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SFLC Says Microsoft Violated the GPL

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the only-haggling-over-the-price dept.

Microsoft 237

After Microsoft donated driver code to the Linux kernel under the GPLv2, stories surfaced that they had done so under duress of already being in violation of the GPL. Microsoft quickly denied that any GPL violation was a driver for their decision to donate the code; the company's senior director of platform strategy, Sam Ramji, said at the time: "Microsoft's decision was not based on any perceived obligations tied to the GPLv2 license." Now the Software Freedom Law Center confirms that Microsoft was indeed in violation of the GPLv2 when it distributed its Hyper-V Linux Integration Components without providing source code. Community members led by Greg Kroah-Hartman contacted the company and coached them through the process of getting compliant. Microsoft now says that they had already been on the path for several months toward releasing the software under GPLv2 before Kroah-Hartman got in touch.

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crow (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850179)

it's what's for dinner!

ahahha (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850185)

FP!

Old news? (0, Offtopic)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850189)

Must be a slow news day...

Re:Old news? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850225)

Come on, there's always time for anti-microsoft stories.

I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850217)

So I downloaded the Hyper-V Linux Integration Components from Microsoft [microsoft.com] and unpacked the exe. I was prompted with this agreement:

MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE TERMS

MICROSOFT WINDOWS SERVER 2008

HYPER-V LINUX INTEGRATION COMPONENTS

PLEASE NOTE: Microsoft Corporation (or based on where you live, one of its affiliates) licenses this supplement to you. You may use it with each validly licensed copy of Microsoft operating system products software (for which this supplement is applicable) (the âoesoftwareâ). You may not use the supplement if you do not have a license for the software. The license terms for the software apply to your use of this supplement. Microsoft provides support services for the supplement as described at www.support.microsoft.com/common/international.aspx.

After it unpacks, I get an RTF named "Linux ICs for Hyper-V" and LinuxIC.iso ... no source code. Anybody know where said source code is? Because when I do a search on their site [microsoft.com] , I'm not finding it.

Sure, it may have contributed the source code to some repository somewhere but I think the GPLv2 says you need to provide it if you are distributing. Which is what they're doing. Pretty obvious violation right there. Also, when you distribute it, you should have a copy of the GPLv2 license with it. I can't find a trace of it when I get the iso from them ...

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1, Redundant)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850305)

Well, it seems you did not download the gpl version, but an old version. I am unsure where you can find the gpl version.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (5, Insightful)

sunny256 (448951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850321)

PLEASE NOTE: Microsoft Corporation (or based on where you live, one of its affiliates) licenses this supplement to you. You may use it with each validly licensed copy of Microsoft operating system products software (for which this supplement is applicable) (the ÃoesoftwareÃ). You may not use the supplement if you do not have a license for the software.

(Emphasis by me.) Addidionally, if this is GPL, as they say, they can't demand that you have a MS Windows license to use the software. When you've got a copy of it, you're free to use it as much as you want, with or without a MS Windows license.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1, Informative)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850573)

You can put any license you want on the binaries and still comply with the gpl as long as the sourcecode is available, compilable, and has no such restriction.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (4, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850697)

You can put any license you want on the binaries and still comply with the gpl as long as the sourcecode is available, compilable, and has no such restriction.

That doesn't sound right. From the GPLv2:

Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.

And then later:

6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.

So, no. There are limits on what further restrictions you can impose, and restrictions on actually using the software would seem to be among those disallowed.

Of course, if you take the view that running the program is not covered by the licence, rather than specifically granted (the language seems ambiguous to me, but IANAL) then we could get into the weird situation where you had the right to copy and distribute it, but not to run it. I'm sure someone will tell me why that isn't the case.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850881)

The first bit relates to your rights if you do not accept the GPL.

The second bit has these key words. "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein."

As long as I give you the source code you're free to exercise any rights the GPL preserved for you.

Lets do a fake example. Here's a special copy of XChat. To use it for more than 30 days you have to pay me 30 bucks. You may not remove the drm that enforces this.

