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Microsoft Tech Specs Prohibit GPL Implementations 812

abartlet writes "As described in this Advogato entry, MS is trying to pull a swifty with their latest 'release' of their CIFS (the networked filesystem Samba implements) Technical Reference. The licence specifically prohibits any GPLed or (or LGPLed) program from implementing it, defining it as an 'IPR Impairing Licence'! Fortunately the CIFS community is about to release its own Technical Reference based on earlier MS documents and long experience in attempting to interoperate with the MS product." Microsoft's claim is completely ungrounded - nothing written by a third-party can take away Microsoft's intellectual property rights. But it makes a good (read: confusing to the general public) justification for preventing others from interoperating with their software.
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Microsoft Tech Specs Prohibit GPL Implementations

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  • Sure, he may be trying to make it so that Linux won't interoperate with Windows, but maybe he's just trying to get revenge for being tricked []?
  • by Nijika ( 525558 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:49AM (#3290661) Homepage Journal
    That any license can say anything it wants to. It doesn't mean that this has any basis in legal reality. The point here is, truly, confusion over all else.
    • any license can say anything it wants to
      That's right...heck, I'm licensed to ill...
    • Don't be so sure (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DaveWood ( 101146 )
      That's what we said about the entire EULA until UCITA made it 100% binding - even the most outrageous parts (like not being able to unfavorably comment on the software).

      These guys are not buying legalese for nothing. And even if the next round of bought-and-paid-for legislation doesn't make it on the books for a year or two, and they bring a baseless lawsuit, do you have $200,000 to defend yourself in court? Or will you just settle, pull your site and go home crying?

      This is Microsoft saying "I dare you."

    • by revision1_1 ( 69575 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:09PM (#3290818) Homepage
      "Ladies and Gentlemen of this supposed jury, Microsoft's accusers would certainly want you to believe my client was issuing confusing EULAs, confoundint their critics and confusing the multitudes, and they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself. But Ladies and Gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider.

      Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk who carried a gun and ran from the mob. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it. That does not make sense. Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor with a bunch of two-foot-tall Ewoks. That does not make sense.

      But more important, you have to ask yourself what does this have to do with this case. Nothing. Ladies and Gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case. It does not make sense. Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major software company and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and Gentlemen I am not making any sense. None of this makes sense.

      And so you have to remember when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No. Ladies and Gentlemen of this supposed jury it does not make sense. If Chewbacca lives on Endor you must acquit.

      I know he seems guilty. But ladies and gentlemen this is Chewbacca. Now think about that for one minute. That does not make sense. Why am I talking about Chewbacca when billions of dollars of recurring license revenue are on the line? Why? I'll tell you why. I don't know. It doesn't make sense. If Chewbacca does not make sense you must acquit. Here look at the monkey , look at the silly monkey.

      The defense rests."

  • XPL (Score:4, Funny)

    by .sig ( 180877 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:49AM (#3290667)
    Why not use every letter in the alphabet? It's only fitting, I guess, since there are a million ways to write code, why not have a million ways to license it?

    I remember taking programming classes in college, and the #1 rule to writing code was don't write code, i.e., reuse existing code. With all these licensing schemes floating around, that's getting harder and harder, unles you only reuse your own code. Oh well...

    (For the record, IPR sounds more like an Apple licenesing idea, what with the iMac, iPod, and tons of iSoftware.)

    At least today's Friday...


      I work at a bank where we still (duh) use big iron. One thing you DO NOT want to do is IPL.

      It's very bad, especially if someone tries to do it while people in other timezones are usings those mainframe apps!

      (For the uninitiated, IPL = Initial Program Load. It basically means restart the whole group of apps on the machine. In the old days, I'm betting this meant rewind the tape and reboot the room... er, mainframe.)

    • by mikeee ( 137160 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:22PM (#3290957)
      Is that kinda like the XFL?

      "You may use, modify, and redistribute this software freely, and must make it available to third parties under this license in the event that they are able to defeat you in a Grudge Match in The Iron Cage of Fury!"
  • Not reading that (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrHat ( 102062 )
    I'm not reading any of that. The further away from licenses like that I can stay, the better off I am when the SSSCA/DMCA squad comes to kick down my door with their jack-boots.

