Arrrggg: Open Source Users Are Pirates

by on February 24, 2010 · 52 comments· LAST UPDATED February 24, 2010

in

US lobby group is trying to get the US government to consider open source as the equivalent to piracy i.e. if you use open source software you are a pirate and that makes you an enemy of the state.

However, US goverment does use FOSS based solutions. The SELinux can be traced to several earlier projects by the U.S. National Security Agency, The drupal powers many US government sites including Obama administration Drupal based website. Hollywood use Linux to create eye catching 3D movies. American companies such as Sun, Redhat, Oracle, IBM, Google, and many others profits handsomely using FOSS. From the guardian blog (via slashdot):

US government to basically consider open source as the equivalent of piracy - or even worse.

What?

It turns out that the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella group for organisations including the MPAA and RIAA, has requested with the US Trade Representative to consider countries like Indonesia, Brazil and India for its "Special 301 watchlist" because they use open source software.

What's Special 301? It's a report that examines the "adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights" around the planet - effectively the list of countries that the US government considers enemies of capitalism.

Well, this is shocking! What do you think?

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Muhammad Panji February 24, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Sad news but also good news. sad because we all pirates good news because Indonesia considered as prominent open source users :)

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2 phuk u IP lobby February 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm

RIAA website seems to run on Apache and PHP. I guess US should put itself on the watch list!

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3 Honeyman February 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Well, at first glance I’d say that this is another case of the US (or rather its government and the politicians) using double-standards when deploying FOSS solutions themselves but berating others for so also.. As I am not a legal expert on intellectual property rights I don’t really see how open & free software infringes on proprietary software. I’m not quite sure what being put on the Special 301 Watch List entails as consequences, couldn’t find a precise explanation on the web right away. Presumably it is not much more serious than diplomatic disapproval, though having strained relations with the United States is no small issue in international relations. But you can argue that Washington definitively does not want to complicate diplomatic ties with such emerging economies like Indonesia, Brazil and India over such a minor matter in regards to international trade. Even some big software firm from Redmond, WA does not have the lobbying power to influence US foreign policy to such a degree.
Still the slight possibility of what I regard as false claims of property infringement hijacking international relations and trade policy is quite disturbing.

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4 Will February 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I’m saddened by this news. I thought the Obama administration was going to bring in a new era of transparency and reasonable governing. I wasn’t exactly happy with the Bush administration and there handling of airport security, privacy, and freedom during the last few years, however, I’m not surprised by this administration.

Anyways, I’ve always looked at Open Source as Free speech. I’ve been an avid user of Ubuntu Linux for my business and personal life. I’m always interested in seeing new things people are creating, and very shortly, I’m positioning myself to be able to support open source, by making some things for the public as well. I don’t like it that my rights are being stripped by this administration or any other. I don’t care that a bunch of people downloaded Britney Spears songs, a few thousand times. Linux, and other open source software is NOT piracy! Stupid government.

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5 Will February 24, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Sorry about the grammar, I speak 2 languages, and sometimes my original tongue gets rusty. :(

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6 Jaysunn February 25, 2010 at 12:38 am

Support open source baby.

We love it and live it.

Jaysunn

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7 Charanjit Singh February 25, 2010 at 10:04 am

Seems to be this is like a bubbles in water but I don’t think US government really ban open source as their organization like NSA also do experiment and invention on open source projects. Also FOSS really revolutionized the IT of the world.

Regards
Charanjit Singh Cheema

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8 Shady February 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

dumb Americans they think they own the world not simply exist upon it.

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9 KG Tee February 25, 2010 at 11:30 am

Such “lobby group” if exists must be nuts. They do not even know the meaning of a simple word, “pirate”. No one will heed the action of nuts.

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10 Fabian February 25, 2010 at 11:51 am

Is there any way we can have a protest to? sighs!

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11 KG Tee February 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm

My instinct tells me this posting is a troll. Just can’t make any sense out of it!

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12 Dobryak February 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm

What is the #$^#^? They are just going mad – or it is harsh time coming?

