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Microsoft And The GPL/LGPL 618

AnimeFreak writes "In this CNET news article, it talks about how Microsoft's new license that will allow competing companies to read-over software code for their products does not allow software covered under the GPL/LGPL licensing agreement (such as Linux, SAMBA, and Mozilla)."
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Microsoft And The GPL/LGPL

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  • by teambpsi ( 307527 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @12:56AM (#3348190) Homepage
    Thou shall not be competent?
    • Wow, a first post that probably wasnt aiming for it. Well, that aside....

      Anyways, how can MS compete with GPL? I see they're trying to look _good_ by allowing some source to leak out to freeBSD. Still, with their standards, how can they prevent/make sure that somebody doesn't share the standards with somebody in the samba group? Still, isn't decryption/decoding of standards compliance ommitted in the DMCA? I thought the Sony v Colecio setteled that (I knew it's sony versus some other vid game company, as the other company won).

      Oh well, MS is outliving their usefulness with their ever constricting contracts and costs. I've even shown Linux to friends who never have had a computer. They prefer KDE over windows. They realise setting up is a chore, but learning a bit is cheaper than resorting to a Evercrack(-like) software. Just fork over 200 bucks and we'll give you a patch^H^H^H^H^Hupgrade!

      I still use Windows(2k), But I'm trying to find the best way to port over to linux, as the major tool I need is an avi video editor(VirtualDUB in linux would be wonderul, but I have very little skills in that area). I game a bit, But I OWN the metal box Quake3. I also have UT, RtCW, and other fun linux games. No probs there.... :-) ePSXe works great in linux too....
      • Sega v. Accolade (Score:4, Informative)

        by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @09:33AM (#3349609) Homepage Journal

        Still, isn't decryption/decoding of standards compliance ommitted in the DMCA?

        Yes, 17 USC 1201 permits circumvention aimed strictly at interoperability, but many judges have flatly ignored that provision.

        I thought the Sony v Colecio settled that (I knew it's sony versus some other vid game company, as the other company won).

        The issue in Sega v. Accolade was the Trademark Security System in the Sega Genesis console, which gave the program on the cartridge a short time to call a BIOS routine that displayed "Licensed by Sega", or the BIOS would halt the program. The judge ruled that copying Sega's code to do this was fair use (read the decision [] to see why). The Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Advance platforms use nearly the same system (except it's a piece of data in the header instead of a piece of code that must be called within time constraints), making it perfectly lawful for homebrew developers [] to put the logo data in the header as long as they don't cause trademark confusion (which can be avoided with a simple "NOT LICENSED BY $CONSOLE_MAKER" in the initial screen display).

        The anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA don't replace Sega v. Accolade not only because of the interoperability exemption but also because the systems in the Genesis, DC, Game Boy, and GBA platforms don't control access to a work copyrighted by the console maker, and only (representatives of) the copyright owner can sue under 17 USC 1201.

    • Thou shall not be competent?
      And thou shalt make legislature pass laws favourizing thy product.

      That's typical bourgeois attitude. Case in point: in the late 1700's, a brewer named Molson moved to Canada, where 99.99% of the french population, being from Normandy, made their own applejack cider (grapes dont's grow there). Rather than corner the cider market, the incompetent Molson had the governor pass a law prohibiting the people from making their own cider.

      Voilà! Instant market for it's horsepiss beer!

      That's typical of the the way anglo-saxons do business: shove their inferior crap down other's throats. And then, they wonder why planes crash into buildings...

      • by FFFish ( 7567 )
        WTF you mean "grapes don't grow there"?

        There are at least 20 wineries within one hour's drive of my house, and at least 30 vinyards, and Okanagan wine has been cleaning up with gold medals at the world tasting events for a good five years or more. We grow grapes here, and damn fine grapes at that.

        Ontario also has a thriving winery industry, though it's not nearly so good as BC's. :-)
  • Like just a few days ago?
  • Just like... (Score:2, Interesting)

    this? 25 2&mode=thread

    I thought we had hashed this one out already ;)
  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Burgundy Advocate ( 313960 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @12:59AM (#3348202) Homepage
    It's their code, they can licence it however they damn well please.

    That's what "freedom" is all about. You get to choose how your code can be used. MS has decided, now it's up to us to honor that decision.

    Otherwise, you have no right to expect anyone to respect licences like the GPL.
    • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tunah ( 530328 ) <> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:05AM (#3348224) Homepage
      If you read the article, you would see it is part of their settlement with the DoJ. Now _I_ have no right to complain, I am not a US citizen. But if it was my DoJ I would be seriously pissed off that the settlement will apply only to companies. Antitrust legislation is for the people (as is all legislation, in theory).
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rainmanjag ( 455094 ) <joshg&myrealbox,com> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:07AM (#3348232) Homepage
      You miss the point of the op-ed. Yes, software implementations are copyrightable and licensable. Perens isn't saying that MS should make their implementation of CIFS anything other than they already do. However, it's been a hallmark of competition for a competitor to simply look at the way the product works and the reverse engineer it. They can then license their implementation any way they choose. And this has happened the SAMBA project engineered their own implementation of CIFS and it runs on any *NIX system that wants windows file sharing compatibility.

      However, what Perens *is* saying is that if Microsoft patents certain features or qualities of its implementation, then if SAMBA wants to make an interoperable product, they have to pay royalties to Microsoft in order to be able to use the *patented* (not copyrighted) technologies. And it's this type of IP patent abuse that has got Perens and the entire computing world (except those with legal monopolies gained from unjust patents) scared $hitless.
      • Re:So? (Score:2, Funny)

        by ljaguar ( 245365 )
        scared $hitless.

        Am I alright if that read "scared <a variable named hitless>"?

        I was scratching for full 10 seconds before I realized '$'=='s'
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thomas.galvin ( 551471 ) <slashdot AT thomas-galvin DOT com> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:11AM (#3348253) Homepage
      It's their code, they can licence it however they damn well please.
      That's what "freedom" is all about. You get to choose how your code can be used. MS has decided, now it's up to us to honor that decision.
      Otherwise, you have no right to expect anyone to respect licences like the GPL.

      Normally, you would be right, but Microsoft has been found guilty of illegaly abusing a monopoly. This trial is in the penalty phase, not the "did they do it or not" phase; Microsoft is being punished.

      The very heart of "punishment" means that Microsoft is going to have to do things that they do not want to. The fact that this is an anti-trust trial means that they are going to have to do things that hurt themselves and help their competition. GPL software represents some of their strongest competition, so a "punishment" that does not help GPL developers is not a punishment at all. Remember, they have been abusing their competitors and their customers.

      In the past, when Microsoft did whatever they damn well pleased, they broke the law. They cannot continue to do whatever they damn well please to correct this.
      • >>> that does not help GPL developers

        Not to sound too harsh, but really, cry me a river. Thanks to the rather strict requirements of the GPL, it's really not too hard to come up with something, even in good faith, that doesn't play with the GPL. Witness the QPL or old BSD licenses.

        Now of course breaking compatability w/ the LGPL is an entirely different story. Since I glanced through the MS license, I will go ahead and stupidly ask (since Mr. Perens didn't quite explain in his article): exactly how does said license not allow one to link a module created using the MS license with other modules created under the LGPL? I can't find anything that would kill this. Even section 3.3 doesn't seem to apply since LGPL modules don't place restrictions on other modules, and thus don't cause $(MS_MODULE) to come under $(IPR_IMPAIRING_LICENSE). Hell, where is Mr. Perens getting the statement "The Microsoft license specifically excludes software under the General Public License, commonly known as the GPL" from? I don't see any mention of (L)GPL in the document.

        Does this whole furor stem from the fact that the license covers the documentation?

        Lastly, of course, is this the part where I say how I'm writing this from a Linux box and work with GPL software, or should I just go hide behind some asbestos? Obviously I misled myself *somewhere*..

        • ahhh, foot in mouth. sect 1.4 #defines $(IPR_IMPAIRING_LICENSE)..

          Ok, STILL.. it wouldn't be compatable w/the GPL anyway. And since "Company Implementation" refers specifically to "portions of software that implement CIFS.." (section 1.2), and not the software itself, I still don't see why it would be a problem to link against LGPL modules.

      • GPL software represents some of their strongest competition, so a "punishment" that does not help GPL developers is not a punishment at all.

        That's some bull$hit straight up. Tell me this. If GPL be such strong competition and all that, why do they need some judge to save they a$$? Ya'll OSS fools need to get ovah the fact that if yo game was strong, you wouldn't need to wait for some court to MAKE Micro$oft cut you some slack. Don't nobody respect no whiny a$$ busta who always crying about how somebody else took they whatevah.

        Fact is, none a ya'll OSS software be ready fo prime time. And when it is, like Apache which been tearin up $hit fo a while now, M$ cain't fsck wit it. So all ya'll need to do is quit stressin' about M$ and hone ya'll skills. When ya'll are better than M$ ya'll know it cause you won't need no judges or no punk DOJ bustas.
    • Microsoft is not writing this license because they feel like it, they are writing it because they being punished for breaking the law.

      So no they cant write it however they damn well please.
    • What this goes to show is that anti-trust settlements, nominally intended to redress wrongs made against the people, aren't actually used to benefit the people wronged. So MS can cut a deal to give goodies to other companies, but fuck the citizenry, and all those nasty communist types who use open source; where the DOJ is concerned they don't count!

    • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 4of12 ( 97621 )

      It's their code, they can licence it however they damn well please.

      A good and valid point.

      I find it ironic, though, in all of MS crying and hand-wringing about how the GPL is so restrictive, destructive of intellectual property, anti-American, etc. that they have come out with a license that is phrased with particular vengeance against the share-and-share-alike GPL.

      Despite his rabid single-minded adherence to the principles in which he believes, you don't see RMS adding clauses to the GPL prohibiting you from using such software together with proprietary software, such as MS operating systems, etc. He encourages maximum use of free software, but he does not distribute his software with the kinds of legal shackles that MS is doing.

      So let the free market decide which kind of system they like better.

