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WIPO Pressured to Kill Meeting on Open Source 323

Posted by michael
from the thou-shalt-not-speak-its-name dept.
panthan writes "The Washington Post has has an article about a proposed meeting of the WIPO concerning open source having been removed from consideration, apparently due to pressure from the US State Department and the USPTO. 'In short order, lobbyists from Microsoft-funded trade groups were pushing officials at the State Department and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to squelch the meeting. One lobbyist, Emery Simon with the Business Software Alliance, said his group objected to the suggestion in the proposal that overly broad or restrictive intellectual-property rights might in some cases stunt technological innovation and economic growth.'" Lawrence Lessig has some comments.
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WIPO Pressured to Kill Meeting on Open Source

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  • by SuperDuperMan (257229) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:28PM (#6769796)
    If Microsoft is so concerned that Open Source is infringing on intellectual property then they should voice their concerns in front of an audience that is sympathetic to them.

  • by Erik_the_Awful (675368) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:28PM (#6769799) Journal
    Lessig states that: "First, and most obviously, open-source software is based in intellectual-property rights."

    While this is true, we can observe WIPO's actual goals by their ACTIONS. WIPO's ACTIONS show that WIPO intends to protect and expand Intellectual Property rights when they result in profits for WIPO's member states and their corporations.

    Conversly, WIPO can be counted on to act against Intellectual Property rights that do not result in profits for WIPO's member state corporations.

    On a seperate note, is it reasonable to increase the cost of BSA's lobbyists by causing them to recieve more snail mail? Would anyone like Emery Simon to be treated like a spam king, and for Emery Simon to recieve a spam king's snail mail load? I don't suppose anyone has access to Emery's personal information? Or is this an overused solution already?

    -EtA
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:29PM (#6769805)
    Regardless of what WIPE-ASS has a meeting on, or doesn't have a meeting on, there will still exist software that is given out or sold with loose restrictions. To assume anything else simply defies logic....

    We may experience some bumps along the way, but our government can't ignore the millions of people who depend on Free software to earn their pay, run their businesses, and educate their minds. I doubt that in the long run, the legal system will continue to favor restrictive licenses heavily over non-restrictive ones.

    You can run, Microsoft/Adobe/BSA/etc, but you can't hide! Of course you are also welcomed to join us!

    Yes, I am optimistic...
  • IP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:29PM (#6769806)


    > One lobbyist, Emery Simon with the Business Software Alliance, said his group objected to the suggestion in the proposal that overly broad or restrictive intellectual-property rights might in some cases stunt technological innovation and economic growth.

    Given that the US Constitution justifies IP on the basis of promoting progress, we can't be asking the question of whether our laws actually do that, now can we?

    IP law has become nothing more than an authorization for a gold rush, as everyone hurries to stake their claims until there's nothing left that you can do for free.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:30PM (#6769814)
    If the government were to switch to open source, Bush would give the money saved away to the richest 1% of Americans. Do you really think this administration would fund open source if they used it?
  • by LordKaT (619540) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:34PM (#6769831) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, I think the reasoning here is threefold:

    First, and foremost, it was the political lobbying. Hey, if I had that kind of money, I sure as hell would use it to my advantage.

    Secondly, and not as prominetly, it was also a fear of this just turning into a political flamewar

    Third, the bitch needs to be sacked. To say that Opensource undercuts the ideals of "intellectual property" just goes to show either how incompetant she is, or to what degreee she has been bought.

    --LordKaT

  • by tji (74570) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:34PM (#6769833)

    From the article:
    Lois Boland, director of international relations for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said that open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights.

    "To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO," she said.


    They obviously don't get it.

    Or, maybe I don't.. Is there a broader assumption behind "intellectual property rights"? Is this assumed to be only the right to restrict your IP as much as possible? Or, the right to protect the IP of big businesses only?

    Wouldn't the right to control how my IP is used, and demand that it remain open, and any changes remain open, fall neatly into Intellectual Property Rights? Perhaps Lois should read the GPL some time.
  • Why do they care? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by agent dero (680753) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:35PM (#6769835) Homepage
    It's been obvious for some time that the U.S. government accepts a LOT of fundraising and soft money, OSS doesn't give politicians any, so why should they care about it?

    Meanwhile, MS lobbies, and gives money to keep MS in the government. .