    Seriously. If you're even using Samba, I wouldn't go *near* any CIFS/SMB information released by Microsoft. Or anyone else who attaches licenses to practical information and calls it a "trade secret", for that matter.
  • Just for kicks... (Score:4, Informative)

    by IsleOfView ( 23825 ) <[moc.ufgum] [ta] [nosaj]> on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:52AM (#3290690) Homepage
    Go to the linked MSDN doc, and "Rate this Page". We can at least register our disgust that way.... (It's already at 1.3 out of 5, 1 being the lowest possible :-)
  • Ok so what.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:53AM (#3290694) Homepage
    Implement any thing needed from the DOCUMENTATION in a Non-Gpl module, BSD, Apache, or other liscence.

    This "LISCENCE" is for the documentation NOT the protocol. So friggin what, Samba team has done a great job reverse engineering other things before, wihtout docs.

    Hell have a friend agree to the terms, read it, then TELL you how they do what they do, at that point there is no tactic agreement between you and microsoft, oyu recived the knowledge second hand and you partner had of course "no idea" that the information would be implemented in a GPL app.

    Better yet, write a REVIEW of the documentation as a Journalist, a critique, perfectly acceptable under fair use laws, just make sure to critique the authors work on the spiciest bits of Information.

    • Re:Ok so what.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by d3xt3r ( 527989 )
      This is an interesting point, but you could probably take it one step further... like a black box implementation. For example, if I was going to implement this standard, you could sit in one room and read the manual, while I sit in another room and implement it. You can't tell me anything about the manual directly, but I can ask you questions - "Does it have X", "Does it do Y" - and you say yes or no. Eventually we'd have a compatible implementation without breaking the license agreement. :-) I haven't agreed to the license, and I haven't looked at the documentation, and really, you haven't told me anything directly about the manual!
    • Re:Ok so what.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shagg ( 99693 )
      This "LISCENCE" is for the documentation NOT the protocol.


      Hell have a friend agree to the terms, read it, then TELL you how they do what they do...

      Is there some sort of non-disclosure in the license in addition to just the bits about "don't implement this in a GPL app"? I'm not legal savvy enough to understand even the quoted bits of the license in the article. Is it somehow implied that telling somebody else what the protocol is after you've read it, is a violation of the license?
  • Haiku (Score:5, Funny)

    by offtopic_haiku_man ( 571388 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:53AM (#3290695)
    Using GPL
    Will encroach upon our rights
    To control the world
  • Kodak saying no one else can make a set of chemicals that develop their film if they plan to give them away for free? Is there really legal ground for them to uphold this, especially having already been judged a monopoly in federal appeals court?
    • by Chester K ( 145560 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:00PM (#3290748) Homepage
      Kodak saying no one else can make a set of chemicals that develop their film if they plan to give them away for free?

      This is like Kodak giving someone the recipe for the official Kodak set of chemicals, then telling them that they can't give that recipe to other people.

      Microsoft is well within their rights under Copyright law here. Microsoft is giving people the opportunity to implement the CIFS specs, but not to redistribute them in a form which makes sublicensing compulsory.

      The hole in the situation is that someone could implement the spec and release it to the Public Domain, since MS isn't forbidding ALL redistribution, only direct redistribution with compulsory sublicensing. That code could then be folded into a GPL'd product by a third party since they received the original code as PD, not under Microsoft's agreement.
      • So, it'd sort of be a LAME for CIFS. Which seems particularly apt, when you think about it.

        - A.P.
      • Brrzzztt! Wrong! I am not obliged to sign and mail back this license before I look at the spec. I am under no NDA. It's preposterous for Microsoft to say "now that you know what our specs are, you must agree to this license before you can implement them."

        If Kodak told me *after* I had received their recipe what I can do with their recipe, I would tell them to go fly a kite. By making their recipe public they just destroyed any trade secrets they might have. I have no obligation to Kodak after they give me the recipe if I didn't agree to any before hand.
  • Clearly! (Score:4, Informative)

    by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:54AM (#3290700)
    It is well known that one of the places that Window's succeeds in is small/middle sized network configurations. You plug in hardware, install (costly) software, and everything nearly automagically works. Files are shared. Printers are shared. With a little domain administration you can even tightly control it.

