[clug] Your Best arguments please

Gough, Chris Chris.Gough at cit.act.edu.au
Fri Aug 8 10:41:14 EST 2003

The article is confounded by two lies and at least one major confusion. The
"OSS is anti-innovation" lie has been well addressed by other posts. So has
confusion between platform neutrality and open source software, which can
put simply as "Platform neutrality is a good thing, and OSS has the best
track record at being platform neutral". 

The reasons platform neutrality is a good thing are generally well
understood by those who appreciate the difference, but being confused about
the difference obscures the benefits of the quality of platform neutrality.
This is a deliberate "throwing sand in the face of the bull" dialectic
technique, the dialectic response should be "to grab the bull by the horns",
and force a separation of the ideas (if we want to be convincing).

In my opinion, the most dangerous lie is that OSS is the anathema of
intellectual property. We understand that making software OS does NOT
relinquish ownership of the IP, it just makes it non-secret (which is a good
thing for you if your business depends on my IP and I become uncooperative
or unavailable). All arguments about "the importance of property rights to
the fabric of society" are irrelevant, but scary to those poor confused
people who believe OSS threatens their property rights. I don't know how to
present this idea in a suitably poignant (to politicians) way, because it
seems like a point of legal interpretation. Does anyone on the list have a
lend of the GG's ear? He is one person who could deal a political death blow
to this lie in Australia.

Proprietary software vendors are threatened by OSS, but not because of any
threat to their IP - the threat is to their income. By claiming the threat
is to their IP rights (and not simply their bank accounts), they are selling
the idea that the threat is shared amongst others in society. They are
misrepresenting the threat.

For all we know, the practice of stealing IP from OSS developers and then
hiding it in closed source software may well be rife, we can't be sure
because the source is all secret. The SCO case is relevant here because it
claims the reverse is true - It's important we discredit it. Perhaps the
best way to do this is to point out it's absurdity - SCO seem unable to
identify any actual stolen code, even though 100% of the Linux code is
non-secret and open to inspection. The SCO case is seeding a doubt in the
minds of legislators, and for that reason alone it is scary.

chris gough

-----Original Message-----
From: Carl Jackson [mailto:carl at videohost.com.au]
Sent: Thursday, 21 August 2003 9:43 pm
To: Canberra Linux Lovers Club
Subject: [clug] Your Best arguments please

Hi All,

    I'm currently corresponding with an ACT MLA about OSS legislation
and the MLA has challenged me with the article at the link below .  I
would appreciate the input of the list Brains Trust on the best
counter-arguments.  Any and all opinions welcome.  Give it your best -
there is a vote hanging in the balance here...

Carl Jackson

> "<i>A Great Number of Servants</i>: The case against government
software preferences"
> http://www.acton.org/ppolicy/comment/article.php?id=150

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