BSA Sends Ridiculously Bogus Letter To European Commission

from the the-lies-the-bsa-tells dept

Is it just me, or is the BSA becoming a bigger and bigger joke each time it does just about anything these days? For years, the organization has put out its yearly bogus stats on "piracy," which have been debunked over and over and over again. They're about the only trade group that still has the gall to equate a single unauthorized copy to a single lost sale (even the RIAA and MPAA have moved away from that claim). They've also been known to simply make up survey numbers, rather than actually ask people in certain countries. And then, even on news stories, they seem to make it clear that they have no clue what's going on -- such as last week's announcement that ACTA was a treaty already signed by 37 countries, when it's neither a treaty, nor has it been signed by anyone.

The latest is equally as ridiculous and makes the BSA look even more uninformed than usual. As a whole bunch of you have sent in, the BSA apparently sent the European Commission a letter, objecting to the proposed "European Interoperability Framework for European Public Services." You can read the letter below:
The Free Software Foundation Europe has done an incredibly thorough debunking of the letter, which is a worthwhile read from top to bottom. One key snippet is in response to the BSA's absolutely laughable assertion that "royalty free" means "non-commercial":
The BSA argues that "[m]any of today's most widely-deployed open specifications incorporate patented innovations that were invented by commercial firms...including WiFi, GSM , and MPEG."

This is an attempt to create a false dichotomy between "commercial" companies inventing patented technology, in contrast to "non-commercial" inventions which are not patented. In reality a great wealth of unpatented modern technology originating in commercial companies constitute globally implemented standards (such as HTML5), whilst continuing to provide their creators with revenue. There is no such divide, either economical or ideological, between hardware and software technologies which are patented, and those which are not. Yet the BSA divisively implies there is a difference between conventional and accepted business methods, which they associate with patents, and un-businesslike non-commercial organisations, which they associate with patent-free technology. Given the increasing prevalence of Free Software in Europe's IT service market, such a claim is plainly false.
It really does make you wonder why anyone takes the BSA seriously these days, as it's even more ridiculous and unbelievable than your average protectionist industry trade association. What's amazing is that the folks at the BSA actually think such buffoonery is a good idea, when all it's really continued to do is sap the organization of pretty much any credibility.

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  • identicon
    Drizzt, 18 Oct 2010 @ 7:46am

    Why the BSA is taken seriously?

    The answer is pretty simple: money. They – as many other lobby groups of a powerful industry – simply offer certain incentives to the people in key positions. Money for the next campaign, a well-paid job on the supervisory board of one of their member companies or something like that. And as most people like to have more than they already have, they're easy prey.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Florian Mueller, 18 Oct 2010 @ 7:54am

    FSFE and others misrepresent the patent problem

    I don't want to comment on the BSA letter other than pointing out that I fought hard against them over the question of software patents in Europe. But concerning the European Interoperability Framework, I don't subscribe to the claim made by FSFE and IBM/Oracle/Google fronts in Europe that free and open source software can't handle patented standards. It's certainly possible, even with GPLv2, for a company to publish and distribute software on FOSS terms but obtain patent licenses from third parties. Note that I don't like the fact that such patents exist -- but it's dishonest to say that they can't be licensed due to FOSS licensing rules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 18 Oct 2010 @ 8:49am

      Re: FSFE and others misrepresent the patent problem

      I don't think they're saying it's not possible, but that it's demonstrably not necessary, which undermines the BSA's point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), 18 Oct 2010 @ 8:24am

    The problem isn't so much the bogus-ocity of the letter

    but the number of politicians that'll believe it.
    And that number could be scarily high. :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wi-Fi knowledgeable, 18 Oct 2010 @ 9:00am

    Funny they could not even get the Wi-Fi BRAND right.

    They claim Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 ) was invented by companies and licensed to BRAND implementors. This is not correct. Wi-Fi (not Wifi) is a IEEE 802.11 standard developed jointly by many companies and no one owns the rights to the technology specifically, however there is a Alliance, the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) that is responsible for the promotion and branding of Wi-Fi standards and technology. The Wi-Fi Alliance should go after the BSA for mangling their Brand mark (using Wifi instead of the correct Wi-Fi (tm) usage. I happen to know the president of the WFA, so shall I sic them on BSA?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2010 @ 9:45am

      Two wrongs do not make a right

      Going after someone just because they wrote a trademarked brand name slightly different than the official way is evil.

      We are trying to reduce the insanity, not increase it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 18 Oct 2010 @ 9:49am

    Paraphrase of the BSA letter

    We demand the right to impose private taxation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2010 @ 11:42am

    They have to earn those high salaries they get for operating a business / non-profit (whatever it is). They have to spend that budget or they lose whatever is left with the next budget. As a tech I love the end of the year. Most of the no pros have lots of cash left and have to spend it or their parent organization won't puppy them up next year. Love those inflated budgets and high-salaried wazoos that don't have a clue whats going on outside their space.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The eejit (profile), 18 Oct 2010 @ 12:29pm

    Maybe the BSA should consider that, in writing that letter, they have made the point that they're irrelevant tot hew future of software.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pickle Monger (profile), 18 Oct 2010 @ 12:35pm


    I think this is a case of "Go big or go home" from BSA's point of view.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hmm (profile), 3 Mar 2011 @ 6:27am

    BSA tactics:

    step 1. say something ridiculously stupid
    step 2. say something ridiculously stupid
    step 3. ..
    step 22,406,312 say something ridiculously stupid
    step 22,406,313 make the other partners insane demands seem reasonable by comparison........

    Its a common trick:
    if you try to pass a law saying "all babies must be insulted and swore at on sight" one will pass it.

    instead try to pass a law saying "all babies must be thrown into the nearest incinerator on sight" and during the outcry, "reduce" your demands to simply making everyone swear at babies.....
    This trick is how the DMCA got passed, its also how the Digital Economy Act got passed in the UK (original draft said long-term prison sentences for SUSPECTED infringers and everyone was quite pleased when it just said "possible future action"....)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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