Is open source anti-American?

Is open source anti-American?

Summary: If ordinary users in other countries are fairly ignorant of a license's fine print does that make them any different from Americans?

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Jim Whitehurst of Red HAtWhile Matt Asay and Paula Rooney chose the meat in Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst's remarks at OSBC, others chose to play the political game of gotcha.

So, is open source anti-American?

Whitehurst admitted that open source advocates in the developing world benefit from an anti-American, and anti-Western bias where it exists.

Open source is a way of avoiding "intellectual property taxes."

Whitehurst drew an immediate challenge on this point, with an audience member saying even GPL violations are common in other countries. Whitehurst took the diplomatic way out, calling open source licensing a new issue the company is watching closely.

I suppose that if you can turn Roger Clemens' alleged steroid use into a partisan issue, you can twist open source's performance in other markets into a foreign policy issue.

But should you?

Personally I think we have a split here between the elites and the folks on the street. Whitehurst talks to the former, and his questioner -- the one who said they don't care about any license terms -- may be more in touch with the latter.

But if ordinary users in other countries are fairly ignorant of a license's fine print does that make them any different from Americans?

Topic: Open Source

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42 comments
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  • Who thinks up this stuff???

    NT
    BitTwiddler
    • Infoworld?

      As you correctly note, our own reporters didn't have this silly angle.

      But I thought it was worthy of discussion so I brought it up this morning.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • Just because there's a profound, global, anti-American sentiment,

    doesn't mean Open Source is anti-American--unless you consider it anti-American for other countries to look for ways to avoid paying for, and using, American IP. There are lots of people who use Open Source alternatives to Microsoft, but only in Microsoft's eyes is that considered anti-Microsoft--to the rest of us, it's, among other things, a way to avoid paying a "Microsoft tax."

    Certainly there are American businesses--principally those, like Microsoft, that make huge profits selling American IP--who would love to somehow brand Open Source as "anti-American," but Open Source certainly isn't the <i>cause</i> of anti-American sentiment. Open Source, <i>per se,</i> <i>isn't</i> anti-American. But, actually, since the monopolistic behaviour of Microsoft contributes to global anti-American sentiment, which is patently against the best interests of the U.S., you could make a tangential case that <i>closed</i> source <i>is</i> anti-American.
    Henrik Moller
    • A little life lesson for you

      Everyone hates the rich, good-looking kid. No matter what
      he does.
      frgough
      • I agree...

        ...it is my curse to be beautiful. Please don't hate me for it!
        DanaBlankenhorn
        • But I'm safe...

          Cameras routinely refuse to open their shutters to my face, lest they suffer permanent damage to their sensors.
          Henrik Moller
        • I thought the same from your blog photo

          It even made me question my own sexuality ;-)

          Seriously though :

          To the previous message, what America is not suffering from is being the handsome successful guy. That's a nonsense.

          What America is suffering from is the greed that lives within it, the ideology that the citizens are seemingly unable to question.

          Microsoft IS killing America. Open Source is simply what the world is doing. If we forgot that America existed (which would be nigh on impossible because it never stops talking) Open Source would still exist, probably even more strongly because it wouldn't be shouted down by the mindset that think a big profit making business is the only way that anything happens in life, ie, hobbled by an enemy that wants to kill it.

          Open Source is proof that people do useful things without a profit/monopolistic motive. IP is stolen in life, but not in the way that you might at first assume. IP is itself the theft. Nobody had IP on cutting trees to make wooden houses. If they did, what was it for? To say "look at me nice and warm and not dying from the cold and, no, you can't have one?"

          There is only one good thing about capitalism : it gives the greedy, the wannabe Mafioso, somewhere to play out their psychology in a slightly less damaging way.
          mark@...
    • open source is an American invention

      That's something we need to remember. The concept of open source is as American as apple pie. Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens are both Americans. The GPL is an American license document. The OSI and Linux Foundation are American. And Linus Torvalds is now an American citizen.

      Not that there's anything wrong with that...
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • I wouldn't know one way or another...

        ...whether the concept of Open Source is an American invention, but as an open source developer, most of the people I work with on a daily basis are not Americans. (Having tele-meetings with people from all over the planet is a significant problem for us...)
        Henrik Moller
      • Who cares if you're americans?

        Didn't you listen to that famous american Carl Sagan who
        once said that we are ONE people? Open source development
        is going on all over the world so I'd say that OSS is a work of
        Earth.

        What you seem to fail to understand is that far from
        everything revolves around america and its nice and creative
        people. Face it, we need each other. Without Finland you
        wouldn't now have Mr. Torvalds, would you? ;)
        Mikael_z
      • Keep your friends close

        and your enemies even closer.
        mark@...
  • RE: Is open source anti-American?

    America has done a wonderful job of brainwashing its people to believe that crushing their own chance at the pie is pro-American.
    storm14k
  • Open source is not anti-american

    Stallman-ism is, though.
    frgough
    • Stallmanism?

      I'm sure Richard will be thrilled to have become an -ism. I am also glad there is no such thing as Blankenhornism. That would be very hard to say.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • RE: Is open source anti-American?

    Let me get this straight: "elites" (the pro forma baddies) believe in intellectual property, and "folks on the street" (the clean, upstanding goodies) don't? When did mere honesty and respect for other people's property become elitist?

    Well, maybe these days that *is* elitism.
    Vesicant
    • The issue isn't property,

      it's the fact that we don't want to pay to use theirs, but they are trying to crush us from making our own. Now labeling innovation and hard work anti-american. If fact as much as I love a good buzzword, what does "anti-american" even mean?
      SamuelC
      • "What does anti-American even mean?"

        I think it means that the ruling bipeds are not willing to be subdued into a global form of me-me-me'ism forever and a day.

        I think it shows that humans are more Bonobo than Chimpanzee.

        I think it is an acknowledgment that US economics are a self interested cheap trick that only ever benefit an elite few.

        It is a global desire for a future that doesn't wreck the planet.

        It is a global desire for a future that doesn't need war.
        mark@...
  • RE: Is open source anti-American?

    Open Source is as un-American as "We the People" or "E Pluribus Unum".

    If embracing the ideals of the Founding Fathers is now considered un-American, then America has lost its way.

    IMHO, Open source is extremely American!
    sean.lynch
    • The "Founding Fathers" are long dead...

      ...as is their legacy, the U.S. Constitution.
      Henrik Moller
  • Anti American

    Whit ur you oan aboot? How kin a fur profit organisation be
    anti american? It isnae free as ye hiv tae pey fur the support.
    mister-moon