Here's the source code for the special copy I gave you , you can use this as you see fit, including removing the DRM, recompiling, and redistributing without the above restrictions.

In no way does this scenario restrict the rights that the GPL guarantees for you.

(It occurs to me a no redistribution term on the binary may be disallowed).

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (2, Interesting)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851213)

It obviously restricts his rights if he can't use it beyond the 30 days. The fact that he might be able to get round it is neither here nor there - you've still imposed an extra legal restriction (if it didn't matter, then why would you have the restriction there?)

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850699)

That's not true. The GPL only permits you to redistribute binaries under the terms of the GPL. It does not grant permission to distribute binaries under a different license, doing so would be a violation of MS had to follow the GPL.

However, Microsoft cannot be in violation of the GPL with regards to their own binary drivers, unless they included GPL code in them.

If Microsoft developed the drivers / integration components themselves, then they own the copyright.

The only issue some people may want to claim is that the binaries dynamically link against code in the Linux kernel.

Meaning when a user loads the code into their kernel, the user will be modifying the kernel, thus creating what some free software developers call a 'derivative work' subject to the GPL. And (therefore) the theory goes, the binary driver is subject to the Linux kernel's copyright, even when distributed on its own.

This is by no means a proven or generally accepted legal theory, but it is one held by the Free Software Foundation, and at least some Linux kernel programmers.

If you subscribe to this Legal theory, then MS distributing drivers except under the GPL would be a violation of the GPL with respect to the Linux kernel.

If you don't subscribe to this Legal theory, you may hold that when the 'user does linking', this doesn't count as the author of the driver distributing a derivative work. In that case, drivers could be issued under any license the developer so desires, and they could use any binary trickery needed whatsoever to allow it to be loaded into the kernel, without needing to GPL the driver.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (3, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850877)

Uh, no, you can't.

Binaries are governed by the terms of the GPL just as the source is- unless you're the sole rights holder for the source code (Microsoft ISN'T...), they can't license under anything other than the GPL, no matter what they might say. Adding additional terms or taking them away is only allowed for the original rights holder- and you're bound to the terms they set aside for you. Since this is the Linux kernel they cribbed from- GPLv2 is the only license they can really use at that point.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (2, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28852009)

The binary is a derivative work of the source.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (5, Informative)

ComputerDruid (1499317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850337)

It's easy to find. It is posted on the linux kernel mailing list as well as in several git trees from kernel.org. Where all kernel patches belong. See http://lkml.org/lkml/2009/7/20/167 [lkml.org] .

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850445)

It's easy to find. It is posted on the linux kernel mailing list as well as in several git trees from kernel.org. Where all kernel patches belong. See http://lkml.org/lkml/2009/7/20/167 [lkml.org] .

Thanks for the link and I am aware of that. I guess I was wondering how they found themselves in compliance with Section 3 of the GPLv2 [gnu.org] and I think this is where the article and SFLC are coming from:

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

What I'm trying to say is I'm not seeing any of this and when I actively look on their site for it, nothing comes up.

So I grab GPL code, modify it and upload it to some remote unnamed repository with a license and go about my business releasing it under my own license as a binary on my site? I don't think so.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850817)

So I grab GPL code, modify it and upload it to some remote unnamed repository with a license and go about my business releasing it under my own license as a binary on my site? I don't think so.

That's the viral nature of GPL: once they get it, they're stuck with it. They can't put their own license on it, no matter what they do elsewhere.

I think we need a lawsuit to sort this out. And for the patent threats, of course :)

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28851429)

That's the viral nature of GPL: once they get it, they're stuck with it. They can't put their own license on it, no matter what they do elsewhere.

If GPL is viral, than so is copyright. If I take someone else's source code, use it without a license in my own program, and distribute the new source code, everything that uses that code could potentially be a violation of copyright. Similarly, if I distribute a movie that someone else holds the copyright to without a license, me and everyone else who distributes that movie has violated copyright. And if I distribute Microsoft Windows without a license, the BSA will most certainly take me to court and press for criminal charges. It's not the GPL that's viral, it's copyright law. GPL simply provides a fair set of rules by which you can use another person's code. If you don't like the license, write your own code.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (4, Insightful)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851781)

This.