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13 Bill February 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Let’s parse this:
A lobby group, that is, a small group unconnected to the US government but is paid to advance their special interest, is lobbying that is, providing unsolicited requests to a government official to advance their special interests, which, in this case, is about protecting intellectual property.

Clearly, if charged with promoting a singular interest, the interested party will try to grab as much as possible within a single request, that’s their job.

This article shows no evidence that the US uses double standards, that the Obama administration has failed, or that Americans wish to own the world.

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14 Pirate Dave February 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm

When Benjamin Franklin invented a highly efficient wood burning stove he turned down the offer of a patent. In fact, he didn’t patent any of his inventions saying, “As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

In many ways, the Open Source community continues this old American tradition. Anyone fighting that tradition simply doesn’t get the concepts of freedom and generosity. Oh, and let’s add to the list the right to develop new ways to compete in an open market. After all, there is a lot of money to be made by the Open Source movement and that’s the real reason large corporations are afraid.

Open Source should be allowed to continue unfettered. If there method wins, great. If not, so be it. But trying to make an end-run around the legal system in order to stop another business model? Now that should be illegal.

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15 Vamsi February 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm
16 Bob February 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Wait a minute here… this article says nothing about this originating with the US Government. Lobby groups are not the government. They are special interest groups that petition the government to create law to benefit the lobby group’s interest. I can lobby the government to make a 2 day work week the law of the land… it doesn’t mean it’s a government initiative.

Having said that count me in on open source and more transparency.

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17 Pirate Mike February 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm

It is ironic that the American government should equate users of open source with “enemies of capitalism”. By the same token, European nations–who are strongly embracing open source software, would also have to be included on that list. And if that were true, then it would only be fair that the European Union put America on a special “watchlist” because America would now be labled as “enemies of freedom”.

How’s that for turnabout? All joking aside, it is instructive for people to remember that capitalism and democracy are not automatically married. Democracy (remembering that strictly speaking, America is not a democracy, but a republic) is actually antithetical to pure capitalism, which claims only the marketplace as a regulator and eschews public regulation. Pure capitalism has it’s best political marriage with fascism, in which the power of the state is used to protect and promote selected industries/businesses. And this is something to be feared in my opinion. All we have to do is look at the current mess we’re in to notice that unregulated, rampant greed in the housing and banking sectors, aided and abetted by a political system too timid to regulate, has resulted in pain that will last for years to come.

Oh, and as an aside, Microsoft is still threatening companies with lawsuits if they don’t pay up the “protection racket” money for using open source software–specifically Linux. Amazon is the latest victim. In a way, they are doing their part to use the system to enforce the same thing that is discussed in the article above.

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18 joedirt May 3, 2010 at 8:04 am

Please do not call America a Democracy. It is a Republic with limited Democratic controls. The Founding Fathers described Government as a necessary evil for society. The only role of a General Government or “Federal Government” is to serve the States, protect the people’s individual Liberties and provide a small and controlled defense. This idea seems to have been lost with time. Democracies are not free societies. Individual liberty is freedom. Would you rather die at the hand of a terrorist or live as a slave in a “secure” Democracy? I’ll take my chances and have liberty!

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19 Joseph Prayer February 25, 2010 at 5:23 pm

All this mean something: “All the ignorance lobby that group is submerged”

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20 Will February 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm

@Pirate Mike, I’ve never really understood why people equate open source software with some sort of economic “ism”, whether it be socialism, capitalism, or otherwise. It wasn’t born with that ideal (it was born with freedom in mind, actually), and it works just fine in either situation. In fact, that’s the reason why I want to publish some open source software, is TO MAKE MONEY! I guess the losers just complain that it’s socialism, and the winners PROFIT. I’ve even heard that open source has privacy issues involved with it. That’s absurd as well, because there’s thousands upon thousands of people who look at the code! I don’t think people have a firm grasp on why people open software up to the masses. But I digress.

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21 Pirate Indian February 25, 2010 at 7:27 pm

@Pirate Dave and Pirate Mike:

Cool, users already started to call themselves as pirate :)

US has a long history of double standards and big corporations do twists arm of Government to make favorable decisions. I just spent some time reading 301 recommendation PDF and it is way over rated with suggestions.

