Vienna Manipulations update: Microsoft unhappy about reality

It seems that the blatant manipulation of the "Digital Rights and Creative Commons" panel outcome has created quite a storm. Besides those already referenced in earlier blog entries, I found this featured in Linux Weekly News,,,,, , Slashdot and some others.

Yesterday, carried a feature by John Blau of the IDG News Service, who apparently interviewed Thomas Lutz, public affairs manager and a member of the management board at Microsoft Austria GmbH. I found

We did nothing behind closed doors. 

the funniest quote. It seems short enough to go on a t-shirt. He apparently also reiterated Microsofts unhappiness with the part of the panel conclusions that read:

Increasingly, revenue is generated not by selling content and digital works, as they can be freely distributed at almost not cost, but by offering services on top of them. The success of the Free Software model is one example. 

Given that all proprietary approaches at bringing about something like the internet (including Microsoft Network) failed miserably, it was freedom and openness that made the internet possible. The internet, in fact, largely runs on Free Software today. Maybe that is why Microsoft considered the internet something that would pass and realised so late that networked functionality would be important for Windows.


That digitalisation in general and the internet in particular made it possible to distribute works at almost no cost is a fact. So is the existance of Creative Commons or the business success of companies like IBM, who are transforming themselves into companies primarily offering services and know-how.

While no official numbers exist, conservative estimations say that IBM alone is making billions of USD based on Free Software. But IBM is only one of many companies, although a very large one. But there are thousands, if not hundrets of thousands small and medium sized companies successfully incorporating Free Software in their business model.

So what their statement really seems to say is: Microsoft is unhappy about reality and prefers denial over adaptation, ignoring a multi-billion dollar industry.

I can’t help but wonder. Does Mr Lutz know that his company apparently just released three Free Software licenses, one of which with distinct copyleft characteristics? Is this a sign of Microsoft Austria having no idea what Microsoft is doing in the United States? Or is this simply saying one thing, and doing another?

But as the summary of the quintessenz e-zine correctly points out: It is normal that a paid spokesperson will make any statement for a company, no matter how nonsensical or stupid. If the railway company paid someone to say that planes would never fly, I am sure they would also say that.

But it would be odd for a 2005 UN transportation conference to remove a statement that "people are increasingly travelling by airplane" from the conclusions of a panel simply because the spokesperson of the largest railway company felt "unhappy" about that statement and insert notions about the need for legislation to prevent air travel.

This, however, is exactly what Prof Peter Bruck did.

So far he has not given reasons for the modification of agreed-upon language that had officially been accepted by parties involved, including the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Changing agreed-upon language is highly irregular at the United Nations, and it has (to my knowledge) never happened anywhere else in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Changing it without giving the original parties a chance to participate in that process is outright scandalous.


As the whole story is getting bigger and bigger, here is a wrap-up of links to the different parts that together make up the whole story:

The best overall analysis and description of the situation so far was written by Germanys largest IT news provider, the Heise Verlag. They have the story online in both English and German.

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About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is CEO and President of the Board at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV for collaboration and communication, also available as Swiss hosted service Kolab Now. During his 20+ year career in Free and Open Source Software he has been author of the Brave GNU World, one of the most widely spread columns on the subject, founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and provided input to various governmental and inter-governmental organisations. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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