    The fact that the Samba Team has created such a successful implementation of the same smb/cifs kills this completely. Note the "(costly)" part in my previous paragraph goes away if you use Samba instead of a WinNT Server. And no goofy licenses either(how many seats do I need to buy?). And now that Samba has set their sights on implementing recent features like Active Directory why wouldn't Microsoft be running scared? Take away this feature from Windows and you've undercut their monopoly on administration software of Windows networks.
  • So we just license the implementing programs with NGPL. Not-GPL, that is. It just so happens that the license terms are exactly the same as GPL but it is not GPL.

    Kind of like gnu is not unix.. I just couldn't come up with anything as clever.
  • by delta407 ( 518868 ) <slashdot.lerfjhax@com> on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:56AM (#3290717) Homepage

    This is kinda creepy.

    1.4 "IPR Impairing License" shall mean the GNU General Public License, the GNU Lesser/Library General Public License, and any license that requires in any instance that other software distributed with software subject to such license (a) be disclosed and distributed in source code form; (b) be licensed for purposes of making derivative works; or (c) be redistributable at no charge.

    Microsoft seems to have just banned any open source or even free (as in beer) CIFS implementations.

    Then, my question becomes: what about interpreted languages? Many languages don't have a compiled form... does the license prohibit those?

    • Re:Not just GPL (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zo0ok ( 209803 )
      It affects any license REQUIRING you to

      - distribute in source
      - redistribute at no charge shouldnt be to hard to not require these things... am I wrong? The BSD license has no such restrictions, right?
      • Re:Not just GPL (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rabidcow ( 209019 )
        Of course not, Microsoft likes the BSD license. First they get their TCPIP stack from it, next they'll get a fixed CIFS implementation from it. ;)

        I find it interesting that they won't let you use licenses which put specific restrictions on derivative works, but not ones which forbid distributing them altogether. Would a license worded "you may not distribute derivative works *unless* you blah blah" where blah blah is the stuff Microsoft doesn't like work? I mean strictly speaking it doesn't require those things, you have the option to not distribute your derivative at all. (which you, of course, have with the GPL, but since it's specifically named forget it.)
    • Re:Not just GPL (Score:4, Interesting)

      by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:04PM (#3290778)
      First off, code is either in source form or object form. Interpreted languages are distributed as source. There you'd be forced to distribute the program in "source code form", and you'd be in violation of the rules.

      Second, this doesnt ban all free or open source implementations. This only bands GPL solutions. See, the BSD license does not *require* you to distribute source, and therefore it would pass this licensing test. You *could* of course choose to redistribute the source or give away binaries as you please.

      Its a fine line, but basically MS is saying "no GPL for you" because they dont want people to be forced into giving away source/object code for the implementation. Just use a BSD license and pretend in your head its GPL instead.
    • by Snowfox ( 34467 ) <snowfox AT snowfox DOT net> on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:17PM (#3290897) Homepage
      This is kinda creepy.
      1.4 "IPR Impairing License" shall mean the GNU General Public License, the GNU Lesser/Library General Public License, and any license that requires in any instance that other software distributed with software subject to such license (a) be disclosed and
      distributed in source code form; (b) be licensed for purposes of making derivative works; or (c) be redistributable at no charge.

      Not creepy at all. It makes the loopholes quite clear.

      The MSGPL license, for GPL implementations of MS protocols need only include the clause that changes must be available in source code form or in binary digits tattooed across the backside of the author, and that a license fee of one wet honey glazed ham is due if the software is used consecutively for more than sixty thousand years.

  • Many other organization baulk at GPL.
    Intel and HP for example had problems with the GPLed Mono project [].

    Microsoft seems to be OK with the BSD license. The don't seem to be against open source either
    considering that the Microsoft Shared source code licence [] is pretty liberal.

  • 1.4 "IPR Impairing License" shall mean the GNU General Public License, the GNU Lesser/Library General Public License, and any license that requires in any instance that other software distributed with software subject to such license (a) be disclosed and distributed in source code form; (b) be licensed for purposes of making derivative works; or (c) be redistributable at no charge.

