The Alexis de Tocqueville Institute’s attack on Linux gets taken apart in Lee Gomes’ Wall Street Journal article:
An institute study issued last month ups the ante in Linux criticism. It tries to prove that Linux’s Linus Torvalds has always been contemptuous of intellectual-property laws, starting with the very birth of Linux. The implication: Since Linux is tainted, potential users may one day find themselves in court. …
If Mr. Torvalds had the larcenous heart of a software pirate, it would be very simple to prove. Linux, you’ll recall, is totally open. All that purloined code would be sitting there, buck naked, for both terrorists and Linux bashers to see.
Mr. Brown, though, hasn’t a single example. With the absence of such evidence, reasonable people will be forgiven for assuming that Linux folks are as scrupulous about intellectual-property issues as they have always said they were. For those like Mr. Brown who insist otherwise, the phrase “put up or shut up” comes to mind.
I asked Mr. Brown why we should believe him rather than Prof. Tanenbaum — who, incidentally, is no fan of Linux. “There are just too many conflicting interviews and facts,” Mr. Brown replied. “When those guys get their story straight, maybe we can make some progress.”
Mr. Brown says he never maintained it was impossible for Mr. Torvalds to have written Linux, just “highly unlikely.” And he calls Mr. Toptygin “a great kid,” albeit “a little caught up in the fanaticism of the Linux movement, which is cool with me.”
With growing numbers of businesses turning to Linux, its pros and cons are fair game for debate. But cynically manufacturing confusion isn’t debating. Even Microsoft didn’t like the way this report turned out, though it indirectly helped subsidize it. A company spokesman called the study, “an unhelpful distraction from what matters most — providing the best technology for our customers.”