I'd like to thank God, the academy, and Microsoft for making possible everything I've acheived to date...

I'd like to thank God, the academy, and Microsoft for making possible everything I've acheived to date...


You know how when people win awards, like an Oscar for example, they get up there and gush things like “I’d just like to thank my parents, and the academy, and my fifth grade drama teacher, and God for this award, omigod!!!”? Well, if I was put in a position today where I was going to have to gush on stage about, say, my computer use, then I know what I would say. There I would be, staring into the sea of admiring faces, and I would gush: “I would just like to thank my PC, the internet, and Microsoft... because as a Linux user I have naturally been complicit in intellectual property infringement and therefore owe Microsoft a good deal of money. Thanks baby, couldn’t have done it without you. Oh, and the cheque’s in the mail.”

Or that’s what Steve Ballmer reckons I should say, anyway.

Good ol’ Steve. There he was, hanging out at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle having a bit of a Q & A session as reported in the Computerworld article Ballmer: Linux users owe Microsoft, and apparently “Microsoft was motivated to sign a deal with SUSE Linux distributor Novell Inc. earlier this month because Linux ‘uses our intellectual property’ and Microsoft wanted to ‘get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation.’”

Isn’t that nice? There I was, thinking that if I was going to thank anyone, to owe anyone for my techno-stuff, the list might include my significant other, a couple of programmer friends, Mark Shuttleworth and the Ubuntu developers, all those who worked on Debian before them and the mass of people involved in developing GNU/Linux in the first place... And now, all of a sudden, those people aren’t worth a damn because what I am ACTUALLY doing, according to our mate Steve, is trampling all over Microsoft’s intellectual property, wantonly using it for my own personal gratification and possibly my income, and I haven’t even paid for that priviledge!

I feel so dirty and cheap.

Most people in the FLOSS community think Steve and Microsoft are FUDslinging, and have made it clear that any so called infringement charge wouldn’t stand up in court. Furthermore, Pamela Jones says Steve should actually TELL the community where the bits in the kernel that infringe actually are, because then we could get rid of them or work around them. But apparently, all those of us who don’t use SUSE (and therefore haven’t paid our intellectual property dues) are infringing on Microsoft’s intellectual property, and someone will have to pay. Steve has been pretty generous though, and has mentioned that the deal with Novell isn’t exclusive and they are happy to make other deals with other companies (Red Hat, your name was mentioned) so that they won’t be infringing if they sign some burning parchment in their own blood.

What I would like to say to Steve is echoing Pamela Jones’s sentiments. Tell us where it is, Steve—this infringement you speak of. I’m sure lots of people will be willing to pick up a metaphorical scalpel and dig out the offending bit of code. I wouldn’t want to OWE you, Steve. I want to be free of any notion that I should be grateful and accountable to you. And I certainly don’t want you to own me, or any of the products that I use.

Now that would make me feel really dirty and cheap.

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Comments

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Steve, show us the code, show us the infringing code, show us the code.
Steve, code that infringes please show it.
Steve,I show you mine if you show me yours. Oh, Open source is well open. Have you any of ours in yours?
Steve, show us the code, show us the infringing code, show us the code.

Anyone who wishes to add a stanza remember to be polite.

David Sugar's picture

I gather yesterday Ballmer spoke, and today the stench of sulfur still hangs in the air today. No great surprise that he wishes to run a "protection racket" in the practice of software, and sees Novell as his local neiborhood enforcer. I would rather pump gas in NJ for a living than make a "deal" with a sociopathic thug like Mr. ballmer simply to beg for the "right" to practice my chosen profession, which is the kind of world he wishes to create. Evil creates evil, nothing new here.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Steve is coming this way, and boy does he look angry.....

I don't know what paper he showed the folks over at Novell to scare $40M out of them. It must have been really ugly.

I'd say: let M$ really sue someone, and let's see if they can win it. Lives may be lost in the process, but Novell looks very very lost anyway, with that chain around the neck...

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Novell got $440M and Microsoft $40M
Does'nt that mean that Microsoft have 10x more infringing code?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

"Does'nt that mean that Microsoft have 10x more infringing code?"

To my mind, it mainly means that $400 million is peanuts to Microsoft. Just as with tax dollars, mind you, it came out of *our* pockets originally - or at least, those of us who have paid the Microsoft tax lately.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

As a matter of economics, the monopoly price for a typical product doesn't shift a lot (it does shift a little bit) in resonse to costs: the benefit to the supplier of their monopoly is that they get to cream off the surplus value (excess over the normal rate of return) for themselves.

As inquitous as it is, the code was paid for by the shareholders, not the customer, as every dollar incrementally spent on code is probably a little less than a dollar from the shareholders. It would be different in a competitive market; serving the shareholders rather than the consumers is the biggest reason why we have so much DRM in Vista.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Let us all remember who it is that is complicit in this FUD campaign, Novell ’s self-serving deal legitimizes Microsoft’s assault on Linux.
Regardless of the technical wording of the deal, and whether it can be established that Novell is violating the letter of the GPL 2, they are certainly violating its spirit, Novell must not be supported.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

So they got $400 million from MS, and now they're going to sell products together. What's your problem with that? If you don't like it, don't buy their closed-source products.

Linux and mono remain free software. Novell hasn't done anything to change that - indeed, nobody can change that. That's the beaty of free software, right?

I think Novell has done enough for free software to deserve our respect, and we owe them too much of a moral debt to turn on them angrily just because they took MS money. Where's the offense? Promising not to sue MS over Novell patents? The way I see it, Novell got MS to fund free software development in exchange for not suing over software patents, which are evil anyway. That's great! Let's have more deals like that!

You may claim that Novell is giving up a valuable legal weapon in case of an MS patent offensive against other linux developers. But surely you'll recognize that:

1. Novell cannot stop other parties from suing MS over patents should the need arise.
2. Patents are far less effective against a deep-pocketed closed-source company like MS anyway.

So, to sum up, there's no significant downside to this deal for the free software people, as far as I can tell.

Robert Romberger's picture

Since Novell appears to still own the rights to the UNIX System V IP that SCO thought it own, Microsoft had to renew that deal or risk killing their UNIX-MS products. At least that's what I think Novell sold MS. :)

On the RedHat front, Steve hasn't been listening to what RedHat has been telling Microsoft. Clean the wax out of your ears, Steve. RedHat told you to "pack sand".

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

If Ballmer can't prove it, MSFT can be sued for interference. You can't through fud around without any proof. Hello triple damages!!!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I think with the final Release date for Vista coming around the corner, this just another one of Microsoft's ways of marketing.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

And for just such a reason I absolutely, positively REFUSE ( and will encourage others to do so as well ) to make any use of any product, by-product or derivative that in any way, uses or is associable with MONO. Here I was battling to not only get things working under OSX ( anyone who's ever tried to get MonoDevelop built on OSX would attest to this ), but no more.

Gone are the days when MONO will grace the surface of any platter of any hard drive installed in any computer I own. I will burn the copies of SuSe professional distributions I've actually PAID FOR in the past, in sad homage to the SELLING OUT of Novell who I once held a Gold Certified Partner rating with ( oh those many moons ago while I in college ).

If I were Miguel de Icaza, I would seek out some VC's and buy out all Mono development out from under Novell. Disassociate yourself with it all, Miguel. Before Microsoft pulls back it's ECMA licenseship parts of .NET, leave you holding the bag while saying, "Fooled ya !".

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Just like the RIAA, a lot of accusation but no substance.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Pretty much says it all:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmbzVkZlzrc

Share if you like :-)

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Could it be around the IP technology? I mean, Linux code is *probably* although defintly distinct from Unix's code owned by SCO. Now whilst SCO are attempting to sue IBM and NOVELL, Novel has proven that it held the rights to Unix way before Sco brought it off Bell Labs or whoever. It's also widely acknowledged that MS copied and pasted code for networking from BSD years and years ago. Effectively meaning that SCO and Novell could refute that IP networking code is owned by them alone. Something Microsoft wants them to fight for, since it's pay off to Novell makes it immune to attack - but an enemy of linux is a friend of MS. I'm talking about the actual source code used in all products rather than any patents against the IP Protocol or concept.

Now at the end of the day, Linux is safe and always will be, because even though MS, SCO and Novell are multi-million dollar companies, Linux is supported by the biggest computer companies in the world. 2 Companies so big that there are on the fotune 500 list near the top. I am of course, talking about IBM and Sun Microsystems. IBM of course, make roughly 5 or 6 times the money microsoft makes every year.

With those companies supporting Linux 100% it's easy to see us *little guys* at the bottom have nothing to worry about.

I hope you all find my "conspiracy theories" interesting.

Thanks,

Phill
prt_faber@hotmail.com

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

"It's also widely acknowledged that MS copied and pasted code for networking from BSD years and years ago. Effectively meaning that SCO and Novell could refute that IP networking code is owned by them alone."

Read the BSD licenses, No one owns a BSD code alone. Unix had a different license. Anyone can copy, modify and use BSD licensed code and relicense it and only has to acknowledge the authors. mac OSX is based on BSD codes.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The Microsoft FUD machine is running very well indeed so MS is capable of producing something that actually works lol.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Remember Caldera being turned into The SCO Group and turning itself into a litigation and FUD-generating company? That was because it was not very far from being broke.

No Microsoft takes up the self-same tune. What should that tell us about Microsoft's financial future?

Wish Microsoft all the luck they can get - it won't be us who decide whether it is good or bad luck.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Here's the deal microsoft.
I'm using linux infringing on your code
Give me $400,000 and I'll give you $100,000 in return

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Somehow this idea of paying so as to avoid being sued reminds me of "paying-for-protection".

Does anyone remember a time when shops had to pay for protection otherwise someone would come and smash the shop or even the hands of the owner?

Anthony Bonello

___

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Let it go another way. Let MS to make their source code free and open. In US there are many pretty Intellectual Property laws. Let's pick up people to change one to force Intellectual Property Owner to free their rights after some time.

For Example: for software and music - 2 years...

And after 2 years MS will be forced to give away source code.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

How many things are in Vista or Other Microsoft products who had copied ?

Please Steve, show your code and stop crying like this.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

No wonder my employers (who have a budget of > $600M / year) won't let a windoze box through security !!!
MonkeyBoy opens his mouth and all we see is drool.

Author information

Bridget Kulakauskas's picture

Biography

Bridget has a degree in Sociology and English and a keen interest in the social implications of technology. She has two websites: Illiterarty and The Top 10 Everything. She also handles accounts and administration for Free Software Magazine.