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Congressman opposed to open source

Guess who his biggest contibutor is..



3:19 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How will you vote today?
MS Salesman in Congress [linuxtoday.com]


3:29 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm disappointed, but not suprised. With him being from Washington.. it's probably in the best interest of his state to crush the open source movement..


4:17 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

How thoughtless could he be?! Regardless of whether he was acting as M$'s yes boy or not - it wasn't a wise move.


8:45 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I don't care to engage in or encourage a religious war over open source licenses, but FWIW:

I read the congressman's letter in a newsforge.com story.

They are not trying to outlaw open source. They have a real concern about releasing software developed at taxpayer expense under the GPL. There are other type licenses for open source code such as the BSD style license.

Their thinking and worry is this:

Say for instance the government at taxpayer expense develops some security innovation that could make the internet more secure. They fear that if they were to release it under the GPL that commercial software vendors would not include it in their products for fear of having to GPL their commercial code -- and thus lose the ability to continue selling their commercial software at a profitable price if they added the new security innovation to their existing code. Thus the public would be less likely to benefit from the security innovation created at public expense since it wouldn't be used by commercial software vendors, who have the market share.

Their desire is to see software developed by the government at taxpayer expense actually used by people rather than not due to fear of commercial software vendors of incorporating GPL software into their products.

They did not say they would fail to release it. Nor are they trying to outlaw the GPL. They are simply trying to determine the best licensing policy for software the government develops.

To them, it might make more sense to release such software under a BSD style license. That way the software could be used by commercial software vendors and the public would get the benefit of the software so incorporated into vendor products.

In GPL land there is much angst over the prospect of Microsoft benefiting from any open source code. This is why many who hate Microsoft prefer the GPL over the BSD style licenses.

For those who don't know, with software you obtain under the GPL, you are free to use or modify it. But if you modify it or use it as part of another product **and you want to then sell your "value added" version of the code** you must make your code changes available at a nominal cost to whomever wants it. This eliminates your ability to take GPL code, rebrand it or add to it, and then sell it at very high price like what most commercial software sells at, since anybody can get the source code for next to nothing, compile it and use it without paying your price for it.

With software you aquire under a BSD style license, you can do whatever you want with it. Including rebranding it or incorporating it into another "value added" product and selling the resulting rebranded or improved product at whatever price you want without having to pay royalties as along as you attibute the source to the original author.

The above may not be perfectly accurate, but it's close enough.

Considering the restrictions on redistribution of modified code, many consider GPL code not to really be "free" software, since while you can get it for free, you are not free to do whatever you want with it if what you want to do with it includes improving it and then selling the "value added" product at a nice profit. BSD licensed code doesn't care what you do with it.

Again, I don't care to engage in or encourage a flame fest over GPL .vs BSD license issues. However, I did want to counter the FUD of some articles whose headlines imply a Washington state congressman was trying to outlaw open source.

Not true.


9:21 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The orginal letter had nothing to do with BSD or GPL lincenses.. It was created to change the cyber security plan "to ensure that companies that develop software using federal funds are free to use the resulting products for commercial gain".

What upset many people was that this congressman from M$'s home state took the letter, added a line that sounded like it came straight from the M$ PR office and then began recirculating the letter without informing people of the changes.

Many of the congressmen that signed the altered letter are now claiming they didn't realize that it had been changed and are asking for it to be withdrawn.

If you read the line that was added.. doesn't it sound like a M$ quote? Doesn't it sound like he's trying to undermine the entire open source movement?

"the free software philosophy is "problematic and threaten(s) to undermine innovation and security""


9:30 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you think it through very carefully, then that one line reverses the intent of the original letter almost into its opposite.


10:14 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Here's the story I read:


[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 4:07 am (utc) on Oct. 25, 2002]
[edit reason] TOS #9/#10 - Please do not copy in content from other sites. [/edit]


10:23 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here's what I "see".

"Microsoft is Smith's top source of donations. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Microsoft employees and its political action committee have given $22,900 to Smith's re-election campaign."

story [seattlepi.nwsource.com]

22.9!?...wow...thats cheap.


