European Software Association - Yet another Microsoft lobbying frontend
(updated) European Software Association is a lobbying body set up in late October 2005. It might be a response to unsuccessful lobbying carried out in the past by SAP and Microsoft related to extend the enforcability of certain patents in which Mircosoft currently invests huge resources and started to file at high rates at the EPO. The new body apparently stresses being European, despite Microsoft being a direct and unhidden member. Although the ESA claims to represent European Software companies, its membership mainly comprises European business partners and software vendors of its apparent US initiator Microsoft. According to an Euraktiv article the lobbying organisation was 'set up' by Jesús Villasante from the European Commission. ESA and BSA lobbyist Eilert Hanoa announced ESA 'aims to help Commissioner Reding and her colleagues examine initiatives from unexplored angles and offer recommendations and counsel'. Villasante is Head of Unit for Software Technologies under Commissioner Reding (DG Infosoc)
Other lobbying bodies used in the past were ACT, BSA, !CompTIA/"Initiative for Software Choice" and "Campaign For Creativity". ESA lobbyists very early denied to represent a puppet of Microsoft, which looks strange. Especially the French Government is targeted in the launch phase of the European Software Association campaign. Quote IHT 2005-10-19 (A press release was also sent out in French language):
- ..Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft - is to appear in Paris as a guest of the French Ministry of Industry to support moves to bolster the French software sector.
Developers like Staff&Line, which produces software for information technology management in Noisy-le-Grand, near Paris, are to announce their own French-oriented(!) software interest group in Paris ...
It is worth to mention that Microsoft's EU lobbying infrastructure also includes TechCentralStation, a journo-lobbying body of the Washington DCI group which promotes hate speech against the French nation, its Government, muslim minority policy in France, muslims in general, all sorts of alleged 'socialists' and runs an ad hominem campaign against an independent US film maker etc. etc. TCS journo-lobbyist Sylvain Charat addressed France as a Little USSR
- Just like big cities often have their own peculiar neighborhoods -- Little Italy, Chinatown, Greek Town, etc. -- the EU has its own Little USSR. It's called France.
The same group also launched an weird and inappropriate opinion article against FFII "No to Info-Communism".
- The group is waging an ideological continuation of Karl Marx's crusade against capitalism and private property. ... The people who run FFII are enemies of private property, the free-market and capitalism.
- .. Why should Europeans let the FFII create a world in which innovators are exploited by pirates and plagiarizers? Rather, we should give Hartmut Pilch, the FFII president, the same advice as George Bush
- gave to Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11: "Go get a real job!"
In rhetorics and style ESA is more likely to step in !CompTIA's footsteps with special emphasis on representing 'European' SME stakeholders. Earlier this summer Microsoft !CompTIA's spinoff C4C started a discussion process about their 'success' and the creation of new bodies.
- For instance do we need a campaign at all, or something completely different? ... We would also be interested in other aspects ... that you think need further work. For instance, is there sufficient data of good quality to support our arguments?
European Software Association lobbyist Eilert Hanoa (also BSA Norway) wants to provide such intelligence to the Commissioners:
- The European Software Association aims to help Commissioner Reding and her colleagues examine initiatives from unexplored angles and offer recommendations and counsel for efficient application of Directives. Basically, our aim is to ensure that the industry is properly represented before policy makers by providing them with the information they need to deliver effective legislation for the benefit of European industry and commerce as a whole.
- I think part of the process for Microsoft is just going to be continue to be engaged. You know, and continuing to grow the European operation and, as they become more and more of multinational, European governments will have to deal with them as a European company as opposed to an American one. ... I think as it becomes a more global corporation, then there's more of an understanding that what's good for Microsoft is good for Europe.
Website and Office in Brussels
- Avenue Marcel Thiry 204 B - 1200 Brussels Tel.+ 322 774 9830
Jeremy Roche, chairman, former CODA Alliance partner of Microsoft and MS Journo-Lobbyist
- Katrijn Otten
- Eilert Hanoa (BSA Norway), CEO Mamut
- Chris Ouwinga, former EU official
2005-10-20 Press release in french language
CODA Ms link
Mamut MS link
The domain was registered by mamut.
ESA and BSA lobbyist Eilert Hanoa is CEO of Mamut, a Microsoft ISV.
Mamut & Microsoft gets 180k google hits. E.g. European Small Business Concierge Offering From Mamut and Microsoft "Mamut and Microsoft have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to extend their partnership alliance and jointly liaise with value-added resellers to deliver Small Business Concierge."
Quotes from the campaigners
"Both sides the swpat debate were claiming (sic!) small and medium enterprises as their supporters," "This is a way for independent software vendors (sic!) to speak for themselves," "Economically, it's not a business that is currently represented at the European level."
"One Lobbyist" according to International Herald Tribune.
Note: "Independent" Software Vendors are companies who sell software from a software manufacturer. Apparently Microsoft wants to use its European ISV as a lobbying astroturf campaign.
- It's unfair to say that the European Software Association (ESA) is a Trojan horse for Microsoft.
Note: Roche proactively responds to criticism.
Microsoft about their ESA campaign
- Microsoft believes that software development is a traditionally under-represented sector of the industry and ESA is a constructive and inclusive means of engaging with policy-makers on relevant issues
Note: A diplomatic description of Astroturfing.
Press release of the campaign: Greenhorns
- Eilert Hanoa, vice-chairman, said: "The European Software Association aims to help Commissioner Reding and her colleagues examine initiatives from unexplored angles and offer recommendations and counsel for efficient application of Directives. Basically, our aim is to ensure that the industry is properly represented before policy makers by providing them with the information they need to deliver effective legislation for the benefit of European industry and commerce as a whole."
Note: Reding might be considered a weak Commissioner but this Pr statement reveals inappropriate hubris. Probably these lobbyists misinterpret their role.
Roche in Euractiv
- ESA sets out to speak for the whole of the software industry based in Europe or with major European subsidiaries. One purpose of the association, according to Mr. Roche, will be to challenge US dominance in various sectors of the software market, "in particular desktop software".
Note: This is the new Microsoft strategy which blames lobbying failure to national market preferences. ESA is no credible body for achieving this goal, it is an astroturf. Intrestingly the article mentions others of those failed MS lobbying bodies. Further national rhetorics and software procurement strategies are a step back to market protection.
- Another main purpose will be to give (in particular) small and medium-sized companies better access to venture capital. ... For this reason, Mr. Roche said, ESA will try to be a 'virtual Silicon Valley' for Europe.
Note: Better access to venture capital' here means lobbying for software patenting.
- DG Information Society Head of Unit for Software Technologies Jesús Villasante, who played an important role in setting up the new association
Note: This needs to be questioned in EU-Parliament, because it exceeds the competence of Commission staff to set up lobbying associations.
Related association in France
Meanwhile, another association of software vendors has been launched in France: Afdel (Association française des éditeurs de logiciels). Of course Microsoft is included in its founding members. Afdel's spokesman is Jamel Labed, who was a former spokesman for BSA.
Whois record for afdel.org, collected on Mad's Blog, shows very interesting informations: afdel.org domain name was directly registered by Microsoft and technical contact is a lawyer working for a law film who has BSA as customer.