    Except for a select few, the U.S. reps in power don't really go off idealism. They like their power, the money they get, and all the comps, until we get them to reform their own system, we don't have a choice
  • by quax (19371) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:36PM (#6769845)
    ... please, please take such things into consideration when casting your vote in 2004.
  • So basically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Azureflare (645778) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:38PM (#6769865)
    IP needs to go, or be massively revised. IP as it is, is abused and manipulated in such a fashion as to allow companies to squash competition, and beat other countries into submission (i.e. developing countries). The idea that IP in developing countries will aid technological advancement because of "Financial incentives" is simply ridiculus; where is that money coming from? And besides, if everything is closed source, won't it all come from Microsoft?

    Open-source allows each country to be less dependant on the United States for advances in computer technology, because they won't be tied down to Microsoft. This is just the same game the U.S. plays with all other things; we want complete domination of the world market.

    IP is ok if only the United States exists in the world, but once you get the whole world involved, open-source becomes much more attractive as a computing solution.

    People will probably say, "Without IP, you can't survive if you write programs etc." Well, there must be a way to set up a system that WILL allow you to make money, without invoking IP. Perhaps someone more knowledgable than me can say what that is.

  • Re:IP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stanwirth (621074) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:45PM (#6769907)

    Sadly, it costs a lot of money to exercise free speech in America.

    The motto of the VFW: "Freedom isn't Free."

    Millions of Americans have paid with more than money to protect this freedom. It is an absolute disgrace to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to allow international corporations to throw so much money and influence at destroying the freedoms others have died to preserve.

    And people worry about hurting their careers by promoting open source. Not exactly the face of courage, is it.

  • by heli0 (659560) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:46PM (#6769914)
    http://www.desnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,510048824,00 .html [desnews.com]

    "As he was seeking political favors, a friend of Sen. Orrin Hatch bought a whopping 1,200 copies of Hatch's largely self-produced music CDs, for which Hatch receives $3 to $7 each.

    Hatch, R-Utah, and his friend, Monzer Hourani, a Houston developer who twice before has landed Hatch into major ethics controversies, say he wasn't trying to buy political help with those CDs and they merely share a love of his music."


    This is the asshole that wants to let the RIAA/MPAA 'destroy' your computer if they suspect your of violating their IP rights. Nice to see how he skirts campaign finance rules.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:46PM (#6769918)
    I'd have to say that after the 2000 Bush Coup, 9/11 and Iraq, I don't think we ever saw enough.
  • by 2toise (688494) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:50PM (#6769935)
    I know, I know, none of us have even owned a pen for years, but the weight given to a real paper letter is hugely more than an email.
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, consider writing a real letter!
  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:52PM (#6769954) Homepage
    No surprise that Lessig got to the heart of the Post article in his comments. Unfortunately, It appears that Lessig accidentally turned a paraphrase attributed to Bolland into a direct quote. Paraphrasing Boland, the Post wrote:

    open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights.

    In his weblog, Lessig mistakenly turned this paraphrase into a direct quotation from Boland. He then continued, this time with an actual quotation from Boland taken from the same article:

    To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO.

    I'm not at all saying that the Post mischaracterized what Boland was saying, but it's important that words aren't put in her mouth, which is what Lessig inadvertently did.

    Now, on to Lessig's analysis:

    If Lois Boland said this, then she should be asked to resign. The level of ignorance built into that statement is astonishing, and the idea that a government official of her level would be so ignorant is an embarrassment. First, and most obviously, open-source software is based in intellectual-property rights. It can't exist (and free software can't have its effect) without it.

    Lessig makes a good point about property rights, and how free software does not subvert them.

    But free software is nevertheless deeply subversive. What it subverts is not property rights, but the ability of corporations to corner the market in a variety of software applications. Whether Microsoft builds it, or OpenOffice.org builds it, something of value is being created whenever people sit down to code software. The only question is whether this labor enriches society as a whole, or whether a significant part of that labor extracts wealth from society for the benefit of Microsoft's shareholders.

    It seems to me that Boland's view of WIPO is that it exists to serve the interests of companies who create proprietary software. One of the drawbacks to free software is that it is, well, free. And unless a company (like IBM) gets a vested interest in selling hardware and services to accompany this free software, there's not going to be money to counter the lobbyists who steer WIPO's agenda in a pro-Microsoft direction.

  • by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:55PM (#6769966) Journal
    One lobbyist, Emery Simon with the Business Software Alliance, said his group objected to the suggestion in the proposal that overly broad or restrictive intellectual-property rights might in some cases stunt technological innovation and economic growth.

    So, it's open source that drives our society to technological and economical stagnation! I mean, of course $100.000+ fines [slashdot.org], crooked CEOs bent on stock fraud wearing the IP sword (+3, +5 vs trolls) [slashdot.org] and the fact that users get nailed up the arse in the name of piracy [slashdot.org] are all good signs of a healthy economy where any technological advancement is sued into oblivion and where economic growth is humongous -- for a select few.

    I must cry but there aren't enough tears.

  • The Global Capitalist Republic Governing Body, well okay maybe they're called the illuminati must defend their interest (IP/IPR/...) by all means possible. Then again maybe the right name is WTO or World Bank, or IMF, or ....
    I hope y'all understand we are politically outnumbered, under-funded, poorly organized, .... Dang this sort of leaves you feeling like all heroic efforts by the OSS community are wasted.
    We have lost the war, but not surrendered, we have not failed, we have not been defeated, dinosaurs go extinct, aristocrats pass into insignificant, but interesting reading, news shorts, and box-office dud movies.
    We should never expect the ruling elite to embrace or control the future. In other words ... they will lose, and we will gain the future. Sorry, some of my "60s" attitude is hard to oppress. Also, 1969-71 I was in the USMC. I remain (as always) flabbergasted and bewildered by reality or maybe it's those flashbacks.

    OldHawk777

    Reality is a self-induced hallucination.
  • by nexex (256614) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:14PM (#6770058) Homepage
    well we wouldnt want the people actually paying taxes to get a tax break.
  • Re:email her (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deranged unix nut (20524) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:23PM (#6770097) Homepage
    For that matter, ask most tech companies why they seem to have a business model of trying to out-sue eachother!

    Oracle, Real Audio, Sun, and Netscape were pushing for the anti-trust suit against Microsoft when they had the same business practices as everyone else...the only difference is that they were larger.

    SCO sues everyone.
    IBM sues SCO.
    Sun sues Microsoft.
    Microsoft sues Sun. ...

    There are so many lawsuits, I think that only people making money off of high-tech are the lawyers!

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary&yahoo,com> on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:26PM (#6770112) Journal
    Welcome to the wonderful world of crony capitalism, where profits are big and barriers to entry are bigger. When the player with the most money gets to set the rules of the game, is it any wonder those rules favor them?

    Liberals claim that more regulation will fix the problem, while conservatives and libertarians say less regulation will do the trick. I say blanket solutions based on ideology are never as good as actually thinking about the problem.

  • by MenTaLguY (5483) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:29PM (#6770127) Homepage

    Third, the bitch needs to be sacked. To say that Opensource undercuts the ideals of "intellectual property" just goes to show either how incompetant she is, or to what degreee she has been bought.

    Or it simply betrays her ignorance.

    Never attribute malice where incompetence is sufficient ... and never attribute incometence when ignorance is sufficient.

    Granted, I'm sure now that her email has been posted on Slashdot (see other thread), she'll be pretty convinced she made the right decision. The flamers might not be representative of the software developers, but they will claim to be, and how would she know otherwise?

  • by theolein (316044) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:30PM (#6770131) Journal
    A little background:

    The coming of Bush into the presidency of the US changed a number of things in the way the US deals with "problems" both internally and externally. 9/11 only sharpened that circumstance, but didn't change the fundamental motion of it.

    Since Bush came to power, either legally or illegally, depending on your point of view, a number of international treaties, such as the kyoto agreement, have been either postponed or ignored by the US. The trade disagreements between the US and it's international trading partners have increased sharply. US pushing the EU to accept GM food and fighting hard to not have to label it as such is an example thereof. Bush slappping a 30% tarif on steel imports made more enemies in the world.

    Things came to a head in 9/11 and most of the US' traditional allies came out and helped the US, such as the huge international effort in Afghanistan. These were the same allies, including, surprise, France and Germany, that had helped the US in Gulf War one, and Bosnia and Kosovo.

