> I came across an interesting piece on the BSA (Business Software
> Alliance) in the current issue of Computer User (February).
> Computer User: see www.computeruser.com, James Matheson, editor.
> The piece is Brian O'Connell, Compliance Stormtroopers at the Gates,
> small businesses beware, the Business Software Alliance may be
> stalking you. Starts on p.10. I think anyone operating a business,
> especially a small business, wants to find this piece and read it.
> My first response to it is, BSA works just like the IRS.
Probably true, in that, you only have a 1% chance of being audited, but the
consequences of an audit if you have something to hide are not supposed to
be worth even that 1% chance.
Quote:> You have
> about the same options to protect yourself. As I read the thing, BSA
> must be a well-connected arm of Microsoft, masquerading under another
> name. At least, their style and mission seem a perfect fit to it.
Nobody I know has ever obtained any copy of commercial software, legally or
otherwise, without knowing that the vendor expects to be paid.
Piracy of Microsoft software is absolutely rampant. Anybody has the option
not to use their products, though M$ makes it as difficult as possible to
exercise that option. Nevertheless, that option does exist.
I have seen companies where dozens or hundreds of PC's were running
massively pirated M$ products, with full knowledge of what they were doing
and deliberate intent to do so. I was once told by the VP/IT of one
company that he estimated they were pirating $175,000 worth of software,
mostly from Microsoft.
Given that most piracy is done knowingly and deliberately, it is difficult
to condemn Microsoft for attempting to recover what they legally are
Now, whether or not the BSA's tactics are legit, or the software is worth
paying for, is a problem that completely evaporates when you go to Linux.
> O'Connell's piece seems to say either you're renting or buying your
> (closed-source) software or you're a pirate. It does not mention any
> other options such as Linux and the software available to Linux users.
Quote:> But in fact, for anyone in the know, I can't imagine a more convincing
> argument for whoever relies upon computer technology, to distance
> themselves immediately and completely from closed-source, the BSA, and
Well said. Hurrah. Richard Stallman looked at the way people copied
software 15 years ago and decided there was "something there is that
doesn't love a EULA" (apologies to Robert Frost). So many people copy so
much software so much of the time that it caused him to ask why? And he
concluded simply that that is the nature of software.
The FSF's full position is something like this. Software was meant to be
freely distributed and copied. Closed-source commercial software is
counter-intuitive. People simply do not respect the vendor's rights if
they don't have to. So he decided to write free software and protect it
under a license that would make it always free.
And for his efforts, and thousands upon thousands of other anonymous
heroes, we now have a tremendously powerful operating system, loads of
applications, tools, and supporting community.
The only reason now to stay with commercial software is because you simply
want to. If the entire thing does not sit right with you, you can do
anything you want with free software.
> Meanwhile, Microsoft's "improved" XP comes with that registration
> scheme, "for the user's convenience." I see things differently. I
> think among serious computer users, those who rely upon computers for
> their business or even (in medical service) to stay alive, closed
> source can only be too buggy, too unreliable, for such service. Even
> without the BSA breaking into their systems to monitor for "piracy."
> Microsoft's registration scheme attempts to force users into software
> that *can't stand on its own in a real market.*
Extremely well said. Microsoft themselves were the first to release
software with all traditional copy protection removed. Remember Lotus 123
Release 1, that required the original "key" floppy to be in the drive just
to run it? Remember dongles?
Microsoft gave us systems with no copy protection of any kind, or so we
thought. We've now learned they were tracking more than anyone knew. And
everyone copied them.
One wonders if Microsoft products could have taken over the world as they
did if M$ had demanded payment for every single running copy.
> Can you imagine a better reason to change your home and business
> systems to a Microsoft Free Zone? Namely, Linux? *Now?* Of course,
> that will cost, a little. But then you are free of your closed-source
> licensing, fees, controls, and bugs. What's the worth of that, even
> if you don't reckon in the BSA, compared to the cost?
One of Linux's greatest strengths is that it is not freeware, shareware, or
trialware. It is free, via the GPL, in a way that most people are not
aware of and have a very hard time understanding.
Try explaining the GPL to someone who has never heard of it. The most
common reaction I get is disbelief and tremendous curiousity. They
intensely want to know "how can this be?" "What's the catch?" "how does
it work?" With GPL'd software there is no catch, it really is what it
claims to be: free-to-use as you wish.
The number one question I get when I explain the GPL to someone who has
never heard of it is, "What's to stop someone from buying this Red Hat
company or whoever they are and just closing it up?" Although anyone with
funds could buy Red Hat, Red Hat does not control Linux, so it would be an
Linux truly eliminates the entire licensing nightmare from your life,
> Mathewson's editorial in the same issue takes a slight but detectably
> less severe line than does O'Connell, but also doesn't mention Linux.
> Cheers -- Martha Adams
Linux, the more you learn, the more you love