Looks like Microsoft is doing its bit to
promote Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS)
in the more affluent parts of the globe, like the Gulf.
Some background of an interesting case.
Interesting, many of the key players in the Gulf
FLOSS movement seem to be expat Indians, at least going
by the active posters on this list. FN
PS: As typical, the newspaper report has mixed up
Free Software with "freeware".
From Linux-middleeast(a)yahoogroups.com Wed Jun 18
To subscribe send an email to:
Linux Movement in the Middle East is sponsored by GoldenSun Internet Consulting &
Phone :971-4-2728310 /Fax:971-4-2728320
Moderator GSC Prabhakar James - Linux User Group -Founded 1999.
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 04:46:30 -0000
From: "prabhags" <prabhags(a)goldensun.com>
Subject: Re: Business Software Alliance's faxes to Companies
Sorry for the late response. I expected other members would write about BSA
's faxes to companies.BSA is a watchdog for Microsoft and dozen other
It is not a government organisation. But they think they are government and
misrepresent to the companies like that. BSA was founded primarily by
Microsoft and they operate from Microsoft office in Dubai. You need not
give any information to BSA about the software in your company. They have no
authorisation. But they can inform people about legalising the proprietary
software and educating about anti-piracy on behalf of their sponsors.
Anyway I have taken the arrogant faxes sent by BSA to companies in the UAE
very seriously and warned BSA not to send any annoying faxes to Companies
asking for Private software details in the guise of Software Audit and
passing the information to BSA members. I am forwarding the copies of my
letters to BSA and other information to the LUG members.
We as Linux Users, who advocate and use Open Source should fight this type
of dubious data collection by BSA who threaten companies indirectly to use
their proprietary software.
--- In Linux-middleeast(a)yahoogroups.com, "Montuewed T.F.S"
Many companies received faxes from BSA asking the companies to furnish
details about the software they have in their company ? They have given
deadline to submit information about the software with the copies of
licences and invoices to be sent to them. They have also attached
newpapers cuttings of people arrested for piracy and warning the
My question is What is the role of BSA ? Is it a government company ? Do
we have to give information on the software we have in our companies ?
Where BSA office is located ? How to answer to BSA faxes? Cannot we use a
computer without any Microsoft software ?
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 21:52:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Joseph <jjk_saji(a)yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Re: Business Software Alliance's faxes to Companies
Thanks for the information , even I thought it is a govt body , actually
they are propagating open source in an indirect way. Bulling others and
indirectly forcing them to look for alternative OS and application
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 08:55:29 +0400
From: "GSC Prabhakar \(R\)" <prabhags(a)goldensun.com>
Subject: OOT -Copy of the FAX sent to BSA for their
Following is the copy of the Fax which I sent to BSA .
COPY of the FAX sent to BSA Chairman.
6th May 2003
Mr. Jawad Al Redha
Phone : 8004828
Business Software Alliance
Post Box 9275
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dear Mr. Jawad,
I happened to see your faxes signed by you sent to our organization asking
for details of software installed at our company and also informing that
your records (?) currently do not show that our company as having purchased
any software ( in all these years of our operation?!) . We would be glad to
respond and enlighten BSA on various methods and alternatives available to
curb software issues and initiate best alternative solutions available to
all the software users in the middle east.
Before we respond to your queries please fax the following information to
1. Your trading license and list of personnel involved in the software data
2. Copy of the authorization letter obtained from the appropriate
government ministry to collect this data from companies.
3. We know that BSA is working with Microsoft, functioning from Microsoft
premises, Dubai, I would like to know whether your people have verified
before sending the fax about the details about our company from your
co-tenant Microsoft regarding the Software licenses obtained for our company
? It seems that proper data was not verified before sending faxes, signed by
you. Unfortunately they have not even verified whom to send the fax.
4. I have a question, If we have more licenses but less number of computers
which would use the software can you help us get the refund for the
unutilized part of the licenses from Microsoft and other BSA members?
5. May we also know your Computer configuration, network security setup,
Anti-virus software , other productivity and database software which you use
, so we can get enlightened on the various software available for productive
use. By the way can we get your phone number ( not the anonymous voice mail
8004828 number ), so we can call and get your advice or various matters ?