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22 3.1412rate February 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

harrharr, then that lobby grrroup shall rrreceive the prrroperr punishment of a pirrrate’s hand. Upon my oath, a rrreal pirrrate um, I mean OS supporting human awaits the rrreaction the goverrrnorrr um, I mean gouverrrment. Then some pirrracy action seems to be in orrrderrr.

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23 hakmn February 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

If you guys have watched Discovery Channel documentary of ” The Great Global Warming Swindle “, you must be surely aware of the USA’s intentions.
This is also another capitalist conspiracy but i’m not afraid cuz democracy persist here in india.

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24 Will February 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

@hakmn. It’s not a capitalist conspiracy! It’s a Democrat conspiracy, spearheaded by Al Gore, to take control of the US Economy. The Discovery Channel has been pandering to the Global Warming fools for years! Also, it’s the intentions of SOME Americans, not the US. I assure you.

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25 Irate Pirate February 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Yar har fiddle-de-dee. Being a pirate is alright to be. Do what you want, ’cause a pirate is free. You are a pirate.

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26 ioo February 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm

@KG Tee – it seems a hoax to me too.

Any link to original info? Can’t find news about “open source = piracy” on IIPA homepage.

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27 pirata no lo se February 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm

A bit out of topic, but I don’t like Discovery Channel anymore because they don’t broadcast anything about applied science anymore, it’s just disappointing. BTW, it seems that saying Open Source is some kind of piracy is somehow absurd and disturbing, and this kind of lobbying, might be suspiciously linked with that big redmond corporation’s anti-competitive activities. I’m still thinking that this is another attempt to make plausible their commitments.

The progressing technologies should not be stopped because of demented people trying to support monopolistic corporations.

Sorry for my bad English.

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28 tommy surbakti February 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm

open source != pirates

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29 sims February 28, 2010 at 11:46 pm

As other have said: lobby != government
Link please…

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30 D3xt3r March 2, 2010 at 10:34 am

Hmmmm. Is this not just a case of government idioits talking about something they don’t know anything about? I fail to see how software that is licenced to be freely distrubuted pertains to piracy in anyway. Isn’t the act of piracy itself, the act of stealing from someone else? You know, like those blokes with eye-patches and peg-legs used to do? So if I make something to give away as I like, I am a pirate? I guess in that case we’re screwed seeing as most of the internet runs on LAMP environments, those ignorant American politicians will have to pull down MOST of the internet. That’s like Lord Mandelson in the UK making decsions on the government’s Digital Britain project. Lets take a man (who is essentially a criminal from his past history), who knows next to fuck all about the internet/computers/social media etc, and let him make decisions about a country’s future regarding these issues. Srsly, my gran knows more than him. To me this looks like one of those things people make a noise about, then have to go and hide their face of embarassment when they finally understand and see that what they were doing was utterly ridiculous.

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31 piczoom March 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm

the open source users lead the programming community, and without them none of the smashing developing we see today could happen.
as i always say to my friends, and i also printed it on the back of my laptop:
OPEN SOURCE = OPEN MIND

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32 Jake March 2, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Whomever Will is, your an idiot. To assign this situation to one political party is pure ignorance. The Republicans have been the leaders of greed since the Ronald Reagan era. This type of movement is purely greed-based and, as usual, designed to protect our poor penniless corporations and further reduce the once cherished ideals of individuality, imagination and the 4th and 5th amendments.

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33 Saad March 3, 2010 at 8:01 am

Means that govt. of united states is a pirate. They deserve to be punished 1st.

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34 sena March 4, 2010 at 7:50 am

It is sad how many dumb and greedy asses there is in these lobby groups and in MPAA and in RIAA. This is scary too, because these dumb asses have money and power. I hope that there are smart and sophisticated people in the government that would not allow such nonsence.

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35 Lurq March 22, 2010 at 11:45 pm
36 Matt March 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I just don’t believe this… it’s incredible how some organizations are so ignorant to not
understand the concept of Open Source.
I bet these people are not even able to distinguish “a notebook from the… the bigger one” ( this comes from IT Crowd, u guys have to watch it )

@PirateDave thanks for sharing the anecdote on Benjamin Franklin, it was awesome

Matt from Kernel.net

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37 Issam March 29, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Well .. the american troops are using Asterisk (Opensource telephony platform) in Iraq! (google it) ..

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38 Mumtaz April 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm

very sorry to read this, they should CHANGE this kind of thinking, we are the well wisher, secure and stable, :), most of all poor’s dream of becoming I.T. experts.

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39 suhel April 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

That was the best joke i had this whole day

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40 Kathmandu April 25, 2010 at 10:05 pm

I think, if you actually read the documents, they present a valid argument. The governments have basically mandated that all software in use on government computers must be open source. Sounds great except it violates in place free trade agreements for one thing and second, it does nothing to stem the flagrant and endemic pirate culture that has developed and they try to avoid the problem with a mandate. Removing billions of dollars worth of pirated software and replacing it with open source software only, without even the possibility of allowing legitimate ‘for profit’ software makers the opportunity to compete so they can recoup some fraction of the money they have been screwed out of due to government sanctioned theft for decades, is seriously unfair in their eyes.

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41 Azwar Tamim May 12, 2010 at 11:37 am

Nice try, honey.. Open Source’s gonna be the future development model for software..
And the future is here!
We should have been able to dig deep to software creation and improvement if we have this open source idea of software from the beginning.. It should have been outstandingly developed much like our open information of scientific ideas that we see today..

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42 RikiTiki May 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

In reply to Kathmandu, you really are trying hard with this argument. If you were right, even Microsoft and Apple would have to give up some of their profits to the open source code they use in their applications – and they do. IBM does this outright (take a look at the Eclipse project). So, when you say legitimate, you’re really not defining the word or the entities in that space (which I believe is fast becoming a neglible number).

As for open source, what better model can you have than world-wide contribution to tenology improvement and development? I support this as everyone wins – including those making money from the software. Google, Apple (where do you suppose the OS comes from?). So, I believe a further analysis should be conducted.

Thoughts?

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43 Bungholio May 21, 2010 at 7:27 am

It is strange to think about the fact that these people were children too.

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44 faber May 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

it’s funny.. probably those lobbies’s websites are running on a LAMP so they are the first pirates using open source software :P

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45 kracekumar June 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Its very clear that presence of open source can be compared to air which is present all places. . .

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46 EmmDubya October 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I’m assuming this is a joke. If so, it’s hilarious.

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47 Charles October 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm

There’s ALWAYS someone somewhere “trying to convince” the government to outlaw something or other. Like new proposed law in the House, it can usually be safely ignored.

Since the first software was open-source (and open-source was certainly the way we treated things in academia in the 60’s & 70’s,) making it the equivalent of piracy is laughable.

What we NEED is for the Judicial branch to review bills passed into law before they go into effect–rather than waiting generations to get rid of unconstitutional law after the fact.

Then censure or bar those who voted for or signed too many unconstitutional bills.

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48 David Murphy October 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Suggest you read the documents properly. It not about open source but rather about violations of intellectual property law such as patent and copyright. Even Canada is on the watchlist because its copyright laws are considered sub-standard.

So use Open Office as much as you want, but for MS Office you have to buy it legitimately.

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49 rajdha October 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm

if they consider opensource as like that then they will going to lost most a compare with others ( nothing but us)

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50 Alexia Vaccaro November 12, 2010 at 12:03 am

hey there.. good post. I like your perspective on this matter. I found your website on this subject. I’m doing analysis on this vocation right now and this was great. Keep up the proficient work.

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51 Gowtham Saran D July 25, 2011 at 4:21 am

Open Source means free to distribute and free to see codings and free to alter. This is good always good as there is no company even microsoft cant offer this much of cheap highly secure and standard operating system. It cannot stop open source because 97% of worlds super computers are working with linux as its prominent operating system,,Kindly post me any blue screen error came while using linux as OS. This is good example for its reliability.

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52 Katai August 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm

We have lobby groups that want to ban Cow Milk and replace it with human breast milk. Just because someone is lobbying for some silly cause doesn’t mean anyone actually pays attention to them.

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