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Legal Counsel Advises Against Accepting OOXML Pledge 139

Posted by Zonk
from the so-hard-to-keep-these-things-straight-now dept.
ozmanjusri writes "A legal analysis of Microsoft's Open Specification Promise (OSP), which was purportedly written to give developers protection from patent risk, says the promise should not be trusted. According to the Software Freedom Law Center, 'While technically an irrevocable promise, in practice the OSP is good only for today.' This is on the back of a chaotic ISO meeting to resolve outstanding specification problems. The session was described by Tim Bray as 'Complete, utter, unadulterated bulls**t. This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen.' The advice would seem to throw more doubt on OOXML's suitability as an international document standard. Microsoft responded to these assertions stating that they've already taken steps to answer these concerns"
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Legal Counsel Advises Against Accepting OOXML Pledge

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  • Love the irony. And does it surprise ANYONE that lawyers are advising against trusting Microsoft's pledge?
    • Does the pledge have anything to do with loosing software freedoms by any chance or is that just the EULA?
      • by PitaBred (632671)
        It has everything to do with loosing software freedoms. They'll allow people to do things with their patents without fear of a lawsuit, or so they claim.

        Oh, wait... you probably meant LOSING software freedoms. That's what will probably actually happen if anyone goes along with it.
  • by twitter (104583) *

    To perpetuate their late 80's file and OS monopolies. There is nothing subtle or difficult to understand about this.

    • I love how Microsoft's OOXML standards push is a push to make a file standard that was obsolete 20 years ago what everone should use today.

      Then again, does it surprise anyone that a company that built their latest product on a model that they designed on 386 and 486(With Math Co-Processor) are trying to force a standard that represents anything BUT Open Source?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zeinfeld (263942)
        Err, 'lawyers object', what lawyers? Would these be a bunch of academics who have come across the documents and made an independent judgment? Of course not, this is a paper by a bunch of folk who were already opposed and as such its a very partisan analysis.

        As for the alleged effect on the ISO process, its actually irrelevant. ISO certainly accepts encumbered standards all the time. They might have a disclosure policy but even that isn't certain because of the role ISO plays. All ISO does is to endorse th

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          1. SFLC is real lawyers. Eben Moglen is a real and practicing lawyer... Yeah, he moonlights as a law professor, he also spent time helping the the most respected judge on the Supreme Court of the USA write the court's decisions000000000000. I'd say that he's a far better lawyer than 90% of the hacks that you'll find in the yellow pages.
          2. What MS is doing to the ISO process is a problem in, and of itself. Think of turning the SCOTUS into a profit-driven enterprise, and you'll get a sense of what they're do
          • by Zeinfeld (263942)
            The question is not his competence, its whether he is giving an even handed evaluation of the positions. Clearly he is not since he is principal advocate for a partisan organization in this dispute. Lawyers are not scientists, when they make arguments they are not attempting to arrive at the truth, they are attempting to present the best case for their particular side. In short, lawyers have a tendency to think its ok to lie when they make their case, they lie by omission, by only presenting one side.

            You

            • First you attack him claiming that he's not really a lawyer. Then, when that point is blunted, you attack him because he is a lawyer. If you balance the equation, it becomes clear that his being a lawyer has nothing to do with it. This is now clearly an ad persona attack -- presumably because you don't like (or were paid to dislike) the conclusion that his group came to.
              • by Zeinfeld (263942)
                No, on both occasions I pointed out that he is an advocate for a cause. He is certainly not giving an impartial legal opinion on this case so whether or not he is capable of doing so is irrelevant.

                In other news I hear that the RNC really does not think that Hillary or Obama is ready to be commander in chief while strangely enough they consider McCain to be so. And the directors of Pepsi think that people do prefer the taste to Coke.

                Lots of lawyers in the RNC, you know. I am sure that they are all good u

    • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:18PM (#22740900) Homepage

      There is no doubt on OOXML. It's bad by pretty much every metric one can come up with. While the Software Freedom Law Center contribution is very valuable, the summary reduces this value and snubs ISO at the same time: the decision and process is not up to MS here, it is up to ISO. ISO is not in the business of creating standards. It has the purpose of evaluating finished specifications, which OOXML is clearly not.

      There's not a single implementation of OOXML in the wild. There are variations and partial implementations, but since the specification itself is neither complete nor finished, it's not ready for ISO.

