Patrick Durusau still doesn’t get it

OK, now Patrick Durusau is taking issue with Groklaw’s article about how RAND (Reasonable and Non Discriminatory) licensing of patents included in standards really do discriminate against FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). This time, Patrick is using the standard straw man argument.

Patrick’s straw-man this time is a hypothetical person who gives away peaches on Halloween to anyone wearing a red hat, while the neighbor is part of a religious sect that prohibits wearing red hats. Since the neighbor does not wish to wear a red hat, and the person giving the peaches only gives to people with red hats, there is a problem. However, it is not the problem of the person giving away the peaches. While this argument is valid, if not weird, it is not applicable to the situation, therefore it is a straw man argument.

What would be a valid argument is this:

You decided that you like red hats, in fact, you love them and choose to wear them all of the time. You even have a favorite fedora you like to wear on Halloween. Now, the neighbor next door has peaches that they like to give away at Halloween instead of candy, and by goodness, and while you don’t like peaches, your friend does, and you want to pick one up for him. However, the neighbor has asked the city to not allow anyone to give away peaches to someone who is only going to give it away to someone else, as part of a large Safe Halloween initiative.

So, on Halloween you go to your neighbor’s place to pick up a peach. The neighbor asks you if you are going to eat the peach yourself, and you say “no, I’m going to give it to a friend.” Well, the neighbor says that you can’t have it, because you are not going to eat it yourself. You say that is the stupidest thing you have heard, and the neighbor says that may be so, but it is the law.

RAND, as it applies to Microsoft’s OOXML format, says pretty much the same thing about the format, as the example above says about the peaches. If you are planning to give it away, such as with FOSS software, then you can not have it.

Patrick’s logic, if not his argument, is based on the idea that the problems that keep FOSS software from including such standards (usually royalty-based), is their own problem, and not the concern of the ISO or any standards body. Basically, if you want to give your software away, then that is your problem, everyone else has wizened up to the idea of charging for software, and paying royalties for standards, why don’t you?

Patrick states that “Microsoft has no obligation to make OpenXML implementable under GPL,” which is a true statement. However, since OpenXML is not implementable under any FOSS software license, isn’t it something the ISO should have considered when approving a standard?

Thanks Patrick, thanks a lot.


One Response

  1. Perhaps a better analogy would be that you can have the peach, but you cannot give it away. Microsoft is not saying that you can’t have a peach, you just can’t give it to someone else without permission. In other words, they still want control over what you do with the peach they’ve given you.

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