Tom Giovenetti, the president of the Institute for Policy Innovation has responded to my story on the Microsoft-funded think tanks attack on open source. It’s rather an odd response—he’s angry that I dared to suggest that they were funded by Microsoft, but he’s not going to deny it. Anyway, here it is, with my comments:
* Your journalism is as lousy as your software.
My software works fine, thank you.
First, you accuse IPI of taking money from Microsoft, but you have no facts or proof. True, you’d LIKE us to do your homework for you, but in absence of proof, a decent journalist never makes an accusation.
Actually I didn’t accuse IPI of taking money from Microsoft. I presented the evidence that suggests that they have and allowed my readers to form their own conclusions.
The best you can do is say that a former member of IPI’s board of directors went to work for Miscosoft like 8-9 years after leaving IPI’s board? Pretty tenuous connection, don’t you think? By the way, he doesn’t work at Microsoft any longer, if that means anything. But of course, it doesn’t.
He was their chief of external affairs at Microsoft at a time when they gave money to many think tanks (including $380,000 to Citizens for a Sound Economy). If he was spreading the money around so extensively, why wouldn’t he think of his old think tank?
Second, regarding whether we take money from Microsoft, IPI has an absolute policy of protecting our donors’ privacy. I’m sure if you donated money to IPI, you would appreciate that policy. When people are publically identified as donors to an organization, they are beseiged by new requests for money. So we absolutely protect their privacy.
You’re not going to admit that they funded you because otherwise Microsoft will be beseiged by requests for money? Err, everyone already knows they give lots of money to think tanks ($380,000 to CSE, for example). And if they didn’t fund you, saying so would not damage their privacy.
And, finally, we have 2 more studies on open source coming out later this summer, so keep your inkwell full.
Let me guess, your studies will conclude that Open Source is lousy?
Giovenetti’s views on intellectual property are interesting:
I have always believed that there is absolutely no difference between “real” and “intellectual” property. I agree that Jim Henson’s descendants should control and own the rights to his creations, in perpetuity, unless they sell those rights to someone else, who THEN should control them in perpetuity. All the arguments about the benefits to society of something moving into the public domain are unsupportable. In fact, it is generally recognized that the minute something moves into the public domain, it disappears, because there is no longer any incentive for anyone to do anything further with it.
Shakespeare, Darwin, Mozart, Dickens, The Bible, all disappeared! Who knew?
And what happens if a think tank isn’t on Microsoft’s side?:
[Microsoft] stopped donating to the respected conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, even though the AEI has no official position on the case and most of its antitrust and technology experts are pro-Microsoft. But the institute happens to be home to Robert H. Bork, the legal scholar and former appellate judge. Bork, known for his minimalist views on antitrust enforcement, shocked the company when he took the other side. Microsoft has also funded a newspaper ad campaign of conservative academics under the auspices of the Independent Institute and underwrote the cost of drafting the sympathetic book Winners, Losers & Microsoft.
Update: Tom Giovenetti replied to this post. He does not want his reply posted so I will summarize it:
- There is no legal requirement for IPI to disclose its funding sources, so no-one can know for sure if they are funded by Microsoft or not.
- Open source software is lame.
- Open sourcers spend their time writing viruses and worms, hacking websites, and asserting things without proof.
- In any case, if IPI is funded by Microsoft (not that Giovenetti is admitting this), criticizing IPI will just make them seem more heroic and ensure continued funding.