  • The nine states that don't agree to the proposed settlement have finished their case, and Microsoft is beginning its case now. Microsoft's scheme to comply with the settlement in such a blatant partial manner that restricts implementation under GPL and LGPL licenses for no good reason must be brought before the court. It really displays the inadequacy of the proposed settlement and the incorrigibility of MS. It limits use of their specifications by their greatest competitor and maliciously slanders OSS licenses at the same time. The news broke too late for their case. I hope they can squeeze it in somehow and include it in their briefs!
  • Check out these two links,
  • The SMB/CIFS license I thought was to satisfy the European investigation. Perens is bollixing that up with the Justice Department/nine states settlement, which would involve documenting the protocol, but I don't think says anything about releasing the source, and in any case is off in the future, since the settlement has not been accepted yet.

    - adam

  • the day of the obvious today?
  • Brain Control? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Advocadus Diaboli ( 323784 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:14AM (#3348266)
    What Microsoft is going to do is pretty serious. They are publishing documentation to the proprietary things they do and they publish them under a license that an Open Source developer is not allowed to use this information.

    So in short they are denying you to use information. And of course that would just mean, that every Open Source development in projects that are related to what MS is "disclosing" have to stop immediately, otherwise MS could claim that the developers violated their license. And the question is if Open Source then has to prove if they are innocent or if MS has to prove that they are guilty. Anyway, legal affairs cost much more than many Open Source developers can afford.

    So this is just another form of censorship. But its much worse. Microsoft is "publishing" something and in the same moment trying to disallow you to use that knowledge which is published. A thing that is really serious because the human brain doesn't have an infrastructure that tags information as "not usuable for Open Source" and so on. Or can you imagine a school that learns you how to add 1+1 and then tells you: You are not allowed to use this knowledge. And keep that in mind!

    As a developer I don't want to bother if the knowledge that is stored in my brain is free or not! For me it is free and nobody, especially not Microsoft has the right to control what I'm doing with my brain!

    So for an Open Source developer this sort of license agreement simply says: Read the information and forget it completely. And so there is no need to waste time with reading at all.

    So, basically this license can be used by Microsoft to protect even things that are not able to get a patent for.

    If I go on thinking about this a bit more, then I think that Orwell was a very big optimist when he wrote "1984".

    • Microsoft is "publishing" something and in the same moment trying to disallow you to use that knowledge which is published. A thing that is really serious because the human brain doesn't have an infrastructure that tags information as "not usuable for Open Source" and so on. Or can you imagine a school that learns you how to add 1+1 and then tells you: You are not allowed to use this knowledge.

      And they have the gall to call the GPL 'Viral'...



    • Re:Brain Control? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ogerman ( 136333 )
      So, basically this license can be used by Microsoft to protect even things that are not able to get a patent for.

      Disclaimer: IANAL

      Not really. I don't believe there are no legal grounds, historical or otherwise, for licensing text materials with provisions on what you can or cannot do with the knowledge within. If I buy a copy of a M$ technical reference from my local bookstore, M$ has no right to prevent me from doing anything other than directly copying it. I can write my own technical reference based on my interpretation, release it with nothing more than a standard copyright, and they can't do a damn thing about it. (Preventing me from doing so would be a clear-cut first-amendment violation). The same applies to software itself assuming that code is considered free speech. Software would be an interpretation of the technical reference as well. If software is (illogically) not deemed free speech, then there may still be need for an in-between third-party documentation before developers can use it to develop software.

      Either way, this is only about software patents. Without them, M$ is powerless to enforce any such license.
      • You seem to have the First Amendment confused with something else. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is:
        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

        The First Amendment only applies when the GOVERNMENT is attempting to prevent you from doing what you stated above. Microsoft, on the other hand, is a private company who does not fall under the jurisdiction of the First Amendment. Now if you were to indirectly copy material (running it through your own words and interpretations), you could be accused of plagiarism.
        • Microsoft is based in the state of Washington, which, last I checked, has not seceded from the Union. Therefore, Microsoft is most certainly within the "jurisdiction" of the Constitution.

          Further, NO ONE is allowed to supress the free speech rights of another person.

          Where did this "the Constitution only applies to Congress" routine get started? It applies to EVERYONE, not just Congress.
        • So, unless Congress passes a law, how exactly is Microsoft going to stop me doing what was described? Steve Ballmer could show up with a baseball bat and smash my keyboard, but (a) I have others; and (b) Congress has passed laws against that, too.
    • Connect the dots (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xixax ( 44677 )
      Step two, infect previously open standards [] with IP that is owned by your organisation.

      Step three, vigorously prosecute anyone developing competing products that do not let you tax the proceeds.

      The potential synergies of these power grabs are even more scarey than the grabs themselves.


    • The Microsoft license is completely bogus. All it is is an intimidation tool. It looks legitimate enough that Microsoft can haul you to court without the judge laughing in their faces. Once there they can wear you down. Once the judge sees through their tricks, MS will simply settle. And the media will attribute it as a win for Microsoft.

      I've seen dozens of tiny companies do exactly the same thing.
    • Nothing new.

      You've heard of a non-disclosure agreement, right?

      A non-compete clause?