Too many people seem to think that GPL is a trap to get you to release their precious code. However, it only requires them to release their code if it contains GPL code. At its heart, it is like saying, here is my code, I grant you a license to use, modify, and distribute as much as you would like. My payment is that you need to distribute the entire source, including your own changes.

The bottom line is, if you don't want to be held to the GPL license, either work out a different license with the copyright holders, or write it yourself. If you want free code from someone else with little to no restrictive licensing, use BSD-style licensed code or public domain code.

In my opinion, writing and using GPL code makes more sense from a business perspective than BSD, because you get a community of free and paid developers to add to your own, and other businesses need to release their improvements so that you can use them as well, protecting your ability to compete.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851937)

You only have to make the source available.

This does not have to be on the website. It can be via a CD mailed out to you.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (0)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850421)

dragging Microsoft rhu courts will only give "free"/open source software a bad name among people (read managers/ceo's) who dont undertand the intricacies of "free" software licenses

which would play into Microsoft's hands....

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (4, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850515)

1. Violate the GPL
2. Make sure that someone drags you to court for the violation
3. Start crying how the GPL is a communist cancer that should stay away from corporate source code to avoid "infection"
4. ...
5. Profit!

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (4, Insightful)

alexhs (877055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851575)

Funny, Microsoft did the steps in reverse...

5. Profit!
4. ...

3. Start crying how the GPL is a communist cancer that should stay away from corporate source code to avoid "infection"

That was in 2001 [cnet.com] .

2. Make sure that someone drags you to court for the violation

That was in 2003 [wikipedia.org] . Not directly but supposedly partly founded by them.

1. Violate the GPL

That is in 2009 [slashdot.org] .

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1)

SkipFrehly (1606577) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850701)

So if Microsoft weighs the same as a duck, then it's GPL compliant?

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1)

johnncyber (1478117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850763)

No if it floats like duck, then it's GPL compliant.....or a witch, I am not sure.

Re:I've Still Yet to See the Code from Them (1)

eht (8912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851105)

Source code is in the correct place, send them a letter asking for it and they send you back a copy of it, they're not obligated to provide a copy on the web.

GPL2 (3, Funny)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850231)

Microsoft now says that they had already been on the path for several months toward releasing the software under GPLv2 before Kroah-Hartman got in touch.

Yeah, right.

Re:GPL2 (1)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850451)

What's so hard to believe? Making it easier to run linux under hyper-v is in Microsofts best interest. If the components needed is integrated in vanilla linux kernel that's great! I hope vmware and citrix can do something similar. I don't really want to be bothered with vm-tools when i'm using a CLI only install. Maybe i've misunderstood but whatever.

Re:GPL2 (1)

Fringe (6096) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850713)

Microsoft now says that they had already been on the path for several months toward releasing the software under GPLv2 before Kroah-Hartman got in touch.

Yeah, right.

I believe Microsoft on this one... because IF they hadn't already been working on a GPL source release, the MS response to legal threats and letters is to dig in their heels. When I was at Microsoft (I'm feeling much better now!), legal would have us avoid doing anything that looked like agreeing with the premise of such a letter, which means we weren't allowed to comply with the letter request once it hit legal until legal drew up contracts and such, even if the same actions were already in our development plans..

Re:GPL2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850785)

I believe Microsoft on this one...

For my own sake I never. I can benefit absolutely nothing by trusting Microsoft, no matter if they are right or wrong. So I don't understand why you do.

Re:GPL2 (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851153)

That's because he worked for them. While I won't say I would trust them on things (mainly because I've been close enough to be working for one of their Enterprise Partners at one point)- I can see someone at the grunt level trusting them after a fashion.