      All MS is doing here is wasting time and money. When MS gets serious about interoperability, it will adopt the OpenDocument Format [computerweekly.com].

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by inTheLoo (1255256)

        It's really the US branch of ISO that's gotten snubbed and for good reason. Microsoft stacked the committee and the US ISO group let them get away with it, so the US ISO group's opinion is that OOXML is AOK. Besides the technical issues raised, there's that little fundamental issue of having two standards that do exactly the same thing. Microsoft's manipulation of the US group is a tremendous shame and ISO needs to protect it's reputation by doing something about it.

        While it may be obvious that OOXML is

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:03PM (#22741542) Journal
          Let it (or rather the partial implementation found in Office 2007) run in the wild. It's just another proprietary document format.

          The issue here is that the ISO seems poised to declare an unimplementable, patent-poisoned format the thumb's up, so that Microsoft reps and resellers can go to various governments, institutions and corporations currently looking to mandate open document-only formats and say "We've got an ISO ceritified format here in OOXML, so you don't have to use that nasty ODF".

          I wouldn't care if there were a hundred open document formats, as long as anyone, using just the specs in a cold room could implement software that could open the file. We all know that that is impossible for OOXML, because it's incredibly complex, invokes a number of proprietary specs which a guy in a cold room couldn't access. So such a guy would be faced with precisely what the OO.org and KOffice teams have been faced with, reverse engineering to get it to work.

          I'm sure Microsoft will trot out all its spokespersons, both open (like a guy from the Office team) or in secret (like any number of shills you'll see here). If Microsoft was truly interested in an open spec it would immediately instruct the ISO that it's removing OOXML until it's simplified and has no links to proprietary formats, and then would release it under an accepted open license (and not one of its crapola licenses).

          • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:17PM (#22741768)

            I wouldn't care if there were a hundred open document formats, as long as anyone, using just the specs in a cold room could implement software that could open the file.

            You make some good points and I agree with most of them. As for multiple standards, I agree in principal, but in this particular instance I think mitigating factors apply. Multiple standards are fine, but when a criminal monopolist completely ignores ongoing development of an open standard and intentionally eschews implementing that standard and waits until that real standard is approved and implemented by potential competitors before attempting to get approval for a different, new standard... well I think that constitutes abuse of their monopoly position to derail the existing standard. Multiple standards are fine, in general, but when dealing with a market where one company is a monopoly, waiting until competitors all have working versions of a different standard before introducing one of their own compromises the free market even if the standard for OOXML itself was legitimately open.

  • Is there any legal indication that the GPL is revocable?

    When considering the case of a sole developer (for example, me), can I legally revoke the agreement if I wish to do further work proprietary?

    I've heard yes and no both.. They both logically cannot both be true.

    One could substitute any similar open-source freedom based licenses instead of the GPL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by postbigbang (761081)
      You can't effectively revoke the GPL, once you've licensed your code using it--in any of its versions. The cat's out of the bag once you've pledged it. There is no mechanism to call it all back, once released in this way. You can fork your own code, go a different direction, but the basis of that code is GPL for better (and rarely worse).

      Re-write it? Easily done in most cases. The copyright nature of the release remains for the duration of the law in effect at the time the work was copyrighted (or lefted
      • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:16PM (#22740876)
        An interesting case is this article [advogato.org] discussing exactly that.

        Eben Moglen was contacted (lawyer for FSF) and said that CPhack [robinlionheart.com] had that problem, and was never resolved.

        The best explanation is that explicit language would be needed to be added in the GPL and other type-like liceses to hold true. As it seems, as long as there is not intertwining copyright interests, redacting the GPL seems legal. Yuck.
        • There are a few theories of law (at least in the US) that would tend to negate the redaction. You can't really have it both ways. Once GPL'd, there are many theories that allow torts and injury remedies based on having used the GPL-licensed code. Published, the GPL code presents specific tenets of use, including many rights given subsequent users. Pulling those rights would be a train wreck; lots of injuries. I respect Moglen, and IANAL; however, I see too many possible injuries to users to try to revert or
        • IMO the FSF and Moglen simply chose not to be involved with CPHack.

          If this happened to a program they were actually wanted to be seen with, they would at least have made an amicus brief.