      What you do with your brain is terribly contractable.
  • The picture I get (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tremul ( 190113 ) <> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:25AM (#3348306) Homepage
    The picture I get of Microsoft when I read articles like this, is that of a spoiled child who wants all of the toys, wants them his way and wants them right away. However eventually this child grows up and learns that he has no friends. In Microsofts case, the child has grown up and learned to beat the other children with his toys.
  • As we have discovered many times in the past, large software companies can spout off much meaningless legal jargon in their contracts and EULAs. But, just as Oracle cannot force us to give up our right to free speech and Borland cannot wrench control of our intellectual property through the simple use of their software, there are limits on what Microsoft can do. After reviewing the case here, I recommend that Jeremy Alison and the other members of the Samba team grab a copy of Microsoft's restrictive license and use it as toilet paper. What makes me so confident? It's a thing called prior art, and Microsoft's patents on CIFS don't hold any water because they just haven't invented anything new.

    Let's take a look at the patents that Microsoft has filed that they are attempting to use to keep Samba down. Keep in mind that these may not be available on freebie patent search sites, as they have not been formally approved yet (a process that often takes 1-2 years). In the meantime, you can find them on Lexus-Nexis and other similar professional service networks.

    • U.S. Patent T7086923: Authentication of an Untrusted Third Party over a Packet Switched Network to control access to Network resources. As the title may indicate, this is a very general patent; based on my Linux experiences, the original BSD telnet daemon constitutes prior art. No problem here.
    • U.S. Patent T7065653: Connection-based random access file transport mechanism with Authentication and Reliability. Sorry, but Apache beat them to the punch several years ago. No go. Yes, http supports random access.
    • U.S. Patent T7689363: Domain identification and logon based on broadcast network packets. This is a little tougher, but BOOTP was around before Microsoft was even formed. Check the dates on your RFCs as an exercise, and tell me just how quickly this one will get thrown out of court.
    Yes, Microsoft has big, bad lawyers - but technically they don't have a legal leg to stand on. Bring RMS, ESR, and their millions of dollars into the picture, and Microsoft is going to have some serious problems enforcing their farce.


    • Unfortunately it's not the legality of the claims that makes the difference.
      It's the long drawn out trials, threats and general FUD that can go on for years (as MS has just proved), all the while effectively making it impossible for the coders to code.
      tell me, do you have the money and resources to prove them wrong in a court of law?
      regardless, are you supremely confident enough in your claims to start coding tomorrow? would you get nervous when you get your daily cease and desist letter, knowing you don't have the legal power to stand up to them? what if they go ahead and arrest you? sure, you could get released b/c they have no real legal claim, but is it really worth it? ask Sklarikov(sp?) if he would rather have the software or the jail time.
      the real issues, unfortunately, have nothing to do with 'reality' and MS knows this just as well as us.
  • "The Management" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:27AM (#3348310)

    I work in a state agency (hence the AC), and the prevailing "unwritten" policy that has been tossed my direction is that we will use Micro$oft platform software for systems that we have a shortage of competent workers to use as resources (ie one, me) due to these principles:

    1. Given that the administrator up and quits tomorrow, "The Management" can go on the street and hire an MS trained professional from the myriad unemployed yokels who thought certification = job.
    2. Micro$oft Administration is easy, and if they had to, "The Management" feels they could administer the box without personnel. (Which is false)
    3. "The Management" had a bad Linux experience - had business needs that were met by a non-administrator implementing a linux box for those needs... and the non-administrator got a better job and left them with an un-administerable box. Said box was then owned by skinheadz and used for DDOS attacks, because the box wasn't administered properly.
    4. "The Management" believes that finding bugs in Micro$oft software and submitting them to M$ will get the bugs fixed.
    5. "The Management" believes contacting Micro$oft with support issues is better than having to support yourself in the Open-Source Arena.

    So.. we continue to use M$ software in a highly vulnerable part of our enterprise (web).

    What's the point?
    The point is that members of the technical community (read: tech workers, not most middle-managers) are already convinced of the issues of interoperability, standards, and the monopoly status of Micro$oft. The hurdle lies in convincing "The Management" that the only way to break this monopoly and to curb these business practices is to take your business elsewhere.

    From my perspective, most of those in middle management feel that Micro$oft will do what is "right", and do what is "best" for the tech sector, and that having a large corporation there to take care of our interoperability worries, and our standards issues, and our implementation problems is a nice comfy thing to have. It gives them a sort of comfort zone in which to work in.

    I think I started rambling.. I better move to my weblog now so I don't get modded too heavily.

  • Just to Nitpick (Score:4, Informative)

    by FreeMath ( 230584 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:32AM (#3348321) Homepage Journal
    Mozilla is licenced under the Netscape Public Licence [], not the GPL.
    • Mozilla is licenced under the Netscape Public Licence [], not the GPL.

      Actually, different bits of Mozilla are licensed under a bit of a mess of different licenses. Efforts are underway [] to get everything unified under an NPL/GPL/LGPL "triple license", so you'll be able to use the code as long as you abide by one of those licenses. This would, of course, fall foul of Microsoft's new license.

      • Re:Just to Nitpick^2 (Score:2, Informative)

        by llin ( 54970 )

        As a nitpick to your nitpick, the efforts that are underway are actually primarily to convert to a MPL/GPL/LGPL triple license. The Relicensing FAQ you point to actually addresses the NPL/MPL tangle in relicensing [].

        More information on the special rights and differences between the MPL and NPL are available in the MPL/NPL FAQ [].

        Currently, there are only a few bits left to be relicensed: Have You Seen These Hackers? []

      • The MPL/LGPL/GPL tri-licence is the preferred licence I think.

