Even notice that you can hardly use a computer anymore without being in somebody's cross-hairs? Somebody, somewhere, is always out to get you. All we want to do is use these clever devices they keep making for us to buy, and be happy and not bother anybody. But somebody out there apparently didn't learn how to play nice with others.
There's the SCO attack against Linux. It drags on still. It's been set back so many times, any sane entity would have given up by now. But it won't end until the very last possible penny.
There's the couple who tried to sue Google for taking their picture in StreetView. Thrown out, of course. Who could possibly have not seen that coming?
The Pirate Bay is under attack, again. Of course, the case is falling to pieces before it can even get rolling, but you think that'll stop more filers from trying?
Welcome to the new century, people! You do not own your media. You do not even own your own image if you're out in public view. You cannot control the Internet. You cannot make people stop using computers and mobile devices the way they want to use them. You sold it, they'll use it. Six-point-seven billion humans on this planet want to do what they want to do when they want to do it, and as long as they aren't hurting anyone, there's nothing you can do to stop that.
So now we have Microsoft's thrown gauntlet against Linux, in the suit against Tom-Tom. As Slashdot commenters are quick to point out, the nature of the lawsuit, revolving around use of the FAT file-system, is anti-competitive on the part of Microsoft, the convicted monopolist.
But there's another point to consider: What Microsoft really wants, more than anything, is to keep Linux secret. Shhhh! Don't let people know that they already own a suite of GPL'd software. Make them think that they have to pay coins into the Microsoft tollbooth every time they get near a digital device.
Now, how are they going to do that, if they're going to go after Linux users for patent suits? Every time they make a new court filing, it makes news. Every time a news story about a Microsoft suit against Linux hits the media, a few more viewers will lean forward and ask, "Well, just what is this Linux thing I keep hearing all about anyway?" It's a heck of a way to get publicity, but there it is.
Free and Open Source Software, along with free media culture, has been getting a track record lately. It just keeps winning and winning and winning. Even if it loses on one front in one country, what are you going to do about the entire world?
You can't fight water. You can only build so many dams.
Update: Silicon Valley Insider sums up the Microsoft-vs-TomTom suit aptly:
"We're expecting fireworks before this one is done: It pits the unstoppable force of Linux advocacy versus the immovable object of Microsoft tenacity."
Yeah, that explains the thrill going down my spine right now. After years of being taunted and threatened by our bully, at last he is coming to face us. We have our showdown!
Update: Eric at Binary World raises similar points when asking What happens when no one obeys anymore?, including laws both nonsensical and unenforceable. Yeah, I have videotapes I recorded years ago, too, and the producers of the shows I recorded ought to be grateful if I even bother to watch them anymore.
Yea, verily, another update: Boycott Novel, which is becoming as much of a resource for in-depth coverage of FOSS-related legal matters as Groklaw, has a much more thorough examination of this story.
Update-a-palooza: Sweetest write-up of all on this subject at no less than opensource.org, which should put a cap on it.
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