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Microsoft EU Decision Protects OSS Projects From Suits

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the at-least-we-hope-it-does dept.

Microsoft 186

rfc1394 writes "An article in Australia's IT News mentions that under its antitrust agreement with the European Union, 'Microsoft will publish an irrevocable pledge not to assert any patents it may have over the interoperability information against non-commercial open source software development projects.' Essentially, in addition to getting them to comply with the anti-trust decision, the EU has forced Microsoft to back off of its saber-rattling when it comes to EU open source projects. That protection in no way extends to US projects, of course."

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186 comments

you gotta love eu bureaucrats (5, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119501)

only eu bureaucrats could pull such 2 stunts in just one gig. when a bureaucracy works, it really shines.

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119665)

Unfortunately, the bureaucracy has a way of expanding in order to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121375)

I seem to remember that the size of the EU bureaucracy is roughly on par with that of the city of Paris...

So while it might be that Paris has way too many people, it doesn't seem to be too extreme to me.

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (3, Informative)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119675)

only eu bureaucrats could pull such 2 stunts in just one gig. when a bureaucracy works, it really shines.
Well, perhaps. But also remember that it was the faceless, unelected, bureaucratic EU Commission that tried to use its power to force software patents (in their original form) through the European Parliament a couple of years back.

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (3, Informative)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119719)

And failed. If all goes well, the system apparently works.

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (4, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120141)

And failed. If all goes well, the system apparently works.
That's naive; the system was still stacked in favour of the Commission's findings/wishes in that it effectively required an overwhelming rejection of them by the parliament itself for them not to go through. The fact that the Commission could re-present these after their initial rejection and (second time around) could effectively have won by default does not reflect well on this aspect of the EU, even though things worked out in this case.

In short, the right decision was made in spite of (and not because of) the European Commission.

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21120237)

But also remember that it was the faceless, unelected, bureaucratic EU Commission that tried to use its power to force software patents (in their original form) through the European Parliament

I wouldn't say faceless, it was Charlie McCreevy [ip-watch.org] who was behind the patent 'reforms'. I won't dispute the rest of your assertions though. :)

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119905)

only eu bureaucrats could pull such 2 stunts in just one gig. when a bureaucracy works, it really shines.

While better than nothing, this settlement doesn't go far enough as open source projects that are profitable still has to pay MS royalties, only .4 percent but they still have to pay them.

Falcon

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (3, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120155)

That is actually pretty darn reasonable... You can develop open source software and IF you make a buck then you need to pay some minor royalities.

Think of it as follows. TrollTech charges something like 3900 USD, which translates into a Microsoft revenue stream (assuming 0.4%) of about a million dollars. Trolltech has a small business of up 200,000. After that you pay full dollar. So Trolltech is charging profitable open source companies more than Microsoft...

Don't know about you, but this does make Mono attractive on Linux. Mono on Linux is pretty good, and on Windows .NET is the way to go. So once your company makes a million bucks you need to start forking 3900 total (not per developer) over some money to Microsoft. Fair deal actually...

.net (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120645)

Don't know about you, but this does make Mono attractive on Linux. Mono on Linux is pretty good, and on Windows .NET is the way to go. So once your company makes a million bucks you need to start forking 3900 total (not per developer) over some money to Microsoft. Fair deal actually...

I don't see or know what good .net is over other technologies such as Ruby on Rails, I'm not a developer now though I want to learn.

Falcon

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (1)

Kristoph (242780) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121879)

Yes, well, if you pay TrollTech for QT you have a world wide license. The 0.4% only covers the EU so there is a bit of a difference.

]{

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21120365)

Does the EU even recognize software patents?

Re:you gotta love eu bureaucrats (4, Interesting)

gomiam (587421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120669)

No. It still considers software unpatentable. Which makes me wonder how on Earth will Microsoft be able to collect that 0.4% in patent royalties from European software developers selling their software to European customers.

proper attire is mandatory (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119547)

Microsoft EU Decision Protects OSS Projects From Suits

Which is good, because the OSS crowd is more into t-shirts and jeans.

Re:proper attire is mandatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119883)

Grr...and I blew the last of my mod points earlier today...

in no way extends (2, Insightful)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119553)

That protection in no way extends to US projects, of course.

This, of course, insures profitable OSS projects will not be based in the US. Damn shame. Some of us like Tech jobs.

Re:in no way extends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119733)

You missed the "non-commercial" bit. This isn't as great a result as it might have been - while I'm pretty sure kde would count as non-commercial since it's non profit making, what about mysql, which is made by a company that sells support?

Re:in no way extends (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119741)

This, of course, insures profitable OSS projects will not be based in the US. Damn shame. Some of us like Tech jobs.


Actually, it ensures nothing of the sort... "profitable" (read, for-profit) OSS projects aren't protected; only non-profit ones. I'm sure MS will have a heyday with the definition of "non-profit".

Re:in no way extends (3, Insightful)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119885)

"I'm sure MS will have a heyday with the definition of "non-profit"."

If they give away their software they are non-profit. If they have a different branch that sells support not software they should be safe. I can see no real way for MS to go after a company that only sells support.

Re:in no way extends (2, Interesting)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119939)

That might actually be a hard thing to "heyday" with. A FLOSS project in itself, if it is a real FLOSS project, does not generate the revenue stream but only costs. The for-profit bit is for services. This could very well be the way out for all. Being compensated for the physical copy (as per GPL) cannot be construed as for-profit. The services rendered are arguably not for the software, but the application of the software. An example would be a consultant charging for performing install-services. The consultant service cannot be misunderstood as a "for-profit project" because that would render the whole consultancy business as we know it on its head (a consultant installing Windows is not liable for the software installed if it is supplied by the contractor). All will depend on the correct split between the "non-profit project" and the "for-profit service".

Re:in no way extends (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120233)

All will depend on the correct split between the "non-profit project" and the "for-profit service".

There should be no need for any split, unfortunately this ruling almost makes it mandatory.

Falcon

Re:in no way extends (2, Interesting)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120499)

I don't think so. I think it actually might strengthen projects and distributors. They do not charge for the FLOSS software, but for the act of copying and services rendered. So, in a sense, it is already narrowly defined and practiced. A developer who writes FLOSS code may be paid for his work. However, an employee is not in "business", but is making a living. There is a difference between a company making money and a person being paid wages.

The problem will be for companies that use dual licensing models. There you have a catch that the company might both sell the software and distribute it as a FLOSS project. The commercial path will make them liable to pay license fees for the copies to clients. But still, the receivers of the FLOSS copy are in the clear again and may redistribute under the same FLOSS terms.

OS employment (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120717)

in a sense, it is already narrowly defined and practiced. A developer who writes FLOSS code may be paid for his work. However, an employee is not in "business", but is making a living. There is a difference between a company making money and a person being paid wages.

And who's going to pay the developer? A business? The business would still have to pay the royalties.

Falcon

Re:in no way extends (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119777)

...an irrevocable pledge not to assert any patents it may have over the interoperability information against non-commercial open source software development projects.

This doesn't appear to cover open source projects that aren't "non-commercial." One could argue that ANY project that has one employee and takes in ANY income is commercial. Thus is any project or any distro that takes in any money "commercial?" Who decides? MS wouldn't challenge anyone in court, however, as they so dislike lawyers. ;)

There appears to be a growing interest from MS in splitting the open source community, into volunteers and commercial interest parties. Unfortunately, it looks like they are succeeding.

Re:in no way extends (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121179)

For a lot of patents they can't anyway.. we have no software patents here so a lot of the MS patents are basically US only in the first place. It's an easy shoe-in for microsoft to say they won't assert them, since they don't (in a legal sense) exist... they've lost nothing.

Re:in no way extends (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119835)

Did you read the settlement? It is the typical MS scheme of pretending to cave in while still protecting their vital interest, even if the vital interest, in many cases, is against a truly competitive market place. The exact thing the lawsuit was supposed to prevent in the future and apply just remedies for past non-conformation.

They are promising to not sue "non-commercial" interests. If you look, they are orchestrating a proxy campaign against commercial open source, while senior executives such as Ballmer threaten exactly such activity - full bore FUD. Who is the latest victim of this proxy campaign? Redhat, with more to come unless they cave to MS threats to sue unless companies sign an "intellectual property agreement with them, ala Novel.

With commercial interests a very major component of open source development, it leaves MS with the freedom to do exactly what they are planning to do. Spread FUD by threatening commercial linux companies and their enterprise clients with lawsuits unless the respect MS intellectual property which they conveniently refuse to detail.

Same shit as the DOJ settlement, just a different pile. Until governing bodies play real hard ball with MS, they will continue to game the system with their ill gotten gains to the detriment of consumer.

