Proprietary coders complain about OS study

Leaked letter causes a stir

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Proprietary software makers have complained to the European Commission that they have not been given enough time to review a report on the economic role of Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS), and accuse the commission of being "intolerant to opposing comments" regarding the research.

In a letter seen by The Register Hugo Lueders, a representative of the Institute for Software Choice, addresses himself to Francoise Le Bail, a deputy director general, and three senior directors in the DG Enterprise, Michael Ayrall, Petro Ortun, and David White.

The letter has been denounced by OSS supporters and anti-patent campaigners as a thinly veiled piece of pro-patent lobbying.

Lueders argues that the success of OSS proves it doesn't need special support and that any measures that undermine the current system of intellectual property rights would be "disastrous".

He describes plans to give tax credits to support open source development as "extreme", warning that this would just provide an incentive for people to dump poorly constructed code into the OSS community.

He also accuses the commission of a lack of transparency in the way it put the report together.

He writes: "The ISC applauds the initiative to carry out such a study... That noted, the limited window...we and others have had to comment clearly as hampered a more comprehensive reply..."

And later:

"...From this one might surmise that the commission is intolerant to opposing comments...and thus a closed process has ensued which clearly limits the input from dissenting or diverging points of view".

Mark Taylor, of the Open Source Consortium, says the comments are remarkable, given that the report is a publicly funded piece of academic research, conducted by "academics with a reputation for objectivity" (UNU-MERIT).

"If he really wanted to give feedback he should have written to the researchers themselves, not gone behind their backs and make furtive insinuations at the highest level of the European Commission," he told us.

Lueders goes on to complain that the report does not give much time to considering how the proprietary software industry has contributed to the economy of Europe. However, as he notes himself: "This is to some extent understandable, since the report is a study primarily on the FLOSS model".

The report itself is expected to be published soon. ®

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