In the real world, David does not always win over Goliath. That’s sad, but it’s true. Particularly in the case of a big corporation using its wealth, influence, and minions to stomp down invividuals, to prevent them from reducing those all-important profits. A corporation must profit, by any means necessary. Profit is more important than people.

A corporation has exactly as little ethics, morals, conscience, and good behavior as it can get away with. It all pretty much rests the officers, and their personal balance between greed and being good people.

While most CEOs and managers and other decision makers in a corporation aren’t going to do big evil, say, have people killed, they might not mind being a little bit nasty occasionally. If you have a large corporation, with a culture of profit-worshipping, you’ll have a large number of people willing to be a little bit nasty, and that amounts to a lot of nastiness.

That’s all a long prelude to this: earlier this year, the PTFS corporation bought Liblime, a competitor. They did this to get a controlling interest on Koha, the free software librarary mangament system. Much to their surprise, you can’t buy a healthy free software project like that.

The community of users and developers of Koha has resisted PTFS’s strongarm tactics. PTFS wants control of the code base, version control systems, mailing lists, domains, web pages, wikis, and decision making, but the community doesn’t let them.

Right now they are attacking Nicole Engard, the documentation manager for the Koha community, spreading lies about her. Nicole is one of the Koha community members who has spoken against PTFS’s actions. She also works for a PTFS competitor, another sin against PTFS.

This is an unfortunate situation for Nicole, for Koha, and for free software in general. If corporations like PTFS manage to silence their critics by nastiness, then nastiness is a working strategy and will be used more in the future. We need to squash this every time it happens, so it does not spread. However, for PTFS to lose, Nicole will have to have the courage to stand up against even more aggression.

In the old world, before the Internet, this would have been quite hard. She would have had to get newspapers interested in her case. PTFS would almost certainly have been able to prevent that, by using their PR muscle to conduct a smear campaign against her.

However, with the Internet, it’s easier. Anyone can step up and help defend Nicole.

That’s what this is. I’ve never actually met Nicole, but in my brief involvement with the Koha community, she was always helpful and professional. She has, personally, helped Koha and free software spread farther than it would otherwise have. She does good.

Like pretty much everyone in the Koha community, she is considerate, polite, and just to a fault, even when dealing with those attacking her.

PTFS, on the other hand, has done only one honorable thing that I am aware of: they finally released their version of Koha. Every other action from PTFS seems to be an attempt to gain an upper hand by underhanded stratagems. Luckily, they seem to be failing.

Let’s see if giving more publicity to the attack on Nicole will make it, too, fail.

See Nicole’s post about this for more information.