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Microsoft GNU is Not Unix

Gates: Microsoft IP Finds Its Way Into Free Software 848

Andy Tai writes "While speaking to financial analysts and commenting on the SCO lawsuit, Bill Gates made the claim that Microsoft's IP is also included in Free/Open source software. Without being specific, he said "There's no question that in cloning activities, IP from many, many companies, including Microsoft, is being used in open-source software. When people clone things, that often becomes unavoidable." Considering Microsoft's claims of ownership over technologies like CIFS, does this mean Microsoft may also launch SCO-style attacks against Free Software/Open Source?"
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Gates: Microsoft IP Finds Its Way Into Free Software

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  • Stupid! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pueywei ( 658832 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:17AM (#6544057)
    This is plain stupid. Who do they think they are? Reverse engineering isn't illegal.
    • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:39AM (#6544488) Journal
      He's not claiming reverse engineering.

      What he's claiming is very interesting for people that aren't familiar with the nastiness of big business, though. Sort of an eye-opener for me a few years back, and tech folks should be aware of this if they're interested in IP.

      See, you know how most Free Software folks complain bitterly about (at least some) software patents, saying that it makes things really hard to operate? They aren't lying. Engineers working at big companies ran into the same problem *years* ago. You simply cannot build things in a world with this many tech patents. It's impossible. You'd have to check through huge numbers of patents to do anything.

      So big business came up with a solution. They just cross-license *everything*. One company is free to use all of another company's (or organizations...for example, MIT and Microsoft cross-license) patents. Most tech companies with decent IP portfolios do this with their competitors. For example, Seagate, Western Digital, Maxtor, etc, all cross license each others' patents.

      This seems, at first, counterproductive. After all, isn't the point of patents to give you a short-term edge over competitors, to encourage new development? Nope. Patents in a situation like this still provide one big benefit to their owners -- they maintain oligopolies. If a new hard drive manufacturer comes along and wants to make hard drives, they can't. Seagate, WD, etc own masses of IP, enough to keep the new vendor from entering the market.

      This is why patents are pretty frusterating in the world of big business. Go work at a corporate research lab...any patents you come up with don't do your company any good against their competitors. They just keep anyone else from entering the arena.

      Now, Gates is troubled enough by Linux to pull the patent oligopoly card out of his sleeve, which normally doesn't get played. MS cross-licenses with *huge* numbers of organizations. They own massive amounts of IP. And yes, it's almost certain that they have rights to a large number of patents that Linux does not have rights to.

      Hell, last time Slashdot ran a contest asking for silly patents (a ways back, maybe a year ago), I searched for "computer". First ten hits contained the just-granted patent on the table-lookup optimization for computing CRC-32s. Now, *everyone* does this...modem manufacturers, lots of hardware vendors. Not doing it is stupid. And maybe this patent would have gotten challenged if the owner went after, say, 3com with it. But instead, it's almost certainly in a large patent portfolio somewhere, waiting around for a day when its owner feels threatened by a newcomer to the industry. Then it can pull out its portfolio and start beating folks up.

      This is not a trivially fixable feature of the patent system. Most US corporate research (probably foreign as well...I'm just not that familiar with non-US legalities) depends upon the oligopoly benefits provided by patents.

      And just throwing out the patent system has other problems. I'm not sure that, say, RSA encryption would *ever* have been developed without a patent system to provide encouragement.

      The best thing to do, I think, would be to cap tech patents at seven years, so that companies have to keep frantically coming up with new tech. Wastes more on lawyers -- it costs a couple of thousand per patent, and more patents would have to be produced to compensate -- but that at least alleviates some of the effect.
      • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @01:21PM (#6545172) Homepage Journal
        You are wrong on 1 point. Their is no cross-licensing. Their are only gentlemans agreements. They just dont sue each other. Mutual assured destruction.

        It goes on it most inductries. Heck, I suspect most companies have no idea what their engineers have patented until its time to go to battle with someone.
      • by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @04:21PM (#6546266)

        patents you come up with don't do your company any good against their competitors. They just keep anyone else from entering the arena.

        This sounds like it could be an OSS killer, since OSS would probably have a hard time entering into cross-licensing agreemants, and certainly hasn't yet. So the questions that arise in my mind are:

        1. If this is a large problem for any OSS project, why is IBM so gung-ho on Linux?
        2. Why hasn't MS used this *already* on Linux? Or are we just hearing the opening shots?
  • Oh, my. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:18AM (#6544062)

    Cue 1000 posts about BSD netcode in Windows.

    • Re:Oh, my. (Score:5, Informative)

      by BoneFlower ( 107640 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:32AM (#6544123) Journal
      BSD code is in there, in full compliance with the license.

      Microsoft actaully does use GPL code as well in some of their unix interopability software. Again, believe it or not, they actually comply with the license.

      With the pressure on Microsoft, I don't think they would risk getting caught stealing code. If such an accusation came up and had even the slightest whiff of legitimacy, I'd expect to see several MS developers fired immediately and MS offering a large settlement deal.
      • by Darth Daver ( 193621 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:52AM (#6544548)
        Microsoft was convicted of software piracy in France in 2001. They were fined 3 million francs.

        You can check out the details here. - Microsoft winds up on both ends of software piracy stick []

        I would think that the facts discovered during the anti-trust trial would make it painfully obvious to everyone that Microsoft is not overly concerned with things like ethics or laws. For them, it is an accounting decision. What are the chances we will get caught AND convicted, and what will it cost if we are convicted. Intentionally break our competitors' products, even if it hurts our own customers? Sounds like a good idea to me!
      • Re:Oh, my. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Sunday July 27, 2003 @02:55PM (#6545718) Homepage Journal
        They're in full compliance with the BSD license only because the the UC Regents dropped the advertising clause. For many years Microsoft was flagrantly violating the license.
      • Re:Oh, my. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hacker ( 14635 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @03:32PM (#6545914)
        BSD code is in there, in full compliance with the license.

        Yet another confirming reason why the GPL is "more free" than the BSD license.

