Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mumbai Police mandates usage of M$ in Cybercafes!

The Mumbai Police has come up with regulations for Cyber Cafes. Clause 14 of this regulation requires Cyber Cafes to have "Microsoft Open License Agreement." This is the letter that I have been sending out to the Home Minister, Home Secretary, IT Secretary and others.

Dear Sir,

The Mumbai Police has come up with regulations for Cyber Cafes. Clause 14 of this regulation requires Cyber Cafes to have "Microsoft Open License Agreement."

While the government has every right to insist on the usage of legal software, we believe that a government department mandating the use of a proprietary software brand (or any brand) is not in the spirit of a democracy. As you may be aware, Linux has emerged as a very capable alternative to proprietary software and is available under the General Public License. This license has been in existence since 1991 and is a perfectly valid legal license that governs Linux usage.

Usage of the Linux operating systems on desktops has been catching up rapidly. In Kerala many of the Akshaya Internet Centers are running on Linux and around 12,500 schools are also moving their desktops to Linux. For Cyber Cafes, Linux provides a legal and affordable alternative to expensive proprietary software programs.

I therefore urge you to use your influence with the Mumbai Police to get them to recognize the Linux GPL license and remove the mention of brand names in their regulations. This move will greatly benefit the Cyber Cafe owners and the users who access these Cyber Cafes.

I will be happy to meet you personally to explain the benefits of the Linux desktop, the legality of the GPL license and look forward to an appointment with you.

With warm regards,


Regards,

Venkatesh Hariharan

5 comments:

Morpheus said...

Is there an online reference to the Microsoft Open License ? I'd say it would be more apt to pitch for an OSI compliant license rather than a carte blanche GPL. Perhaps getting the MSFT Open License across SFLC or ALF would be nice too

Morpheus said...

Wrote before I searched for it. Here's http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/programs/open/default.mspx what we are looking for. Basically a volume discount model. Economics not policy

Venky said...

Isn't it interesting how the regulation uses such specific terminology while being ignorant of other competing solutions?

Morpheus said...

I wouldn't say so. What is relevant in this context is framing an alternative law for the cybercafes that uses terminology that is not restrictive yet is pragmatic enough. Currently, not much is being done in public towards that effect. Additionally, since the "Open License" is a volume license, it might be a good idea to explore through various means the Total Cost of Operations to counter this partial FUD

Hari said...

Isn't it interesting how the regulation uses such specific terminology while being ignorant of other competing solutions?

Well I am not surprised, haven't we seen bigger blunders by Indian bureaucracy ? Again Glad that you aren't just sitting and cribbing about it but actually took some actions and got results,
Hari