It's no secret that we don't much like the RIAA here. But the RIAA, whose Luddite thuggery and silly triumphalism represent the desperate grabbing of a drowning man, is only one villain. They're like, say, Bizarro. "Me am protecting digital rights by suing college students for million dollars!"
By contrast, the International Intellectual Property Alliance, or IIPA, is the entire Legion of Doom. The IIPA, composed of the rogue's gallery of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), Business Software Alliance (BSA), Entertainment Software Association (ESA), Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) and the RIAA, uses international lobbying the way the RIAA uses litigation — indiscriminately and towards the promotion of Pure Evil. Or, at least, pure profit.
Case in point: the IIPA, acting on behalf of its software-writing members, is doing everything it can to suppress the open-source movement. I'm browsing and writing this right now with Firefox, an exceptionally useful open-source product. Others, as you probably know, include Linux and Drupal and even Google Chrome. But the IIPA hates open source. The IIPA asserts that open source software "weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness." Well, I suppose it does, to the extent you define "competitiveness" to mean "the ability for software companies to make big money off of shitty, bug-ridden, virus-susceptible products, because nobody is offering superior free or inexpensive products."
How does the IIPA do it? Well, it uses the scare-word piracy the way our government uses the scare-word terrorism. The IIPA produces a watchlist of countries that "deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or fair and equitable market access for U.S. persons relying on intellectual property protection." And now, apparently, the IIPA believes that if the government of a country uses open-source software, it merits inclusion on that list:
But tucked into the country surveys for Indonesia, the Philippines and India are concerns about the government urging or mandating the use of open-source software in government offices. Indonesia's government has circulated a memo to all state-run offices encouraging (no requirement, just encouragement) the switch to open source, citing the desire to reduce software copyright infringement, interestingly enough. While the IIPA says that one point is a lofty goal, open source is evil, it explains, because it "weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness."
About the Philippines, merely reports that the government was considering a bill that would mandate the use of Open Source in government offices rang alarm bells. In the report on India, it's almost a footnote – indeed, the very last paragraph of the document – that notes the government is thinking about considering mandating OSS use in government offices and this needs to be closely monitored.
Does this have a substantial consequence? Not yet, it would seem — the Legion is merely grumbling and, perhaps, dreaming of what it might do. But it illustrates this point: just because an entity is created and funded by private enterprise, that does not mean that the entity supports innovation or free markets. That entity may, in fact, be the arch-nemesis of those values.
Hat tip: R.V. at OO.
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