          Bruce

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)
        If I own the copyright to some code and I release it under the GPL, I do not give up my right to release it under a different license. I can't stop other people from using and distributing the code I released under the GPL, but I can make a derivative and release it under any license I choose. I think this is mostly a clearer way of stating what you meant in "basis of that code is GPL".

        Another reply points out that there haven't been any court decisions about whether it can be withdrawn; the cphack case loo
        • The establishment of copyright becomes the basis for establishing ownership and rights under the work. The GPL doesn't abrogate copyright. Instead, it establishes use of the work under the copyright. If it is released as a GPL work, then the GPL modifies the rights established (if ownership is clear) under the copyright, and subsequent use of the work. We therefore largely agree, excepting that the unquestioning limitations imposed by the GPL on the copyright takes effect at its declaration. It's not the so
          • by maxume (22995)
            To the extent that something can be put into the public domain, it is done by disclaiming rights. The GPL is an assertion that you will only exercise your rights against someone who fails to act in a certain way regarding your work. Principles regarding a disclaimer aren't going to obviously apply to something that is fundamentally a restriction(people wishing to distribute GPL code are restricted in the sense that they have to follow the GPL in doing so, public domain is the copyright analog to unrestricte
            • If, in your analogy, C==B==A then the point is moot-- they are the same property. Derivative works are bound by the assertion of the greatest grant of subsequent rights of use to the original work. That kind of three-card-Monty thinking would get thrown out of the lowest court.
              • by micheas (231635)
                But, this is what mysql/Sun Micro does.

                There is nothing in the GPL that says you are granting exclusive license of the code.

                If you are the sole copyright holder (this conversation makes no sense otherwise).

                You release A 1.0 under the GPL
                You can then release A 1.1 under what ever license you wish. As you own the copyright and are are just on longer offering it under what is for you an old license.

                You can even release SoftwareA 1.0 under the GPL and simultaneously release it under a license similar to Microso
                • Yes, that's true. But If I munched the source from soureforge and did something with it (in my case of not being the copyright holder or an assign) then the GPL applies to me. If you, as the copyright holder or assign wants to dinker with it, it's your copyright. Have at it. Once released, users of the code (rather than owners/assigns) are obligated under the usage provisions. They can can copyright their changes at will, but the license that's inherited is GPL. The original copyright holder(s) can mess aro
          • by KDR_11k (778916)
            The GPL might apply in perpetuity to the current codebase but if the copyright holder decides not to GPL future changes I don't think the GPL can stop him, the GPL says non-GPL derivatives are copyright infringement (it does not automatically GPL them) and obviously the copyright holder cannot infringe upon his own copyright.
            • I understand that logic.

              But that's only to the original owner of the work that copyrighted it, and his/her designated specific assigns. Others that use the original work under the use of the GPL copyright variants are bound by the GPL. Only the original owner (or assigns) can deviate from the obligations inferred by the modifications pledged by the GPL. Parallel tracks of development are increasingly common-- original owner permitting.
    • by jrumney (197329)

      When considering the case of a sole developer (for example, me), can I legally revoke the agreement if I wish to do further work proprietary?

      If you are the sole developer, you could certainly use a different license for future releases containing your further work, if that is what you mean. Under the GPL you are still the exclusive copyright holder, and you can do what you like with the code, including distributing it under different terms at whim. I doubt you could successfully revoke licenses already iss

      • by cromar (1103585)
        Yes, correct. Once you have licensed people to use your code under the GPL, you cannot arbitrarily cancel that license (contract) without the other party's consent. However, you don't have to keep releasing your code under the GPL to new parties (although you can't stop people already licensed). *You*, as the copyright owner lose no rights to the code beyond those granted to the licensees under the GPL.
        • That's the rub: Under state law (depends which state), sometimes they are irrevocable, and other times they are revocable at will.

          The precedent is undetermined at this time. A good lawyer could argue either and screw a lots of people. I'm thinking of X, KDE, open-LDAP, and many other projects that derive work from either single points of failure, or direct forks from proprietary works.
          • The precedent is undetermined at this time.

            I don't think you have any reason to say that unless you see anyone actually attempting to do that and a court actually agreeing with them. You can rely on the court enforcing a large body of law, going all the way back to common law of centuries ago, that people have the right to rely on a promise.