10:45 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"the free software philosophy is "problematic and threaten(s) to
undermine innovation and security""

but instead says:

"Licenses such as the General Public License (GPL) are
problematic and threaten to undermine innovation and security."

The first quote was taken from AP.. Looks like they summarized "Licenses such as the General Public License (GPL)" to be the same as "the free software philosophy"

Thanks for pointing out the full text of the 2nd letter.. it was good to read it instead of the summaries most news sources give..

The newsforge link also provides the full text of the orginal letter, and if you compare the two it's easy to see why the second letter upset the open source community.

Both letters are urging the goverment to adopt lincenses that would encourage companies to adopt security technologies developed through federal research. It's just that the 2nd letter names names and specifically attacks things that are dear to the opens source community.

They really aren't all that different... but it does seem that Mr Smith has a chip on his shoulder..


11:02 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Yes, the congressman is from Wash. state and has taken money from Microsoft. Sure MS has his ear. But that's not the substance of this thread -- but is rather tangerial at best to the points I've made. Namely that claims are being made that open source itself is under attack or even in danger of being outlawed.

Without restating what I've written above such is not the case. It's the use of the specific GPL license and those like it being used for taxpayer funded software that's being lobbied against.

Not to single you out, but do you or do you not agree that it's the GPL and similar licenses rather than open source that's being lobbied against? If you disagree, and think instead it's open source itself, not just the GPL that's being lobbied against, please state why and provide supporting evidence. Thank you. Misquotes from some hack on a web site don't count as sources, either -- original sources please.

What's of most interest to me about this whole topic is how folks are seeing what they want to see -- which in some cases is quite different from the facts. You state what you see is some politician getting money and likely being a tool of MS.

Maybe he is. It bears no relevance to what the words of the letter the article was written about really were and really mean.

Sadly, I see you decided not to address those points. Rather to state something tangerial and leave it to the readers emotions to concluded...must be somthing crooked here going on...accusations and inferences must be true...open source under attack...dang Microsoft at it again...

Heck I'm not defending Microsft. Read my post on this thread:


to see what I think of them and their behavior.

No matter how much I may despise someone or some thing, I do not condone lying, FUD or mistatement of fact as tools to further anyone's desires or aims -- and that's what I believe the article referenced in this thread's first post is doing, IMO.

Rather than talk about what "everyone sees in the ink blot", how about discussing the ACTUAL wording in the ACTUAL letter?

That WOULD clear up the issue of what was said and meant pretty quickly...however, that may not be what many desire....rather to score "FUD points" against their enemy by preying upon people's emotions and the reality that people don't have the time to check the facts behind everything they read today. They know some people will believe anything no matter what; and many more will believe and repeat it even if they find out the truth -- because it's what they WANT to believe.

Welcome to human nature. Nice topic for a site devoted to doing well on the internet, wouldn't you agree? Macheleilli would (however you spell his name). Consumer behavior in action.


11:13 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


thanks for the link to the actual text of the letters involved.
You're right, the "news" coverage is not exactly brilliant in this case. The quote I replied to above appearst to be from an article which wrongly paraphrases the original, and does indeed almost reverse its meaning. Before I had seen the letters itself, I had to take that at face value.

The letters as distributed basically state that a BSD type license is preferrablt to the GPL (without mentioning the former explicitly) for code that was developed with governement funding. That's a thought that is certainly worth some consideration. It's also not surprising that Microsoft would support such an idea. After all, they love to use BSD code in Windows, even if they hate to admit it... ;)


11:18 pm on Oct 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One thing I want to make clear.

The reason I am so adamant here and took the time to post as I did above is because I HATE when people twist the truth into a lie to score what they regard as propaganda or PR points -- and that's what I think is going on in some articles.

I am NOT trying to attack anyone personally, but I have attacked and take issue with statements provided as fact or reasons to hold a point of view I think is invalid or based on lies.

I don't see the posters on this thread as being those who are perpetrators of this particular FUD campaign -- rather as typical people victimized by it as we all are at times because while we do have time to read, we don't have time to check the sources for everything we read.