Re:in no way extends (5, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120515)

This, of course, insures profitable OSS projects will not be based in the US. Damn shame. Some of us like Tech jobs.

Nah, it just means that you guys in the US will have to keep living the American DRM.

Re:in no way extends (1)

burndive (855848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121361)

From the article:

"Microsoft will now do so, with licensing terms that allow every recipient of the resulting software to copy, modify and redistribute it in accordance with the open source business model," Kroes said in a statement.

All US projects will have to do will be to have someone in Europe touch the code, and license it back to them. They will have received it from the EU, and therefore will be under the same protections.

Re:in no way extends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21121477)

This, of course, insures profitable OSS projects will not be based in the US.
Perhaps. I will certainly move myself and my family to somewhere in the EU if MS ever attempts to make good on what has to date been nothing but empty bluster. However, naive optimist that I am, I am eternally hopeful that the US federal government will understand that allowing MS (or any other IP happy trolls) to bully its competition may very well cause the US to bequeath it's tech vanguard to friendlier EU nations. Hell, it wouldn't take federal intervention - a smart state could do much to bolster its reputation as a tech friendly place to do business by becoming a safe haven against patent trolls and other IP bullshit.

Well at least... (2, Funny)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119575)

... the sharp sword of unbridled capitalism won't be dulled here in the US! A wonderful victory for the go-getters at MS!

Re:Well at least... (-1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120153)

Are you being sarcastic here?

Do you think there could be a reason for why Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Intel, AMD are all American companies?
Why do you think Linus immigrated to the US of A?

Between the US and the Japan/China eating Europe's lunch, what exactly is there left for the Europeans to do (except bitching about the immigrants and the gready capitalists not giving them free R&D results).

It's not a troll, it's the truth (which makes me sad).

Re:Well at least... (2, Informative)

Anspen (673098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120881)

While the computing work is indeed overwhelmingly done in the US, the EU (especially Germany) is actually better at keeping the (non defense) manufacturing side of things.

Between the US and the Japan/China eating Europe's (3, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120957)

lunch

What exactly is it the US produces now, other than food? Knowledge? With both China and India graduating more and more engineers and scientists the US's lead may not last long. One thing they both need are accountants and US accountants can make a boat load of money showing Chinese and Indian companies how to setup an accounting system. Actually as my sister is a CPA, Certified Public Accountant [wikipedia.org], and runs her own business, I've thought of suggesting she learn Mandarin Chinese then go to China.

Falcon

AUstralians for change (2, Interesting)

adept256 (732470) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119649)

As an Australian, I think this whole argument goes beyond Microsoft or any other GloboCorp. We are facing a tumultuous election campaign over here. There's much venom between the parties vying for election. This issue highlights a much over-looked aspect of Australian politics; do we take our values and principles from the EU? or from south-east asia? Should Australia join the EU? or should we go down the ASEAN route?

Re:AUstralians for change (0, Flamebait)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119947)

Isn't Austria already in the EU? Oh wait you said Australia, what a stupid question! Turkey is having a hard time getting membership, what chance do you think you have? You're part of the Commonwealth, get your values and principles from there maybe?

EU membership (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120403)

Turkey is having a hard time getting membership

That is where Europeans are messing up. Turkey has elected politicians who toned down the rhetoric in the hopes of joining the EU. However if Turkey isn't allowed to join hardliners could gain control of the government. Possibly it could form a Caliphate [wikipedia.org]. Turkey is already about to enter northern Iraq to fight Kurds who they've repressed since WWI.

Falcon

Re:EU membership (2, Interesting)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120725)

Turkey isn't going to form a "Caliphate" any time this century - unless the Turkish military gets taken out. The Islamic government in Turkey now is entirely different from the hardliners you see in Iran. Turkey has a history of being secular and the Turkish military intends to see that it stays that way. They nearly did a coup over the elections this time because of their concerns.

As for Iraq, they are going to in fight a terrorist group - listed as terrorists by the US and Iraq and Iran and Syria - that are killing their soldiers. Has nothing to do with anything else going on, although it will screw up Iraq more than it is already. This incursion has the possibility of becoming a full scale war between Turkey and the Kurds. And if the US doesn't go along with it, Turkey can cut off US access to the Incirlik US Air Force base which is vital to supply routes to Iraq. Relations between the US and Turkey are considerably strained at the moment. The US has no argument against Turkey's incursion because Turkey is under attack by a terrorist group harbored across the border in Iraq and supported - or at least not condemned - by the two major Kurdish parties, who happen to be the only two allies the US has in Iraq. So the US can either attack the terrorist group, which will alienate the Kurds from the US, or do nothing, which will irritate the Turks and force them to act. A no-win scenario for the US. Which is also complicated by the fact that a second Kurdish terrorist group which targets Iran is being directly supported by the US in order to destabilize Iran. Which is why Turkey and Iran are thinking of cooperating and both attacking the Kurds, according to the latest news.