6. I appreciate your assistance for managing our valuable software licenses.
As a matter of reciprocating your kindness we are glad to offer FREE
awareness programs by Educating and Training BSA personnel and also to the
companies which you recommend in HOW TO ACHIEVE ZERO PIRACY IN COMPUTERS.
This would greatly help fighting Software Piracy. Please let us know when we
can schedule this FREE awareness program.
7. I am glad to invite you and your friends to my office to have a cup of
tea with us and know about us.
We are with you in fighting Software Piracy though we use another effective
method, which I would like to share with you soon.
Chief Executive Officer
GoldenSun Internet Consulting & Research
Anti-piracy watchdog prod irks free software promoters - GULF NEWS 17th
Dubai | By Jay B. Hilotin | 17/06/2003
Proponents of freeware and Open Source in the UAE have been incensed by
repeated warnings and veiled threats of raids from the Business Software
Alliance (BSA), a global software anti-piracy watchdog funded by giants
such as Microsoft.
Open Source, a consortium composed of software publishers that promote
zero piracy through 'freeware' and full access to application source
codes, offers alternatives to what they call 'proprietary' programmes
for which companies and individual users must pay to legally use a
Dr G.S.C. Prabhakar James, CEO of GoldenSun Internet Consulting and
Research, refused to submit an inventory of software used in his company
to the BSA, saying that the alliance has no authority to demand private
"We're not questioning the anti-piracy drive. We are for the protection
of intellectual property rights. Open Source actually helps to achieve
zero piracy by giving the source codes away for the basic applications.
"We think BSA's behaviour is arrogant, pestering companies for
information on the software they are using. They need to be more polite
and professional in their communication to the companies in the UAE. BSA
is asking other people to do their homework for them," he told Gulf
Source codes are the slew of commands that enable software programmers
to customise or debug applications according to their requirement. The
Open Source community encourages enhancements to be open for further
"What is the assurance that when companies submit a list of their
software assets, the information won't be misused?" asked Prabhakar, an
ex-Microsoft employee who currently considers himself an Open Source
"These warning letters are a form of bullying. Even government
departments in the UAE don't employ this strong-arm tactics when they
ask for specific information from companies. They assure people the
information will be used only for a specific purpose. The BSA is not
even a government organisation but is trying to act as one."
BSA-Middle East on its part said in a letter posted to companies in the
UAE that it will not disclose any information concerning software
inventory of customers who cooperate with them, except to the concerned
members in order for them to offer support, upgrades, and promotional
The letter, signed by Jawad Al Redha, the alliance's co-chairman in
Middle East, urges companies to fill out a software asset management
form, along with newspaper clippings of raids conducted by UAE
authorities in conjunction with the alliance.
"This is something that we've been doing for many years now," said Al
Redha. He maintained that such reminders are part of their regular
campaign to curb software piracy.
The letter says: "Because our records do not currently show your company
as having purchased any software licenses, it could well be that the
software in your possession has been installed without appropriate
licenses and perhaps even without your knowledge."
The form asks for a list of software applications, along with the copies
of licenses. BSA also reiterated that for every copy of software being
used, companies must purchase a user license. Therefore, a company that
has 10 computers must have purchased 10 licenses.
The group said that the campaign helps companies that use legal software
own an inventory that can assist them in keeping tabs on software
assets. It also help them identify upgradation requirements for the
"The campaigns give users of illegal software a chance to benefit from
the discounted rates offered by BSA members, in addition to saving time
and money through free audits."
Says Prabakhar: "If BSA has proper authorisation, they are welcome to
check my software assets anytime."
Another Open Source user is unfazed. "The tribe (of Open Source users)
is growing," he said, pointing out that Apache, a freeware product
developed by the Open Source community, now accounts for over 62 per
cent of the market for Internet servers, while Microsoft accounts for 27
BSA reiterated that the campaign is just a request to customers to show
that they are complying with the country's copyright laws. The campaign,
which began in April 2003, ran for two months. According to BSA, the
compliance rate will only be available after data from the current
campaign has been collected.
"Even if 99 per cent of the companies send their private data to the
BSA, I won't comply with their demand, simply because of one basic
principle: they have no right to demand so," said Prabhakar.
He pointed out that there are many Open Source users now in the UAE, and
he is willing to offer a free course on the subject to the BSA members
here. "Even banks and government departments are now starting to migrate
to use Open Source applications."
C Al Nisr Publishing LLC - Gulf News Online