Proprietary Vendors Want Open Source Sanctions

The Guardian reports that  International Intellectual Property Alliance requested that the U.S. Trade Representative to put countries using open source in government on a “Special 301 watchlist” – a list of intellectual property-violating nations, or “state sponsors of piracy.” The recommendation states:

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.

In general, this is just another example of an established, successful industry trying to maintain power by coercing governments to make emerging business models illegal, rather than bothering to innovate and create sustainability in the free market. I rant about this all the time, so I won’t continue to do so here.

But since this was filed by the “International Intellectual Property Alliance” – an interest group which conveniently separates this action’s publicity from the companies it represents – I thought I’d just call out just a few of the member companies which are behind this anticompetitive action: (this list goes through member organizations of the IIPA, including the BSAESA and AAP)

  • Adobe
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Apple
  • Bloomberg Press
  • The Cato Institute (Free market libertarian economics think tanks for government regulations?!)
  • Cisco Systems
  • Dell
  • Electronic Arts
  • Harcourt, Inc.
  • Houghton Mifflin Co.
  • HP
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • McGraw-Hill
  • Microsoft
  • Motion Picture Association of America
  • Nintendo
  • Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
  • SAP
  • Sony
  • Symantec
  • Xerox
  • Countless University presses (MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, Universities of California, Chicago, New York, North Carolina and more)

While there isn’t evidence that these companies directly instigated the effort to stifle competition from open source, they are the financial backers of this anticompetitive organization, and thus have a responsibility to be accountable for its actions.

3 comments

  1. Do you have a source for the Cato Institute, and their role? I see nothing on the IIPA site. If there is something fishy, contacting them for more information would probably be more responsible. Maybe they are doing something squirrely… but I want facts before jumping to conclusions.

    1. I believe I’ve thoroughly cited this already in the post. To clarify: the Cato Institute is a member of the Association of American Publishers, one of the main IIPA members. While the Cato Institute is unlikely to have instigated this anti-free market lobbying, their membership dues still support it. If I were them, I’d be telling that AAP to clean up their act, or disassociating myself as a member.

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