    Note the "or (c)"; oh no, free of charge! What will those godless zealots think of next, and how will Scrooge McDuck hold onto his billions this week!
  • patents? (Score:5, Informative)

    by splorf ( 569185 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:58AM (#3290731)
    Section 1.6
    1.6 "Necessary Claims" shall mean those claims of a patent or patent application, including without limitation, United States Patents Nos. 5,265,261 and 5,437,013, which (a) are owned, controlled or sublicenseable by Microsoft without payment of a fee to an unaffiliated third party; and (b) are necessarily infringed by implementing the CIFS communication protocol as set forth in the Technical Reference, wherein a claim is necessarily infringed only when there are no technically reasonable alternatives to such infringement.
    indicates you can't implement CIFS without a license for those patents. The "Royalty-Free CIFS Technical Reference License Agreement" is the patent license, but it has an anti-GPL clause, and nothing else licenses you the patents.

    It's an antimatter version of the GPL, like a GPL from the parallel Star Trek universe where everyone was evil.

    Microsoft has gone ballistic. It has begun.

    • It's an antimatter version of the GPL, like a GPL from the parallel Star Trek universe where everyone was evil.

      It's easy to imagine Evil Linus with a goatee, but what would Evil RMS look like?

      I imagine that in this universe Bill Gates is a Luke-Skywalker kind of figure at the head of the rebel Microsoft organization, trying to take down the Orwellianly-named Free Software Foundation.

  • by jmu1 ( 183541 )
    until noone is listening. There are tons of folks out here in support land that are getting fed up with the askew view those chowder heads keep spewing. Mark my words, Ross Perot will laugh at just how out of the loop those guys will have gotten themselves with their "you can't do anything unless we say" rhetoric. Seems to me that they are on a one way trip to being ignored after all the stuff they have been pulling the past few years.
  • Samba for windows (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Glorat ( 414139 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:00PM (#3290743)
    This isn't my area of experise... but would it be possible for an open source implementation to be made for Windows? Samba for windows? If it is good enough, then the growing numbers of companies out there that want Windows and Linux to interoperate will have an alternative from the M$ machine with all the benefits of the free (both senses) world. The implementation could be independent on any M$ specification and thus be free from any M$ restriction completely
  • So, now in Windows we will have

    Microsoft Client for Windows

    Microsoft Client for Netware

    Microsoft Client for What Windows Should Be

    World Standard Client (CIFS)

  • Okay, which is it?

    I have read the patent page and I have read other articles. Some say it's Server Message Block and some (such as the patent page) say it's System Message Block. Which is it? What's the authoratative answer? I realize it's almost pointless but it's just one of those things that when explained improperly could make you appear to be an idiot to the wrong people.
  • by photon317 ( 208409 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:04PM (#3290771)

    This is actually good news in a certain way. It is yet stronger proof that Microsoft considers the open source community a very viable and threatening competitor.

    Most likely they hoped that if they could squash open-source compatibility with windows networks, they could hurt some of the interoperability that is neccesary during the middle phases of migrating a company away from Microsoft (like the recent Merrill Lynch stuff).

    The tides are still very very slowly turning, and barring the government helping them too much (and I do believe SSSCA-type bills are a boon for Microsoft if they pass), they will eventually lose.
  • by EnglishTim ( 9662 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:04PM (#3290774)
    I suspect that they are worried that a bit of GPLed code will somehow make it into a bit of the windows codebase - intentionally or otherwise.

    It only takes one programmer on the MS campus to fuck up and that could happen. I imagine that they're worried that then people would start taking them to court to gain access to the code.

    C'mon - if you heard that MS has some GPLed code in Windows - which would you put your weght behind:

    a) They just take the code out
    b) They are forced to open their codebase

    Yup - though so! ;)
    • I suspect that they are worried that a bit of GPLed code will somehow make it into a bit of the windows codebase - intentionally or otherwise.

      I don't think they're worried about that much at all. It just makes a good excuse to shut out anything GPLed, because it cuts into their sales.
  • At the top of the license page there is an option to "Rate this page" The score is from 1 to 5. Right now its at 1.5 with 230 votes and growing.

    I had to give them my 2 cents. I voted a 1.
  • It just goes on and on and on. It's like those people in the antitrust trial are lost in space, wasting vast amounts of time and effort dwelling over finer and finer points of legalese (which is exactly what Msft wants, splitting hairs indefinately) while the abuse of power goes on and on and on.

