Feeds

Are Microsoft's licences unfair to open-sourcerers?

Free software advocates think so

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Lawyers acting for the Free Software Foundation have accused the software giant of making it impossible for open source software developers to take part in its protocol licencing scheme. Microsoft was ordered to begin licencing its protocols by the European Union in its anti-trust ruling. This requires the company to make the code available under "reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms.

Carlo Piana, a partner at Milan law firm Tamos Piana & Partners, which represents FSF Europe, told eWeek:"Microsoft has proposed a licencing agreement blatantly tailored to exclude free software from accessing it."

The terms of the Microsoft licence require that the holder does not distribute the source code of their implementation of the protocol, except to other licence holders. Developers are allowed to show the source code to non-licence holders, but only in their offices, and only if the other party is willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The licence overview says:

In addition to not disclosing your source code directly, you also need to make sure not to subject your implementation to any other licenses that would require such source code disclosure. For example, under certain circumstances, other licenses may require your implementation to be disclosed in source code form when you distribute your implementation with other technology that is already subject to that other license. In short, you can't subject your authorized implementations to any license that requires you do things that are contrary to the scope of your licence and your obligations under the license agreement.

Basically, the FSFE says, this boils down to: if you sign this licence, you can't make your work available under GNU GPL.

Dirk Delmartino, Microsoft's anti-trust spokesman in Brussels, said: "We offer the same terms to everyone, including developers of free software, or what ever you would prefer to call it. We don't prevent anyone from taking a licence. It would be discriminatory if we offered different licence terms to different groups."

We asked if Microsoft could see the inherent conflict between the terms of the GNU GPL and its own licence. Delmartino said: "I am not an expert in GPL licences. What we can do is make licences available to all. Our terms are as they are." ®

Related stories

MS updates: real Windows users only need apply
Dutch govt ends exclusive MS upgrade talks
FBI backs transatlantic anti-spam summit

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.