It’s well known that the BSA has been an industry mouthpiece and lapdog for commercial software vendors since its inception in the 90’s. However, the level of FUD ( fear uncertainty and doubt ) that now pervades it’s press releases and comments threatens to dispatch any remaining sense of respect for the BSA, to the proverbial computer cemetery in the sky.

Just this week, the following was spewed:

“BSA strongly supports open standards as a driver of interoperability; but we are deeply concerned that by seeking to define openness in a way which requires industry to give up its intellectual property, the UK government’s new policy will inadvertently reduce choice, hinder innovation and increase the costs of e-government,” said the lobbying group, which represents many proprietary software groups.

This was the result of the British Government’s recently expanded and clarified stance on open standards ( note that open standards and open source are not the same thing, an open standard does not need to be free as in code availability ).

But the BSA spouts nonsense like ‘requires industry to give up it’s IP’.

First, why not tell us the truth and say commercial software industry? Ah yes, never say more than you need to …

Second, open standards do not require someone providing such open standards, to relinquish its IP – it simply means that you shouldn’t charge for such an open standard or impress legal rights on anyone using your open standard.

Then we have a real zinger like ‘reduce choice, hinder innovation and increase the cost of …’

But nowhere does the BSA clarify and substantiate these comments. How exactly do open standards reduce choice? Surely if you’ve lowered the entry barriers to both creation and adoption of open standards, you incite further and varied development, leading to greater choice. Eg. instead of having one commercial company flogging their proprietary wares at hugely inflated prices, you now have that company and a number of others providing high quality options at low or perhaps no cost.

Hinder innovation? Surely having an open market helps innovation – this is the fundamental tenet of the free market society. And increase costs? Hmm not sure how that’s supposed to work.

The plain truth of the matter is that the BSA ( and their associated clients ) is worried that the introduction of open standards ( and open source ) will lead to a reduction in the usage of their products, leading to loss of profits. So instead of competing on technical merit, they reduce themselves to a laughing stock by spouting rubbish.

How does an organisation like the BSA expect anyone to take them seriously with nonsense like this? Well keep on talking BSA, because your credibility is just about gone.