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The IIPA’s Opposition to Open Source Software

Digital Copyright Canada does a nice job of reviewing the IIPA's submissions to the USTR Special 301 process, noting its criticisms of Brazil, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam for supporting open source software.  The posting notes "the fact the IIPA is encouraging countries to have policies which increase infringement rather than have people switch to competing software is telling about their actual goals."


  1. What a load of crap from the IIPA
    OSS is routinely harvested for useful software which is then sold to customers, in many cases without the required attribution or following the licensing requirements (for instance, see the current Gnu Public License).

    Of course, the IIPA’s issue is not really about OSS; it is about the fact that OSS produces a number of free, competing, packages that take away sales from the IIPA members. For instance, you can be pretty sure that Microsoft ain’t too happy about Linux and Open Office; remember they named one version of the MS Office document standard “Office Open XML” and tried to get it recognized as a “standard” format, even though you needed to get a license from Micro$oft in order to use it (at least, if memory serves, they didn’t charge you for the license).

  2. Ross Presser says:

    Maybe there are subtleties I don’t understand, but it seems a long way from “Avoid legislation on the mandatory use of open source software” (as the IIPA submission on Brazil says) to “policies encouraging legally free of charge Open Source software” (as the Russell McOrmond’s blog says). If a government requires “mandatory use” of something they’re doing a lot more than just “encouraging” it. And I don’t see it as wrong for an organization whose members make money from commercial software, to express that they’re opposed to a government which requires that their product never be purchased.

  3. more confusion
    @Ross, you seem to make a pretty huge assumption yourself.
    What does a requirement to use OSS have to do with “never be purchased” ? Just because it’s open source doesn’t mean that it’s not purchased (although that may well be an option).
    Everywhere I’ve seen this sort of policy discussed, it’s got very little to do with cost and everything to do with openness, future-proofing, and security.

  4. Dwight Williams says:

    Software, Like Tobacco?
    Seems an odd image to cultivate…but it’s starting to fit.

  5. Michael Geist says:

    @Ross Presser
    Business groups can advocate however they like, but this comes in the context of a USTR call for comments on the effectiveness of IP laws in countries other than the U.S. Whether Brazil or any other country chooses to promote open source is surely not an indicator of weak or ineffective enforcement. Indeed, it is a business issue, not a copyright one.


  6. Darryl Moore says:

    From one of the documents: (Brazil)

    The copyright industries recommend that the following actions be taken in the near term in Brazil IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THE ADEQUATE AND EFFECTIVE PROTECTION OF COPYRIGHT MATERIALS: (emphasis mine)

    • Avoid legislation on the mandatory use of open source software by government agencies and government controlled companies.


    As Russell stated, this would have an effect which is opposite to the stated goal.

  7. @Darryl
    “in order to improve the adequate and effective protection of copyright materials […] * Avoid legislation on the mandatory use of open source software”
    1) They don’t know how copyright works (open source = freely licensed (!) and legal to use)
    2) They wanna protect their own copyrighted crap from competition for their own sales figures

  8. Reliance on opensource software may be a thorn in their side with some of the laws they are trying to push through (although I would guess this is one reason they want them).
    Much of the current opensource software break the anti-circumvention laws in order to work with proprietary formats and remain opensource (openoffice circumvents protection to open word docs, dvd player apps do so to play dvd’s, etc)

  9. Darryl Moore says:

    I’ll pick door number two.

  10. There is an interesting (though a bit long) paper about how anti-circumvention legistlation clashes with opensource by Wendy Seltzer from :
    Looks like it is in draft form at the moment, to be published in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal soon.

  11. Sorry.. I’ll try that again

  12. That’s the typical lobbyist for you.
    When a true alternative threatens the corporate stranglehold of the businesses they shill for, the lobbyist go crying to the government and pressure them into legislating against the alternatives.

  13. Brad from BitBot Software says:

    Commercial vs proprietary
    > What does a requirement to use OSS have to do with “never be purchased”? Just because it’s open source doesn’t mean that it’s not purchased (although that may well be an option).

    I explain the difference between commercial software and proprietary software in my latest article: