Microsoft readying 'all-out war' on open source
Prof Lessig tells world what's on his mind.
By Manek Dubash | Techworld | Published: 15:26, 07 April 2005
Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig has claimed that Microsoft is preparing "an all-out war" on the open source community, specifically Linux.
The controversial proclaimer on copyright issues and member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation made his claim at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco.
Lessig is using economic laws to shore up his case, arguing that large monopolies will spend whatever they have to in order to protect their position. And as an organisation that made $8.1 billion in profits last year, Microsoft is in a position to throw a lot of lawyers at the problem.
So far, so obvious. But Lessig then went on to describe Microsoft as a threat to both businesses and the economy. He said that Microsoft had allies in the form of telecoms giants, many of them also monopolies or near-monopolies, who were gearing up to wage a war against peer-to-peer networking and other technological innovations.
Then, like Trotskyists of old, he called upon the open source community to rise up against the threat. Quite what he expects people to do isn't clear, apart from, as he said, to become part of a public debate. Despite frequent claims to the opposite, blogging has yet to change a thing.
As any Trotskyist knows, economics is the basis of power, so it's more relevant that, as one report points out, a few big IT players have moved towards open source business models. This seems more likely to be able to influence matters, with Big Blue's pledging to use 500 of its patents in defence of open source, while Sun put 1,600 patents behind newly launched OpenSolaris. Meanwhile others including CA and Novell have indicated they may well go down this path too.