However, having said this, I think their perspective is a bit skewed- right up until prior to this little release and their other one they were mouthing off about GPL being a cancer, etc. and we were guilty of patent violations, etc.

This all isn't in keeping with their company line up to this point- and companies typically don't change this much this fast. Ever. I doubt that they're telling the truth here on this- as much because of what they've done in the past and how radically different it is from what that was.

Blatant lies (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850253)

Usually, companies with lawyer armies are rather careful about the words they allow released to the public. They'll get all symantic and never say anything that they can be nailed for later. But they denied being in violation publicly and are proven to having been in violation. Okay, I guess I do see where they have weasel room -- "we were already on the path to being compliant before this guy helped us." Really? But their "donation of code" to the GPL2 was anything but "their idea."

Re:Blatant lies (2, Funny)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850617)

I believe you meant to say "getting all Symantec". It's much funnier that way, and takes advantage of your partial spelling of 'semantic'.

Your honour (5, Insightful)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850269)

I had been on the path for several months of buying a legitimate copy of Windows before Microsoft's lawyers got in touch. Honest.

Insightful (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850541)

Replying to undo my mod. It went from +3 funny to +4 funny when I modded it insightful, this should be insightful, not funny. Please mod it as such.

Re:Insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850769)

You're a retard.

It stayed as "funny" because most of the mods were funny, not because your mod was incorrectly applied.

Re:Insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850811)

I know that, but after I modded, I wanted to tell people to mod it insightful rather than funny so it would have a better chance of being insightful. What I didn't know is that posting anon doesn't undo it.

Re:Your honour (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851057)

I had been on the path for several months of buying a legitimate copy of Windows before Microsoft's lawyers got in touch. Honest.

Really? Why? ;)

Re:Your honour (1)

niyam (1099903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851159)

hahahahhahahaa! that's really funny! thanks. :-) niyam

Surprising, actually. (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850285)

I'm actually pretty surprised by this news. It is well known that MS hates the GPL; but they are a big company, with a nontrivial legal team, and they know that the GPL has, thus far, held up in court.

Surely legal would have thrown a screaming fit if they tried to release anything that constituted a clear licence violation. In practice, copyright holders of GPL licenced stuff have been mild and cooperative about this sort of thing, generally aiming at compliance and occasionally fairly small damages; but they are under no legal obligation to do so, and MS has very deep pockets, which would bring the lawyers swarming if they were in clear violation.

Are they trying to provoke a test case, or did they just fuck up?

Re:Surprising, actually. (1)

kaaposc (1515329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850505)

Looks like Mr. Sam Ramji will be looking for a new job in a days. If it was "just fuck up", it won't be forgiven by Mr. Flying Chairs.

Re:Surprising, actually. (3, Interesting)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850957)

They just effed up. There's no "test case" to be had. The way that the GPL works is a derivative works and publication license.

What that means is that releasing your modifications to the code so licensed and the means for which you used to build binaries from it is the royalty payment for being able to use it. Without such payment, you aren't licensed to produce derivative works or publish complete copies. In the act of making a copy and giving it to someone else, you're publishing.

There's nothing unreasonable/illegal about the royalty payment being required, so there's nothing really out of the ordinary for courts to "invalidate". If it's able to be invalidated, each and every rights deal for book, music, video/movie, or software publishing deal is equally invalid.

Not even MS wants to go there.

Will there be any action against Microsoft? (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850289)

For failing to release the code under GPL for a period of 5 months after they were notified of the violation? Will the SFLC do anything about it?

Re:Will there be any action against Microsoft? (3, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850749)

Note that even if they release the code, that doesn't help them - they've still violated copyright law. Just as if someone is sued for sharing mp3s - saying that you'll stop won't help you.

Why aren't they being sued for $150,000 per violation?

Re:Will there be any action against Microsoft? (2, Funny)

silent_artichoke (973182) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850915)

Why aren't they being sued for $150,000 per violation?

Gentlemen, start your FTP clients!

Re:Will there be any action against Microsoft? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850829)

For failing to release the code under GPL for a period of 5 months after they were notified of the violation? Will the SFLC do anything about it?