        If you use the BSD license in your code, any company can use it for any reason, make changes to it, improve it, add features, and basically tell you to piss off, while at the same time, closing off your code, and using it in a proprietary capacity. This stifles innovation, and stops the ability of others to benefit from modifications to YOUR code.

        Having a license which permits "Free" code to be closed off, and "taken" from a developer, is not my idea of an open license at all.

        Again, the GPL prohibits this, and for this reason, will always remain the better choice if you wish to keep your code out in the open, where others can continue to benefit from it, regardless of who modifies it or what changes are made to the core codebase.

      • Re:Oh, my. (Score:4, Informative)

        by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:37PM (#6546699) Homepage
        With the pressure on Microsoft, I don't think they would risk getting caught stealing code.

        Stac. Timeline. Syn'X.

        Microsoft have "stolen" code more than once. But because it's closed source, it is difficult for the victims to discover and prove the infringement.

        If such an accusation came up and had even the slightest whiff of legitimacy, I'd expect to see several MS developers fired immediately and MS offering a large settlement deal.

        History has shown that Microsoft chooses to fight the accusations in court. Whether the Microsoft developers were fired or not, I don't know.

  • The fact that... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@gm a i> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:19AM (#6544066) Homepage
    windows inet tools use BSD source, many use other open source libs [libpng, zlib, etc...] doesn't phase them. The fact that they rely on them for success...

    But if someone copies a MSFT design element, omg, end of the world, OSS must die!

    Hmm hypocrites!
    • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) * on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:25AM (#6544097) Homepage Journal
      Besides, using the term "clone" is so vague as to be meaningless. There's a big difference between copying something directly and achieving the same results through reverse engineering.
      • Re: The fact that... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:55AM (#6544251)

        > Besides, using the term "clone" is so vague as to be meaningless. There's a big difference between copying something directly and achieving the same results through reverse engineering.

        And what the heck would we copy anyway? If I am going to clone a MS product would it be any easier to hack their code to change it from using the Windows API to use Qt or GTK+, than it would be to write the whole thing from scratch? Or to use code from the Windows morphodite bastard spinoff of the VMS architecture as part of a UNIX clone?

        Get re-al, Bi-ill.

        • Re: The fact that... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by harvardian ( 140312 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @12:52PM (#6544961)
          He could also have been referring to design patents. If you write a cloned program from scratch you can't copy any copyrighted source, but you can definitely copy patented UI elements.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @01:25PM (#6545206)
          We copy the protocols their servers uses to talk to clients. That's what his pissed about.

          Microsoft is a stagnating company. The share holders expect continued growth. They rule the desktop, but can't seem to break into any new markets. The server market is one they are fighting hard to win.

          They know how to play dirty and leverage one monopoly to make a new one, so they keep making windows clients only work well with windows servers.

          The open source people clone the server protocol and Bill gets steams. The funny thing is they can't really sue. If they sue, they have to make claims on the record in court and those claims would be great in the next anti-trust suit.

    • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:38AM (#6544156)
      windows inet tools use BSD source, many use other open source libs [libpng, zlib, etc...] doesn't phase them. The fact that they rely on them for success...

      The BSD TCP source is used by just about everyone, because when it was written it was the best. The 4.4 version is pretty much the reference product. And the Berkeley people had the wisdom to release it under the BSD license, which means that everyone else quickly adopted it and thus followed some sort of standard.

      There is no hypocrisy involved. Microsoft's campaigns against open-source are misguided and misleading, but they have made it clear that they think a package like the BSD TCP stack should be released under a very liberal license. It would be a disaster if it had been released under the GPL- companies would have used their own inferior implementations, which would probably end up being somewhat incompatible or would break the standard. Although it's arguable whether Microsoft has played fast and loose with the protocol, I think we can agree that it's far better that they start out with the same implementation as everyone else rather than code their own...

      As for libpng, same deal. The PNG team simply wanted to replace GIF with something that wouldn't get people sued, so they release libpng under a BSD-like license. If they hadn't, Microsoft simply wouldn't have supported PNG at all.
      • by bockman ( 104837 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:05AM (#6544308)
        they have made it clear that they think a package like the BSD TCP stack should be released under a very liberal license

        If they were honest in this, they would have released their own protocol implementations under a similar liberal licence. So, where is the library to handle word documents? Or the reference implementation for SMB? What about .NET?

      • by Vicegrip ( 82853 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:23AM (#6544403) Journal
        The stack could have been released under the LGPL and accomplished all the benefits you described.

        In fact, this GPL FUD Microsoft loves to spread around like a nasty fart always fails to make mention of the fact that significant elements of Linux are in fact LGPLed and available to companies that wish to write commercial software for the OS. Witness the incoporation of khtml into Apple's Safari browser.

        There are some very interesting and compelling technologies coming to linux in 2.6 that, in my opinion, obviously have certain competing OS companies running scared.

        IP FUD was the expected strategy Microsoft would undertake; Take this statement from Mr Gates:
        "One thing about the GPL is that you can't just license IBM Linux, or Red Hat Linux, The way the GPL works, if you license any Linux, you have to license all Linux."
        This leaves an un-informed person the impression that they might have to make deals with everysingle Linux vendor/software writer out there. Total utterly dishonest bullshit and a blatant missrepresentation of the GPL.
    • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:34AM (#6544459)
      What do you mean, OSS must die? Did Bill Gates say that anywhere? Oh, you're just arbritrarily deciding what Billy said.

      Microsoft has a long history of allowing things like WINE to exist. People have been cloning their products for years into free and shareware versions. As a matter of fact, they are the least litigious company in that department that I can think of.

      The only thing they did due was sue for use of the name Lindows, which in my opinion was understandable.

      But, of course, Slashdot needed a controversial paint-Microsoft-as-bad article today. So the only thing this article did was take a quite logical quote by Gates--people who clone someone else's products are likely copying their IP in doing so (note that he didn't say anything about code, people)--and end with a question out of nowhere that there was no reason to bring up, and past history contradicts. Oh, and end with the obligatory SCO reference to ensure postage to the front page.