I Love the truth and hate a lie. Always have. Especially when I see it used in BS propaganda like this that relies on the fact that most people are too busy to take the time to sort the truth of the matter out. And even if they do, they will likely only notice it in the retractions and corrections column on page "B17" rather than on the front page of public discourse, which is where this issue is for many right now in the open source world...or at least where *some* want it to be.


12:33 am on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I understand your point and agree. I prefer the truth.

The fact is that regardless of what the Congressman's motives are, the fact that he accepts M$ contributions places him in an awkward situation - one that is open to exactly this type of misinterpretation. Not a wise move on his part and one I would encourage him to rethink.


12:57 am on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

FUD - "Fear, Uncertainy, Doubt":

"Licenses such as the General Public License (GPL) are
problematic and threaten to undermine innovation and security."

We would love to have the open source community over for dinner; they have great manners, are well spoken and are generally prompt, it's just that they wear stinky clothes.

Truth twisting:

"A spokeswoman for the subcommittee says Smith "twisted" the letter into a "debate over the open-source GPL issues.""



I honestly don't take too much of anything MS does very seriously, I use their browser (thats about my extent of involvement with those folks). Sorry if you feel I have misled anyone.

BTW, open source is pretty much "FUD proof" at this point, so it would be much wiser to engage in peripherals like GPL.

If you were a "FUDder". ;)


3:12 am on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi John316,

I don't think you have mislead anyone. I simply thought your earlier reply was tangerial rather than central to the main issue as I saw it, and wanted to zero in on the main point at issue; i.e. IMO the article's twisting of references that were actually to the GPL by name to instead being references to open source in general (and open source .vs MS in particular).

My reference to you in an earlier reply was why I posted in a subsequent post that my posting was aimed at the issues under discussion, rather than of a personal nature. I wanted to make that clear. I didn't want to offend you or anyone else, but as I stated above, I did feel prompted to post. I hope I have not offended you or anyone else.

The articles folks have linked to on this thread are interesting. Each in isolation could easily lead different readers into different points of view. They each report more of a slant than a set of objective facts, IMO.

Even the one I linked to, which included the actual letter, had the headline "Washington State Congressman attempts to outlaw GPL". Quite pathetic yellow journalism in my book. Especially when you consider the letter in the very same article's text quite clearly refutes the headline as being bogus and false.

What's sad is that I'll bet a whole lot of people who did read the article and the actual letter it was based on went away after reading still believing that an attempt was afoot to outlaw the GPL, rather than realizing it was only referring to not using the GPL as the license of choice for taxpayer funded software released for public consumption.

Anyway, a very interesting collection of human reactions to the story by one and all. Makes one think.

Best wishes to one and all,



1:35 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member littleman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

As a taxpayer I think it is a wise investment for governments to fund GPLed development.

Think about it this way, government revenue is a 'public trust' that should be spent in the best interest of the public. If tax money is spent on software development it should remain free of charge and the code should not get sucked into any proprietary closed source project where it will eventually wither and die.
GPLed software will give the general public the greatest return on the initial investment.

If a state throws money at BSD licensed, that code will be reusable by third parties, of course, but what will end up happening is that companies will end up getting cash for the R&D and which will be released under the BSD type of license and then the actual application will be closed source. This is not a good deal for tax payers, but rather the owners of the company receiving the subsidized R&D.


4:53 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree with Littleman on the issue of which license governments ought to use. The way I see it, I pay my taxes, and therefore by the time government-funded R&D is completed, I've already paid for it. If a corporation then takes the code private when they incorporate it into a proprietary product, they are asking people to pay for the code a second time. I'd be perfectly happy with an LGPL license for government-funded code so that developers of proprietary software could separate the government-funded LGPLed portions of the code out into a library to which they would have to release the source code. No danger of 'poluting' their IP that way.

Slightly OT, but I feel very much the same about patents arising from government-funded research. Such patents ought to be freely usable by all. We already paid for them.

I realize that there are nigling nationalistic arguments to be made about limiting the licenses to citizens of the country that developed them. I think such nationalism is short-sighted.


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