    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:15PM (#22740862) Homepage Journal
      "Yes" and "no" are not complete answers to this question, it's more complicated than that, so "yes" and "no" really can both be true for different parts of the question. A better answer is that you have all of the rights of a copyright holder to license your own code differently, but the promises you've already made are still binding on you. You can not tell the folks that you've given GPL code that they no longer have the rights that you gave them under the GPL. So, what you get is that the code you released will be out in the world under the GPL forever. You can also put a commercial license on that code and sell the license, and people who want to not have to comply with the GPL will buy that license. Any new code you make doesn't have to go under the GPL.

      Don't take other people's GPL modifications to your code and commercial license them! You aren't the copyright holder to that stuff. You have to pay them or otherwise get the rights from them before you can do that.

      Bruce

      • ---"Yes" and "no" are not complete answers to this question, it's more complicated than that, so "yes" and "no" really can both be true for different parts of the question. A better answer is that you have all of the rights of a copyright holder to license your own code differently, but the promises you've already made are still binding on you.

        The question is rather seemingly basic, but gets into the nuts and bolts of contract law. Contract law has different interpretations between counties, states and fede
      • Correct. But a clarification for your statement is in order, Bruce:

        Don't take other people's GPL modifications to your code and commercial license them!

        This also applies if your code links to libraries that are released under the GPL. Since the code you linked to becomes part of your program, your program is, in essence, a derived work of the library. For example, if you write a media player that links against libquicktime [sourceforge.net], then you cannot license libquicktime commercially without the permission of the copyright holder. Since libquicktime is part of your GPL'd program, that means that

      • by xouumalperxe (815707) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:41PM (#22742080)

        Working Bruce's explanation into a practical example:

        1. You publish code under the GPL.
        2. People download it, use it, and their usage of the code is bound by the terms of the GPL.
        3. You decide to change the license on the code. Since you're the copyright holder, nothing prevents you from doing that.
        4. More people get your code from your distribution channel. These people are bound by the new license.
        5. The people in point 2, however, agreed to the GPL, not your new license, and you explicitly gave them the right to alter and/or redistribute the code, so they're free to keep on sharing, coming up with a full fledged fork, probaly even selling it.
    • The GPL is a license to use, copy, distribute, and modify a particular set of code.

      You can't retroactively say "oh that's no longer gpl! stop using it!" ...but you can release new code without granting the gpl license on the new code.
      • Suppose a hunters' cabin had a sign up on it for years that said, "Come on in, just clean up after yourself." Then one day you arrived and it said "No trespassing". Would you expect a judge to rule that the owner had given up the right to control his property because the original sign didn't have a time limit?
        • by WNight (23683)
          What possible connection does that have?

          'Copy this hunting lodge on your own land.' might be a valid analogy, but yours is not.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by PitaBred (632671)
          Doesn't work that way. Once you've accepted the code under a license (GPL), then it stays under the terms of that license. If you sold someone your house, and all of a sudden said "I actually didn't want to do that, give it back", do you think you'd have a snowball's chance in hell of getting it back without paying for it and negotiating with the people there as the owners? If you want to release future versions of the software under a different license, feel free to do so. But you can't retroactively r
        • Wrong analogy. Suppose the owner of the cabin changed the sign while you were inside. You would have the right to rely on the previous invitation.
    • I've heard yes and no both.. They both logically cannot both be true.

      Clearly you're not a Discordian.
    • Disclaimer: I have no clue about the GPL outside of common sensical understanding.

      So let's imagine this scenario: you publish some code under the GPL. Someone modifies it, and because the original is GPL he/she must also publish his/her modifications (this previous step could be iterated several times by several developers, but one is enough for the example). Now if you try to revoke the GPL, you probably can't close the source for the modified code, because it involves other people's work now, not just you
    • by SL Baur (19540)

      Is there any legal indication that the GPL is revocable?

      Er, that's what all the commotion was about a few months ago regarding the GPL V3 and the licensing of the Linux Kernel. Specifically, if you add the "or any later version" clause, you are at the mercy of Richard Stallman to not change the license in a manner that you disagree with.

      So yes, if some day there is a GPL V4 that had that kind of language in it and you had the code licensed with the "or any later version" clause, you could.