    However, only just over a year later, the US had lost almost all of that sympathy in it's invasion of Iraq, and it's sidestepping of the UN. Foreign countries had started getting tired of US bullying. The US is very quick to shout it's mouth off about Democracy and free tade as long it is in US interests to do so, but is just as quick to bully and cry out loud if it is not. This is nothing out of the ordinary. Most countries are self serving.

    This attack on OSS will, in all likelyhood, only increase in pressure as OSS continues to grow and become more successful. Microsoft, who is in all likelyhood behind the SCO attacks, will probably continue to lobby politicians to outlaw OSS as far as they possibly can. While outlawing OSS in the US will be difficult, as OSS is now bringing in money to major corporations, such as IBM, you can be sure that MS will use the argument that internationally the US will lose money due to MS software being used less and less.

    This is even true. From Europe, where Germany has a major stake in the succes of SuSE as a German corporation, through India to China, where the government is standardising on Linux, many countries are trying to stop the flow of money from their own software industries to the US. MS' ridiculous arguments are of no interest in those countries where they are trying to strengthen their own economies. Thus MS will try to use the US government to push it's case outside the US.

    However, I am pretty sure that it will be a resounding failure. The Iraq episode showed just how many countries are fed up with US bullying, and the US government trying to bully countries into using MSware will only serve to anger them even more.
  • Dying for IP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theolein (316044) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:37PM (#6770157) Journal
    Millions of Americans have paid with more than money to protect this freedom. It is an absolute disgrace to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to allow international corporations to throw so much money and influence at destroying the freedoms others have died to preserve.

    I don't mean to hurt your patriotic feelings, but isn't it very possible that many of those millions dies exactly for tho right of those huge corporations to trample over poverty stricken bodies?

    I still have no idea today as to why exactly the US invaded Iraq. It might have been WMD or just plainly Saddam, but it could just as well have been for Halliburton, Bechtel and other well connected companies to do some business over the dead carcasses of Iraqis and US soldiers.
  • by Big Sean O (317186) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:40PM (#6770169)
    She's a high-ranking lawyer at the US PTO (I'm guessing a GS-14 or 15 or equivalent). Her career has been in intellectual property law. If she's ignorant of the issue (unlikely), she should be removed. If she's disingenuous (far more likely), she should be removed.
  • by billstewart (78916) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:40PM (#6770171) Journal
    While I strongly agree with Lessig's comments about Lois Boland's inappropriateness in office (though not necessarily his generousity in assuming incompetence vs. malice :-), I'm not sure that with that kind of commercial antagonism to open source driving a number of the participants that the outcomes of a meeting would be better than having no meeting at all. The open letter that Lessig posts has quite a wide variety of signers, and some important topics that should be discussed, if it can avoid being hijacked or overly watered down.

    There is a certain amount of truth in the comment that Tobin posted to Lessig's discussion that the meeting was really a forum for the usual lefties to rant. On the other hand, as near as I can tell from the results, the typical WIPO committee meeting is an opportunity for the usual suspects on the commercialist-control side to rant

    • RIAA participant: "We've become concerned that listening to catchy music causes tunes to run through people's heads, and we're not receiving sufficient royalties for those tune-thieves' use of our intellectual property, so we need DRM installed in everybody's head -- Mu-ah-hah-haha!!"
    • MPAA participant: "That's certainly true, but Mu-ah-hah-haha!! is a derivative work from "Bride of the Son of the Remake of Frankenstein", so you have to give us cut of your proceeds"
    • Internet Services Company: "Your use of italics denoted by letters in angle brackets in Mu-ah-hah-haha!! as a method of extorting money from the RIAA infringes on Claim 32767 of our patent on extortion as a business model, but we'll cross-license it in return for exclusivity in publishing movie trailers online."
  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X_Bones (93097) <danorz13@yahoo . c om> on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:43PM (#6770188) Homepage Journal
    I don't think very many areas of the federal government are using open source software, and I'm certain that OSS gives no more than limited political advantages to its users. In fact, using proprietary software is often in the government's best interests (but not that of the taxpayers, which is an entirely different issue...).

    If a government agency's operating costs go up (due to software costs in this case), then when it goes and asks Congress for a budget increase it's likely that they will receive a larger amount in discretionary funding (they receive the same percentage of a new, larger budget). Discretionary funding is the stuff agency heads love to have, since they can spend it on their department in whatever fashion they see fit: office parties, fancy artwork, whatever. So, when choosing between two equally functional but differently-priced solutions, a depressingly large amount of the time, the government chooses the costlier product. The vendor and the department both win, and as usual taxpayers get stuck holding the bag.
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:50PM (#6770212) Homepage
    It's simple really.

    Bill hasn't just phoned in a "kill order" to the WIPO. He's apparently found someone or some people in the WIPO who are free market zealots, and convinced them that a pack of free-love, anti-property political liberal socialists had hijacked their organization to promote hippie values.

    I could see this from several indications. First, Microsoft, and Bill himself, have made it clear that the political tack they were taking consists of painting the Open Source advocates as dangers to the present system of intellectual property -- not to mention the creeping Red Menace of SOCIALISM. No kidding here. Secondly, it was there in the remarks of Borland herself, who made it clear that she thought that the meeting was about undermining ther present system of IP. And lastly, I'm reading posts here and there which proclaim the view that the OS advocates are trying to "politicize" the WIPO by talking about such things. My god, what hypocrisy.
  • by Empiric (675968) * on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:52PM (#6770219)
    Agree totally.

    There's an insidious equating of the concepts of "rights" and "profits" going on both here and with SCO's arguments.

    It's important to mentally note the cases when an argument says "the right to make a profit", but actually means "denying the right of someone else to choose not to". The rights of a work's creator is not limited to pursuing financial profit; one may choose to do so to benefit others, for their own edification, or any number of other reasons, which are solely theirs to determine.
  • by thynk (653762) <slashdot@thynk.PARISus minus city> on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:53PM (#6770224) Homepage Journal
    It would be interesting to find out how much he paid if he's getting a 250k tax cut.

    What seems shitty to me, is that my ex-wife paid exactly $0 in Federal taxes, got a refund back for over $2,000 and she's pissed that she didn't get a check from the government this summer. It's hard to justify giving someone a tax relief check when they don't pay any taxes.
  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:00PM (#6770246) Homepage
    You get it, but Ms. Boland doesn't (or has been convinced to pretend she doesn't). Microsoft is trying to convey the idea that Open Source licenses destroy intellectual property and therefore stifle innovation. They are doing this for the simple reason that Open Source software will gradually destroy their ability to make money selling the same old shit they have been selling year after year.

    However, if MS ever devises a way to make billions using the Open Source model, you will see such a vast philosophical about-face and massive, unbearable, and inescapable ad campaign the likes of which the human race has never known.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:00PM (#6770248)
    I could at least read your ranting up until this..

    "Microsoft, who is in all likelyhood behind the SCO attacks,"

    Show us the money, or stop spreading FUD. Otherwise, you're no different than SCO.
  • by karmavore (618727) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:10PM (#6770306)
    Lois Boland, director of international relations for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said that open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights. "To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO," she said.

    IANAL I am a software developer. If I license my IP under the GPL or any other open source license then how have I in any way waived my rights to my IP. Can someone explain to me what the logical basis for her argument is? Or is this just regurgitated FUD from a spin doctor paid by a certain large corporation (The identity of which you can probably guess).

    The GPL is a license that controls intelectual property rights. As far as I know I control the IP rights to my code I can if I choose use for example the GPL to grant limited rights for others to use my code. I do not waive my rights to my IP.

  • Re:So basically... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:13PM (#6770323)
    Except for three things, IP is really not a problem. These are:
    1) The ridiculous situation at the USPTO. Patents need to be restricted to actual inventions, not business methods, obvious inventions, etc. The USPTO needs to be wiped out and replaced with a new system where examiners are encouraged to reject patent applications instead of granting them, and the number of patents filed should be severely limited so they're not overworked.
    2) Perpetual copyright. Copyright terms need to be shortened back to the original 17 years, not this lifetime + 90 years crap. 17 years is plenty of time to make your profit off your movies and books. A shorter term for software would probably be a good idea as well. The public commons needs to be preserved and enhanced, and making copyrights perpetual destroys this.
    3) Microsoft and pals using corrupt politicians against software developers they don't like (OSS).

    OSS, and especially the GPL, rely on copyright law and IP protections to have any meaning, otherwise OSS software would all just be public domain. There's nothing about OSS that prevents anyone from making money writing software, unless they're trying to compete directly against something that's free.
  • Re:IP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:19PM (#6770359)
    I'd rather die than be broke and have to live on the street. Therefore, for me, money > life.

    Of course, I'm not talking about tons of money, just enough to live on.


    This kind of took me back. I've been quite broke, more than broke, ain't got no home broke, when I was a younger (and more than once to different degrees). After those experiences, I find that I am pretty sure I can cope with any money woes. It's easier than a personal loss of a loved one, for instance.

    There are many things in life worse than starting over broke. I am glad I'm not broke now, but in this world, you never know what the future will bring. You fearing poverty more than death indicates you have no faith or confidence in yourself, which is not good for your wallet, in the long run.
  • by The Revolutionary (694752) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:44PM (#6770464) Homepage Journal
    When I speak to those around me, and even to those of older generations, I do not find a people who have sold out to large oppressive and monied interests. No, I find instead only a people who have again and again been told the lie that things are how they ought to be, the lie that labels those those who dare oppose the status quo as un-American, as radicals, and as communists.

    But when I tell these people in plain and simple terms what is happening in this nation and in this world, and what it is doing and going to do to every one of us, they see through the lie these oppressive and monied interests have told them. They know that we are well-meaning just as they are. The know that we care about our country and about its people and about our brothers and our sisters just as they do. They know that the label is a lie. They know it isn't right.

    We must rally the people if we are to tear down the corporate "intellectual property" regime. When we see what we have today, we know that our government will not fight for us. If our government will not fight for us, then we must fight to take back our government, and we can do this in no other way than by rallying the people to fight with their vote .

    We must tell them that it ain't right We must tell them that it is important to every single person. We must tell the people that they can change it. We must tell them that it is they and they alone who can will the difference.

    It must be from the people that change will come. The people of our nation are not bought and sold. They are a decent and ethical people of noble spirit, who must only be exhorted to acknowledge foremost in their minds that the freedom and opportunity we as persons deserve and must secure is ours to be had if only we will join together as fellow brothers and fellow sisters to vote out these dogs whose masters oppress and enslave us.

    Woe unto you rich and monied interests on that day if you have abused that privelege we have given you. For when the people of this nation are but made to realize what you have done to us, they will raise up their voices in righteous outrage against this bought and appointed corporate government and against those oppressive and monied interests to which it was long ago sold, and they will vote your cronies out forever more.
  • Re:IP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:44PM (#6770467)
    There really isn't an opportunity to offer the price for freedom in this case.

    Last time I checked there was approximately zero support for a revolutionary movement in the US.

    Get a couple of military divisions willing to turn against the command because the government is out of control, and then we can start talking about "paying the price of freedom."

    At the moment, it's either live under the tyranny, or leave the country. Things are not bad enough for people to start thinking in terms of the more ugly alternatives.
  • by Dukeofshadows (607689) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:55PM (#6770508) Journal
    Media tampering along these lines began long ago, at least as far back as WR Hearst and the "Give me the pictures and I'll give you the war" quote from 1898. Corporate tampering with the government runs back to at least the Bank of the United States and Nicholas Biddle in the 1830s. Now they have combined in the form of a corporate giant wanting to dominate not only the content of information most of this country sees but also its distribution and means of transmission. No one can really blame Microsoft for wanting to act in their own best interest, after all if they win then they likely gain control over most computer systems on the consumer, commercial, and military levels. This means billions of dollars and a monopoly on software that the government will be hard-pressed to crack, both because of the importance of the product and the lobbying money that would result. It is not going to simply hand over its golden goose to open source programmers who can do the job cheaper, better, and more efficiently. Instead it seeks to badmouth its only competition at every turn. Microsoft is free to say what it wants as long as it is prepared to back it up. It is only when the freedom of speech is applied to those whom we do not wish to hear that we truly prove our respect for that freedom.