  • NAS Vendors Effected (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gedvondur ( 40666 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:06PM (#3290799)
    This has some far reaching effects.

    Many manufacturers of NAS (Network Attached Storage) use GPLed OS that have been modified or reduced to their basic components to NAS appliances. I have seen many instances of Linux NAS devices, BSD NAS devices, and yes, NAS devices bases on Windows 2000 for appliances.

    A little background:

    A NAS device is an appliance dedicated to providing storage on the IP network. It's basically a stripped standard server with ease-of-use features added, and form-fitted into a smaller box. Extremely easy to set up, extremely easy to use.

    Companies that make them:

    Quantum Snap!
    Network Appliance
    Blue Arc
    and the list goes on and on.

    They all provide CIFS and NFS shares, some of the also provide Apple shares, and Novell shares. The point here is that many of them are based on GPLed OS. While their final product may be commercial, this development may restrict their use of CIFS. These products RELY on CIFS. Frankly this may be a ploy by Microsoft to sell more copies of Windows 2000 for Appliances, and take a heavy swipe at the Open Source community.

    If NAS vendors can't use CIFS, and the latest CIFS has changed to mess up connectivity, they are dead in two years, as the OS upgrades catch up.

    If there is a somebody who could clear that up a bit, that would be great.

    I, for one, hope that continued compatibility for the CIFS standard continues in the Samba package. For Linux to lose that functionality, it would kill a lot of possible server implementations.

  • It's difficult to see what legal basis these restrictions are supposed to have. Trademarks and patents don't apply. So, either it's a trade secret or a copyright issue. I think it's hard to argue that something published to half the world and already widely known is a "trade secret". And copyright defines in and of itself what you can and cannot do with a document (believe me, publishers would love to impose restrictions like "if you read this, our license requires you to buy the two sequels as well").

    Note that this is not analogous to the GPL. The GPL is a license that lets you do things with copyrighted software that copyright law prohibits you from doing unless you get a license. But that approach doesn't work for a protocol specification because the copyright is on the specification, not the protocol, and so you generally don't need a license in order to implement the protocol even if the specification is copyrighted. (It may be possible to copyright protocols, but that seems like a long shot for something like CIFS that's mostly open anyway.)

    This license gaffe is curiously analogous to Microsoft software. Usually, Microsoft copies other people's software badly. This time, Microsoft copied other people's licenses (the GPL) badly, trying to impose onerous restrictions on people who merely read a document. Microsoft's incompetence manages to reach new lows day after day, and I suppose that is an amazing achievement in itself.

  • The most effective strategy I can think of to fight such legalese is to amend the GPL to allow for a special MS-GPL, which would essentially allow you to release an otherwised GPL'd software that interacts with a Microsoft patent, as a special MS-GPL which would require you to still make the source code available, as well as all changes, but would also *require* you to charge $0.01 per copy of the binary code that the software developer releases, thereby negating the free-of-charge stipulation under Microsoft's IPR clause.

    Microsoft will most likely amend their agreement to forbid releasing the software under the MS-GPL code, as well. However I would think it would be more legally difficult to distinguish an MS-GPL from a regular software license.
  • Rate it here []. I personnaly rated it as excellent.

    Is there a /. effect for polls as well ? :-)
  • Damnit! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Spackler ( 223562 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:09PM (#3290828) Journal
    Microsoft outlawed the GPL. We all know it was coming.

    Linus, if you need help installing XP on all your machines, give me a call.

  • by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:10PM (#3290835) Homepage Journal
    DMCA(f) reads:

    `(f) REVERSE ENGINEERING- (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.

    In other words, the DMCA requires that programmers be able to access parts of a computer program "to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs" (i.e. porting a windows program to linux). If that access isn't provided then the programmer can legally circumvent a technological measure that controls access to the essential parts of that program for the purposes of porting.

    I say we should rally the EFF and call them on it.
    • I don't read this as implying that the DMCA requires anything... just that a person is legally permitted to reverse engineer a protocol/format in order to acheive interoperability.

