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How McAfee hurts innovation

Posted on | January 7, 2008 | No Comments

McAfee recently warned investors that using ‘open source’ software could result in unanticipated (or ancillary) obligations resulting in disclosure of proprietary code, citing ‘ambiguous’ language in the GPL.

This is rather ironic because McAfee has not cited one ‘ambiguous’ sentence in the GPL, only suggesting that some exist. What McAffe has done is built a straw man specifically engineered to lure venture capitalists away from start up FLOSS oriented companies. Why? The more that free/open source software is adopted, the more secure computers become and this phenomenon shrinks McAfee’s market considerably.

Can you spot the scare crow? Its very simple: There is language in a license, since there is language, some of it must be ambiguous, since there is ambiguous language in the license, the license may hurt us. Yet, not one line in the license was cited by McAfee as being problematic, they just hope that you believe that some language in the GPL is problematic because they say so.

Yet another company has utilized its earned and trusted position of authority to take potential dollars out of the pockets of companies who just want to do the right thing. This brings back ugly memories from last year when I saw three million dollars evaporate before my eyes after the release of GPL3.

The disgusting effect of McAffe’s outburst is even though these claims are broadly being dismissed as stupid unfounded fud, what they say will stick in the heads of venture capitalists. When our start up was shot in the head, it was over the very first revision of GPL3 (the license had not even been released and officiated).

I wonder, is McAffe worried about being caught red handed violating the same license that they’re now antagonizing, or are they just sick of free software developers writing quality programs that eliminate the need for McAffe products?

Thanks, McAffe, you’ve now made it a little harder to do the right thing. Don’t be surprised when free, open and better alternates to your products emerge.

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