        The NPL/LGPL/GPL tri-licence is only for stuff originally under NPL.

        The most succinct explanation of what's acceptable and where is under "Acceptable Licenses" near the bottom of the licence policy page [].
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:34AM (#3348326) Homepage Journal
    If you look at the difference between the Proposed and Final judgments against microsoft, the only major removal is license agreements.

    M$ knows, that they can use licenses to take control back from gpl'ed software. And with the DMCA there is no such thing as "Interoperability" programming. You don't have the source, your breaking US law.

    And remember kiddies, the DoJ arrests people from other countries.

    • You don't have the source, your breaking US law.

      It's always so sad to see halfway intelligent posts look so stupid because they don't know the difference between "your" and "you're" or "their", "they're", and "there".

      Get a highschool literacy, please.
  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:36AM (#3348334) Homepage
    I say its MS's property, so they can write licenses as they wish (court scrunity willing).

    BUT, I'm less "up in arms over MS license shenanigans" than I am pleasantly enjoying looking at the big picture here. As of late there most of MS moves have been very defensive, there's not a lot of neat and interesting things MS has been bringing to the table as of late, besides .NET maybe, which is, as of yet, unproven.

    * The X-box has been respectable at best. Yes, MS has a reputation of getting things right the third time round, but with the X-box they have to pay $$$ for each and every box they sell. Its production has a much more profound effect on their bottom line than producing strictly software. Plus, you can't just release a new version every 9-12 months until its usable.

    * Windows on big iron seems to be niche at best. Compaq, Dell, et al have all reduced or dropped support altogether.

    * This is my own opinion, but someone's smoking crack if they think the web tablet is going to blow up huge (at least in the form MS has been showing). This isn't a MS bash, I'd say the same thing if some company was using Linux/BSD and making the same claim. The tablet has always seemed to be a solution for a problem that doesn't exist (in the mass market).

    * .NET seems interesting, but so do most things at microsoft when they're at the brochureware stage. It remains to be seen if the hype can live up to the promise, and if it can, it can be leveraged into a steady (read: large) revenue stream. With .NET being "supposedly" open it doesn't bode well for MS to reap huge rewards by controling every aspect of it.

    In fact, if MS can't hit a home run here in the next 24 months you're going to see them use their IP more and more. Expect them to start hitting people hard and heavy to bolster their bottom line. The problem with this is, of course, its a short term solution. The marketplace will find a way to eventually circumnavigate barriers thrown in its way.

    Its been said before, but MS is looking more and more like the Wangs of the past. They're not going to disappear overnight (if at all), and they've got a lot of inertia on thier side, but unless they come up will a large scale winner, the 800lb gorilla is going on a crash diet.
    • The X-box has been respectable at best.

      I received an e-mail recently from a training company that offered a free X-Box to anyone who would sign up for one of their courses. The courses ran the gamut from typical WinMonkey stuff to Netware to Linux.

      I thought it was mildly weird.

  • Other Counties (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LinuxOnHal ( 315199 )
    Ok, I know that there are lots of samba developers here in the U.S., but is this as enforcable in other counties equally as well?

    It would greatly hinder development, but what if the protocol work was done overseas? Software is regulated in different ways in different locations.

    Just a thought

  • by Ogerman ( 136333 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:47AM (#3348364)
    From the text of the license:
    3.2 Patent License. Subject to Sections 3.3 - 3.7, Microsoft
    hereby grants Company a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, personal,
    transferable, non-sublicensable, license under its Necessary Claims to (1)
    make, use, import, and (2) offer to sell, sell and distribute, directly or
    indirectly, to End Users, Company Implementations that fully comply with the
    Technical Reference. The above license is limited to implementing the CIFS
    communication protocol itself, and does not include any express or implied
    licenses or other rights to any underlying technology (operating system
    technology, local file system technology, etc.) that may be used to make a
    complete file server or other CIFS compatible device.

    Reciprocal Patent License. To the extent Company owns,
    controls or can sublicense without payment of a fee to an unaffiliated third
    party, any patents that are required for Microsoft or its licensees to
    implement CIFS as set forth in the Technical Reference and distribute such
    implementations, Microsoft and its licensees are hereby granted a license to
    such patents solely for the purpose of implementing CIFS as set forth in the
    Technical Reference and distributing such implementations.

    If I understand this correctly, Microsoft is claiming patent rights (5,265,261
    and 5,437,013) on technology related to implementing CIFS. Basically they're saying "everybody can use our patents royalty-free as long as it's not part of (L)GPL'ed software." Essentially this is a patent license, not a software or documentation license. The "technical reference" is just along for the ride--also free under the same terms. I predicted this about 2 years ago--that Microsoft would turn to software patents after realizing that GPL software was undefeatable by any other means. This is their first attempt.

    It seems there are 3 options:
    1.) Develop CIFS software outside the US, ignore the patent for use within the US.
    2.) Develop a CIFS module for Samba under the BSD license (license compatibility?)
    3.) Develop CIFS software at will and ignore M$ altogether.

    All three cases probably require some degree of civil disobedience for US citizens--in the form of not honoring software patents. I say go for it. This could become the first time M$ ever legally fought individuals, and believe me--it could raise such a stink in public opinion that it destroys them completely.
    • by Jeremy Allison - Sam ( 8157 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @02:28AM (#3348481) Homepage
      We (the Samba Team) don't think Samba infringes on these patents. We've looked at them.

