With Mandriva and others rejecting Microsoft’s Linux payoff deal, there is a lot of talk lately about Microsoft’s new Patent Infringement Protection Plan and how it might not be the “you scratch our backs and we won’t stab you in yours” plan that it was initially thought to be.
Microsoft is a company that has product in place in nearly every industry in the world as well as ties and relations in those industries. Leveraging all those ties in all those industries is it not possible that these agreements are setting the stage for something bigger? Considering this, one has to take a step back and think about what the end goal of these kinds of agreements might be.
It’s not likely that they are a simple one-off deal that will remain carved in stone and relevant for the remainder of eternity, but more likely that they are a stepping stone to to a more restrictive rulings and far-reaching strategies that have not yet been unveiled. The precedent has been set time and time again throughout history, and one stands out in particular as having a strong similarity to these proposals today… the Wooden Horse of Troy. What seems to be an accord, turns out to be an assault.
While Microsoft drives its team of lawyers forth to forge new and groundbreaking obfuscation of the law, its public relations departments are busy putting on the latest smoke and mirrors performances for the public eye to be bedazzled by.
We’ve seen this before when Microsoft implemented DRM in Windows Media Player updates, unbeknownst to the end users, resulting in completely legitimate music collections becoming all but unusable on the device for which it was intended. We’ve also seen it with Windows XP needing a re-authorization after hardware upgrades or replacements. All under the guise of copyright protection.
It seems that these new agreements are following the same ideology as many of Microsoft’s actions of the past. Set a difficult to interpret precedent, and build an empire on top of it.
If brought to suit on some trumped up charge of GUI infringement or something similar, many small and innovative companies that use or design open source software will be sucked dry by the legal bills they will incur.
Simply trying to evaluate what it is exactly they may or may not have done wrong could become a crushing blow to some smaller software houses. Or the alternative; they will sign, do as they are told, and get back in line.
Once open source software developers and distributors decide to walk down the path of payoffs and deals with the Microsoft alternate revenue stream machine, it will no doubt become a slippery slope to tread.
Mandriva, I, for one, salute your unfaltering dedication to freedom, and bravery in the face of adversity.
And to Microsoft I offer the following:
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.” – Thomas Paine, founding father.