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Why did Microsoft lawyers pen "neutral" report?

2 March 2006

Why did Microsoft's lawyers pen "neutral" report on open source?

The State Services Commission should be condemned for using a law firm with strong links to Microsoft to prepare a report on rival software systems using open standards, Green Party Information Technology Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos says.

The report on the legal implications of open source software was prepared by Chapman Tripp, a law firm which has done extensive work for Microsoft in the past.

"Asking Microsoft's general counsel and IT advisor to prepare what is supposed to be a neutral guide to open source software is just scandalous," Nandor says.

"The relationship between the report's authors and the software giant seems apparent in the report's attitude towards Microsoft's open source rivals. While there is some good advice buried inside it, most government purchasers of IT would be scared off using open source software by the extreme and emotive language used in the report.

"The report describes open source licenses as 'infectious' and described how applications can be 'quarantined'. This creates the false impression that open source software is some kind of virus, and is reminiscent of Microsoft CEO Steve Bullmer's description of [open source operating system] Linux as 'a cancer'," Nandor says.

"Open source software is probably the biggest real threat to Microsoft's global software domination and they take it very seriously. A law firm which has advised Microsoft on digital copyright, parallel importation and copyright enforcement issues should never have been chosen to produce this report.

"Coming as it does on the eve of a conference of government IT managers to discuss the open source software and government computer systems this report can only be seen as an attempt to discourage the up-take of open source software in New Zealand," Nandor says.


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