This column tackles the issue of where the values of the Free
Software community collide with the interests of Microsoft, asking
whether it's possible to maintain a collective volunteer effort in
the face of an organization intent on an embrace-and-extend
"The ground isn't anywhere near as shaky as Microsoft
would have Americans (or the rest of the world for that matter)
believe. They have gone out of their way to paint the situation
with Red White and Blue (and Green) colors and hint at the validity
of the corporate model in terms of developing software.
The real issue is more direct, and often missed in the argument
over the GPL vs a BSD-style license as advocated by Microsoft: Am I
allowed to make something and give it away without the threat of
someone exploiting my work? Is a "community" allowed to be
charitable without having their charity abused? Can a group of
people collaborate and create "Intellectual Property", put it under
a license that insures that it can be shared with anybody? Is this
legal? Does it have precedent in America (any country for that
The reality is more basic -- albeit not all that glamorous for
the people wishing to retain "control" over "Intelectual Property".
The reality is that communities hold strong societies together.
Communities rarely intersect with corporate interest. They can do
so at times (witness Red Hat for example), but it's not a