Who would that benefit, aside from the lawyers?

does it matter? (1, Interesting)

R.D.Olivaw (826349) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850309)

Yes, it's less spectacular if they've done it only because they were in violation but I think they should be applauded either way.
In the worst case, it shows that they are willing to play by the rules. They didn't try to take it as far as they could. They found out the violation and promptly fixed it.

Re:does it matter? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850317)

I'm guessing that, when using proprietary components or libraries from third parties, MS "plays by the rules" slightly more carefully...

Re:does it matter? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850975)

Are you kidding? They get sued over crap like this all the time.

Re:does it matter? (3, Insightful)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850353)

If someone had been distributing pirated versions of Windows and only stopped 5 months after they had been contacted by Microsoft's legal team, would Microsoft applaud them?

Re:does it matter? (1)

Bluebottel (979854) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850409)

True. But we want to be better than microsoft, not like them.

Re:does it matter? (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850909)

Are you serious? This is not about morale, this is about making money. If MS feels that it's OK to violate a license for profit then I encourage everybody to violate the licenses of MS for profit, be it monetary or not. If the opponent breaks the rules then you better break them to at least the same level, or you'll find yourself as the underdog. Why is it so difficult for people to understand business?

Re:does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28851087)

Of course it's not about morale, but it just might be about morals and ethics.

Re:does it matter? (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851137)

I meant morals, check your qwerty keyboard. E and S are close. Anyway you're being an idiot by just contradicting what I said without any substance. If you really think morals or ethics have anything to do with corporations then you really are naive. Not just MS, any corporation.

Re:does it matter? (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851091)

Hell no, and did we surrender to Germans at Perl Harbor? Hell no! No surrender to M$. That's what I say.

Re:does it matter? (2, Informative)

CrimsonKnight13 (1388125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851355)

Hell no, and did we surrender to Germans at Perl Harbor? Hell no! No surrender to M$. That's what I say.

I greet you, traveler from some unknown alternate universe. Where I come from, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor & the US survived it.

Re:does it matter? (3, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850411)

This reminds me of the old joke some former ex-communist block countries have.

So Lenin is working in his study and suddently he realises there are kids playing football outside his window. He opens the window and shouts: "Get the fuck out of here stupid spastic kids!"

This proves conclusively what a good man Lenin was, he has to be applauded as such. He after all could have ordered the kids to be shot dead, no?

Re:does it matter? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850677)

You're confusing Lenin with Stalin you ignorant fuck.

Re:does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28851485)

That's a very common mistake, unfortunately.

Re:does it matter? (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850427)

Maybe, but why is Microsoft (Sam Ramji) trying to take credit by making a good-sounding statement? If MS' legal team catches a Windows pirate and he reforms after 5 months, will they be applauding said pirate?

Re:does it matter? (1)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850605)

Marketing works like magic fairy dust that companies can sprinkle on their spokespeople so that whatever words they try to say, only praise for the company comes out.

They try to say "We were stupid and fscked this right up - boy howdy - yep - you got us. Whoops!".

But what you hear coming out of them is just a weird, squeaky weasel-voice shouting "Hooray for us!!!"

Re:does it matter? (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850693)

They found out the violation and promptly fixed it.
In fixing this, they took the fist step in finding out that giving customers freedom is not the killer of business models.

Re:does it matter? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851059)

They found out the violation and took 5+ months to fix it.

Fixed that for you. Nearly half a year for something they did screw up on isn't "promptly".

Re:does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28851879)

Fixed that for you. Nearly half a year for something they did screw up on isn't "promptly".

For Microsoft (or any other very large company), fixing something in only half a year is prompt.

Re:does it matter? (2, Insightful)

unfunk (804468) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851147)

I'm giving up the opportunity to mod what will undoubtedly be a trollfest in this article's comments so I can post this.

