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Re: [ox-en] GPL Restrictive (and all the rest of those threads that this grew out of)


Phew, I was worried that everyone on the list had forgotten about capital!
Thanks, Let me think about this, but I may not post anything more for a little 
while  because I don't want to crowd the list.
But at first glance there are 2 threads here I think 

- the privatisation of FLOSS and the method/mode of producton/oganisation (my 
worse case scenario) and 

- The not the worst case scenario is that capital continues to adopt the 
rhizomaticmethid/mode as it allows them to avoid the problems of wage 
labourers... no salaries, no benefits, no workers compensation  - just a pool 
of labour hapily producing commodities at no/low cost.

But as a dispute between capitalists how can people imagine the SCO/Msoft 
argument that the GPL is anti competitive - this is one thing I have been 
trying to flush out here. Looking at it in this way may be helpful.


On Saturday 15 November 2003 05:17, cc wrote:

On Fri, 14 Nov 2003, Martin Hardie wrote:
Recall the comments of the head of the US Patent office
- the GPL etc is anti copyright in its effect no matter
what it says it is as it destroys the ability to create
exchangeable commodities.

Yes it is posible that this case will end up being the thing that causes
the representatives of _capitalism_ to interven in what _appears_ to be
a dispute between _capitalists_ -- look at the sides like this:

1. SCO is being bankrolled by Microsoft, to quote from slashdot:

     "During the quarter ended April 30, 2003, SCO entered into a
     licensing agreement with Microsoft Corporation ("Microsoft"). The
     initial licensing agreement allowed Microsoft, at its election, to
     exercise two options to allow Microsoft to acquire expanded licensing
     rights with respect to SCO's UNIX source code. During the quarter
     ended July 31, 2003, Microsoft exercised and paid for the first of
     these options. During SCO's current quarter, ending October 31, 2003,
     Microsoft exercised and paid $8,000,000 for the second option.
     [] "

     The SECOND deal was for 8 million dollars. There was a filing last
     quarter about the first deal. That one was for 6 to 8 million dollars
     up front, plus an additional 5 million over the next three quarters.
     So the first deal totaled 11 to 13 million. Add the two deals and
     Microsoft is handing SCO about 20 million dollars. (And for all we
     know the second deal may include an additional 5 million over the
     next three quarters as well.)

     Just prior to the Microsoft deal, SCO's market capitalization was
     about 10 million dollars. Now, would someone like to explain to me
     why the hell anyone would pay 20 million to buy a licence from SCO
     when all of SCO itself only carried a 10 million dollar price tag?

     Not only that, but SCO had NEVER had a profitable quarter prior to
     the Microsoft deal. They were bleeding cash horribly and soon would
     have gone bankrupt.

     In addition to those cash payments, SCO has also received a 50
     million infusion from an investment group with ties to Microsoft.
     There isn't any evidence that Microsoft influenced this 50 million
     inventment, but it sure does look suspicious.

   The company that put up $50 million is BayStar, another quote:

     Baystar's own website claims Paul Allen, Microsoft, etc. in their
     list of top ten investors. IIRC, four of the top ten were Microsoft
     or close friends of Microsoft.

   So in total Microsoft have put in the region of $70 million into SCO
   when it was worth $10. The case that SCO puts forward will be
   Microsofts legal attempt to kill free software before it is killed by
   free software.

2. On the other side Linus' legal bill is being footed by:

     Just in case you didn't you didn't know, the OSDL is funded by a
     variety of corporations including (but not limitied to) IBM,
     Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Cisco, Computer
     Associates, Fujitsu, Hitachi, and Nokia.

   Between these companies there is a load of capital also.

So in a real way it is a dispute between capitalists however there is
something far more important going on here.

Although capitalists can use free software in competion with other
capitalists the result of the capitalists that are backing free software
winning is, at the end of the day, not in the interests of capitalism.

The result of the software sector of the global economy switching to the
free software mode of production would result in the destruction of
'property' and the ellimination of commodities -- no need to buy stuff
no more scarcity :-)

Worst of all for capitalism  there would be an increased danger that this
mode of production might start spreading to other sectors of the

Free software is not being taken over by capital, now with the
development of Fedora opened up SuSE is the only distro that has a
closed dev process and I expect that this will change and that SuSE,
despite now being in effect owned by IBM via Novell, will open up their
dev processes, for example:

   Since Novell purchased us 3 months ago, we have increased our
   investment in all of our products, using Novell's resources. And
   we've been aggressive about driving open source and Linux throughout
   the company.

   Yes, we will keep the desktop distro free. We will even make things
   more free than they have been.

   We're only just getting started. Stay tuned.

   Nat Friedman (Ximian, now owned by Novell)

I think that the mode of production of free software is going to have a
bigger impact on capital than capital will have on free software, it
works best when the dev process is open and when it is opened up
the hierarchical command structures of capital lose control, to a great
extent, over the code and the day-to-day tasks of those they fund to
work on the code -- the core dev lists become the centre or power.

the worse case scenario is maybe that in some way FLOSS becomes public
domain and then falls open to enclosure.

Yes, perhaps but in the same way the most people who are doing free
software (inc RMS and Linus) are not aware that it represents a new mode
of production that has the potential to become the dominant one I think
that the other side might not see this either?

Perhaps the other side does realise what is at stake, perhaps they will
declare the production and use of free software illegal but it is hard
to see how this could be done at this stage with so much free software
being used in the private and government sectors.




"Mind you, I am not asking you to bear witness to what you believe false, 
would be a sin, but to testify falsely to what you believe true - which is a 
virtuous act because it compensates for lack of proof of something that 
certainly exists or happened."Bishop Otto to Baudolino


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