Responsible Leadership: Tony Stanco and the EGOVOS Problem

NYFairUse representatives staged a peaceful protest at last month's DC conference supposedly aimed at exposing free and open-source software to government officials.
The NYFairUse Position

People often have asked why NYFairUse discriminates against Microsoft. The truth is that NYFairUse has no such bias. Our approach to Microsoft is the same as it is toward any company that warns businesses to avoid the GPL (as if a standard Microsoft EULA would withstand legal scrutiny). After all, they publish detrimental lies, such as this one from the current Microsoft web site:

The GPL is designed to prevent commercial development of software distributed under the license. It does this largely by requiring licensees to make available, at little or no cost, the entire source code for any program that incorporates any amount of GPL code. Given that requirement, commercial developers cannot recover their research and development investments by charging reasonable and appropriate fees for their original software if it uses any GPL code. Free-software developers have every right to pursue this anti-commercial objective.

Microsoft's concern is the resulting degradation of the software ecosystem that would be triggered by widespread acceptance of the GPL, particularly within the governmental and academic research sectors. This ecosystem has sustained unparalleled innovation throughout the industry for the past quarter-century. The principal role of government and universities in the ecosystem is to undertake basic research and to dispense the findings both into the societal base of technical knowledge and to private enterprises and individuals capable of developing these innovations commercially. Commercial enterprises, in turn, engage in applied research to develop products that advance the state of technology, generating jobs, profits and tax revenues that boost the economy (funding additional basic research in the process). Commercial enterprises also disseminate innovations directly into the larger technical-knowledge base.

Microsoft uses its monopoly to thwart free software projects, such as SAMBA when it bans companies from releasing CIFS tools under the GPL, and when it participates in the Digital Rights Management scam that will end the practical use of free software through the Palladium "trusted computing" platform. But it wasn't Microsoft that we were upset with on this occasion. We are mad at people such as Tony Stanco, who discriminate against free software developers and distributors for their own personal advancement. And we let them know about it.

As a footnote, after our trip to George Washington University, NYFairUse made a trip to Capitol Hill while still dressed in our costumes. We got big smiles all along the halls of Congress, especially at Congressman Weiner's office. He's a member of the the sub-committee on Intellectual Property and the Internet. We have a handshake deal to install a GNU/Linux system in his office, so stay tuned.

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Misrepresentation by Ruben Safir

Anonymous's picture

Ruben Safir does not represent New Yorkers for Fair Use. New Yorkers for Fair Use is at http://www.nyfairuse.org, has always been there, has had numerous very successful actions, and had nothing to do with this action at eGovOS.

Ruben Safir left New Yorkers for Fair Use last September against the advice of other members of the group, and then asked the group's co-founder, Brett Wynkoop, to shut down their web site. When Brett refused, Ruben then declared that he had been the sole founder of the group among the members of his own organization, NYLXS (http://www.nylxs.com).

Re: Misrepresentation by Wynkoop and Company

Anonymous's picture

What? Anyone who would make these assertions would be someone smoking too much peace pipe.

Brett Wynkoop, with the help of Jay, decided to destroy and split for NY Fair Use. Brett took the domain which was being hosted on his machines, and tried to ruin NYLXS and stealing their domain, as they did NY Fair Use. Anyone who would trust Brett Wynkoop should be warned now.

Anyone who would consider Mr Wynkoop a 'cofounder' is a nut job.

Re: Responsible Leadership: Tony Stanco and the EGOVOS Problem

Anonymous's picture

I was at the conference, all three days. The MS presetation was a minor piece, which I didn't even bother to attend because I've got better things to do with my time than listen to MS. MS is *irrelevant* in an OSS conference, so I'm not sure why anyone bothered to go to their session. It is rather a pity that many of the articles about the conference seemed to focus on MS's presence.

Re: Responsible Leadership: Tony Stanco and the EGOVOS Problem

TaranRampersad's picture

Yes, Microsoft is irrelevant at this time at a FOSS related conference (who knows, someday?), but the irrelevance did not keep them from presenting. As you say, you are not sure why anyone bothered to go to their session - which implies that some did. Had I been there, I most certainly would have gone - since in promoting FOSS, I find myself being faced with the Microsoft presence. Being aware of their strategies is important in this regard; being aware of how they are approaching consumers is also important.

In saying that, it's apparent to me - in retrospect, and after further thought - that Microsoft's presence itself was a distractor, and should not have been permitted. Many people had such foresight, in this instance I did not. I had thought that their presentation would have been less a distractor.

In retrospect, it becomes apparent that even a distractor of limited magnitude is a distractor too large - and one distractor too many. Imagine if someone else had spoken there, imagine what could have been communicated - instead of furthering the cause of a proprietary giant that shrouds itself in legalese, mimicing FOSS only to capture food.

Thank you for this article.

TaranRampersad's picture

Not only the article, but the action taken.

The fact that Microsoft overshadowed everything was something I hoped that would not happen - and apparently, it did. My fears, and the fears of many of those concerned, were substantiated.

The Shared Source initiative put forward by Microsoft is a dangerous thing. As you say, it blurs the lines between FOSS and Proprietary software, to the advantage of Proprietary Software. Of course, they are in a bit of a pickle these days. :)

Thankfully, preceding all of this, Tony Stanco did not accept the invitation (nor did he respond!) to the FLOS Caribbean conference, which I am now - personally - glad of.

Great luck with Congressman Weiner! That's very good. That's what eGovOS, I think, should be doing. FOSS started from grass roots. Abandoning these roots is a failure. FOSS stands on it's own - and going in and installing GNU/Linux in the office of Congressman Weiner is worth much more than many Microsoft dominated eGovOS conferences.

Shame on the organizers of that conference. In trying to swing from vine to vine, I fear they grasped a well greased one...

Re: Thank you for this article.

Anonymous's picture

Your Welcome

NY Fair Use ran into some fairly steep oppoisition when we

did this from within the community. Most of those opponents didn't even take the time to understand the nature of the complaint or the problem. But in reality, we did a very effective campaign, one of many that NY Fair Use has participated in over the last few years.

Re: Thank you for this article.

TaranRampersad's picture

Perhaps, in future, you will find less opposition.