Most people think of open source software as a good thing. If nothing else, it's an option available for those who don't have the resources available to take the commercial route. But there are elements who believe that open source is a bad thing. A very bad thing ... for big business.
Andres Guadamuz, a lecturer in law at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, has carried out an investigation and discovered that a very influential lobby group is asking the US government to look at open source as being worse than piracy.
The lobby group in question is the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a group of organizations that includes the MPAA and RIAA. The IIPA has asked the US Trade Representative to consider countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and India for inclusion on the "Special 301 watchlist" because they use open source software.
Now, so what is the "Special 301 watchlist"? This is a report that examines the "adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights" around the globe. In other words, a list of countries that the government considers "enemies of capitalism."
Scary stuff. But it gets scarier.
The IIPA should be included on the Indonesia deserves inclusion on the "Special 301 watchlist" because the government encourages the use of open source. Here is an extract from the recommendation:
The Indonesian government's policy... simply weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness by creating an artificial preference for companies offering open source software and related services, even as it denies many legitimate companies access to the government market.
Rather than fostering a system that will allow users to benefit from the best solution available in the market, irrespective of the development model, it encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.
As such, it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights and also limits the ability of government or public-sector customers (e.g., State-owned enterprise) to choose the best solutions.
Think this is unlikely. Think again! The IIPA managed to get Canada put on the watchlist.