      The fact that the GPL can be changed without your express consent is exa

  • by und0 (928711) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:50AM (#22740548)
    Don't look at me, lawyers are saying it! ^__^
  • I'm in agreement that OOXML is a lousy "standard" and the "pledge" is questionable at best. But this

    While technically an irrevocable promise, in practice the OSP is good only for today.
    doesn't make a lot of sense. If it's "irrevocable" than it's *not* "in practice ... good only for today". Irrevocable is irrevocable.
    • by ODBOL (197239) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:21PM (#22740974) Homepage
      A quick look at the SFLC's article (http://www.softwarefreedom.org/resources/2008/osp-gpl.html) makes this quite clear. OSP provides an irrevocable license to use a specification as it is written today. It makes no commitment whatsoever to license updates. A little bit more reading reveals that the irrevocably licensed uses of the current specification are also very limited.

      So, it makes perfect sense, as stated by SFLC, that the license is irrevocable, but has no irrevocable value, since Microsoft has discretion to destroy the value of the licensed behavior. To quote directly:

      While technically an irrevocable promise, in practice the OSP is good only for today.

      This makes perfectly good sense. The promise is irrevocable. But it's "good"ness may easily be destroyed, by destroying the value of the promised license.

      Caveat: I am reporting what I read in the SFLC's article. I have not checked their facts independently.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:23PM (#22741000) Homepage Journal
      The reason it's really not irrevocable is that it states in writing that future versions of anything under the promise are not automaticaly under the promise. So, if they add a feature and you were interoperable before, you may not have the right to be interoperable any longer. It's the usual embrance-and-enhance stuff we've seen from Microsoft.
      • The reason it's really not irrevocable is that it states in writing that future versions of anything under the promise are not automaticaly under the promise.
        Sounds a lot like the GPL...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Sounds a lot like the GPL...

          Very true - which is why it is a stupid idea to use the GPL for a file format.
        • by Trevin (570491)

          Quite the contrary. From the GPL (version 2) [gnu.org] item #2:

          b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
          • But the authors of the codebase have no requirement to ensure further versions of the software fall under the GPL (as they are the original owners) which is essentially what is happening.

            the GPL, like this license, is a license for the work as it stands. Any further revisions that occur must include their own licenses, which may be different.
    • by cloakable (885764)
      How about irrevocable, unless we decide to revoke it? I think they're raising doubts, not about the current promise, but about the chances of microsoft changing the promise later.

      Therefore, OSP is *technically* irrevocable, under the current version. Microsoft could update the OSP tomorrow, and remove that promise. Is it irrevocable then?
    • As I recall, the pledge is only valid for a specific version of OOXML. They could, hypothetically, add a magic number to the start of all OOXML documents saved by MS Office and if you modified your code to understand this number then you would be supporting version n+0.0001 of the standard and thus open to patent lawsuits regarding the entire implementation.
  • irrelevant? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:14PM (#22740852)
    even if OOXML is approved (and lets face it deep wallet large multinationals have a habit of winning these things) its name is MUD everywhere. I really cannot see anybody using it (has MS made it their standard yet?) and the "de facto" standard has a good chance of being ODF. Sooner or later MS will have to accept that.

    As for the "agreement" any decisions or choices offered by any corporation will always be biased and in their interests instead of the users.
    • OOXML types (docx, xlsx, pptx) are the default file types in Office 2007, which has been out now for over a year. The files are already out in the wild and therefore are becoming a de facto standard. As for its name being mud, I'd say that's really only with the slashdot set. Most people have no idea what's different about these formats (binary vs. XML), let alone that there's a fierce battle being fought in various standards bodies over it.
      • by Benanov (583592) *
        "OOXML types (docx, xlsx, pptx) are the default file types in Office 2007, which has been out now for over a year."

        That's not 'standard' OOXML--that's Office 2007's approximation to what was submitted to ECMA, and even it doesn't really comply with what was submitted. (BIFF is alive and well; VML is not "deprecated" because you can have it created in brand new documents, etc.)

        It is a partial implementation and not an implementation of what was submitted, let alone what the standard is now (because that's ki
    • Re:irrelevant? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:31PM (#22741110)

      even if OOXML is approved (and lets face it deep wallet large multinationals have a habit of winning these things) its name is MUD everywhere. I really cannot see anybody using it (has MS made it their standard yet?) and the "de facto" standard has a good chance of being ODF. Sooner or later MS will have to accept that.

      I disagree. I think your perspective is skewed, being a Slashdot reader you have heard a lot about this issue. You also probably have some understanding of this issue and the reasons why a truly free and open standard is beneficial to users and non-monopolist developers.

      The average person (politician or government bureaucrat or corporate purchasing agent) has no understanding of what open standards are or why they are beneficial. Simply naming something Open Office XML is enough to pass muster with most people who have a vague notion that "open standard" is somehow vaguely associated with "good." Making ODF the de facto standard in such an environment is by no means a done deal. For an example of how this sort of thing works, look at MS's influence in various government purchasing decisions for office software. Or, look at the Library of Congress, who MS just paid to standardize on using the proprietary standard "silverlight" instead of the open standard AJAX. They don't know or care about the difference, especially in the face of a fairly small donation from MS. They are now locked into an MS proprietary format and MS only servers for the future unless they want to spend a large sum trying to break free. And what will happen if 5 years down the road MS drops some browsers or OS's or combinations from their supported list (as they have done with IE and Active X for the Mac, or with their proprietary macros on the Mac version of MS Office)?

      Just because most people on Slashdot know that OOXML is not a real open standard does not mean the average decision maker does, or if they do, if they care about what happens down the road compared to the public perception of what will happen down the road.

      • Simply naming something Open Office XML is enough to pass muster with most people who have a vague notion that "open standard" is somehow vaguely associated with "good."
        It's actually Office Open XML. The fact that you confused the name just goes to prove your point about exactly why they named it "open", and even so close to the name "OpenOffice".

      • Or, look at the Library of Congress, who MS just paid to standardize on using the proprietary standard "silverlight" instead of the open standard AJAX. They don't know or care about the difference, especially in the face of a fairly small donation from MS. They are now locked into an MS proprietary format and MS only servers for the future unless they want to spend a large sum trying to break free.


        The way I remember that story reading, they were paid to standardize on using Silverlight instead of Flash for
        • The way I remember that story reading, they were paid to standardize on using Silverlight instead of Flash for their UI, which is also a proprietary standard. AJAX was never even in the picture.

          You are incorrect. They currently use a combination of AJAX and Flash depending upon the resource. While Flash is proprietary, it has been making strides towards becoming more open, with most of the specification now public. Flash is not owned by a company with a monopoly to leverage and so the risk of monopolistic lock in is much less. Flash also supports interfaces for the disabled, which Silverlight does not yet. Finally, Silverlight only supports Windows as a server, while Flash supports Linux as well

          • You are incorrect.

            That's debateable. I'll elaborate.

            They currently use a combination of AJAX and Flash depending upon the resource.

            If a resource didn't make sense to present with Flash, it wouldn't make sense to present with Silverlight either. Someone developing a Microsoft solutions version of the site would almost certainly use AJAX in the exact same places.

            In any case, it's not like the LoC was talking about ripping out their Flash and replacing it with an all-AJAX solution, so it's your choice of di
            • That's debateable. I'll elaborate. If a resource didn't make sense to present with Flash, it wouldn't make sense to present with Silverlight either. Someone developing a Microsoft solutions version of the site would almost certainly use AJAX in the exact same places.

              This is not true. Go take a look at the online resources at the Library of Congress. Many of the resources presented are just fine presented using AJAX technologies. Others use Flash needlessly. Obviously it all depends upon which contractor they used at the time. In any case, the LoC is now replacing all resources with a "Silverlight Kiosk" as they are calling it, meaning all of the resources, even ones that have no need for video are being replaced.

              In any case, it's not like the LoC was talking about ripping out their Flash and replacing it with an all-AJAX solution, so it's your choice of disingenuous or wrong to say that Silverlight beat out AJAX there.

              No they weren't yet if they were doing an upgrade th


              • This is not true. Go take a look at the online resources at the Library of Congress. Many of the resources presented are just fine presented using AJAX technologies. Others use Flash needlessly. Obviously it all depends upon which contractor they used at the time. In any case, the LoC is now replacing all resources with a "Silverlight Kiosk" as they are calling it, meaning all of the resources, even ones that have no need for video are being replaced.


                Have you implemented that kind of setup/kiosk before with
      • by LinuxDon (925232)
        Quote: "Simply naming something Open Office XML"

        They even got you confused. It's "Office Open XML" from Microsoft.
         
      • ISO is a technical standards body and should be able to see the issues, which are:

        a) Nobody is using it (including Microsoft!)

        b) Nobody will ever use it (including Microsoft!) - and this was a deliberate part of the design.

        c) Nobody wants it in its current form (except Microsoft!). A non-implementable standard is worse than no standard at all.