      Knowing Microsoft, their next step will be to implement a completely new filesystem, encourage (force) everyone to upgrade, and protect it with encryption (if they claim that the encryption is for protection of a user's intellectual property, then perhaps the DMCA would have more teeth in this situation), and/or patents (somewhat akin to what they did with ASF).

      Microsoft - boldly leading us back into the dark ages of incompatibility.

    • by torinth ( 216077 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:45PM (#3291124) Homepage
      In other words, the DMCA requires that programmers be able to access parts of a computer program "to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs" (i.e. porting a windows program to linux). If that access isn't provided then the programmer can legally circumvent a technological measure that controls access to the essential parts of that program for the purposes of porting.

      Who says that such access isn't provided? The CIFS licence above is for Royalty-free licensing. If you contact Microsoft and can negotiate a reasonable licensing agreement with them, then it certainly is provided. In which case, it's not a violation. Just because it can't be done free doesn't mean that it can't be done.

    • by DarkEdgeX ( 212110 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:53PM (#3291183) Journal
      Their license covers the documentation, NOT the protocol itself. Clearly they can't license something that exists only in abstract (here, let me license you some air). If you want to implement SMB, you have two choices--

      1) Download the CIFS documentation from Microsoft at the URL provided, and agree to the terms of the license.

      2) Reverse engineer (through packet sniffing, etc) the protocol, never touching/reading any of Microsoft's documentation (eg: figure it out on your own).

      The section of the DMCA you cited prevents software makers from limiting a customer from reverse engineering a product for compatibility purposes; Microsoft can claim all day long that you can't reverse engineer their OS (and I'm sure they include packet sniffing in their 'reverse engineer' definition), but the law says you have a right to circumvent any measures they put in place to stop you, and (in parts not quoted by the parent) even PUBLISH your results amongst peers.
    • Not really. The DMCA applies to copyright. This license is not covering reverse engineering or protecting their copyright on their binary code. But is licensing the use of patents and documentation of the protocol.

      The DMCA does not give you the legal right to violate a patent for interoperability. Finally documentation does not constitute a computer program.

      So basically this license is setting out very specific terms as to how they license their patents and some documentation. It does nothing to prevent someone with a copy of windows from reverse engineer it to write another implementation of CIFS. That's an issue for the windows EULA. Which if I'm not mistaken probably already stipulates you may not reverse engineer it anyway.

      The DMCA grant you mention only exists to circumvent digital rights management for the purpose of interoperability. And even then it's pretty narrowly construed.

      Last but not least. Just because you have a right does not mean you can not give it up contracturaly. For example, generally one has the right to free speach. However, if I sign a NDA and start saying things I agreed I would not I could be sued. The judge wouldn't be very interested in my Free Speech rights.
  • After reading the comments here so far, I have to agree with the few posters who think this may not be such a bad deal. Microsoft gives away spec, people improve upon it, Microsoft may then want to take those improvements and put them back into Windows. Under GPL, they couldn't. Under a BSD type license, they could.

    I also liked the idea posted about separating the CIFS code into a separate library. Then GPL code could link it in.

    It's a shame, however, that thinking rationally probably doesn't count when it comes to Microsoft. Knowing Microsoft's history, this probably isn't about these things, but is some devious plot to divide and conquer the various open/free source crowds and to introduce FUD.

    Shame it's come to this, isn't it? Kind of like a mate of yours who betrays you over and over and then when they finally may be telling the truth, you just can't come to believe it's possible.

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:42PM (#3291105)
    First of all, there is no way Microsoft can enforce conditions upon the implementation of a standard (read: "standard"). Entering into a contract requires, well, that you enter into a contract.

    Secondly, this is a -- if not the -- prime example of what's wrong with the "intellectual property" faction of anti-GPL types. The GPL in no way inhibits intellectual property. It is simply a software license that imposes contractual conditions on the use of software. It is only unusual in that it does not require payment.

    Here's the argument that Microsoft and other anti-GPL nutballs are making: "You're not making any money off this, so we want to steal your intellectual property, violate the hell out of your license, and make money from our criminal activities." The underlying, unstated argument is, of course, that unless you're in it for profit, you have no intellectual property rights. This is utter bullshit, of course, and serves only to show what basically unethical and indecent people we're dealing with.