I think that this is a positive sign from Microsoft. For years they've been going on about how the GPL is a virus and communist and will be the death of us all.
Now they've released code under it. It doesn't matter that they had to, it matters that they did it. They undoubtedly had a team of lawyers looking at their options before doing this. If they were of the viro-communist mindset toward the GPL before this, they certainly aren't now. The lawyers must have told Microsoft that if they decided to play the "GPL is invalid" card, it would have been a very long and hard battle for defeat.

Remember kids, if you're using Microsoft software (0, Flamebait)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850339)

If you're using Microsoft software or doing business with Microsoft, you are at risk, you might be sued for IP violations! Do not forget to pay your $699 GNU license fee you Windows using faggots!

(No, I'm not serious but man! It feels good to throw a piece of FUD right back at the sender and remember some old /. troll in the process...)

Re:Remember kids, if you're using Microsoft softwa (0, Troll)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851047)

Do not forget to pay your $699 GNU license fee you Windows using faggots!

You know, I hate to be a politically correct jerk, but why the heck are you calling gay people "Windows using"?

Where is the code ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850349)

Does anyone know where is this "cool open source code" from microsoft ?

Yeah Yeah, Sure!...That's The Ticket! (-1, Troll)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850371)

Community members led by Greg Kroah-Hartman contacted the company and coached them through the process of getting compliant. Microsoft now says that they had already been on the path for several months toward releasing the software under GPLv2 before Kroah-Hartman got in touch.

Yes, and MS had nothing whatsoever to do with any alleged shenanigans involving ISO certification of MS' OOXML "standard" either.

Honest.

MS would never do anything illegal, immoral, deceitful, or underhanded.

If you don't believe them, just ask them!

Strat

Re:Yeah Yeah, Sure!...That's The Ticket! (0, Troll)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851899)

Absolutely! The same can be said for Linux users. They are always honest, straightforward, fair, and never act in a hypocritical fashion. That includes all of the companies that make contributions to the kernel itself. Squeaky clean and wholesome, the lot of them.

AGAIN? (1, Insightful)

hntd (1607149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850373)

Truthfully, I enjoy bashing Microsoft as much as the next person, but is it so bad that I think we should move on from this whole GPL violation and look to the submission that Microsoft made to the linux kernel? I mean com'on, they acted accordingly to their violation and donated the code to the community, who cares why they did it. Can we please move on as a culture?

Re:AGAIN? (2, Insightful)

Josh04 (1596071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850493)

I agree. This has been a terrible set of articles which makes the community as a whole look like a bunch of irrational, immature children. Microsoft finally did what Slashdot has been demanding they do for years, and somehow this too is a 'bad thing'. This is worse than the articles complaining that IE6 was finally being put down.

Re:AGAIN? (1)

DMalic (1118167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851237)

What? I'm not entirely sure you understand how copyright law works. "So, I finally went and did what the RIAA had been demanding for years! I bought some music!" "No, you bought some music after you realized you were about to be sued for running an illegal FTP server." "You're being immature and irrational!"

Re:AGAIN? (2)

Josh04 (1596071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851379)

I'm not entirely sure you understand how reality works. The code was based on the GPL; the code was released. Somehow, Microsoft is _still_ a villain. I don't get it.

Re:AGAIN? (1)

Josh04 (1596071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851421)

To clarify; no court case was involved, no real legal threats were made. Your analogy is completely ridiculous, being slow in complying with a code disclosure clause and, erm "running an illegal FTP server" are so dissimilar as to be ludicrous.

Re:culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850525)

"Can we please move on as a culture?"

Hello, yoghurt filling :-). Joking aside, "culture" is indeed the right word. MS has a long, rich and rather checkered history of APPARENT collaboration, where time after time it turned out the primary aim was to screw whoever they were collaborating with. On the basis of that solid, documented track record there is more than a little reluctance to believe honest intentions, and going right into the kernel is going into the heart of Linux. You don't change culture overnight.

I appreciate Linus not wanting to take a stance, and this is not "hate" - it's simple, pragmatic and brutally realistic appreciation of the predator out there. MS history is littered with the corpses of companies and people that made the mistake of trusting MS. And the Gates Foundation, btw - there too there is evidence of blatant abuse of what is alleged to be a benign and benevolent organisation.