        Besides, it's so obvious that Microsoft is playing ISO as a bunch of fools that if they want to keep any credibility they should kick it out without so much as a vote.
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:23PM (#22741006)
    Some software freedom people don't think Microsoft is going far enough with guarantees of openness and freedom.

    How was this news, again?
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Because apparently people who are lawyers sat down with the information and came to a consensus on its legal meaning.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        Right. Some free software lawyers came to a consensus on its legal meaning, happening to agree that a group they (perhaps correctly) see as the enemy isn't doing enough for them.

        In other news, a dozen Catholic bishops came to a consensus that Catholicism is the one true faith and that promises made by other religions might not be as good.
        • by initdeep (1073290)
          you get modded troll for the truth

          only at slashdot.

          now all of the good slashdot sheeple need to take their little pills.....

          c'mon.
          No balking.
  • He actually said "bullsnot"? Since when is "snot" a dirty word? Come to think if it, I don't think I've ever heard the word "snot" on TV so maybe it is.

    And not only did he misspell "udder", a bull's nose isn't its udder. Bulls don't even have udders! That would be as useless as tits on a bull!

    Look, guys, this is an adult forum. People post pictures of goatse and tubgirl. I have journals about drunken whores here, for fuck's sake! If you can't say a word, just don't say it rather than using asterisks. It's a
  • I suggest you all read this [technet.com] post by Gray Knowlton, the group product manager for MS Office, where he clarifies some of the more incendiary statements by the SFLC.

    He make some pretty reasonable arguments, and calls the blatant bias against MS, when IBM and sun get a free pass even though their own version of the OSP has the same restrictions as MS. Very interesting to see the kettle lashing back at pot.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:43PM (#22741290) Homepage Journal
      SFLC probably doesn't like any patent covenants, even Sun's and IBM's, regarding GPL software. But unlike Microsoft, Sun and IBM have themselves participated in the development of GPL code implementing the standards those covenants were meant to cover, and thus they are also covered by the GPL's language regarding patents.

      Microsoft, in contrast, hasn't bound itself to the GPL during the development of any existing OOXML implementation. Microsoft has also behaved in a very hostile manner, for example spreading FUD about their patents (we still don't have the list) covering our existing software. So, we don't have much reason to read their agreements in a favorable light.

      Bruce

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:05PM (#22741566)

      He make some pretty reasonable arguments, and calls the blatant bias against MS, when IBM and sun get a free pass even though their own version of the OSP has the same restrictions as MS.

      I'd actually argue that it is reasonable to be biased against MS in this regard by anyone who has viewed their past conduct in this area. A whole lot of MS partners who implemented technologies with Microsoft have since been driven out of business by Microsoft. Further, Microsoft has a history of breaking both contract and criminal law and then tying up the courts with legal maneuvers until the issue is moot. Just look at the number of settlement MS has paid out, knowing that they have made more money than that by breaking a contract or law.

      Some of the points made by Mr. Knowlton completely ignore the context of the situation. He claims that other companies have not provided any better promises with regard to ODF. This, for example, ignores that no one company is the sole originator or implementor of ODF and that none of the developers implementing it are monopolists who can leverage that monopoly to undermine the free market. If Sun deviated from open standards in a future version of ODF, nothing stops their customers from migrating to another solution from another vendor. If MS deviates from open standards in a future version of OOXML, they will become a de facto closed standard just as .doc is now since they do have undue influence on the office software and desktop OS markets. Anyone who forks OOXML in future (and by forks I mean uses a version that is not what MS is using, even if MS encumbers their version with patents or DRM or anything else) will be trying to compete fairly against a monopolist which is a losing proposition economically.

      I'd say the majority of his arguments fall into the same category of fallacy as people here who argue that because Apple bundles Safari with OS X, MS should be able to bundle IE with Windows. It completely ignores that MS's OS constitutes a monopolized market, while Apple's OS X does not. Many people are ignorant on this topic and still others willfully ignore the difference in order to try to make a more persuasive (but flawed) assertion. Basically, the logical flaw being presented by Mr. knowlton is equivocation where someone might argue that everyone should be free to travel anywhere in the US they want, intentionally ignoring the fact that one person is a criminal on parole with a history of being a flight risk, whereas the other people to whom that person is being compared are not convicted criminals and have no reason to flee the courts.

