09.14.07

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Brits Can Ignore Anti-Linux Patent FUD, Says Top Lawyer, But Britain is Unmoved

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 8:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When all FUD fails, resort to political manipulation

Negative legal perceptions, which were primarily caused by May’s attack, required some clarifications to be made. Here in Britain, a lawyer has just made an obvious statement.

Microsoft’s claims that open-source software infringes its patents do not apply in the UK, according to a top lawyer.

This happens to come at a time when two legal summits are being organised to defend Linux. This was mentioned a few days ago. But why is the UK so worried? According to CBR, the UK public sector still perceives open source as “risky” while ignoring the major dangers of relying on vendor-dependent binaries. As the article states, this is seen as somewhat of a fiasco (we’ll come to more of that in a moment).

“The UK government spends 12.4bn pounds a year on IT. The answer to whether open source can reduce that is clearly, yes,” said Mark Taylor, president of the Open Source Consortium and CEO of Sirius.

We mentioned the British government’s ties with Microsoft before. These links — which require money and employment dynamics to be traced — are becoming harder to hide each day. Mark Taylor can see them. Here is what another Brit, Matt Asay, had to say:

The trainwreck-waiting-to-happen that is UK government IT spending

[...]

The UK, in other words, is a captive of its IT vendors. That is shockingly wrong.

Just as one example, consider the BBC, which continues to tighten its relationship with Microsoft. It does not only affect reporting, but marketing directions as well. This week, even XBox360 seems to have received a form of endorsement from this tax-funded establishment. Only XBox360 owners will be able to access BBC content via their console. It’s by no means surprising if you look at recent events.

Today the BBC made it official — they have been corrupted by Microsoft. With today’s launch of the iPlayer, the BBC Trust has failed in its most basic of duties and handed over to Microsoft sole control of the on-line distribution of BBC programming. From today, you will need to own a Microsoft operating system to view BBC programming on the web. This is akin to saying you must own a Sony TV set to watch BBC TV. And you must accept the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) that the iPlayer imposes. You simply cannot be allowed to be in control of your computer according to the BBC.

It was later realised and stated that ex-Softies are now holding positions of power in the BBC, so they essentially send a lot of taxpayers’ money to their former employer. This seems similar to the scenario at XenSource and maybe even Novell.

The great problem with all these ties in Britain is that they leave an entire nation in the Dark Ages of computing and they hurt employment, according to another new article.

The UK’s position as the open source laggard of Europe is preventing the growth of UK software industry and skills, according Alfresco, an open source enterprise content management company.

Matt Aslett, who I believe still reads our Web site, blogged about it a few days ago, just before he told the world about his job change (congrats, Matt).

The debate indicated that risk aversion is preventing the UK public sector from exploiting the benefits of open source, but that UK’s position as the open source laggard of Europe is preventing the growth of UK software industry and skills.

Going back to some older news, there is still hope for the UK, where Free software adoption has been very slow.

There’s been a suggestion of a shift towards open source in the houses of government in the UK recently, with the Conservative Party promising to promote open source if elected and the incumbent Labour Party releasing the code behind its new carbon footprint calculator under the General Public License.

The main barrier to adoption (other than FUD) will remain the sort of “corruption” Larry Lessig recently spoke about.

Yet governments continue to push ahead with this idiot idea — both Britain and Japan for example are considering extending existing terms. Why?

The answer is a kind of corruption of the political process. Or better, a “corruption” of the political process. I don’t mean corruption in the simple sense of bribery. I mean “corruption” in the sense that the system is so queered by the influence of money that it can’t even get an issue as simple and clear as term extension right.

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