      These kinds of articles are formulaic, as are their inevitable responses, as yours illustrates. People fall for it time and time again. "+5 Interesting!"
      • by cooldev ( 204270 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @02:37PM (#6545616)
        Yeah, Slashdot should recognize that although Microsoft has a large (and growing) patent portfolio they've been pretty good about only using those patents for defensive purposes. Give credit where credit is due.

        For as much as Microsoft's livelihood depends on IP, they've shown an amazing amount of restraint (IMHO) when it comes to clones of their products. (Not just borrowing elements, or arguably unintentional patent violations, which all companies do, but blatent end-to-end ripoffs like Evolution.)
  • by netsharc ( 195805 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:20AM (#6544071)
    Well, I guess this is the new FUD Wars. MS and its friends will be spreading this "Linux stole some copyrighted code/idea" propaganda to slow down adaptation of Linux. Strange that we didn't see it in a Halloween Document, this must be stuff they kept a tight secret about.
    • by glockenspieler ( 692846 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:39AM (#6544160)
      Actually... if you check out halloween 7, you will see that this was foreshadowed. Indeed, the brush up with SCO has every sign of being just an opening skirmish in a long battle. Note Eric Raymond's comment in the intro to Halloween 7 - "The risk that Microsoft will go on a patent-lawsuit rampage, designed more to scare potential open-source users than to actually shut down developers, is substantial. The language about "concrete actions" in relation to IPR has the same ominous feel that the talk of "de-commoditizing protocols" did in Halloween I and II." This is partly based on the following comment within the Halloween doc: "Linux patent violations/risk of being sued" struck a chord with US and Swedish respondents. Seventy-four percent (74%) of Americans and 82% of Swedes stated that the risk of being sued over Linux patent violations made them feel less favorable towards Linux. This was the only message that had a strong impact with any audience."
      • ...that when IBM sees to The SCO Group's encraterment, they do a really, really thorough job. Big flash, widespread aftershocks, debris found over a very wide area. Small sign on tourist lookout saying "Go ahead, Bill, make our day". (-:
    • We see it in TimeLine suits, the shafting of SpyGlass Systems, Blue Mountain Greeting Cards et al, the clone wars beteen MS-DOS and DR-DOS, the emBorgment of STAC Systems to settle yet another suit, and so on ad nauseum. Heck the company started by dumpster-diving for printouts of other people's software, and probably also had a copy of the Dartmouth BASIC source in hand while they wrote their 4K ROM BASIC (which they had already sold as pre-existing; ie, their first product was vapourware, the start of a long tradition). This is the company that copied the Mac interface right down to details like throwing away variable-sized elevators in order to look more Mac-like (and got sued for that one too).

      This is a severe case of the event horizon casting aspersions about the kettle's colour! "Chutzpah" isn't a substantial enough concept for this, it isn't even in the running!
  • I highly doubt it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rkz ( 667993 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:21AM (#6544077) Homepage Journal
    Although OSS does try to clone Windows "Look and Feel" (KDE themes etc..) and even Windows features in the form of WINE, the community is very pedantic on making sure they do not use Microsoft code or break any laws.
    If developers of Open Sauce software disregard IP laws they are shooting themselves in the foot, because the whole paradigm of Free software relies on users sticking to the IP/Copyright laws and complying with the licence.

    I believe this is the regular Microsoft FUD, trying to kick Linux when it is "down" .
    • by Alan Partridge ( 516639 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:32AM (#6544124) Journal
      and how do you know that Microsoft is actively poisoning OSS projects with MS code SPECIFICALLY so that it can legally destroy them? What do you know about project contributors other than their email addresses?
    • But it's not just the code! That's where you're missing the most critical part of his claim. When you patent softare concepts, you're patenting every array of copying that can happen, and that's the sad part of the matter. Open Source, though only out there for non profit means (until you arrive at Redhat, and the such), has to be aware that it can't trample the rights of big companies, even if it's being sucked dry of all of it's code at the same time.

      We live in a capitalistic world, and frankly, an attack like this should be expected. It's a great idea to have people working on open source software for the fun of it, but it has to be original ideas. OSS is like the product of a company. If it's created and it tramples the rights of others, then companies that have been trampled will have the right to come back and request damages from ANYONE that uses the software.

      It's a frightening world out there for Open Source Software, but it's a real world. We need not just look past these claims as "Micro$oft hogwash" or anything of the sort. SCO and Microsoft might be making VERY valid points, and it's something the OSS community MUST watch out for.

      I love Open Source Software, but I also respect the rights of others, however evil they might be.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:19AM (#6544379)
        ". If it's created and it tramples the rights of others, then companies that have been trampled will have the right to come back and request damages from ANYONE that uses the software."

        I'm sorry these rights are a recent fabrication - mostly by America - they did not exist when I entered the business 20 years ago in England.

        Why should I recognise them now. I sure as hell didn't vote for them. Did you? I doubt it!
        • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:32AM (#6544446) Homepage
          these rights are a recent fabrication - mostly by America - they did not exist when I entered the business 20 years ago in England.

          Exactly. They didn't even exist here in America when I began programming.

          Why should I recognise them now. I sure as hell didn't vote for them. Did you? I doubt it!

          Nobody voted for them except the head of the patent office. It wasn't approved by congress at all.

    • IP is not just CODE (Score:5, Informative)

      by blastedtokyo ( 540215 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:41AM (#6544171)
      Intellectual property is not only code (covered by copyright) but anything in the patent portfolio, trademarks, or trade secrets. The way that things are coded or the way that features behave can be patented so with the number of patents MS holds, Gates's statement is almost undeniably true.

      Also, copyright covers the right to make derivative works. So if there's an icon or other UI element that was a tweaked Windows element then that's technically copyright infringement. It's awefully hard to prove though (given the Apple v. MSFT precedent.

      In short, Gates is right but it doesn't mean they'll start firing lawsuits against open source...They didn't previously sue their other competitors unlike how Sun/Oracle lobbied and/or sued MSFT.

  • What about Xerox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joel8x ( 324102 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:22AM (#6544081) Homepage
    Wouldn't Apple then be able to claim that the Windows GUI is their IP, and then Xerox could claim that everyone's is theirs?

    What about the guys who invented the Abacus? Shouldn't they get a cut too?
  • How true! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:22AM (#6544082)
    There's no question that in cloning activities, IP from many, many open-source products, is being used in closed-source products. If people at SCO and Microsoft have access to source code, that kind of thing often becomes unavoidable.
  • And so it begins... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:22AM (#6544086)
    I was wondering when the intellectual property attacks would come. It's really the only place open source is vulnerable. I'm really just surprised it took this long.

    Any takers on a pool for how long before our good buddies at Microsoft start some legal action?
  • Choice of license (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs AT ovi DOT com> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:25AM (#6544094) Homepage
    this is a perfect example on why you should use the GNU/GPL license instead of BSD or other open source models.

    It means that big companies will find it more difficult to steal and bury.

  • by sholden ( 12227 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:29AM (#6544107) Homepage
    With the garbage that gets a software patent there is certainly IP from microsoft in Linux.

    Then again, there's cetainly IP from microsoft in first year programming assignments, "Hello world" probably violates microsoft's IP by now.
  • by gokubi ( 413425 ) * on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:29AM (#6544109) Homepage
    Actually, this is exactly what Bill would say at this time. When Gartner says to hold off on Linux development [], the business world pricks up its ears. When a few days later, Bill makes a casual statment that Microsoft code has been SCO'd, all of the sudden this is a trend. Linux has major IP problems, is what business will hear.

    Bill won't probably ever give details about what IP he's talking about--he doesn't have to. The value of his statement is that it highlights MSFT's long shadow looming over OSS. Specific threats would be refutable--his statement is not.

    Net effect? A wonderful chilling effect (in Bill's eyes) on open source development with no costs for MSFT.
    • by idlethought ( 558209 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:09AM (#6544321)
      If proprietary source (effectively secret) can leak into Open source, then it is certain that Open Source has leaked into proprietary codebases.

      The protections against it happening OSS -> Prop. are far far weaker- for one thing the end result isn't there public for anyone to inspect. All SCO had to do to evaluate their claims was download the source. No one else has the chance to do the reverse to check to see if UnixWare is ripping of Linux code.

      The incentive is also far greater- Most OSS coders are motivated by the challenge and pride in their own acheivements. Engineers working on proprietary code are more driven by their paychecks, difficult to acheive deadlines.

      It's reasonable to assume that if SCO and the FUD from Gates is even slightly true that MS, SCO and many many other companies are guilty of IPR violations galore.

      The only reason it might be less of a risk to these companies is the lack of power (in terms of lawyers and political clout) the OSS teams have.

      This is slightly countered by the lack of accountability over distribution of the source the openness of OSS encourages
  • by imadork ( 226897 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:30AM (#6544111) Homepage
    If any manager or businessman begins an assertion with "There's no question", "Clearly", or "It's obvious", that assertion is nothing of the sort. It's a wild-assed guess at best, and a lie at worst. They say these things to give their statement a false measure of authority, and because they can't stand not appearing to know everything all the time. These are the phrases that shift my BS meter into overdrive...
  • by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:30AM (#6544112) Homepage
    Well, there you have it.

    MS recently paid SCO a liscense for UnixWare. Why? Well, I'm no Microsoft PR Troll, but if I were them, and planning on a new "Linux users are dirty lousy thieves" campaign, I'd do my best to let the little freaks at SCO be heard, even if everyone who has the slightest bit of knowledge in the subject knows SCO's full of it. Just long enough to be heard by most people, and get the community whispering in doubt in places. "SCO keeps shouting that Linux stole their IP, what if they're right?"

    Because now MS can run "Us too!" ads and FUD Linux in interviews at will. It doesn't have to be true, or even slightly true, all they have to do is put the idea out there and the PHBs of the world, already a bit put off by the SCO mess, will buy it hook, line and sinker.

    It's not like the various Open Source people (ESR, the FSF, etc) are given nearly as much press time in contrast to Gates.

    How to fight this? Demand MS put up or shut up. Loudly. Whenever anyone is within earshot. Fight their FUD with honest, biting truth -- Linux is open source, we have nothing to hide, and is MS thinks we've stolen something, they're welcome to show some proof. Mention Kerebos, HTML 3.2, and whatever other instances of IP that MS has "Shifting Standardized" or "Embrace and Extended" into being a royal pain in the arse to use.

    Of course, this is all assuming that Gates won't sneak some GPLed code into Windows now, and just claim that we stole it from him instead... Which is a decidedly more frightening prospect.

    They can't beat us technology wise, they can't beat us pricing wise, but they can lie about us until everyone's too scared to use us.
    • by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:12AM (#6544335)

      Because now MS can run "Us too!" ads and FUD Linux in interviews at will. It doesn't have to be true, or even slightly true, all they have to do is put the idea out there and the PHBs of the world, already a bit put off by the SCO mess, will buy it hook, line and sinker.

      As someone whose job it is to make complex technical and business evaluations of the software platform my company uses uses, let me point out that this patronizing and ill-considered rant hardly endears you or your view to "PHB"s. Your attitude that elite OSS coders are way too smart to be suckered in, but anyone who has to live in the real world is a fool who buys into any ridiculous story, can hurt OSS as much as SCO and now Microsoft can. If you want to influence the people who make the decisions, try talking to them instead of talking down to them.

      It also doesn't help to go round shouting "SCO and Microsoft are liars". You may see the world as black and white, but it really contains many shades of gray and most of the PHBs who you so despise see that. Like it or not, given the current laws there are ideas that are covered by patents and other IP protection and you can't just re-implement those ideas without legal repercussions. You may want a world with no or different IP laws but pretending you live in that world now is naive. If OSS software contains illegal code then it is monumental irresponsibility for a company to use that software.

      Of course, no-one has yet proved that there are any OSS infringements, and until they do I am going to continue to run Linux servers. But I will keep a close eye on the unfolding legal situation and if SCO wins its case the world will have changed radically. You may think there is no chance of that happening. I think there is a slim chance there is a real case there.
  • by yorkrj ( 658277 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:30AM (#6544113) Journal
    If we look back at the early suits involving Microsoft and Apple, there may be indicators of how this might turn out. In that case Apple was suing Microsoft for duplicating the look and feel of their GUI but Apple didn't win. I don't know the details of what MS is claiming but does this qualify as a bonafied legal precident?
  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Feztaa ( 633745 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:30AM (#6544114) Homepage
    Gates's main argument here is basically "if you make a clone of one of our programs, it becomes impossible to keep our code out of your program."

    Yeah, I remember that time that I made that clone of IE, and then Gates himself showed up at my home, pointed a gun at my head, and forced me to copy and paste code right from IE into my browser. Right...

    Last time I checked, it's not illegal for two programs to do the same thing, while having absolutely no code in common.

    Let's think about this, anyway: how the hell does MS code get put into linux? MS's code is closed, we can't access it. I bet Linux gets a lot of kernel patches coming from On the other hand, Linux code is open, you can see all of it, if you want. It would be trivially easy for some coder at MS to see some linux code, and put it into windows without anybody noticing.

    If there is any overlapping code in both linux and windows, it's far, FAR more likely that MS stole it from linux, not the other way around. It's also possible that they both came from BSD.
  • How the hell? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:33AM (#6544129) Homepage Journal
    Sonce all their software is not only proprietary but also "closed-source" so nobody can see the source code, automatically nobody can copy or include their sources into other software.

    Technically impossoble.

    Unless of course you come with the same solution to the same problem and your code looks very much alike. But then I want to sue Gates for violating copyright of my software. Back in the times of Atari I wrote a screen blanker that looks similar to one of Windows blankers. I never released my code, just showed it to several friends, but no doubt one of them told Gates about it and he stole my program!
  • by darnok ( 650458 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:36AM (#6544146)
    Under the present IP and patent laws, he's probably right - given MS holds zillions of patents, it would be very surprising if some Linux stuff didn't step on these patents.

    However, I don't think he'd be silly enough to try to enforce these patents. Given IBM's love and support for Linux, and given that MS is almost certainly stepping on some of IBM's even larger set of patents, then he'd potentially be setting MS up for a world of hurt.

    There's been a gentleman's agreement for years between IBM, MS and many others that sharing their patents via cross-licencing agreements is the only way to advance the industry as a whole. If MS tries to go against this agreement, IBM could give them a world of hurt (and get a lot of pain in return).
  • by Dan Crash ( 22904 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:36AM (#6544147) Journal
    If there's "no question" that your IP is being used in open source software, tell us where. If you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is, the world should rightfully assume that your attacks are baseless and without merit.

    I hope you continue on with this approach and name a specific distro or Open Source project so they can sue you for defamation.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:39AM (#6544161)
    From the article:

    "One thing about the GPL is that you can't just license IBM Linux, or Red Hat Linux," Gates said. "The way the GPL works, if you license any Linux, you have to license all Linux."

    What a bunch of crap. This is disinformation at its best.

    - Linux is a Unix kernel clone.

    - There is no such thing as Red Hat Linux or IBM Linux. There are IBM or RH distributions that make use of the Linux kernel

    - Wtf does "licensing any Linux" and "licensing all Linux" means ? I'm assuming Gates mean licensing any Linux-based distro, in which case you adhere to whatever licensing terms the distro is released under, licensing terms which in turn are compliant with the GPL (since Linux is included).

    That blurb from Gates means rigorously nothing whatsoever. But most people aren't even aware of what the GPL is, and when they quickly read something like that, they decude "uuh, Linux is dangerous to my business" or something. That's just ridiculous.

    As much as I hate RMS' rants, flamewars and stubbornness, I must admit we need him more than ever today.
    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:48AM (#6544529) Journal
      Agreed. I do not understand what Bill is trying to say when he says "The way the GPL works, if you license any Linux, you have to license all Linux". Is he refering to the so called "viral nature fud" of Linux?

      Anyway THE GPL IS NOT AN EULA. How many times has it been stated here. All it is is a simple copyright notice. Yes this code is copyrighted do not copy it unless you show all the code thanks. Thats basically what the gpl is in simple terms. MS is so obsessed with EULA's because this is how they extort, oops I mean maximize profits.

      He does not get the gpl at all. You are right about misinformation.

      The only thing MS may be right in is linking to GPL code. This is a gray area. For example I was reading the Reiser comments in an earlier story yesterday and the BSD community will refuse any fS that is gpl. Why? Because they fear if you link to a gpl product then the kernel must turn gpl as well. Isn't the copyleft license specifically for situations like this? Perhaps more developers should use that.

  • Scare Tactics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Psx29 ( 538840 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:40AM (#6544166)
    Even with microsoft, I doubt anyone will be taking these kinds of threats seriously without some kind of verifiable proof. The main purpose is to scare people who are unknowledgeable about opensource software into choosing something else. And it might even help opensource software because 'stealing' code is much easier behind closed doors...
  • One Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carrier lost ( 222597 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:40AM (#6544167) Homepage

    What Gates and people of his mindset continue to miss (or ignore) is the fact that 90% of software developers work on code that is never sold. They work for brokerages, shipping companies, hospitals. For code that is never meant to be sold, licensing is rarely an issue.

    The GPL only threatens software companies whose primary source of revenue comes from shrink-wrapped proprietary applications.


    I only mod up...

  • Microsoft isn't going to sue Linux any time soon, that would look bad. Thats why they had SCO do it.

    Bill is just spreading FUD about OSS, thats all.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:48AM (#6544207)
    What delightfull fud

    The good mr. Gates completely fails to identify the nature of the IP. He completely fails to identify how the IP is protecteted. And, He completely fails to explain how it got away from microsoft.

    Lets consider the possibilities

    1. Source code copying
    The usual suspect. As always its much more likely that microsoft stole from the open source world than the other way around. You can completely discount the historical incidents and still come to this conclusion. Its just to easy for Microsoft to take something thats publicly available and hide it in its code bloat. OSS developers, would have to somehow purloin Microsfts source and include it into existing projects. NOT LIKELY

    2. Look and feel

    Microsoft more or less destroyed this argument in their lawsuit with Apple. Apple still owns Xerox Parc and is releasing Darwin under GPL.

    3. The ever popular patent system
    This is where the pain can come from. Our patent system is seriously broken. Between business method patents, Patents for devices that never get built and the ever popular overly broad but legal patent, are microsofts best weapon against OSS. The sheer cost of prosecuting a lawsuit makes it an effective weapon. On the other hand the organizations developing OSS in general have no assets, they have allready released the code to the world, and theres nothing to stop them from reorganizing in saner parts of the world (PGP excellent example).

    As usual this type of action makes me happy I am an NRA member and support the 2nd ammendment to the hilt. The reason smaller government is best is because it belongs to whoever is willing to buy it.
  • dark ages? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ender Ryan ( 79406 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:48AM (#6544208) Journal
    While many /.ers believe we are entering the "digital dark ages", it looks like we may also be entering a "business dark ages." In the great US of A these days, litigation is equally as important as producing a product; to some companies it's MORE important, eg. SCO, Rambus, etc.. Claims such as the one made by Gates are common practice among business execs. Enron, MCI, SCO, Adelphia, MS, etc. Name a large business that is honest? There are a couple, but it is not the norm. Perhaps it never has been.

    In any case, it is obvious to me that there are still a great many hurdles humanity must face before individuals actually have the freedom so many millions of people have died for in the last century alone. Or something... It is just painful to watch as large corporations push smaller companies and people around, all the while receiving the blessing of our "representatives." I don't know what else to do. Vote, write your representatives, protest. Anything we can legally do only marginally works, if that...

    "Civilization is only skin deep"

    • Re:dark ages? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alan Cox ( 27532 )
      And indeed against Microsoft. The press is remarkably less keen to cover the threats by other patent holders to sue Microsoft customers or the intertrust lawsuit microsoft is losing right now, which could affect almost their entire product line and given intertrust good reason (under US law anyway) to go sue every user.

      Hell now MS is insuring those users intertrust can even go sue the companies without offending the company just raking in the cash...

      China owns 1/3 of the US national debt and makes most of
  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:50AM (#6544221)
    I'm seeing a lot of people saying something to the effect of "put up or shut up". Are you sure you really want that? How would it affect your life if the Samba or Apache projects were shut down for patent infringement? I'm not saying this is likely, or even possible, but just think about it for a moment. MS could cause a LOT of problems without even having a valid legal leg to stand on. They certainly could convince a lot of companies to question adoption of open source. And it's not as if they are exactly convinced about it now...

    SCO is the last gasps of a desparate company. Any legal action from Microsoft will be very calculated and a much bigger threat. Remember, $40 billion buys a lot of time from your friendly neighborhood legal team. That's pretty hard to fight, even if you are right.

    • I seriously doubt that MS will attempt to attack OSS directly.

      Everyone, including the courts, knows that Linux is shaping up to pose the only credible source of competition that MS faces - an attempt to block that competition by any means other than those afforded by the marketplace - pricing, licensing, FUD, etc - would be met with a high degree of suspicion. It most likely would result in closer judicial scrutiny of MS and a revisiting of the DOJ settlement.


      I only mod up...

    • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:10AM (#6544325) Homepage
      How would it affect your life if the Samba or Apache projects were shut down for patent infringement?

      I'd spend the rest of my life puzzled as to how something Microsoft patented could have ended up in Apache without it automatically being prior art either in Apache or httpd.

    • Speaking to key SaMBa developers, if M$ could have shut down SaMBa any time after about two years ago, Bill would have picked up his PalmPil^[^Htricorder and said "Make it so, Mr Ballmer".

      If Trey manages to freeze FOSS out of the 'states, he's going to create the biggest brain-drain, and the biggest boost for non-US economies ever seen.

  • by _|()|\| ( 159991 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:56AM (#6544258)
    "Here you have a product without R&D controls, and it's not part of a cross-license," he said. "Given the high level of functionality, you'd think it would have patents.

    The GNU GPL is, in many ways, the ultimate "cross license." When the German government wants a few more features [] in KDE, it pays for exactly those features. If you feel the need to stock up on more traditional IP ammo, just make sure you own all the copyrights, like Trolltech, or file some patents, like Red Hat [].

  • A one way street. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gyorg_Lavode ( 520114 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:58AM (#6544273)
    Microsoft speaking on copying others' features seems a bit absurd. Microsoft has made a living off other peoples' innovations. Now the only reason suits like the SCO vs Linux haven't come up with other OS's is because we can't see whats under the hood. Now, in fairness, maybe Linux developers have a right to view the OS code of any accusers of IP infrengement to make sure they haven't done the same thing. Such a rule might also make a company think twice about filing frivilious lawsuits to tarnish the reputation of open source OS's.
  • by ffatTony ( 63354 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:58AM (#6544275)

    I realize everyone thinks SCO's actions are sleezy and MS is being oportunistic, but I really think this lawsuit is good for linux as a whole and me in particular. Why? The chicks. The current scenario is:

    random girl: can I check my email?
    me: sure...
    girl: your desktop looks weird, I want to go home now. I'm confused...

    but if linux does include stolen code it becomes dangerous:

    different girl: mmmm, is that linux you're using?
    me: why yes... it is (sly smile)
    girl: you're so dangerous, take me now.... on the keyboard...

    One can always dream :)

    (And before you make wild geek accusations, yes I do have a girl friend and this was intended to be funny :)

  • Misinformation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ctid ( 449118 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:03AM (#6544296) Homepage
    Gates is deliberately attempting to misinform the general public here. Reverse engineering of software and protocols is perfectly legal, but he uses the term "cloning" to make this legal activity sound like the illegal activity of copying. Then he uses the misleading term, intellectual property [] to hide what he is talking about. So he's trying to hint that reverse-engineering falls into the same category as copyright infringement.

  • Irony (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:03AM (#6544297)
    However, Gates said intellectual property from SCO and other companies--including Microsoft--has found its way into the code.

    As opposed to the Microsoft's way of "innovating" code from Stac Technologies, Timeline [], and SoftImage []. But the question has been asked: How does closed source code find it's way into open source code? In the case of SCO, it may have happened, but what about MS? They are so totalitarian they threaten to sue anybody who posts anything resembling their code.

    There's no question that in cloning activities, IP from many, many companies, including Microsoft, is being used in open-source software," Gates said. "When people clone things, that often becomes unavoidable.

    There is a difference in cloning functionality (window control, widgets, etc) and cloning code. If MS is crying about cloning functionality, then Xerox, Apple, IBM, FreeBSD, RMS, XFree86, and an alphabet like soup of companies can complain about MS. Apple even sued them for it and lost. But how would you know Bill, unless you personally know code from many companies?

  • What about Germany? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Idou ( 572394 ) * on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:12AM (#6544334) Journal
    Can they now close down the MS German office just like they did the SCO German office for making unsubstantiated claims?

    I am not sure how smart this is for MS. I would think they would want to be distancing themselves from SCO at this point. SCO has obviously been manipulating the financial system by their outrageous and contradictory claims. If SCO is found guilty for pumping up its stock price by making claims about Linux IP, wouldn't MS then be in a difficult situation? Not even going into anti-trust issues . . .
  • by Linux_ho ( 205887 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:16AM (#6544356) Homepage
    So, now that they've made that statement, are they open to shareholder lawsuits if they don't pursue WINE or SAMBA in court? Or perhaps they were referring to Microsoft IP they have not put restrictions on, like for instance the CIFS and .Net specs?
  • by srk ( 49331 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:17AM (#6544357) Homepage
    I remember the days when Linux was a small esoteric system and most people simply did not know about its existence. Others who knew did not treat it seriously. For the first time I had installed Linux some time around 1993. People were laughing at me and asking why I am wasting my time on it. The reason I did it is that I was looking for a way out from MS crap and from overly expensive Unices from Sun, HP, etc. I wanted to have something that is Unix and that is always with me and I can use it on cheap hardware. It was pretty clear then that all non-MS OSes will be dead soon. Linux for me was a sort refuge from Microsoft repression and I hoped that it will remain an esoteric system for foreseeable future.

    This is very regrettable that Linux has got so much attention these days especially from Microsoft. We know perfectly that Microsoft was able to muscle out any other competitor (IBM, Lotus, Borland, Netscape, DR DOS just to name few). Linux is unusual in that sense that it does not rely on the usual commercial cycle of investment-production-sales. But this does not mean that it is not prone to Microsoft tactics. Microsoft did not always use only economic means against its competitors. It was able to fend off antitrust lawsuit without much trouble. Sometimes the tactics was to hire competitors' execs or similar variation. It means that MS has something except for FUD to fight Linux with and there is no doubt that it will do, and it will win.

    Using IP laws against Linux is indefensible tactics simply because Linux community is not able to afford to hire enough lawers to defend itself. Probably the only viable solution is to take Linux development and use out of the US and Europe. And this is where globalization plays a bad role: if IP laws are used then they are enforceable pretty much everywhere. Probably China is the most promising country because it has a rather independent policy and its government does invest into Linux.

    There is much trouble ahead fro Linux, it had become a victim of its own popularity.
  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:19AM (#6544380)
    The way things are going at the moment, the main thrust of Linux deployment and development could end up in Germany. The apparent put up/shut up silencing of SCO in Germany is a case in point.

    Currently Airbus Industrie is overtaking Boeing as the largest manufacturer of aircraft, a major transfer of skills and business from the "Advanced" US to the "Backward" EU (and, before the FUD starts, Airbus repaid its government loans long ago.) The US Government perhaps needs to consider whether the practices of US companies may cause the centre of technology innovation to move out of the US in the longer term - except that for the present administration, the long term is 2004. Oh well, Bill can afford to retire anytime. Pity his developers can't.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:29AM (#6544430) Homepage Journal
    The thing about courts is that

    a) intellectual property and business practices would be leaked. Like, if you lost a case to MS for some reason, and were losing your home as a result, why wouldn't you leak any trial documents you ran into.

    b) MS could lose. I mean, if you got your case tried in Mississipi, it is all but guaranteed that jurists would side with the little guy over the big company - in fact that is more likely to be the norm nationwide.

    Finally, courts are the last stop before violence erupts. The free market should work without undo courts. If there is a lot a more court activity than courts, then the country is a step closer to civil war.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:45AM (#6544511) Homepage Journal

    It is fairly clear that IP law in the U.S. is out of control. We have companies who spend millions foisting their ideas off on society then complaining thet their ideas are treated as part of the cultural background. We have companies that think it is possible to own the commons. We have legislators and judges agreeing with them (possibly for pay in some cases).

    The quickly developing morass is expensive to navigate and makes real innovation nearly impossible. It is rapidly expanding to cover every aspect of life and technology.

    What will the U.S. do when the time comes for a cost/benefit analysis and the result is that it is cheaper to leave the U.S. entirely? There are a number of countries out there with a much saner IP situation (even if only by virtue of not really considering IP at all) that would really love to expand their economy and influence by becoming the home of technological innovation.

    Up until now, their lack of infrastructure has removed them from consideration. There will come a point where the cost of dealing with stupid U.S. style IP law will exceed the cost of building your own infrastucture in these countries. The decision to move will be a simple matter of economics. After all, corporations do not have patriotism, they know only cost and benefit (read profit).

    Looking at history, the U.S. benefitted greatly from being on the other side of that equasion in it's first two centuries. The opportunities presented by a country where one could have a good idea and develop it into a reality free of a million rules and regulations and laws favoring the entrenched dinosaurs were enough to cause innovators and businessmen all over the world to pull up roots and move to the 'the land of opportunity'.