    • by pavera (320634) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:07PM (#22742430) Homepage Journal
      Funny thing is, he links to the IBM ISP saying that it is exactly the same as the OSP... However, if you follow that link and read the IBM doc, it says nothing about being able to revoke the promise for future versions of the same spec the way the OSP specifically states.

      Further, he links to the SUN agreement saying that it is the same as the MS one in regards to implementations, SUN explicitly gives you the right to implement ODF 1.0 *AND ANY FUTURE VERSION* of ODF. This 100% contradicts what he says in his article (he says sun and IBM also have provisions that limit the applicability of the promise to a single version or set of versions of the specs in question). He is either willfully misrepresenting or he is ignorant.
    • Whether this is due to a bias against Microsoft, or not, is beside the point. It's a realistic bias, given their history of dirty tricks. Gray is saying that he doesn't need to show that the leopard has changed his shorts. My response to his article hasn't shown up yet, so I'll repost it here...

      "As far as recounting the entire history of Microsoft legal activity, again, it's not really something that is helpful."

      If you want to convince people that the leopard has changed his shorts, you have to show people
      • Leopard ... spots. Not shorts. Leopards don't typically wear shorts.

        Apart from that, your spots -- I mean points -- are entirely valid. In my books, Microsoft has permanently extinguished its right to be given the benefit of the doubt. The degree of bad behavior required to do that is impressive.

        • by argent (18001)
          Leopard ... spots. Not shorts. Leopards don't typically wear shorts.

          I have no idea who Rudyard Kipling is, either!
          • Of course, "How the Leopard Got His Shorts" by Rudyard Kipling.

            I reckon any culture that figures out how to to put gin and tonic together has done the world a great favor.

  • Remember in their Windows marketing, when confronted with egregious bugs, security holes, and feature deficiencies, MS would always promise that the *next* version would be everything we could possibly imagine. They did this for version after version of inferior product. When I read "Microsoft responded to these assertions stating that they've already taken steps to answer these concerns" I get deja vu. Sorry, MS, after causing the OOXML problem in the first place your credibility in claiming to be "taki
  • by Qubit (100461) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:40PM (#22742066) Homepage Journal
    Let's sum up what's happened so far:

    1. Microsoft publishes its "Open Specification Promise" -- a document which at first glance appears to give independent developers the freedom to implement OOXML without worrying about infringing on Microsoft's patents. (This document was undoubtedly drafted and/or reviewed by Microsoft's legal department)
    2. The Software Freedom Law Center -- an organization staffed with lawyers very knowledgeable about IP law as it relates to software licensing -- publishes a paper stating that developers should not rely on Microsoft's OSP as patent indemnification as "[the OSP] provides no assurance to GPL developers" and "[it] is unsafe to rely upon the OSP for any free software implementation".
    3. Gray Knowlton, a product manager for Microsoft Office, writes a rebuttal to the SFLC's paper on his blog.

    Now Knowlton may have some good points in his rebuttal, but AFAIK he's not a lawyer. Until some Microsoft lawyer (or some other lawyer who is versed in software licensing and patent law) wants to step up and rebut the SFLC, I'm going to be inclined to believe that the OSP is not strong enough to protect me from lawsuits.

    Microsoft has an absolutely abysmal record when it comes to interoperability and free and open access to their file formats. "Embrace-Extend-Extinguish" is their watchword. In March of 2005 I wrote to Microsoft's legal department and the Free Software Foundation, asking if the licensing of the Office 2003 XML Schemas (the ancestor of OOXML) were compatible with the GPL. Microsoft didn't even give me the courtesy of a reply. So even if, as Knowlton claims, "[Office] Open XML's terms are the same or more liberal than rival document standard OpenDocument," if there's any doubt in my mind as to whether I am legally protected when working with the OOXML format, why should I believe that Microsoft will act in good faith in the future when it never has in the past?
  • ``The advice would seem to throw more doubt on OOXML's suitability as an international document standard.''

    That suggests there is such suitability, or at least doubt. I haven't looked closely, but from what I've heard, it seems that:

    1. OOXML is horrible
    2. OOXML allows Microsoft to simply embed their existing binary formats in a so-called XML file
    3. This does nothing to improve interoperability and implementability
    4. We already have ODF as an approved and implemented (by multiple vendors) standard
    5. OOXML se

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