      The problem is it doesn't matter what we think, it matters what lawyers think of this.

      We're currently getting a legal opinion on this and will post a more complete statement once we've done so.


      Jeremy Allison,
      Samba Team.
    • All three cases probably require some degree of civil disobedience for US citizens--in the form of not honoring software patents.

      Sure, I'm down for civil disobedience -- but then again, I'm not a big company. Legitimate businesses are much less likely to use software created with even a little civil disobedience.
  • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:51AM (#3348379) Homepage
    Can anybody explain to me how Microsoft can allow BSD software to use their license while forbiding GPL? Since BSD software can be re-licensed under any other license (the property that MS likes), why couldn't it be re-licensed under the GPL. In other words, what would prevent me from writing a very small BSD program that just used the MS doc but doesn't really do anything useful, and then re-license it under the GPL.

    Or probably better, all the MS interoperation code could be put in a BSD library (since there'd be nothing innovative in that part, MS won't even bother) and then link all kinds of GPL programs to that library. Does that make sense?
    • Can anybody explain to me how Microsoft can allow BSD software to use their license while forbiding GPL? Since BSD software can be re-licensed under any other license (the property that MS likes), why couldn't it be re-licensed under the GPL. In other words, what would prevent me from writing a very small BSD program that just used the MS doc but doesn't really do anything useful, and then re-license it under the GPL.

      It's not so much that BSD-licensed code can be relicensed (GPL code can be relicensed as well, by the author or with the author's consent). It's more about how the GPL forces the code to be released.

      There are really two ways to look at the GPL. The first is from the perspective of a programmer writing GPLed software. He licenses under the GPL because he wants to make sure his code is always available (alternatively, he worships RMS, or doesn't really know what the GPL is but has heard it used as a buzzword, or is trying to keep companies from profiting from his work, whatever). This is fine. Anybody who wants to use that code has to abide by the GPL or get a special license from the author.

      The second way is what this is all about. Somebody writing a GPL application links to a non-GPL library. Now, it's not very clear on what the licensing situation should be at that point. The obvious solution is "don't do that", but there are plenty of ignorant people out there so we can't rely on that answer. Now, the way Microsoft (and most other GPL-unfriendly companies) interpret this situation is that the viral nature of the GPL goes both ways -- if you link to a GPL library, you're now forced to GPL your app, and if you link a non-GPL library to your GPLed app, that library must now be GPLed. This is exactly what Microsoft is trying to prevent. Remember, the GPL has not been tried in court yet (I don't remember exactly what happened with the recent MySQL case, but I seem to recall it was settled out of court. Anybody want to clear this up?), and so the lawyers are interpreting it pretty broadly to be safe.

      This is not Microsoft being malicious about the GPL. It's Microsoft following the CYA (Cover Your Ass) policy with their own intellectual property.

      • This is not Microsoft being malicious about the GPL. It's Microsoft following the CYA (Cover Your Ass) policy with their own intellectual property.

        They are being malicious. Remember that they're not releasing source code, they're release specs, information. What "intellectual property" could they "lose". It's like telling you "the header to my proprietary format starts with an '%', now you're not allowed to write a GPL program that uses that precious information".
    • by manyoso ( 260664 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @04:45AM (#3348878) Homepage
      That's the thing, BSD is _not_ allowed by this license. Read:

      3.3 IPR Impairing License Restrictions. ...Company shall not distribute any Company Implementation in any manner that would subject such Company Implementation to the terms of an IPR Impairing License."

      Distributing under a BSD or X11 license would necessarily "subject such Company Implementation to the terms of an IPR Impairing License." if said implementation were relicensed under the GPL.
  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:55AM (#3348387) Homepage Journal
    Section 3.2 says M$ is giving away the technology for free with the stipulation that it cannot be freely redistributed. The reasoning is that M$ is limiting the scope of intellectual property rights being granted so that no free implementation of their spec can exist. It would seem that an implementation for $0.01 or less might be okay.

    This shit is legal?

    If it is, why not just ruin their market? A client which on installation calls a 3rd party server anonymously, to indicate a sale. The dealer donates all the money to the dolphins or maybe the FSF. No money is collected, he just donates on behalf of all the users.

    Scenario two: The software is only sold in 1000,000-packs, price is 1 cent. What constitutes a sale? What constitutes prior restraint on business? Microsoft does not make money directly from this license it would seem. Is it possible for them legally to force a licensee to take a profit?

    This could sprout a new anti-anti-GPL: Just like BSD but the FSF or somebody else puts up 1 cent for enough copies to cover the world population. We can have a $10 fund to cover any number of M$ products which use this until the sun explodes. Perhaps we should use a dead currency that will give us better compression..

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @01:58AM (#3348394)
    If this license is allowed by the court,
    it is now far worse for the open source developer
    than before the trial!

    Now there is a specific exclusion for a specific competitor. Would the contract be legal if it named a company instead of the GPL?

