SAP slams open source 'socialism'

'Intellectual property socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society,' says an SAP executive

A senior executive at SAP has criticised the open source development methodology by claiming that it does not promote innovation, according to reports.

Shai Agassi, president of the product and technology group at SAP, said in a speech at a club in California that Linux is not innovative, according to an article on technology news site VNUNet this week.

"We all talk about how great Linux is," Agassi reportedly said. "But if you look at the most innovative desktop today, Microsoft's Vista is not copying Linux, it is copying Apple."

SAP will not make its software open source as it would no longer have an incentive to innovate, Agassi said.

"Intellectual property [IP] socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society," he said. "And we are an IP-based society. If there is no way to protect IP, there is no reason to invest in IP."

Florian Mueller, a software developer and anti-patent campaigner, described Agassi's comments as "FUD" [fear, uncertainty and doubt].

He warned that SAP has a "huge influence" on a new lobby group, the European Software Association, which is likely to lobby the EU against open source.

"[The ESA] are going to tell politicians just the kind of stuff that Shai Agassi said in order to try to prevent public administrations from migrating to FOSS solutions and from promoting FOSS development in Europe," said Mueller. The ESA was launched last month.

SAP is not the first company to claim that open source development is not compatible with capitalism. In an interview earlier this year, Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates implied that free software developers were communists.

"There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist," said Gates in the interview.

This is a view shared by some politicians also, with Eastern European countries reportedly concerned about using open source software in case they are seen as communists.

The full VNUNet article can be viewed here.

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