact we are open: we OPEN OUR SOURCE. This means we start off with you on the right foot in terms of not really having secret information to exploit against you.

    Monopolysoft will forever have the ability to punish/”reward” their customers and partners because of their ability to selectively allow customers and partners to suffer or gain respective to other customers or partners since they control the code that you run at your facilities (if you use Monopolyware). Do you value your data or access given to you by Monopolysoft? If so, then you are their slave.

    Linux gives you everything for free. This high level of respect and cooperation is why despite having a relatively low percentage share when compared to Monopolyware, Linux continues to pound Monopolysoft against the ropes in many ways. If only we reach a slightly larger critical size, I’d hate to be in the front 3 rows of this fight.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 16, 2008 at 2:40 pm


    Monopolysoft will forever have the ability to punish/”reward” their customers and partners because of their ability to selectively allow customers and partners to suffer or gain respective to other customers or partners since they control the code that you run at your facilities (if you use Monopolyware).

    They reportedly do a lot of punish/”reward”, even with journalists. It’s seen at many levels.

  5. Amby said,

    August 20, 2008 at 5:52 pm


    Black Duck?
    Thoughts that came into mind while reading those announcements; Duckspeak, Orwell, 1984.

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