How to win friends and influence people

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Darl McBride, the CEO of SCO, recently managed to turn his company into one of the most disliked in the high-tech world by saying to Linux users, in essence,
“You’ve infringed our copyright. We’re not going to show you how, but you have to pay us anyway”.

This would be completely idiotic if it weren’t the last struggles of a dying company sufficiently desperate to try anything. And the really tragic thing is what has happened to the SCO share price as a result of this tactic:

Perhaps realising that public relations disasters can still be be profitable, and that corporate image and customer satisfaction are much harder work than having a dodgy patent infringement claim, he has gone on in this open letter to spread evil rumours about how free software is anti-American:

“The 1976 Act grew out of Congressional recognition that the United States was rapidly lagging behind Japan and other countries in technology innovation….
Congress adopted the DMCA in recognition of the risk to the American economy that digital technology could easily be pirated and that without protection, American companies would unfairly lose technology advantages to companies in other countries through piracy, as had happened in the 1970’s…
However, there are a group of software developers in the United States, and other parts of the world, that do not believe in the approach to copyright protection mandated by Congress. In the past 20 years, the Free Software Foundation and others in the open source software movement have set out to actively and intentionally undermine the U.S. and European systems of copyrights and patents….
…do you support copyrights and ownership of intellectual property as envisioned by our elected officials in Congress and the European Union, or do you support “free” … intellectual property envisioned by the Free Software Foundation, Red Hat and others? There really is no middle ground. It is no understatement to say that the future of the global economy is in the balance.

Well, Mr McBride – there is a middle ground. We’re not going to show you how, but you’ll have to believe it anyway.

Update: Larry Lessig responds

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser