24 Nov 2004

The UK Stake in the European Patent Crisis

The events coming to a boil in the European Council and Parliament this month are a sign of the global maturation of the free software movement. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), the EuroLinux Alliance and the individual programmers and small to medium-size software businesses who have joined with them, have established our view about the dangers of patent law to innovation and freedom as a real force in European politics.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.11.24-00:00.00

06 Nov 2004


One thing that can be confidently predicted in the wake of the US presidential election is that we’re going to hear more about “cyber-terrorism” in the near future. The politics of fear that re-elected George W. Bush has other instrumental uses. And, as Henry Kissinger famously pointed out, even a paranoid can have enemies: the need for a more secure network, though overhyped, is real.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.11.06-00:00.00

06 Oct 2004

Microsoft’s Evaporating Patents

I have been writing recently about the problem of defending free software against the threat posed by patents on supposed software “inventions,” particularly when those patents are in hands hostile to the very existence of the Free World. This past summer was a period of intense rumors, fear, uncertainty and doubt. But with the cooler weather in the US comes also some refreshing news. Fighting back is effective.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.10.06-00:00.00

05 Sep 2004

Patent Defense

As I wrote last time, this summer is seeing another round of concerns about the vulnerability of free software to patent infringement claims. But the free world is assembling the machinery with which to meet the risks posed by patents on software inventions. Rapid developments are occurring in the area, so it can be hard to interpret what the news means. In the last few weeks, for example, part of the solution has widely been reported on as though it were part of the problem.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.09.05-00:00.00

30 Jul 2004

Rumors of Patent War

Last time I pointed out the developments that show that the tide has turned against the legal attacks on the GPL, with German judicial enforcement of the license, and SCO’s retreat from its absurd claims that the license violates copyright law and the US Constitution. The signs this summer are that the anti-freedom strategists working for Mr Gates agree that attacking the GPL has failed; the rumors of war have shifted to the arena of patent law.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.07.30-00:00.00

31 May 2004

V-Days for the GPL

You wouldn’t have known it from reading the mainstream press coverage, but the last month has marked an epoch in the legal history of free software. The GPL has been the object of Microsoft-inspired attacks of every kind since Mr Gates and his colleagues woke up to its transformative power to remake the global software industry in a permanently unmonopolized image. Last month dissipated all the FUD that has been thrown at the GPL.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.05.31-00:00.00

10 Apr 2004


In the course of several public appearances this past month, I’ve found myself being asked about “coexistence” surprisingly often. “Can free and proprietary software work together?” seems to be the question of the day.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.04.10-00:00.00

13 Mar 2004

Microsoft and SCO: A Beautiful Friendship

This last week brought confirmation of the large financial stake Microsoft has taken in the SCO Group’s legal attack on the freedom of free software. Eric Raymond first published at opensource.org a leaked memo to SCO’s Chris Sontag from one Mike Anderer of S2, a “strategic consulting” firm, detailing $86 million of investments in SCO arranged or facilitated by Microsoft, including a $50 million investment by Baystar Capital. The memo was subsequently acknowledged by SCO to be genuine; Baystar Capital conceded that it had been advised or encouraged by Microsoft to make the investment, but said that neither Bill Gates nor Steve Ballmer had been the Microsoft executive who made the call, as though there weren’t anyone else at Microsoft fool enough to have gotten involved in such a risky move.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.03.13-00:00.00

15 Feb 2004

Mr Gates’ Dire Straits

Microsoft is having its problems lately, of which the news that it has managed to convince East London’s Newham Council to stick with Windows rather than shift to free software by providing unsustainably deep discounts in pricing looked like the very worst, until something even more dismal came along. Valentine’s Day found the monopoly coping with the unauthorized release of a large quantity of Windows NT and Windows 2000 source code, apparently stolen from or mistakenly made accessible by a commercial partner with a source code license. The first news item passed for a victory at Redmond, no doubt, in keeping with the “Never Lose to Linux” strategy for public-sector marketing previously propounded in Orlando Ayala’s famous secret memorandum leaked last summer. But the Pyrrhic victory at Newham Council and the Stolen Source Escapade—unrelated as they seem—represent very neatly the two blades of the scissors that are, to paraphrase Mr Gates himself, cutting the oxygen line of the tottering giant.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.02.15-00:00.00

07 Jan 2004

Freedom Inside

At the beginning of 2004, with the consumer electronics exposition going on in Las Vegas and LinuxWorld coming to my home base in New York, the trade shows are telling us that this is the year of Free Software Inside. Indeed, a collection of forces is propelling free software into all sorts of devices and appliances near you. That process, now picking up momentum, begins with the simple calculus of cost, but will have surprisingly far-reaching effects on the global economy, and the gap in access to the Net between rich and poor that is known as the Digital Divide.

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permalink | columns/lu | 2004.01.07-00:00.00