The International Intellectual Property Alliance, which is an umbrella group for the entertainment cartels such as the MPAA and RIAA, has demanded that Indonesia, Brazil and India should be placed on a special trade watchlist merely because they recommend the use of open source software.
Apparently the outfit has been leaning on the US Trade Representative to consider those nations for its "Special 301 watchlist", which is supposed to list all those nations who are enemies of capitalism.
The lobbying was uncovered by Andres Guadamuz, a lecturer in law at the University of Edinburgh. Apparently the problem is that the entertainment industry lobbies regard open source as communism, or at least socialism.
Last year the Indonesian government sent around a circular to all government departments and state-owned businesses, recommending that they should adopt open source software.
According to the IIPA, this encouraged government agencies to use Free Open Source Software (FOSS) with a view towards implementation by the end of 2011, which the circular states will result in the use of legitimate open source and free software and a reduction in overall costs of software in the country's government agencies.
But the IIPA said that that Indonesia deserves Special 301 status because encouraging, yet not forcing, such takeup "weakens the software industry" and "fails to build respect for intellectual property rights."
The statement said that the Indonesian government's policy "simply weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness by creating an artificial preference for companies offering open source software and related services, even as it denies many legitimate companies access to the government market."
To be fair, lobbying for such nonsense has been part of IIPA's mode of attack recently, as it has previously put Canada on the US government's Special 301 priority watchlist. The UK, which has also made similar recommendations for using FOSS to its government departments, should follow onto the Special 301 watch list, we guess.
In fact, however, Free Open Source Software actually relies on precisely the same copyright law that covers proprietary software products, in order to secure the rights of all users to use the software, obtain and study the source code, modify it if they wish to do so, and freely redistribute it to other users, usually under the GNU General Public Licence (GPL).
However this just goes to show how the big software companies are trying to kill off the use of Free Open Source Software by leaning on governments. You would have to have a terminally stupid, undemocratic system of government based on a knee-jerk reaction against unfounded allegations of socialism to get away with it, but we guess that in America it is worth a go.