  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @02:06AM (#3348420) Homepage
    All reimplementations of this then will be released under a different license that is an exact copy of GPL, plus an additional clause that Microsoft or any entity that is owned by Microsoft is prohibited from using it. Technically it will be perfectly ok under Microsoft's license -- it's not GPL at all, it's not even compatible with GPL.
  • by Get Behind the Mule ( 61986 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @02:14AM (#3348438)
    It may be stating the obvious, especially on Slashdot, but there are many people in the world who need to hear this: again and again, M$ pushes its products not by trying to make them have the highest quality and win in market competition, and certainly not by innovating, but rather by playing political hardball and introducing gratuitous incompatibilities, all to deprive consumers of choices.

    So many times, I hear people insisting that M$ could only have become so powerful by being the best. This seems to derive from a profound conviction that market forces can only ever do The Right Thing, so anything that succeeds in the market is by definition a superior product. I think that market forces make this happen most of the time, but like anything else conceived and practiced by human beings, markets are flawed, in that they sometimes allow products to succeed by shenanigans rather than by quality. And M$ is living proof of it.

    Here's M$, reacting to the open source phenomenon, which may truly be the biggest threat they face today. Especially the GPL fosters the existence of software that they couldn't at least copy for their own purposes, unless they open their source code as well. So what do they do? Create even better products that beat out GPL'd software on the market? NOOOOOOOO!!! Instead they create a license designed to make the competitor incompatible, by legal fiat. Not that any consumer of software derives any benefit from the intracacies of software licenses, and not that there's any innovation in legally forbidding interoperation.

    What will it take before M$ apologists finally get it?
    • by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @02:28AM (#3348484) Homepage Journal
      Instead they create a license designed to make the competitor incompatible, by legal fiat.

      Just as an aside to your comment, (which I whole heartedly agree), if I ever get busted for something, I want to be treated like M$: I want to be able to meet with the prosecutor and tell them what punishment I'd like.

      Now that everyone is freaking over the license, can I ask a really stupid question? Can't we tackle this from the other way around? For instance, write a client for Windows to use Unix, instead of writing a Unix program to work with Windows built in clients? Or am I being really stupid?

  • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @02:18AM (#3348453) Journal
    ...and if not, shouldn't she? Seems to me this is clear evidence that the proposed settlement is worthless.
  • ...that will allow competing companies to read-over software code for their products does not allow software covered under the...

    Unless I missed that day of class?
  • why not just? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @02:31AM (#3348490) Homepage
    Why not just make a third license with exactly the same terms as the GPL, but which requires that every user fork over one penny for use of the program to the FSF at some point before January 1, 3000 A.D.?

    In this case distribution isn't 'free' since there is a real cost involved, even if that cost is delayed. Companies use the idea of 'delayed costs' all the time in accounting; why can't common citizens do the same?

    Better yet, have one person buy the program and then relicense it under the actual GPL. You can do the same with the exempted BSD license and I doubt MS could do a damned thing about it.

    (Well, actually, I don't doubt that. They've obviously bought Bush and through him the DOJ, so they can probably do just about any damned thing they like, with Federal marshals to back them.)

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @02:32AM (#3348497) Homepage

    I am not a lawyer. That having been said, the clause at issue seems to be the following:

    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.

    3.3 IPR Impairing License Restrictions. For reasons, including without limitation, because (i) Company does not have the right to sublicense its rights to the Necessary Claims and (ii) Company's license rights hereunder to Microsoft's intellectual property are limited in scope, Company shall not distribute any Company Implementation in any manner that would subject such Company Implementation to the terms of an IPR Impairing License

    It occurs to me that there are two well-known open source licenses that satisfy this requirement: the BSD license and the MIT license. They both basically give carte blanche to use the licensed software in any way one pleases, and contain none of the so-called "Intellectual Property Rights Impairing" provisions..

    So ... can we re-license these projects under a BSD license? Or is there something I'm missing about the agreement? For example: if we link a GPL program against a BSD library, does that library become GPL?

    NB: I believe very strongly that this is an effective way around this problem, so I may play devil's advocate with any replies. Hopefully we can hammer out a solution somehow.

    • You are asking me to enter into a one way contract by asking me to support a BSD or MIT license. I give source to the community because the community gives source to me. I feel obligated to place my code under a GPL license that so in the future you will not have to repurchase something I gave to you for free. My friend you have a ok idea but it is one that I will never support.

      A far better solution would to be to immediately change all of our source code licenses to allow only running on GPL systems.

  • Let me look surprised for a moment. We all knew Microsoft is going to go kicking and screaming until the end.

    So here's an idea, instead of integrating their technologies directly into your GPL/LGPL program (Which you can't because of licensing terms), create a completely seperate application/module that can interface with your GPL/LGPL program using it's own protocol designed by you, or perhaps using XML, then make that interface program BSD Licensed, or anything other than GPL/LGPL. Sure it's half-assed, inefficent, but it's also beating them at their own game. For example say Mozilla wants to render a particular ActiveX control (now I'm speaking mostly from my ass because I don't know much about ActiveX at all). The Mozilla team could write an independent plugin, licensed under BSD License that implements that ActiveX control. There you go, a Microsoft technology you implemented using their shared source, but implemented in a plugin licensed under the BSD License, but used in an application licensed under GPL/LGPL.

