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How To Hijack an EU Open Source Strategy Paper 112

Posted by kdawson
from the lobbyists-at-the-policy-table dept.
Glyn Moody writes "Thanks to the indispensable Wikileaks, we have the opportunity to see how an organization close to Microsoft is attempting to re-write — and hijack — an important European Union open source strategy paper, currently being drawn up. Analyzing before and after versions visible in the document demonstrates how the Association for Competitive Technology, a lobbying group partially funded by Microsoft, is trying to widen the scope of open source to include 'mixed solutions blending open and proprietary code.'" And reader Elektroschock adds some detail on EU processes: "The European Commission lets ACT and CompTIA participate in all working groups of the European Open Source Strategy, which defines Europe's future open source approach. A blue editor questions the objectives: 'Regarding the "Europe Digital Independence" our [working] group thinks it is, in general, not an issue.' 'European digital independence' is a phrase coined by EU Commissioner V. Reding, that is what her European Software Strategy was supposed to be about. She didn't reveal that lobbyists or vendors with vested interests would write the strategy for the Commission."
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How To Hijack an EU Open Source Strategy Paper

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Groklaw (www.groklaw.net) is down, due to coverage of Microsoft vs TomTom? Or, is it just a coincidence?

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:34PM (#27013969) Journal
    It should be obvious by now that proprietary, off-the-shelf, software is on its way out. Off-the-shelf software only amounts for around 10% of the total software production, and the bespoke market has always avoided proprietary solutions where possible, to avoid vendor lock-in. Microsoft, with its huge armies of developers and vast collections of existing tools could easily own a huge chunk of the bespoke market, so why are they fighting the transition so hard? Is there some kind of long-term plan, or are they just hoping to turn back the clock?
    • by grimw (1253370)

      I think you're mistaken about proprietary software being on the way out. We haven't had a "Year-of-the-Linux-desktop" yet, and some proprietary software is just plain better than FOSS alternatives, if a FOSS alternative even exists.

      I don't think most companies are ever going to innovate on a FOSS platform, because there isn't any real money there. Innovation is driven by money, and people want it. FOSS, thus far, has typtically shown itself to be promising when commoditizing solutions.

      Not to say tha

      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        I think you're mistaken about proprietary software being on the way out. We haven't had a "Year-of-the-Linux-desktop" yet, and some proprietary software is just plain better than FOSS alternatives, if a FOSS alternative even exists.

        "Year of the Linux desktop" is a red herring. Linux doesn't have to be on a desktop to gain marketshare. That route worked for Windows (although arguably it had just as much to do with riding the commodity hardware wave - something FOSS does as well). But it's not the only route to invade the Industry.

        Of course, for me the "year of the Linux desktop" was years ago. And because of this, I'd like to see it more widespread. Mainly because you are right - there are some proprietary software that has no equ

        • by grimw (1253370)

          Of course, for me the "year of the Linux desktop" was years ago. And because of this, I'd like to see it more widespread. Mainly because you are right - there are some proprietary software that has no equivalent. I'd really like the option of buying said software and running it on my platform of choice. But that's not really anything more than a personal wish.

          How much time did you spend getting your desktop running? I've run them as well (and still do), and it took a lot more time to get it running than it did the first time I ever used Windows or OS X. I haven't ever heard anyone say that they had a first-time full multimedia setup going in a FOSS OS faster than their first-time full multimedia setup in Windows or OS X. Newbs just don't know about Xine, VLC, all the codecs they'll need, where to get them, or how to handle their package management systems unt

          • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

            How much time did you spend getting your desktop running? I've run them as well (and still do), and it took a lot more time to get it running than it did the first time I ever used Windows or OS X.

            It's hard to say. Back in the early days, it took a bit more to get things going just as I wanted it. Some of that was my own doing - I could have gone with defaults and been happy. But I must admit, there were times when some hardware gave me trouble.

            These days aren't so bad. Ubuntu on my work laptop was plug-and-go. Right up to the point I wanted to tweak stuff around. Which I occasionally do. I put that kind of time in to the Windows desktops I've used too. Admittedly, though I've used OSX, I've

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thermian (1267986)

      It should be obvious by now that proprietary, off-the-shelf, software is on its way out. Off-the-shelf software only amounts for around 10% of the total software production

      Um, what? proprietary software is nowhere near being on its last elbows my friend. Ok the old model of sale of software as a product is getting, well, old, and software as a service is taking off.

      Open source is suited for that, but companies providing such services are managing quite well with proprietary code too. I know of several that mix open source and closed source in their product quite happily. Its not a problem, provided no licence terms are broken, and to be frank its not hard to manage that.

      As fo

      • by lukas84 (912874)

        And Software as a Service is also as proprietary as it gets.

        Now you don't even own the hardware anymore and can't even try to fix something on your own.

      • by anarxia (651289)
        I think you missed the parent's point. he way I read it is that proprietary off-the-self software is on its way out not proprietary software as a whole.

        I also believe that this particular subset of proprietary software is in danger because off-the-shelf software tend to be generic and it's more likely that open-source software will perform the same task.

        The more generic the open-source software, the more contributors it's likely to have. Over time it will have similar or better quality and more features

    • On its way out? Hardly. People want to buy a packaged, ready to go product. ESPECIALLY when the mantra is "Works for me. NOTABUG", and "You have the source, YOU fix it"
  • by viralMeme (1461143) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:39PM (#27014055)
    'Microsoft leaned on [silicon.com] EC to spike open source report'

    'One might ask, "Who are these lobbyists? [linuxjournal.com]", so let's take a closer look'
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was on a plane reading Slashdot on my iPhone... the first headline came up "How To Hijack ..." and the air marshal in the seat next to me karate-chopped my neck and now I'm in Gitmo.
    Thanks a lot Slashdot.
    oh, by the way...can someone call me a lawyer?

