[ffii] Free OS vs Protectionist OS

PILCH Hartmut phm at ffii.org
Sun Jun 30 12:01:11 CEST 2002

MS, Intel, Hollywood and senator Fritz Hollings seem to be teaming up
to turn the DRM OS concept, on which Microsoft holds patents, into a
reality.  Even without legislative support offered by Hollings, the
concept seems to have chances of radically changing the way computers
work and creating serious difficulties for free software.

The following documents seem particularly worth reading -- probably
many of you have read them already:


     The Register USA: TCPA and GPL

The problems seem quite serious, but at least as long as Hollings
doesn't get his way, there seems to be less to complain about than in
the case of patent malpractise.  It is not the state but independent
market forces that are preparing to reshape the way we work with
computers.  One of the reasons why these forces are having a chance is
the "digital dilemma" and various security wishes, for which the DRM
OS seems to bring the promise of a solution.  If the DRM OS concept is
incompatible with the GPL then this is not so much because MS is once
again trying to undermine the GPL but rather because the GPL concept
cannot satisfy these wishes.  If DRM OS can succeed as a platform,
then it is because users want the goodies that companies are more
eager to provide when they enjoy more control powers.  In other words:
there is a legitimate market demand for crippleware, which DRM-based
systems can satisfy and GPL-based ones cannot.

It would be nice if the free and protectionist OSes could coexist,
just as it would be nice if the freedom of algorithms and the
patentability nnof technical inventions could coexist.  In principle
they probably can, but limited human intelligence and organisational
wildgrowth may once again work toward "harmonising" everything on a
"one-size-fits-all" protectionist monoculture.  As things are going
now, we may soon see "e-government" and government-hyped "e-commerce"
based on the WinTel DRM OS platform, effectively excluding GPL OS
based systems from public life.

Hartmut Pilch, FFII & Eurolinux Alliance              tel. +49-89-12789608   
Protecting Innovation against Patent Inflation	     http://swpat.ffii.org/
120,000 signatures against software patents      http://www.noepatents.org/

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