    And the second they say anything they can't outright prove, the same body of laws deems that slander and is grounds for legal action. I hope they slip up with the open source community there to greet them, but until then we *grudgingly* have to respect their rights to free speech, even if that includes lobbying Congress with barrels of cash (since bribery in that form is somehow considered "free speech" under current law).
  • by BrynM (217883) * on Friday August 22, 2003 @09:07PM (#6770559) Homepage Journal
    To suggest that such organizations should actual spend more time trying to figure out what is right, or what is the best course of action for all will just bring a harangue about one's naivity.
    Political Action Committees are the lifeblood of many professional associations. Many of them are only doing what their members tell them if only to keep the membership dues coming in (The American Pharmacists Association [aphanet.org], The American Heart Association [americanheart.org], The International Webmasters Association [irwa.org]). In fact, the Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] is almost completely a PAC. Same with Amnesty International [amnesty.org].

    More people need to know that this is how politics work. Most are taught that voting is doing their part in politics, but that isn't even half of it. People need to "associate" with others of like mind or like profession to help exert influence. This is the ideal behind which political parties were created.

    I actually wish more people would become members of an association if only to vote for who the Board Members of their PAC should be. This is the real way to effect laws in the US as it is the Board Members who have oversite of the PAC's lobbyist(s). I wish more geeks (no offense, to me it's a compliment) would think of that next time they're at Frys buying yet another $30 hub or wireless mouse. It's not money itself that is the key, it's where the money goes. If you're sick of stuff like this bullroading and want to change it, you know how to do it.

    I'll step off the soapbox now...

  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Empiric (675968) * on Friday August 22, 2003 @09:10PM (#6770569)
    Ah... but...

    This is exactly the thing that can give OSS a political advantage. Few things are as much political risk as having wasted taxpayer money and not being able to provide a reason why. This is where OSS has the clear, publically-understandable attribute of "free" working for it; it's much harder to bury an uneconomical decision in this arena than one in another field where there are two approximately-equal bids with a subjective difference of quality between them.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Friday August 22, 2003 @09:22PM (#6770603) Homepage
    Conversly, WIPO can be counted on to act against Intellectual Property rights that do not result in profits for WIPO's member state corporations.


    Except, of course, that open source products help everyone, including WIPO members, by allowing them to leverage open source to produce their products more cheaply. See the recent TiVo article for an example. The problem is that they haven't pulled their heads sufficiently out of their asses yet to realize this.

  • Re:IP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Friday August 22, 2003 @09:32PM (#6770638) Homepage
    At the moment, it's either live under the tyranny, or leave the country.


    Bad as things may seem, we do still live in a democracy. Why not vote the bastards out of office next year? This time around we even have some decent replacements [deanforamerica.com] for them.

  • Re:Dying for IP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday August 22, 2003 @10:00PM (#6770730)
    The soldiers are always *told* they are fighting for freedom and they actively discouraged from questioning what they are told. So, yeah they often believe that they fought and died for a good cause. Now, the power-brokers pulling the strings and running the military-industrial complex, they have a whole different set of motivations, usually greed being number one on the list. So in effect, both reasons are true and that applies to pretty much every armed conflict the US has participated in, all the way back to the revolution.

    From today's perspective it sure seems like freedom was once high on the list of motivations for the power-brokers and that it's importance has steadily declined through the centuries. But, as the saying goes - the victors write the history, so I'm willing to bet that greed was just as much of a disproportionate motivation back in 1776 as it is today.
  • by quantaman (517394) on Friday August 22, 2003 @11:17PM (#6771058)
    "As he was seeking political favors, a friend of Sen. Orrin Hatch bought a whopping 1,200 copies of Hatch's largely self-produced music CDs, for which Hatch receives $3 to $7 each.

    Nice to see how he skirts campaign finance rules.

    By my interpretation skirting campaign finance rules would be finding ways to contribute more money than you are allowed to a candidate's campaign. Contributing several thousand dollars directly to the candidate on the other hand would be bribery.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Friday August 22, 2003 @11:52PM (#6771173)
    "Lois Boland, director of international relations for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said that open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights. "

    Lois baby. You have it all wrong. Open-source does not run counter to intellectual-property rights. If the open-source community didn't have IP rights they wouldn't have the right to share code.

    Open source may run against the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights FOR THE RICH CORPORATIONS.

    The WIPO, as many fear, does not give a shit about the human condition if it in any way lowers its members bottom line.

    Come on Lois baby. Squeal like a pig for me.

  • by Julian Morrison (5575) on Saturday August 23, 2003 @12:24AM (#6771266)
    ...it turns all discussions fanatical, because one side or the other gets to enforce their opinion.