    Of course without the exact terms of the license they may or may not address this.. Then again most of what I just wrote I pulled directly from my ass, but I thought it made some sense. But it's good to see that Microsoft is seriously considering GPL/LGPL software a real competitor or they wouldn't be doing so much to try and stop the spread of it, even going so far as to say it's destroying capitalism. I'm surprised they haven't directly associated it with communism, karl marx and stalin..
  • by tunah ( 530328 ) <> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @03:35AM (#3348662) Homepage
    Okay, I've been thinking about this and the possibility of getting an implementation of these standards to the GPL via BSD, and have realised why this has absolutely no credibility.

    Scenario 1: An implementation can be released under the BSD license, which can then be 'forked' by a third party (the fork being GPL) and the original abandoned. Microsoft can do nothing. This license means nothing.

    Scenario 2: For some reason in the license, the action outlined above is not possible. This must be due to something in the license. If it just says 'you may not relicense under GPL' you just relicense under the X license (say) and then under GPL. The only way microsoft can get around this is to say something like:

    If you redistribute source of this program or of a derived work of this program this paragraph must remain intact, and the GPL or other IPR must not be used.

    Now what do we call that, boys and girls? A viral license.

    RMS's bogeyman was closed source, MS's is the GPL. They both discovered that if you want to release the source, you need a viral license. Unfortunately for microsoft, that makes their whole excuse for eradicating the GPL collapse. Oops.

  • by cipset ( 550887 )
    Isn't this also a way of restricting competition? If there is a company which has a bussiness model based on GPL/LGPL then is this not a method of throwing them out of the market by forbiddig them access to info otherwise accesible to other companies?

    It is like showing the people how a disease can be cured and then forbid them use the cure because they give it for free and insist that their cure to be free.

    I do agree GPL/LGPL makes about the same but shouldn't we apply here the general interest bias?
  • by DocSnyder ( 10755 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @04:56AM (#3348896)
    What about choosing a license for a library or a dynamic module between M$' "property" and Free software which does not count as IPR Imparing License but permits being used by GPL'd programs?

    For example, the Linux kernel is GPL'd but allows non-Free modules to be loaded dynamically. Lots of Free programs may be linked against non-Free system libraries, e. g. on AIX or Solaris. Why can't we do the same with Samba? Of course, the module or library has to be optional, but so is a non-Free kernel module.

  • by Rocketboy ( 32971 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @08:20AM (#3349312)
    It seems to me that the net effect of Microsoft's abuse of the patent system (and not only Microsoft, but I expect them to be a very aggressive enforcer of their "patents") is to destroy the very concept of intellectual property in the United States. Consider that A) Most software patents are, as has been noted, idiotic to the most casual observation, completely ignoring in most cases the existance of prior art, and B) the art of software development is not the exclusive playground of US developers. I believe that the time is coming when the software market will be split into two spheres: the United States and the rest of the world.

    Between the DMCA and other laws passed for the express purpose of enriching large corporations at the expense of the multitude of small niche competitors, and the rampant abuse of patent law, software development in the United States is rapidly becomming a closed guild wherein only the large corporations who own portfolios of spurious software 'patents' can afford to play. When an independent software developer or a small software company discovers that fundamental computing concepts are locked up in idiotic patents which they can not afford to either license or litigate, they will, I believe, decide to do something else with their time. Why not? If every piece of software you release into the world exposes you to the threat of financially ruinous litigation, how can you release anything? That is exactly the environment Microsoft is creating.

    Yet not all software is developed in the United States. At the moment the rest of the world pays lip service to US copyright and patent law, including the DMCA, because the US is such a large market. But what happens when it becomes much more expensive to do business in the US because of the cost of defending your products against patent litigation, or due to the need to purchase multiple patent 'licenses' for every product you sell? In this case, extensive portfolios of software patents become a barrier to trade and I would expect to see action in international trade court against them at some point.

    History teaches us that when confronted with difficult obstacles people tend to find a way over, around, or through them. I believe that we will find ways around these spurious, artificial legal barriers as well. Being a simple sort of person, I imagine that we'll end up simply ignoring them. Even Microsoft can't bring 10,000 patent infringement lawsuits against every individual writing GPL'd or otherwise competing software. They'll pick a few high-profile cases as warnings to others but eventually people will figure out that Microsoft is not about to spent a couple of million dollars suing each independent developer. I expect to see cases where developers release software and then 'disappear' into the void, essentially becoming phantom targets. I expect to see developers release software in other, more innovation-friendly countries. I expect that net effect of the DMCA and current patent law will be, like the tax code of the IRS, simply to make most of us criminals, just because no-one knows all of the law or all of the moronic patents which have been granted. We live with it now, we'll manage to live with it then. The difficulty for a societal point of view is that once people begin ignoring 'bad' laws, they ignore the 'good' ones also. Injudicious use of intellectual property law in a misguided attempt at protecting software monopolists will simply result in widespread disregard of all intellectual property laws, including copyright.

    "Sten". My name is "Sten". As far as you know!

  • Not news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ulmanms ( 106454 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @09:57AM (#3349765)
    In this CNET news article...

    I'm not trolling, but that's not a news piece. Yes, it's on their '' site, but it's an opinion column, written by Bruce Perens.

    I'm not saying he's not right, it's just that presenting it as news is misleading.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @10:51AM (#3350194) Homepage Journal
    ..isn't GNU. It's LPF. Maybe this will help people finally understand this.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry