[linux-elitists] M$ again and suggestion

Aaron Sherman ajs@ajs.com
Thu Jun 21 14:46:43 PDT 2001


On Thu, Jun 21, 2001 at 08:49:14PM +0200, Brenno J.S.A.A.F. de Winter wrote:

> For a couple of hours I have been plagued with a new move by Microsoft 
> to exclude explicitly Free Software/Open Source code to be used in 
> conjunction with .NET this is to hard to believe. But believe it anyway.

Wow, I did not expect this.

> Check out (paragraph 1c):
> http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdn-files/027/001/516/eula_mit.htm
> 
> Now I can imagine that this is not 100% the list to discuss these M$
> topics. We at the PLUG (Polder Linux User Group) have acknowledged
> that as well and I started a discussionlist gnu_vs_ms@dewinter.com
> (subscribe through minimalist@dewinter.com) if you want to take the
> discussion off-line and join some Europeans in the
> discussion. Please join the brand-new mailinglist. It is clear that
> the war is on. Let's discuss that.

I really respect this, so let me not belabor the MS vs. Linux points
(though they're difficult to avoid). Let me, instead unpeel this in
terms of why this has no impact on Linux, and why I would advise that
MS create such a clause (and everyone else, for that matter).

> (c) Open Source. Recipient's license rights to the Software are
> conditioned upon Recipient (i) not distributing such Software, in
> whole or in part, in conjunction with Potentially Viral Software (as
> defined below);

First, note that this is the "Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit Beta
2". We're not talking about Powerpoint, here, but a development
toolkit.

Now, I think it's fair to say that Microsoft would never be required
to release their source code if Joe Schmoe build a GNU program with
it (assuming that such "building" required more derivation than just
packaging his software with the MIT, and which was not covered in any
of the case-law for computer software toolkits). Joe simply did not have the
rights to assign such a condition to Microsoft in the first place, and
thus Joe has violated the GPL by distributing his software.

However, as a CYA maneuver, the Redmond Behemoth has added a clause to 
REQUIRE that you not do such a foolish thing. If you want to build
GPL'd software, you have to do it without the MIT. Seems fair, they
can restrict it to two little ladies in Rye New York, if they want.

The "Potentially Viral Software" bit is just standard MS marketing
speak (but, possibly libelous, Red Hat should sink that profit margin
into suing their assets). We need to make sure that all of the
companies that we work for understand that this is pure nonsense, and
our corporate lawyers should be high on the priority list for a
sit-down on the topic, but it's really a side point to this
discussion.

Now, what effect will this have on Linux?

Well, for one I think that the increasing foothold that things like
Cygwin, Perl, Python, and Java (oh, yes, Sun's licensing is included), 
had on Windows will begin to decline and that will hurt the Linux
growth in certain development shops. On the other hand, this may
benefit Linux in the long run by clearly defining Linux as a
stand-alone alternative OS, and not just a cross-compile target for
big Windows software houses.

No, I think this is a poor PR angle for MS, but until there's a lot of 
case law for developing closed and open software together, they're
very wise to try to keep them apart.


-- 
Aaron Sherman		
ajs@ajs.com		finger ajskey@b5.ajs.com for GPG info. Fingerprint:
www.ajs.com/~ajs	6DC1 F67A B9FB 2FBA D04C  619E FC35 5713 2676 CEAF
	"I want a drug store in The Twilight Zone." -Shriekback



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