    Politics divides people up into bosses, and serfs. You're appealing for more people to take the effort to become bosses. What you seem not to realise is that everyone-bossing-everyone is a worst case scenario. Taken to the extreme of Direct Democracy, everything not forbidden is compulsory, and the list changes daily with the agregate public whim. Bleh.

    Each of these parasitic organisations consists of a yet-further encroachment upon "my business and nobody else's". Joining up as a member merely makes you part of the problem.

    What we need is fewer bosses-by-force, less enforced opinions. Preferably none.
  • by hellgate (85557) on Saturday August 23, 2003 @03:44AM (#6771759)
    How this got rated "insightful" is beyond me.

    I have lived in both the US and the only country (to my knowledge) that practices direct democracy on all levels. It does work well for them. People are a lot happier with their government, and that's although they (living in a small country) tend to know quite a bit more about the rest of the world than most people in the US do. Some of their laws are more restrictive, some allow for more freedom than the US does (and I'm saying that although most votes didn't turn out as I wished they had). They certainly have a much smaller percentage of their population in prisons :-P.

    Since direct democracy has been demonstrated to work reasonably well for at least one country, what you are saying is that you and your people are not capable of working that kind of democracy. Maybe.

    May take is: After communism died (in the US earlier, because communism was largely unacceptable there forever), lots of people seemed to have this "new" idea of an ideal society which they believe will magically work as soon as they'll get a chance to try it.

    Before arguing for anarchism, make sure you have a working example, and it had better be better than Afghanistan. It's nice in theory (so was communism, to some extent), but it doesn't work with your real, average people. Anarchism is the pipe dream of a new generation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2003 @06:34AM (#6772204)

    America will be backsliding in technical innovation in the IT industry because of this.

    We will be caught with our pants down just like we were with our Curtis bi-planes against the Japanese Zeros at the beginning of World War 2. Only this time it might not be the military that is looking stupid, they've learned enough to avoid that for the next 100 years, but it will be the famous and legendary American Innovation that will suffer.

    Look at the other nations out there. Many of them are outpacing this once great nation in their technical prowess, innovation, and capabilities today. This is only going to serve to accelerate the process until we become and sound embarassment to the world.

    The Battlefield of the next 100 years will not be a military campaign. That's been dying out since the end of World War 2. The new battlefield is the economic viability of a nation. By crippling the economic engine of a nation you can now render a nation effectively useless without the need for such unpopular actions as actually blowing people up. This is what the United Nations have been doing for years and for the most part it is working and is considered Politically Correct. At least more so than military invasion and geographical conquest.

    As we permit these American Corporations to attempt protection of their markets in the United States, we expose the United States to economic erosion on the global market making us more vulnerable to economic attacks.

    Considering what has happened to the United States since the World Trade Center was destroyed it's pretty evident that an economicly focused attach can have a more devistating effect on the United States as a whole than a military assault can have. With this new knowledge, it has to be recognized that the new battlefield of soverign nations is not a geographical map with pill boxes and trenches, but an economic environment consisting of market shares, tariffs, subsidies...

    As these Corporations meddle with the Global Economy and the role of the United States of America they are meddling with the well being of the Nation as a whole and are quite willing to go through some sacrifices of our nation in order to expand their own goals and objectives.

    This is no longer about Microsoft making shitty software that is easily overrun by email virii or the fact that everything is proprietary. This is not about our future as a Nation and our ability to remain a viable economic entity in the future Global Markets. We must participate on the Global playing field in order to win, we cannot hope to succeed for long if we always require a Home Field Advantage by excluding Open Source as a viable option in our future

  • by KKBaSS (665194) on Saturday August 23, 2003 @07:29AM (#6772350)
    If a company doesnt have commercial based software that is better than an open source alternative, then well, that is their own fault. Companies out to make $ should strive to make value added software, make their products just *that* much better than opensource if they expect to stay in business.

    Stop whining & start programming.....
  • Deceit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuggz (69912) on Saturday August 23, 2003 @08:57AM (#6772584) Homepage
    Simple it doesn't.
    But they don't want to argue that you are using the same laws and protections they are.

    Much easier to just state you want to destroy IP, because you're not using it right.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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