MS will have to play nice for at least two years before anyone with half a functional braincell would trust them, and that would mean "nice" as in offering REAL benefits rather than lawyer and marketing speak, and tangible improvements in interoperability. They have a lot of things to fix - MSOOXML gaming, for instance. Don't forget the absolute raw abuse of process there - anyone with a shred of ethics would not have done what they did because the collateral damage extends well beyond MSOOXML.

Let me put it another way. You just found out your uncle has been having it away with your underage sister every time he came to the house. Based on that evidence, are you going to accept his offer to babysit her?

Re:AGAIN? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850551)

Can we please move on as a culture?

I think we can only do that when we remove the innate tendency of certain organisations and groups to "spin" the truth in ways that suit their public image.

(and no, I'm not bashing MS here, but politicians, marketeers, salesmen, and lawyers too!)

Re:AGAIN? (1)

Josh04 (1596071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850585)

"remove" vs "innate", eh?

Re:AGAIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850649)

This is your first post ever on Slashdot... can't Microsoft even pay their professional shills anymore?

Re:AGAIN? (1)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850819)

Newbie bashing? Poor form, Anonymous Cowardon. Just because you've been around longer doesn't make you better!

Re:AGAIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850823)

no

Re:AGAIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850941)

Since when has any citizen been able to make up for breaking the law by doing something nice? I think we should "move on as a culture" after properly punishing them for what they've done. I can't use ignorance as an excuse so it's absurd to say that a giant corporation like Microsoft with a whole team of lawyers can claim ignorance. If I get pulled over for speeding after I stopped speeding because I saw the limit sign, I still get ticketed, and if I go to fight it and tell them I didn't know I was speeding and I stopped when I realized it, they're not going to go easy on me and tell me it's alright, and that "we as a culture" shouldn't be so harsh on speeders as long as they stop speeding afterward. They're going to laugh at me, and tell me to pay my ticket immediately. Yeah, it did happen, so for those of you who are no doubt going to say it wouldn't go down like that, you've already been beaten.

Re:AGAIN? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851007)

The only gripe I have is with the spin they're putting on it.

They screwed up.
They should OWN UP to it.

There'd be a bit less acrimony if they'd quit going "but we didn't...", when they know and we know they did.

As usual (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850459)

In Soviet Russia GPL violates you !

Doubtful (-1, Troll)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850533)

As true as I'd like this to sound, I doubt Microsoft would be worried about violating the GPL. They probably have so many high paid lawyers that they could drag out any court case until the end of time or until the prosecutor runs out of money to continue battling them which will probably happen first to be honest.

Just out of interest, how many GPL violations have been successfully challenged and won?

Re:Doubtful (1)

kaaposc (1515329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850603)

The GPL in court [wikipedia.org]

Re:Doubtful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28850729)

AFAIK, the GPL has never lost in court. Every case I'm aware of has settled (because the violator realized they could not win); oh here's one that went to court: http://www.jbb.de/judgment_dc_frankfurt_gpl.pdf [www.jbb.de]

http://www.open-mag.com/features/Vol_66/GNU/GNU.htm [open-mag.com]
"We handled approximately 50 violations last year. We expect to handle about 5-10% more this year. With staffing levels, this is basically what we can handle. There are many more out there that we could pursue. ... I would estimate that 90% or more of violations are simply confusions that can be cleared up by friendly negotiation and explanation. We start every case assuming that it is simply a confusion to be cleared up.

Of the other 10%, almost all are disregard, which requires careful diplomacy to move violators to a point where they take their obligations seriously. So far, we've been able to do it. A very small number of violations are actual willful, concealed infringements. These tend to be the "big cases" that take a long time to resolve.

Because we've been careful not to publicly admonish GPL violators, many people don't realize how often we have enforced the GPL successfully. ...

We have the right to sue for copyright infringement if we need to. We rarely need to threaten a lawsuit, and we've never had to file one. Most companies realize that what we ask for is not onerous and is easily done. Most companies that find copyright infringement sue for huge sums of money; the most money we ever ask for is reimbursement of our cost in doing that enforcement effort."

http://gpl-violations.org/news/20041004-majorupdate.html [gpl-violations.org]
"The netfilter/iptables project did not announce every individual case, but has so far settled in more than 10 cases out of court. Among the vendors are major companies such as Siemens, Fujitsu-Siemens, Asus and Belkin."

Re:Doubtful (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850781)

Just out of interest, how many copyright violations have been successfully challenged and won?

Fixed that for you. Why should the licence matter, when they didn't follow it? And the answer to your question is: lots.

Fail (1)

Noxn (1458105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850589)

Shouldnt they like, KNOW they had to give us the source? Dont they have 3 megatons of lawyers? Did ANYONE read the licence? No. Of course not. Why should they.

Re:Fail (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851081)

Don't be silly. They knew. Employees at MS aren't retarded and probably almost everyone there knows about the GPL. They just chose not to follow it. It was a choice, not a mistake. For those of you whom a) never worked a day in your life, b) just plain gullible, this is how corporates work in the real world.

5 words for Microsoft (1)

dkh2 (29130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850685)

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

Yeah, like anybody really believes they have been for several months on the path toward full GPL v.2 compliance.

Re:5 words for Microsoft (1)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#28852005)

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

Did you just come in from the playground to post that?

The Kettle and the Pot (3, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850905)

So, seems like Microsoft for SEVERAL MONTHS has been on the GPL path to compliance?

I would like to point out, that if you pirated several Microsoft so called "Intellectual Property" binaries and eventually paid for them all, you would land in court with some fairly large fines.

Furthermore, this idea that companies cannot show source code for violations in the GPL rules seems a bit, well, warped.

This loop hole allows companies to hide behind IP rules, to protect their violations of copyright.

It is well known that Microsoft is in the HABIT of taking OTHER companies/individual works and using them for thier own gains, fairly shamelessly in some cases, and in others covertly.

-Hack

Yeah, I would have said that. (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 5 years ago | (#28850917)

I would have said that too. Nothing better, plausible deniability. But, I fear they(M$) might be telling the truth. Now what is the world coming to? Strange days are upon us for sure. So I think they are lying, but why. We'll "you caught me, now what do you want" might have been cooler. M$ is going to have to starting kicking some ass and start taking names if they are going to slow their downward spiral. Right now there is another Google out there? Where?

Why are people obsessed over this? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851021)

Why are people obsessed over this? Does it matter? Either way, the code is GPL now, right?

Re:Why are people obsessed over this? (1)

lbbros (900904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851155)

For some it matters as it was not a release out of good will (like some may have thought) or out of interoperability, but simply because they were forced to.

Re:Why are people obsessed over this? (3, Informative)

DMalic (1118167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851653)

It's interesting to see a company which so violently protects their own code against violation treating their own copyright infringement so frivolously.

So? (3, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28851191)

Okay... I'm no Microsoft fan by a long shot, but so what if they had been violating the GPL all this time before releasing the source code? I think that the important point is that they are doing so *NOW*... because, after all, isn't that the point of the GPL? Sure, in an ideal world they wouldn't have been violating the GPL in the first place, but if you will forgive me for the apparent paraphrasing Gandalf from LotR, there's really no point in dwelling on it because what's done is done... the most important thing is what we decide to do about it to make things better... _today_. And I really don't think that more Microsoft hatred is the way to accomplish that.

Re:So? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28852031)

Just, makes all their statements before from Sam that were melting my cynical heart - all that stuff about community and contributing back - so much self-serving bullshit.

They only did it once they were caught and pushed.

That's a bit different from doing it just to be nice (and the PR).

Isn't it amazing? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28851757)

Isn't it amazing how /. posted yet another anti-Microsoft story?
Bunch of freakin' whiners.
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