The next problem for the US is that the two Kurdish parties intend to either establish a "federated" Kurdistan as part of Iraq with oil-rich Kirkuk as their center, or if Iraq is not partitioned, secede from Iraq and form an independent Kurdistan. That would be a disaster for Turkey, Iran and Syria as Kurdistan would then be in a position to fund and foment secessionist groups in all three countries. Turkey has said it will outright invade northern Iraq if that is allowed to occur, which would be a much wider war than the current incursion intention.

As for oppression of the Kurds, that is correct - but not much different than Turkish oppression of the Armenians, and who knows who else. In fact, the Turks used Kurds to murder the Armenians back around WWI.

Re:EU membership (1, Offtopic)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120927)

It really puts the Democratic Congress's desire to push an Armenian Genocide resolution in perspective...

Re:EU membership (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121453)

It does. Right now it's not a good idea. The Turks are really, really sensitive about this stuff.

The US doesn't need any more enemies, and the Turkish population opinion of the US is at its lowest level it's been.

Personally, I don't see the point of "morally bearing witness" to some genocide that happened 80 years ago or whatever. If the US went around condemning every other government that has screwed somebody or other over, we'd have to condemn every country on the planet including ourselves.

I'm an anarchist, so I have no problem condemning any country or state. But it's really pointless to single any out since in my view they're all assholes. The only reason to single one out - such as Israel or the US - is what they're doing right now today to screw things up. What they did at the start of the last century isn't that relevant unless there are direct effects on us still in play today.

Re:EU membership (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121693)

I thoght I answered but I don't see it now.

listed as terrorists by the US and Iraq and Iran and Syria - that are killing their soldiers. Has nothing to do with anything else going on, although it will screw up Iraq more than it is already. This incursion has the possibility of becoming a full scale war between Turkey and the Kurds

Yea, Iran Iraq, Syria, and Turkey all consider Kurd as terrorists because Kurds make up large populations in all these countries and they want what they were promised by the Allies during WWI, their own homeland. But instead of fulfilling a promise the Allies including the US allowed Kurds to be persecuted. If a people is persecuted long enough they will fight back, or do you think they should roll over and die? Maybe the world will do something when what happened in Rwanda happens to the Kurds.

Falcon

Re:EU membership (1)

Anspen (673098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120913)

All good reasons not to let Turkey join. The EU isn't like NATO, where a new member hasn't got a lot of influence on what other members can do. A country, especially a large country which would have lot of voting power and economic influence (good and bad) can't be so unstable that it could change into a dictatorship.

All good reasons not to let Turkey join. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121387)

I think you're mixed up. If Turkey is a member of the EU it will much easier for the rest of Europe to control Turkey. Otherwise the EU has no control over what Turkey does.

A country, especially a large country which would have lot of voting power and economic influence (good and bad) can't be so unstable that it could change into a dictatorship.

Check out Augusto Pinochet [wikipedia.org] in Chile, the Shah [wikipedia.org] or Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini [wikipedia.org] in Iran, or Saddam [wikipedia.org] excepting the Ayatollah all of whom the US supported.

Falcon

Re:AUstralians for change (2, Interesting)

adept256 (732470) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120697)

Exactly this. We are indeed in the Commonwealth of Her Majesty. And in our policies (especially immigration) we might just as well be in the EU. The right (bigots) down here seem to wish we were "EU south", when reality dictates that we must be "where to get coal and uranium" south-east asia. Australia needs to drop it's eurocentric philosophic and review it's asian relations. Especially China.

Define "Non-commercial" (3, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119701)

Microsoft will publish an irrevocable pledge not to assert any patents it may have over the interoperability information against non-commercial open source software development projects.'


Umm... Is it just me or is this just mealy mouthed enough to get projects into HUGE trouble down the road when they are distributed commercially? Just what is Microsoft's definition of "non-commercial"?

Re:Define "Non-commercial" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119789)

The question is: what is EU's definition of commercial/non-commercial?