    The same legal and economic forces can just as easily drive innovation and business elsewhere.

  • by borgheron ( 172546 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:50AM (#6544534) Homepage Journal

    The term IP is confusing and I would urge that it not be used. It is confusing since it is often used to lump desparate laws of Copyright, Patent and Trademark as well as others together.

    By using this term Mr. Gates is raising questions about all of these things lumped into that term, not just Patents or Trademarks.

    The real question here is, can any company give us complete assurance that copyrighted or unlicensed material is not present in their software? Most companies DO NOT indemnify you for their infrigements (including MS even with their new license).

    The answer to the above question is NO. Why? Because while Copyrights are easy to avoid infringement on in most cases, Patents are not. With Patents, it's like walking throught a mine field. There is no way of telling, short of doing an exhaustive search, if something is patented or not. In fact *MOST* patent attorneys will advise against doing such as search (really!!).

    To learn more about patents and their evils in the software industry, please see the petition in my URL.

    Thanks, GJC
  • What what whaaat? (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekster ( 87252 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:59AM (#6544583) Homepage
    "Under the GPL, all tweaks and applications developed for the operating system must be released to the community. That restriction does not hold true on commercial versions"

    All applications must be released to the community? That's just plain untrue. Isn't there a way to let the people reading that article know that he's lying?
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @12:22PM (#6544692)
    Wouldn't it be nice if we could get journalists to stop reporting stupid claims of "IP" theft?

    It's like saying "They stole our karma".. it's a fictional thing that can't be proven.

    Intellectual Property takes one of several specific forms, well defined by law. It's not a general thing.. like "Hey I had that idea, and you used it, so you stole my IP".

    Copyright - Original works cannot be copied verbatim. This doens't protect ideas, just specific works. Example: You can't make copies of Windows and sell it without permission.

    Patent - Must be registered. Gives absolute protection over the use of a mechanism. Example: firewire. Every firewire device pays Apple a royalty.

    Secret (trade secret) - A method where nobody who knows your secret is given access to it except under strict contract. Not really a form of IP.. if someone figures it out and is not under contract, they are free to disclose it. The only value of this kind of so-called IP is if you can manage to keep it a secret. Example: Formula for Coca-cola.

    All these companies running around saying "our IP has been taken" is just a bunch of stupid spin-doctoring, and the media should stop catering to it. If SCO has a valid case, they can take it up in court. The same goes for Microsoft, or anyone else.. but running around claiming "IP" theft without specific details is like saying "some people got some ideas from us". Well.. guess what MS.. you and every other software developer out there free or not, got ideas from someone else at some point and used them in their software. big deal.
  • SAMBA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gleef ( 86 ) * on Sunday July 27, 2003 @12:38PM (#6544843) Homepage
    He's almost certainly talking about SAMBA []. Microsoft probably (I haven't checked) has patents on several aspects of the SMB protocol and the NT Domain system. SAMBA would then reimplement these patents without a license. Therefore, Microsoft IP (patents) could very well be in open source software (SAMBA) without authorization.

    To my knowledge, Microsoft has not moved on this issue. They probably see SAMBA as still being too small a fish. It wouldn't be profitable for them to sue a few developers into bankrupcy, but if a big company with deep pockets banks on SAMBA, they might reconsider.

    In the interim, Microsoft spreading vague FUD on the issue is cheap and very beneficial to their bottom line.
  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @01:13PM (#6545113) Journal

    ...and how Microsoft is claiming we SCO'd them. I dont' believe that has been said. Gates refered to Microsoft IP, not code. Microsoft's IP can (and surely does) cover more than code (look and feel, networking techniques, crappy vague patents, etc.). I'd be worried more about that than I would be about MS trying to be sneaky and steal some GPL'd code and put it in Windows, or submitting Windows code to the kernel or something like that. Why pull a big elaborate scam when a violation of a vague patent will do just fine?

    Monopoly at it's best. Instead of eliminating the competition through inproving your own products, simply bash and sue the others using what should probably be unlawfuly aquired IP ("Method for rasterization of a rectangle through means of an electronic device...OK *stamp*". Scary how much even that parody might be factual given the USPTO, even though I bet that one belongs to IBM ;-) ).

    If there is any reason to be afraid, it's that. "FUD" could turn into "deep shit", if they really put their minds to it.
  • Own Medicine... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Temsi ( 452609 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @01:38PM (#6545295) Journal
    This accusation sounds rather ironic and hypocritical, considering that pretty much everything Microsoft has ever put out is a clone or a copy of something else.
    That's how Microsoft has always done business: if you can't buy the innovators, clone their product and give your version away for free until the innovators goes out of business or is otherwise unable to compete.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:33PM (#6547311)

    The (Free)BSD license must be changed. It's no secret that ms is using code from BSD in their 2000/XP code base. While the ability to do so shouldn't change, the BSD team should do what it can to prevent sco/ms type actions.

    One of the sco leeches has already stated that they will be looking at BSD next.

    The BSD code should be changed, where they revoke license rights if the company using any BSD code either instigates, or supports another company instigating, sco type tactics. They can lay out a roadmap of sorts, where prior to any lawsuit, prior to any contacts by any attorneys, the company's (who adopted the BSD code) engineers will show all code in question to BSD, or to any affected entity, and will be given ample opportunity to replace the code, suggest a mutually agreeable alternative, delete the code, or take some other action that the parties can agree upon. And if they do take the case to court, the complaining party must agree to refund attorney's fees if they lose all, or even part of their case.

    Refunding attorney's fees even if they only lose part of their case is important because it makes sure the complaining company's case is damn solid, which in turn will give the affected company/entity more motivation to come to an agreement with the complaining company.

    It's up to BSD to do this. Not the linux kernel maintainers. It is the BSD code which can be (and is) adopted by proprietary companies for use in their own code. And they are permitted to not reveal the source code. That's why ms is using BSD code, and why they are getting their OS's to some semblence of stable (they have many miles, and years to go).

    So what say you BSD?

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"