  • You mean, like with LGPL? I'm all for it.

  • This is like the EU deciding what oil individuals should use in all their cars.

    The decision to use open source is not a governmental decision. If a government says to me "build a bridge from point A to point B," then I decide what piece of software is best for calculating the mass of the bridge. I can use an open source product, or a closed source product. But it would be absurd for my decision to be affected by what some guy in another country, who has no idea what software is, to make that decision for

    • "This is like the EU deciding what oil individuals should use in all their cars"

      As distinct from CompTIA, ACT and the BSA ...
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:15PM (#27014497) Homepage Journal

      This may come as a shock to you, but real governments (i.e., governments unlike the US government of the last eight years) don't just make sweetheart deals with private contractors. They actually do a lot of work themselves, and very often, software is involved in the process. When it comes to wise use of citizens' tax dollars (or euros, as the case may be) finding OSS solutions which can replace expensive proprietary software is pretty high on the list.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        Closed source software does not pollute the environment. That analogy is totally irrelevant on anyplace other than slashdot.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        GAH! My other post was meant to be in reply to someone else. Doh!

        finding OSS solutions which can replace expensive proprietary software is pretty high on the list.

        I 100% agree! You seem to think I am arguing against open source. I'm not: I'm arguing against forcing technical decisions through legislation.

        Part of the problem is because if you open up that can of worms, odds are that open source guy loses. Politicians will legislate solutions based on who can fly them to Aruba for "technology training" and who can line their pockets.

        If you want open source, then use it. And convince your boss. Not

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)

      This is like the EU deciding what oil individuals should use in all their cars.

      Your opinion of this would certainly change if you had the choice between buying Shell oil (they get to set all their own prices) and growing/making all the oil you need in your own backyard. You would be screaming about anti-competitiveness, Monopolies, etc..

    • by jank1887 (815982)

      good point. when the government is paying to have something done, the outcome is all that matters. Included in the outcome are: the results, the cost of achieving the results, the time taken to achieve the results (possibly considered a cost). Among costs are: dollars spent, capital expended, laws broken, environment damaged, etc., etc.

      Specifying: "An open document format must be used for all reports" makes sense. Specifying what software is used to create that document is improper other than stipulating th

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        Thank you. Mandating open standards makes perfect sense. Along with mandating that government research be made open.

    • If a government says to me "build a bridge from point A to point B,"

      Presumably that's not the Alaskan government.

    • by Weedlekin (836313)

      "This is like the EU deciding what oil individuals should use in all their cars."

      Except of course for the fact that nothing in the current strategy is concerned with citizens or companies, and nothing in any proposed future ones will have an effect on them either. The existing EU open source strategy is solely concerned with software the European Commission uses internally, with the document that all the current furore is about being a proposal for future legislation concerning procurement policies in other

  • They should just call themselves "Association for Dealing with Competitive Technology."
  • by bagofbeans (567926) on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:54PM (#27015061)
    In the US, "Organic" used to mean untarnished by nasties. The Big Food lobby got "Organic" re-defined to mean mostly untarnished. Now "100% Organic" means totally untarnished. So maybe soon we'll have "100% Open Source" (as supported by Mr Stallman) vs the new "Open Source" with proprietary lock-ware in it.
    • by lucas_picador (862520) on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:34PM (#27017223)

      So maybe soon we'll have "100% Open Source" (as supported by Mr Stallman) vs the new "Open Source" with proprietary lock-ware in it.

      As you point out, this was exactly Stallman's main beef with "open source": once you start talking about "openness" instead of "freedom", you open yourself up to all kinds of redefinitions and goalpost-moving. If I hold the standard at one that preserves "freedom", then all the Microsoft-style "open code" nonsense is quickly revealed as the trap that it is.

      • all the Microsoft-style "open code" nonsense is quickly revealed as the trap that it is.

        I'm not sure what you mean here. Microsoft has always been careful to refer to its products which have source code opened under a non-FLOSS license as "shared source" (which, IMO, conveys the difference pretty well). MS also has several proper FLOSS licenses, certified as such by OSI and FSF. I haven't heard of anything like "open code".

      • In my mind, the difficulty is ensuring that code marked "free" (to modify, redistribute, sell, and so on) isn't polluted by code involving patents. Just because the main players have signed agreements to prevent that, it doesn't mean that there isn't some submarine patent filed by a 3rd party.

        • In my mind, the difficulty is ensuring that code marked "free" (to modify, redistribute, sell, and so on) isn't polluted by code involving patents

          Free software, like proprietary software, inadvertently violates patents; that's just a fact and it's unavoidable. But so what? The worst that seems to happen in practice is that a judge orders the patented invention to be removed and people add a workaround.

          If by "pollution" you mean "deliberate introduction", that's even less of a problem: source code is usual

      • by grendelb (309720)

        Yes, Eric S Raymond championed the new buzz-phrase "Open Source" over RMS's "Free Software."

        See the mini-essay titled "Goodbye, 'free software'; hello, 'open source'" at http://www.catb.org/~esr/open-source.html [catb.org]

        P.S. These days, look for "Oregon Tilth Organic" if you're looking for the old meaning of organic.

  • WikiLeaks could run out of money before they get their next funding in September. They're asking for money [wikileaks.com] to keep running their essential service in the meantime:

    The Sunshine Press (Wikileaks) is in a dire financial position.

    We need your letter of support.

    Although we expect to receive some $2M in funding later this year,
    there has been no formal funding since last year.

    This organization's

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