It's not for MS to decide whether a project is commercial or not.

They can still go after end users and distributors (4, Interesting)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120381)

These were also my first thoughts in reading the summary. From the article, the European Commissioner for Competition Policy says (emphasis is mine):

"I told Microsoft that it should give legal security to programmers who help to develop open source software and confine its patent disputes to commercial software distributors and end users. Microsoft will now pledge to do so."

Presumably all this means is that Microsoft won't be going after developers, but it may still be going after anyone who makes use of those developers' efforts. It's some good news for developers, but it's not exactly a let off the hook if you can't tell your users with any confidence that they won't be sued by Microsoft for obscure patents that wouldn't hold up in the face of anyone who could afford to defend themselves. If anything, this might give Microsoft more power to spread FUD about OSS. They're just narrowing the target, basically saying that it's okay to develop OSS, but they might not let people use it without paying up.

Hopefully the linked article isn't representative of what the actual arrangement is. For the thing to be of any use, Microsoft really needs to be pledging that they won't enforce whatever patents they claim to have at all.

Re:They can still go after end users and distribut (0)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120971)

"Presumably all this means is that Microsoft won't be going after developers, but it may still be going after anyone who makes use of those developers' efforts."

Probably including those same developers but in their role as users and not as developers.

Itch scratching and all that.

all the best,

drew

http://openphoto.net/gallery/index.html?user_id=178 [openphoto.net]
Underwater Fun and more...

Re:Define "Non-commercial" (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120411)

Their promise also says nothing about not asserting patent rights against USERS of the software that comes out of such open-source projects.

Re:Define "Non-commercial" (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120753)

Well, since all software patents are currently non-enforceable in the EU anyway, does it matter?

non-commercial only (3, Insightful)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119735)

non-commercial open source software only? So any commercial use of that software will still open you up to infringement claims? If so, what's the point. MS is not worried about little Joey using FOSS in his basement for "non-commerical purposes". The use of that same software in a data center is apparently not covered by this agreement, so again... what's the point?

Re:non-commercial only (2, Informative)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119833)

Non-commercial development, not non-commercial use.

Re:non-commercial only (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119911)

Non-commercial development, not non-commercial use.
If I stick a PayPal or Amazon donation button on my project's web site, or my hosting company places ads on the project web site, is my project suddenly commercial?

Re:non-commercial only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21120441)

It does not matter.

You come onto MS's radar, you will be sued or paid to go away.

Since they have more money than most, they win the battle of attrition.

Remember the golden rule. Those who have the gold makes the rules.

MS has lots of gold. It will take a man of Teddie Roosevelt's constitution to tame the MS beast, just like he did with standard oil.

The problem is that we do not make such men today. Instead we have corporate hoares available to the highest bidder.

Non-commercial development, not non-commercial use (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120047)

Open source can still be commercial. All open source is is a business model, there's closed source proprietary and open source business models, along with others.

Falcon

Re:Non-commercial development, not non-commercial (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120121)

Right, but MS have only said they wouldn't hassle non-commercial OSS developers. That set doesn't contain OSS users, nor commercial OSS developers.

Re:Non-commercial development, not non-commercial (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120585)

Right, but MS have only said they wouldn't hassle non-commercial OSS developers. That set doesn't contain OSS users, nor commercial OSS developers.

That's why it is bad, it doesn't shield OSS projects that are for profit, ie commercial.

Falcon

Re:Non-commercial development, not non-commercial (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121033)

Why should it? If you're making a profit based on a technology someone else poured millions on R&D into, why should you be able to use that technology without contributing back to the company that paid millions to invent it? Instead we have Open Source companies (not all of them, but a few of them) which deliberately attempt to undermine Microsoft, and using a licensing agreement that explicitly prevents Microsoft from using the improvements to their own work (GPL).

Now, this only applies to technologies Microsoft actually invented by the way. This is not an argument saying they should get free money.

No, this is a good thing. Though it would be better if it protected end users explicitly too.

Re:Non-commercial development, not non-commercial (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121565)

Why should it? If you're making a profit based on a technology someone else poured millions on R&D into, why should you be able to use that technology without contributing back to the company that paid millions to invent it?

Why should it? Because it creates it's own way to interoperate and tries to prevent vender lockin.

Falcon

Re:non-commercial only (1)

backbyter (896397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120083)

myFOSS software distributed by myFOSS.org = free

myFOSS support for myFOSS offered by myFOSS, Inc for a fee.

Kind of like Canonical, right?

Re:non-commercial only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21120115)

I think they meant non-corporately-funded projects.

Like Red Hat might still have to stand up to MS's slander. But it would have been better to offer this protection universally. And multiply the fine by 2^10...

The EU is UsEless (1, Troll)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119739)

'Microsoft will publish an irrevocable pledge not to assert any patents it may have over the interoperability information against non-commercial open source software development projects.'
The EU anti-trust people are freaking idiots.

Remember the last 'punishment' they gave MS for anti-trust violations? They forced MS to unbundle media player from XP. But the idiots didn't require MS to proportionally, or even at all, reduce the price of the stripped down XP. So MS sells two versions of XP in the EU - regular XP and stripped XP for the same price and no one buys the stripped-down XP. Doh! Big freaking homer doh!

Now they force MS not to sue any non-commercial open source project. Hello? McFly? That promise has got no teeth because most any serious project gets some form of commercial distribution and often commercial funding too. In the meantime they've implicitly endorsed software patents. Gee THANKS!

Yet again, the EU forces a meaningless concession from MS that actually strengthens the company instead of punishing it.

Re:The EU is UsEless (1)

Le T800 (1137303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120325)

Remeber that EU representants in the instutution are often changing and the political forces too, so the mileage may vary. From what you say I guess you're not a citizen of EU. If by chance you were American, maybe you could explain us restoftheworlders what the Microsoft's homeland government is actually doing about those matters ? Sorry about my poor English.

Re:The EU is UsEless (2, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120401)

If by chance you were American, maybe you could explain us restoftheworlders what the Microsoft's homeland government is actually doing about those matters ?
Never did I say that the US anti-trust enforcement was any better.
Just look at how the RIAA tricked the various US attorney generals into accepting all those CDs for schools and libraries as a 'penalty' when they were just unloading dead inventory.

Re:The EU is UsEless (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120395)

"Remember the last 'punishment' they gave MS for anti-trust violations? They forced MS to unbundle media player from XP. But the idiots didn't require MS to proportionally, or even at all, reduce the price of the stripped down XP. So MS sells two versions of XP in the EU - regular XP and stripped XP for the same price and no one buys the stripped-down XP. Doh! Big freaking homer doh!"

Could you clarify what you mean by "reduce the price proportionally"? Do you mean that it should be reduced "proportionally" according to the size of WMP in bytes compared to the size of XP in bytes? If so, then the price of XP N would be reduced by something like 0.00001 cents. Also, WMP is free on Microsoft's web site, so reducing XP N's price by the price of WMP would reduce the price by zero. Hell, one could even argue that XP N should cost *more* than XP since it takes extra resources to create, maintain, and distribute it.

There was no way to determine a non-zero price for WMP which would be used to reduce the price of XP N; not a way that wouldn't have been very easily appealed anyway. The EC knew that.

"Yet again, the EU forces a meaningless concession from MS that actually strengthens the company instead of punishing it."

The "punishment" was the fine. The rest is supposed to be "remedy" not "punishment". As it is, the EU is forcing Microsoft to hand over Active Directory to its competitors for next-to-nothing. I don't see how patents involving technology that doesn't involve network protocols should be involved in this case at all. Anyway, Microsoft already pledged not to sue non-commercial software projects (be they OSS projects or not), months ago. This EU provision merely codifies what Microsoft already said regarding non-commercial software projects. Has Red Hat, IBM, or anyone in the OIN made a similar pledge regarding non-commercial software projects?

Re:The EU is UsEless (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120893)

There was no way to determine a non-zero price for WMP which would be used to reduce the price of XP N; not a way that wouldn't have been very easily appealed anyway. The EC knew that.
So, not only where they stupid, they knew they were being stupid. Willful stupidity is just so much better...

As it is, the EU is forcing Microsoft to hand over Active Directory to its competitors for next-to-nothing.
Only its NON-COMMERCIAL competitors, which is pretty much meaningless since software Freedom is about liberty, not cost.

Has Red Hat, IBM, or anyone in the OIN made a similar pledge regarding non-commercial software projects?
Red Hat has, and it is a whole lot broader because it includes commercial projects and is applicable world-wide: http://www.redhat.com/legal/patent_policy.html [redhat.com]

Now THAT is a worthy fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119743)

OK, it'll save them a fortune in marketing, but having to back off from the primary argument in keeping people of Open Source will cost MS more than the record fine. The fine was only a record in punishment terms, but it paled in comparison with their income (although not quite at petty cash level anymore :-).

This may have been the real sting of the judgement, and it was timely.

Bill gets tired of EU, a conversation. (5, Funny)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119759)

Scene opens at Imperial Headquarters, Redmond. Imperial march plays and quiets as conversation begins.

Bill: Man, I am getting so tired of the EU. I am going to have to buy Europe. Bring me my checkbook.

Accountant: Sir, it's a little out of your price range.

Bill: (Staring blankly) Price range?

Accountant: Yes, sir. It costs more than you have, especially since most of your money is in dollar currency.

Bill: (Picks up phone.) Steve, get in here. And bring your chair.

Seems Muddled (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119781)

Microsoft will publish an irrevocable pledge not to assert any patents it may have over the interoperability information against non-commercial open source software development projects.

What makes a project non-commercial? If one unemployed guy runs a project that 99 developers from Red Hat contribute to, is the project non-commercial?

"I told Microsoft that it should give legal security to programmers who help to develop open source software and confine its patent disputes to commercial software distributors and end users. Microsoft will now pledge to do so."

So, the programmers can't be sued but the users can. How much does that really help?

Re:Seems Muddled (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119999)

What makes a project non-commercial? If one unemployed guy runs a project that 99 developers from Red Hat contribute to, is the project non-commercial?
Conversely, if a Red Hat developer submits a ten-line patch to a project, is that then a commercial project?

With FLOSS, it's not useful to talk of a project as commercial or noncommercial in most cases. The distribution can be commercial or noncommercial, though. So if I create a project in the EU, never get any money for it, and it gets distributed with Suse (for instance), Suse's commercial and their distribution of my code is commercial.

What the courts decide is something else entirely, and I look forward to hearing from them.

Good news everyone! (1)

mebollocks (798866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119823)

ahh... That IS good news. I'd been basking in the comforting glow of the fact that we sort of maybe might not yet have software patents in Europe. Then I heard that MS had reached an agreement and they'd be looking for royalties. First I was nervous, then anxious, then wary, then apprehensive, then kinda sleepy, then worried, and then concerned. But now I realize that being a spaceman is something you have to do. Then I read this http://www.fsdaily.com/Legal/Do_software_patents_exist_in_the_EU-1/ [fsdaily.com] on the FS-daily and realised that if the EPLA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPLA/ [wikipedia.org] is ever passed then bingo, all the dominos would fall like a house of cards, checkmate.

Actually, it only protects developers (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119827)

of non-commercial OSS programs. Everyone who sells OSS will have to pay a fee; and it only applies to interoperability patents. Sure, MS only gets a fraction of the revenue cut they wanted; but it still means they get money from vendors.

I wonder if the EU defined what is "revenue from OSS projects that infringe on MS patents."

While the agrement will help protect developers it still leaves a lot of open questions concerning the sale and use of the resultant programs.

For example:

What is commercial use?
What limitations are placed on end users? If they modify an OSS product and use it in their business what fees must they pay to avoid a patent suit?
What constitute "interoperabilty?"

While we all may have ideas on what the agreement means I'd guess MS' lawyers have alread decided how to use it to their advantage.

Whining crybaby-ism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119837)

Essentially, in addition to getting them to comply with the anti-trust decision, the EU has forced Microsoft to back off of its saber-rattling when it comes to EU open source projects


Yes, they are backing down from statements Slashdot took out of context... in order to continue ignoring the same open source projects they have ALWAYS ignored.

There isn't a single FOSS project in the world which was shut down by Microsoft bringing a lawsuit... and yet the Stallmanistas keep puling away and crying about how all the problems in the world are caused by Microsoft.

Re:Whining crybaby-ism (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121063)

There isn't a single FOSS project in the world which was shut down by Microsoft bringing a lawsuit...

Indeed, Microsoft's strategy in this respect (->SCO) hasn't been very successful up to now. Which doesn't mean they didn't try.

and yet the Stallmanistas keep puling away and crying about how all the problems in the world are caused by Microsoft.

Not all problems: Nobody claims 9/11 was done by MS. :-)
But seriously, MS has a long history of applying unfair methods against their competition (see e.g. DR DOS, OS/2, Java). And they are seeing Linux/OSS as threat (see e.g. the Halloween documents), and already target them (SCO law suit payed by MS, dirty playing in the OOXML standardization process).

What about open source distributors and users? (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119925)

What about open source distributors and users? Just asking. Fully expecting Microsoft to violate the spirit of this settlement as usual and land back in court in a year or so.

Apparently.... (3, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119963)

Several of the 'startups' on the MS buy list are currently known as governments or regulatory bodies across the globe. Who would have thought that? Each day that passes makes me more certain that nuclear war will not end the human race... we will starve to death when the food vending machines finally suffer that one last BSOD.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21120351)

Software patents are not valid in the EU despite the EPO issuing them for a fee to the stupid, so why would F/OSS need protection from such patents? Is the commission misinterpreting the clear and specific EPC exclusion from patentability of "programs for computers"?

Unbelievable. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120455)

"Irrevocable pledge?" To translate, what they're really saying is this: "We're Microsoft and we won't sue you. We promise! And furthermore, we absotively posilutely guarantee that all future generations of management here at Microsoft won't sue you either." You'd have to have rocks in your head to believe that one.

I hope the EU's regulators have too much on the ball to swallow this malarkey. Microsoft couldn't keep a promise if their very existence depended upon it.

What's stopping them... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120495)

What's stopping MS just getting a puppet company asserting patents on their behalf? Not that they've ever [fnord SCO] do that, of course.

People, please.... (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120519)

Go read groklaw. This was not a victory for us. It wasnt utter defeat either, but the court upheld microsoft's right to assert patents and charge for them, thus upholding the very beast that has the U.S. bound to the ground with respect to OSS.

We cant look at their docs, the samba people cant look at their docs (license is gpl incompatible), it is useless for us at all.

The only thing they made them promise is that they wont go after individual developers. Well bu-hu, why would they do that in the first place? Imagine them going after Linus, their theatre would die a short death.

Nay... they're going after redhat, suse and (if they find theyr gonads), perhaps IBM in the end. I think thats the way they think. Us thinking there is a vitctory where there is none, only plays in their favor.

EU and software patents? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120521)

'Microsoft will publish an irrevocable pledge not to assert any patents it may have over the interoperability information against non-commercial open source software development projects.'


Aren't software patents banned in the EU anyway? So, aside from the fact that this was forced out of them, does it mean anything in the first place?

Re:EU and software patents? (4, Informative)

Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121217)

Actually EU doesn't have anything to do with patents right now. A few years down ago EU Commission tried to bring legislation that would have introduced EU wide harmonization of patents and brought unified judicial system. As the European Parliament didn't accept the directive, the attempted legislation was withdrawn. More about the subject. [wikipedia.org]

How ever there is European Patent Organization [wikipedia.org] which works by the power of European Patent Convention. EPO is fully independent organization and isn't part of EU. EPO actually is the only organization in Europe causing real grief in regards of patents. They award software patents even if they don't have any power to do so. Many big corporations and also smaller companies have applied basically pure software patents from EPO. How ever as the EPO really doesn't have power to award these kind of patents, the situation is that those patents are more or less worthless. They also will stay worthless even if EU would make software patents legal as those patents were filed and awarded before they were legal.

In my company we have talked and researched the software patent issue some what. My own point of view is that software patents are worthless and as long as the member state we operate doesn't allow software patents, we don't have any reason to worry. I really do hope that this situation will stay the same as the business of software company is to make software and solve customers problems, not pay big fat checks to lawyers.

Did anyone read it as (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21120525)

Microsoft EU Decision Protects OSS Projects From Sluts
?

Interesting (2, Insightful)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120543)

Does this mean that if Microsoft asserts patents against US OSS projects that they can relocate to Europe and be home free?

I hear a "giant sucking sound"...

How do you establish whether an OSS project is "here" or "there" anyway, when the developers are all over the place?

Am I missreading or... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120661)

Doesn't this only refer to the server connectivity side of things which was what the EU ruling dealt with? What they're saying is that the protocols they've been forced to licence by the EU will be licenced to OSS projects for free. I'm reading lots of messages here that seem to indicate people think this will give permission to use ALL patents relating to Windows.

That protection in no way extends to US projects (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121573)

So, um, if I have someone helping me out with my code (I live in the US, s/he lives in Germany,) is my project (and transitively, I) protected by said ruling? Or are my friend, my project, and I all screwed? Let's look at the three possibilities:

A) I am the primary coder
B) My friend and I contribute equally
C) My friend is the primary coder
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