    This would be exactly parallel to a clothing manufacturer telling people that they have established a pattern for shirts with two sleeves, and you are therefore not allowed to make shirts with two sleeves unless you promise not to donate your old shirts to the poor.

    It's a pity that certain political factions like to lionize Microsoft as bastions of capitalism when Microsoft is itself devoted to strangling the free market at every turn. If Microsoft is as good as they say they are, why are they so afraid of competing in an open and fair market? Why have they adopted such a deeply un-American stance towards the fundamental values of political and economic liberty? Ballmer can spew all he wants about the GPL being communist, but as near as I can tell, it is Microsoft that is seeking to create a command economy.
  • by mmusn ( 567069 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:50PM (#3291160)
    Forget about the fact that Microsoft's attempts at restricting open source implementations are bogus. Let's ask: why even waste time on CIFS? Is enabling Windows clients to talk to non-Windows servers even the right thing to do? And if it is, why use CIFS? It seems to me that developing an installable file system driver that speaks a high-quality open protocol (NFS doesn't qualify) would result in something that's both easier to maintain and would work better than trying to reverse engineer Microsoft's latest protocol hiccup.
  • by ProfDumb ( 67790 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @12:54PM (#3291193)
    Most comments here, following the title of the orginal post, are focusing on the "license" to the tech specs, which is a minor problem.

    The real problem is that MS is claiming a patent on the underlying technology. They are offering a royalty-free license to non-GPL software. This is hard for GPL software to get around.

    Does anyone understand what is being patented? Does it look like a valid patent -- I never got the feeling that this technology was particularly innovative.

  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @01:00PM (#3291230) Homepage
    There's an easy bypass to such nonsense.

    The Microsoft license doesn't prohibit BSD-like licenses (MS loves swiping BSD code). So, developer A uses the specs to implement a bare-bones BSD version, and releases that code only to developer B. Developer B then makes a derivative work of that, fleshing out the details, making it much more useful, etc, and releases that version under the GPL. (Nothing in the BSD prevents this.)

    Now, of course, anyone is free to use the original BSD'd code in a non-GPL manner -- if they can figure out which code that is! Since the original BSD version was never publicly released, they have no way of doing that, so they have to use the GPLd version.

    (Usual IANAL disclaimer applies, though.)
  • by Just Jeff ( 5760 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @01:00PM (#3291236) Homepage
    Perhaps the FSF should sue M$ for slander? If Microsoft deliberatly misrepresents the GPL in writing...
  • by pbryan ( 83482 ) <> on Friday April 05, 2002 @01:12PM (#3291303) Homepage
    Does anyone remember when Microsoft released Novell NetWare compatibility into its Windows NT operating systems? At that time, Novell was the dominant player, and Microsoft was playing catchup.

    Microsoft quickly eroded Novell's network operating system market share, eventually becoming the dominant player in office network servers. Novell Netware installations now seem a rarity.

    Microsoft, the dominant player, is now threatened by people creating compatible implementations of its own services. This turn of events, though not surprising, somehow seems ironic.
  • by paulbd ( 118132 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @02:54PM (#3291976) Homepage
    By targetting the GPL, Microsoft has made it clear that they want to be able to take our work without any obligations whatsoever. They want to steal our work. A year ago, this would have been an absurd thing to say, but their new zeal for GPL-bashing makes it a workable slogan. We should be saying to this everyone we can!
  • by talks_to_birds ( 2488 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @04:17PM (#3292541) Homepage Journal
    ...the clearest thinking I've read so far:

    From Advogato []:

    • "...But one thing is certain: the open-source community must try to break free from the current situation of constantly chasing Microsoft's tail. Right now, when Microsoft creates SMB, someone tries to clone SMB; when Microsoft creates .NET, someone tries to clone .NET; when Microsoft creates Word, someone tries to clone Word; and so on. This definitely won't do..."

    It's simply time to acknowledge the reality of the situation, and go our own way.

    F*ck Micro$oft; f*ck interoperability with Micro$oft; let Micro$oft and its ilk rot in hell, stewed in their own juices, which they most certainly will.

    Two worlds, one the world of darkness, and one the world of light.

    Guess which one is Micro$oft?

    Which one will you join?


If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler