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Microsoft Offers to License the Internet

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  • by DarthBart (640519) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:07AM (#10745791)
    This one was probably started by a intern lawyer at MS who's trying to impress his boss with "Look what I can do!"
    • by datGSguy (820433) <telnix@gmail.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:15AM (#10745812) Homepage
      I for one welcome our new.... er... fuck no!
    • FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by anonymous cowherd (m (783253) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:38AM (#10745876) Homepage
      This FAQ [microsoft.com] entry referenced by TFA makes it pretty clear that MSFT is not claiming ownership of anything with this:

      Published Protocols And Royalty-Free License FAQ Q. When I sign a royalty-free agreement for these protocols, what am I licensing? A. The list of protocols under this license includes protocols for which documentation has been published, and that Microsoft has implemented in Windows client operating systems to interoperate with Windows server operating systems (up to and including Windows Server 2003). However, just because a protocol appears on the list does not mean that Microsoft is the owner or sole owner of rights in that protocol or its documentation. What the royalty-free license does is ensure that a license is available from Microsoft under whatever rights it may have in the published documentation and/or protocols on the list.
      MSFT is not, as TFA summary indicates, "licencing the internet," in any meaningful way. That would imply that MSFT owns or controls what it is licencing. Further, TFA itself states that "a significant number of protocols date from the early 1980's," so, "here is no reason to suspect that Microsoft has any patent rights to these early protocols (such as the TCP/IP v4 core protocols). Further, in the unlikely event that applicable patents may be discovered, they would have likely expired at this point."

      This is clearly, yet again, a story that is more about MSFT bashing than about anything real.

      • Re:FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        LMSFT is not, as TFA summary indicates, "licencing the internet," in any meaningful way. That would imply that MSFT owns or controls what it is licencing.

        If they don't claim to own or control it, why are they licensing it?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:16AM (#10745950)
          I for one will welcome the day we can read a story about how Slashdot editors have finally decided to read the text of the submissions, and at least scan the contents of the offered links.
          • Yes, but if they ever do reach that point, over half the traffic on Slashdot would disappear because no-one would be able to complain about the editors anymore. I'm pretty sure they do it on purpose: it gives us something to bitch about even when there's no good news to chew on.
        • Re:FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

          by orangesquid (79734) <orangesquid&yahoo,com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @02:13PM (#10747351) Homepage Journal
          Simple. They have a habit of "embracing and extending," which usually means breaking compatibility with non-Windows implementations.

          Signing your soul (well, protocol-soul) over is probably the only supported way to get your software to work with Microsoft's.

          This might be another fear-of-free-software; if they can change how all Windows developers and other commercial developers implement protocols, free software will break unless free software developers sign up with Microsoft (and, I haven't read the whole license, but it's quite likely that the license is designed to be non-GPL-compatible in some way).
      • Re:FUD (Score:5, Informative)

        by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:17AM (#10745951) Homepage Journal

        Not just FUD, but also lock-in. Please see the warning at the Samba Development [samba.org] page: In order to avoid any potential licensing issues we also ask that anyone who has signed the Microsoft CIFS Royalty Free Agreement not submit patches to Samba, nor base patches on the referenced specification.

        Anyone who voluntarily licenses, for example, eating fish, must then abide by the fish-eating license (:-))

        --dave

        • Re:FUD (Score:4, Informative)

          by anonymous cowherd (m (783253) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:41AM (#10745995) Homepage
          Please.

          SMB is entirely different from the basic protocols of the internet. Samba was not in the best legal situation to begin with, before MSFT came out with this licencing scheme. You can hardly equate SMB with TCP/IP.
          • Re:FUD (Score:5, Informative)

            by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:51AM (#10746019) Homepage Journal
            I wasn't: I'm quoting the Samba team's warning against contributing to Samba while having signed an agreement about the other protocols.

            -- dave

            • Re:FUD (Score:3, Informative)

              by julesh (229690)
              I'm quoting the Samba team's warning against contributing to Samba while having signed an agreement about the other protocols.

              Huh? The only protocol mentioned in what you quoted was CIFS, which is MS's new name for the revised specification of SMB that supports the funky new features of Win2K et al, and which is implemented in samba. That wasn't about 'other' protocols, it's about SMB/CIFS and Microsoft's NDAs, purely and simply.
              • ...Huh? The only protocol mentioned in what you quoted was CIFS,...

                I think the GGP (great grand parent) was refering to the legal issues of signing a licensing agreement with M$ that the Samba team raised, not the specific protocols. If you sign a licensing agreement with M$, there may be legal liabilities that come with any patches you create involving ANY of the protocols covered by said licensing agreement.

                This whole licensing scheme may simply be a submarine attack on OSS. Shrink the pool of avai

              • Re:FUD (Score:5, Informative)

                by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:08PM (#10748540) Homepage Journal
                I think you're misunderstanding what I said: the Samba team is concerned about anyone contributing who was legally bound to an agreement with Microsoft. Anyone bound by that agreement who contributes, taints the Samba source code.

                Samba implements a protocol which was analyzed "off the wire", and so is not legally encumbered by a license. They wish to stay that way.

                Which protocol? Every protocol.

                --dave

      • Re:FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mike2R (721965)
        TFA itself states that "a significant number of protocols date from the early 1980's," so, "here is no reason to suspect that Microsoft has any patent rights to these early protocols (such as the TCP/IP v4 core protocols). Further, in the unlikely event that applicable patents may be discovered, they would have likely expired at this point."

        This is clearly, yet again, a story that is more about MSFT bashing than about anything real.


        However a follow up to TFA states:

        Keep in mind that even though th
        • Re:FUD (Score:5, Informative)

          by anonymous cowherd (m (783253) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:52AM (#10746021) Homepage
          However a follow up to TFA states:

          Keep in mind that even though the core protocols haven't changed that much, actual TCP/IP deployments have drastically changed since the early 80s. Efficient packet forwarding algorithms (which are necessary in Gigabit networks and beyond) are certainly subject to patents today.

          This would still be true, even if MSFT did not offer to licence these protocols! Furthermore, by not having a licence to a protocol which MSFT has legitimate patent claims on, you effectively deny yourself the ability to use that protocol. That is, unless the idea of a horde of MSFT lawyers beating down your door looking to extract licencing fees you could have avoided by licencing the protocol for free.

          I'm not saying anybody should licence TCP/IP from MSFT. Far from it. MSFT clearly has no legitimate claims on ipv4, because the patents would have expired by now anyway, as TFA very clearly states. (Well, that, and MS Windows' ip stack was basically ripped out of BSD.)

          If your lawyers have reviewed any possible claims MSFT has on a given protocol and determine that there are no valid ones, then there is no reason to licence it from MSFT at all. If MSFT does have a valid claim, then this licence is probably the best you're going to get out of them for free. If you want more, you'll have to licence it the normal way, which involves spending some dough.

          • Re:FUD (Score:5, Informative)

            by SilentChris (452960) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:06AM (#10746356) Homepage
            Um, read the article. And the license. All you did was read the Slashdot headline.

            If you read the license, you would've seen this:

            "Implementation of these Protocols and, to the extent Microsoft is not the owner or sole owner of the Technical Documentation for these Protocols, use of this Technical Documentation may require securing additional rights from third parties. Licensee is responsible for contacting such third parties directly to discuss licensing details."

            In other words, "We don't own or have any legal rights over any of this stuff. We're, instead, pointing you to the public domain."

            If anything, the license is a complete absolution of any legal rights, and is instead a classification method. MS management probably asked "where does public domain stuff fit into our licensing schemes" (since everything at MS is licensed). The lawyers turned around and said "Nowhere." "Well, write a 'license' anyway, even if it doesn't do anything." If it was ever brought up and court, opponents could actually use the thing against MS and say "look, you absolved any possible legal ownership over these". If nothing else, this "license" is a good thing.
            • Re:FUD (Score:3, Informative)

              Um, read the article. And the license. All you did was read the Slashdot headline.

              Oh? I suppose that's the reason the grandparent post is modded informative... Everybody knows mods don't mod people informative who actually RTFA. (Hint: mods aren't always on crack... they have to come down some time.)

              If you read the license, you would've seen this:

              [...]

              In other words, "We don't own or have any legal rights over any of this stuff. We're, instead, pointing you to the public domain."

              I would ha

            • Re:FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Alsee (515537)
              If it was ever brought up and court, opponents could actually use the thing against MS and say "look, you absolved any possible legal ownership over these".

              LOL! You appear to have the peculiar notion that Microsoft's "ROYALTY FREE LICENCES" mean you are free to use them. No. They say you may use them at no cost under certain restrictive conditions. And Microsoft oftent specifically tailors those conditions to prohibit many uses - and in particular to prohibit GPL use.

              You can get your ass sued off for usi
            • Re:FUD (Score:3, Informative)

              by Alsee (515537)
              Sorry for replying twice, but I just checked. The licence in question does indeed prohibit many uses, and it does specifically prohibit GPL use.

              I don't know what - if anything - this licence actually covers, but to the extent that it covers ANYTHING it is extremely bad.

              -
      • Re:FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MP3Chuck (652277)
        "That would imply that MSFT owns or controls what it is licencing."

        How does one license that which one does not control or own? This is like a car manufacturer licensing the ability drive on the road.
      • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:45AM (#10746128)
        The licence does state plainly that MS can terminate it, and states plainly that Appletalk is covered by the licence.

        It is not within Microsofts power to do that - so why is this document not considered fraud?

        Also, MS offers no form of warranty and accepts no liability, so this licence is completely worthless in any case.

      • Re:FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

        by radtea (464814) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @01:03PM (#10746922)
        TCP/IP is included on the list of licensed protocols.

        "So what?", you may say.

        Well...

        The Recitals (which is the part of a license agreement that amongst other things lays out what property the licenser owns and is willing to license) declares that the licensee wants to license these protocols "under any applicable intellectual property rights that Microsoft may have"

        But...

        There is no conceivable scenario in which Microsoft could have any rights to TCP/IP whatsoever.

        So why is it included in the agreement?

        This would be like my company, whose products use XML parsers, licensing the XML standard to our users. It would be bizzare on the face of it, and such a contract would be in my view very poorly written. Good contracts contain just what they need to contain, and nothing more. Microsoft's lawyers probably know this.

        So why exactly did they invest the effort into creating such an extensive list?

        This story is not about Microsoft bashing. It is about a very strange license from a very powerful company, which should give us all pause.

        --Tom
      • Re:FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tony-A (29931)
        When I sign a royalty-free agreement for these protocols, what am I licensing?

        I think there is some reasonable assumption that if you are selling something that you have something to sell, that if you are licensing something that you have something to license.

        That would imply that MSFT owns or controls what it is licencing.
        I think that is the normal assumption that whoever is licensing something owns or controls what they are licensing. Licensing something that belongs to somebody else seems rather fra
    • by kmac06 (608921) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:12AM (#10745944)
      I really don't see this as a problem. There is overwhelming evidence that MS had nothing to do with the development of TCP/IP. The worst they can do is claim a patent over it, and send a case to court. Hopefully something like this will result in a reform to the patent system, but I think that's being optimistic. Whatever happens, there's no way MS could win any case over this (even a poor guy/small business would win with the EFF or whatever taking the case)
      • by Just Another Perl Ha (7483) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:10AM (#10746367) Journal
        Your logic fails in that one should never assume that anything Microsoft does is above board... especially when their behavior seems a little odd. They have proven time and again that their view of right and wrong is very different from the rest of humanity (save for perhaps the confused yet powerful few from the Project for a New American Century who feel compelled to impose their twisted version of American values on the rest of the world).

        Microsoft would never do anything like this unless they firmly believed that they had an ace up their sleeve that they could later use to crush anyone who got in the way of their grand vision of One World, One Operating System, One Vendor.

        Finally... if you actually believe that you can win in a court of law against Microsoft just because you're right... you've got another thing coming. Justice is a myth. Most court battles are won by the party who outspends their opponent... and Microsoft can outspend just about everybody.

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:08AM (#10745793) Journal
    I think this follow-up to the post in the NG fits nicely:

    Keep in mind that even though the core protocols haven't changed that

    much, actual TCP/IP deployments have drastically changed since the
    early 80s. Efficient packet forwarding algorithms (which are
    necessary in Gigabit networks and beyond) are certainly subject to
    patents today.
    • by kasperd (592156) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:36AM (#10745869) Homepage Journal
      If people would just stop talking about things they don't understand, things would get a lot more quiet. First of all almost everybody who use the term TCP/IP don't know what they are talking about. Because if they knew what they were talking about, they would use the right term, which is often one of the protocols IP, ICMP, UDP, or TCP.

      Packet forwarding have nothing to do with TCP. It happens in the IP layer, the efficiency is obviously also to some extent affected by the lower layer protocols. But not the higher layers like TCP. But mostly efficiency of forwarding is an implementation issue, and not a property of the actual protocol.

      To make things even worse a new term was invented to confuse people, and it is also called IP. Since this term covers a nonexisting concept it is in our best interrest not to use it. IP means Internet Protocol, any other use of that abreviation should be avoided. Unfortunately a lot people errornously use the term TCP/IP about the Internet Protocol.

      Some confusion can be avoided by actually specifying the version number as well and say IPv4 or IPv6 rather than just IP. But for god's sake, make sure you use the right terms, or you will just cause even more confusion.
      • To make things even worse a new term was invented to confuse people, and it is also called IP
        What? Intermediate Pressure? That abbreviation has been used for thousands of steam turbines since before the transistor was invented.
        Pick any short acronoym and you'll find multiple meanings, like three common ones for IP. We all just have to make sure that we are not too lazy to put them in context or to spell each one out at least once in any sort of professional communication.
        • by mwa (26272) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:14AM (#10746188)
          I believe when kasperd said
          • To make things even worse a new term was invented to confuse people, and it is also called IP.
          it was in reference to the term "Intellectual Property" which is supposed to be the body of law that covers copyright, trademark and patents. The spin of the term is intended to confuse people into thinking that property law, an entirely different set of rules, applies to those categories.

          It does not, and as long as we let the Intellectual Robber Barons define the debate by accepting the concept of ideas as "property" we concede to the assumption that since we're talking about "property" then it must be "ownable."

          A better term, that more correctly defines the legal concept and better describes the issues is "intellectual rights." This restricts the debate to the limited rights that the law grants authors and inventors for a limited time and prevents the application of property law concepts like "ownership" and "theft" from being applied to things that they are simply not applicable to.

      • TCP/IP Term (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:47AM (#10746132)
        Go read TCP/IP Illustrated, volume I, by W. Richard Stenvens (one of the best technical book I know). The term "TCP/IP" is used to speak about all "the TCP/IP protocol suite", so it is about IP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, bgp4, ospf, etc.
      • by Trogre (513942) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:21PM (#10747774) Homepage
        Congratulations on your recent completion the first semester of the Cisco CCNA course!

        I hope you feel better now that you've clarified your opinion of the terms TCP, IP and TCP/IP to the rest of us. Boy do we feel stupid.

        Good luck with semester 2.

    • by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:49AM (#10745892)
      Keep in mind that even though the core protocols haven't changed that much, actual TCP/IP deployments have drastically changed since the early 80s. Efficient packet forwarding algorithms (which are necessary in Gigabit networks and beyond) are certainly subject to patents today.

      As might efficient packet discarding algorithms, as per their listing the Discard Protocol [ietf.org] as one of the protocols you can license from them.

      That strongly suggests to me, at least, that they just enumerated protocols Microsoft implements but didn't invent solely by themselves (or didn't invent at all), and threw them into the list, perhaps on the theory that it's better that other organizations and individuals spend time figuring out what stuff might be covered by patents owned by Microsoft than that they spend time figuring out what public protocols actually are covered, in part or in whole, by some Microsoft patent.

      • by pchan- (118053) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:13AM (#10746183) Journal
        As might efficient packet discarding algorithms, as per their listing the Discard Protocol as one of the protocols you can license from them.

        you're saying there's no innovation to be had in the discard protocol? the lazy unix programmer would just take his echo protocol implementation and redirect output to /dev/null. of course, after a bit of optimizing (and probably an assembly implementation), he would discover that he could just throw away that buffer and be done with it. now, you're thinking, "sure, that's obvious."

        microsoft doesn't do things like that. they planned ahead. what if you want to tunnel discard over an ipsec tunnel of ipv6? what if you wanted to implement discard via remote method invocation using xml with soap? what if you wanted every application you write to have access to the discard protocol as simply as instantiating an object?

        that's why they created the microsoft abstract discard server (ms discard). the ms discard library provides you with an abstract implementation of a general discard server, as well as a fully functional discard client. the discard server is fully input-neutral, and can accept data from many common stream formats. have you ever wanted to run a discard server against a relational database query? probably not. but now you can! this is done easily by using the odbc discard data source bridge (or if you need speed over portability, oci). virtually any data source can be discarded in a clean, multithreaded, scalable fashion. discard is now available enterprise-wide over ldap. do your discard servers need load balancing and failover redundancy? with ms discard, you can take advantage of advanced clustering features and achieve five 9's of uptime from your discard server farm (*requires ms discard clustering server and windows 2003 advanced server pro champion edition).

        in short, don't assume that just because the protocol in basic, the implementation can't be bloated and patented.
  • by metlin (258108) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:08AM (#10745796) Journal
    ...and Microsoft.

    Perfect!

    The Horsemen are drawing nearer,
    On Law suits they ride,
    They come to take your LIFE!
  • by mfearby (1653) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:08AM (#10745797) Homepage
    ... and, more importantly, where do I input my credit card number? Microsoft worked hard for every patent they invented and deserve a right to protect it and earn financial reward for it... NOT!
    • Re:How can I pay? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metlin (258108) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:14AM (#10745810) Journal
      You think you are scared?

      You're not scared enough -- MS has _tonnes_ of patents in the WIMP area, which several Operating Systems use.

      MSR has been filing patents left right and center, in various areas such as Graphics, AI and what not. They even have people working on areas of Information Theory in Quantum Computing and what not.

      A search on Delphion [delphion.com] shows that about 7,542 patents have been registered in almost every conceivable area of computer science.

      I was hoping that MS would not take this stance, but I guess this was inevitable.
      • Re:How can I pay? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mfearby (1653) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:20AM (#10745825) Homepage
        What scares me is that Australia will probably end up with copyright and patent laws the same as the United States (which is part of our "free trade" agreement). I guess I can always renounce technology and go back to reading books and using pen and paper, but then, I'm sure Amazon has a patent on "a mechanism for the immediate and periodic loan of printed material from a central repository" (meaning I can't borrow library books, unless it takes more than one step :-)
      • Re:How can I pay? (Score:5, Informative)

        by igrp (732252) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:52AM (#10745898)
        Microsoft didn't invent this game though. They're just playing it. And as usual, they're a tad bit late and have to play hardball to catch up with the competition. And of course, as usual, they throw at a lot of money at the (perceived) problem (which, sadly, I have to admit has usually worked for them in the past more often than not).

        IBM has been doing this for decades and they are exceptionally good at this. The difference is that, at least at this point in time, they do not actively do anything with their patents - at least not beyond the point of what's necessary to keep them. They just keep filing new patents to keep their asses covered. And, in a way, they have to do that to ensure the survival of the company. Think about it: it's way cheaper to just file for and receive a patent than to challenge somebody else's patent and to try and have that invalidated (something that hardly ever happens). It also helps with ligigation. If another company is suing you, you first check your database to see if they have violated one of your patents.

        And to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, check out this quote from IBM's IP & Licensing website [ibm.com]:

        In 2003, IBM received 3,415 U.S. patents from the USPTO. This is the eleventh consecutive year that IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other company in the world. In addition to delivering these innovations through its products and services, IBM maintains an active patent and technology licensing program.

        And, believe me, they're covering all their bases (last time, I checked they had 23k+ active patents and they have some exceptionally good lawyers). Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying IBM is the bad guy here. I like the fact that they're supporting Linux as much as the next guy. I'm not even saying what they're doing is inherently evil. I'm merely trying to point out that patents are becoming a priority issue everywhere and that it's becoming increasingly important to CYA.

  • by wombatmobile (623057) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:08AM (#10745799)

    MS seems to have caught SCO disease.

    • by R.Caley (126968) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:56AM (#10746152)
      MS seems to have caught SCO disease.

      MS had it first, and they probably caught it from Apple -- remember when Apple were threatening to sue people (including MS) they claimed had copied the interface Apple had nicked from Xerox?

      Suckers may be born every minute, but the scams stay the same. Back when the first animal evolved a mechanism to mark out a territory it opened an ecological niche for a mimic to pretend to own territory it hadn't had to work to get and hold.

      • by drewness (85694)
        the interface Apple had nicked from Xerox

        Apple gave Xerox a large amount of stock in exchange for those tours of PARC and many of the early Apple employees came from Xerox.

        As for MS, there was a MS employee on the Office team (when it was a Mac only product) who called and asked in depth implementation questions about the Mac GUI that were irrelevant to developing Office. After stealing many of the ideas, they used the wording of a contract with Apple to make a claim (which held up in court) that they ha
      • by nathanh (1214)

        MS had it first, and they probably caught it from Apple -- remember when Apple were threatening to sue people (including MS) they claimed had copied the interface...

        Microsoft did copy the interface from Apple. It was a pretty blatant ripoff. Even the internal API was a direct ripoff, even down to the identical function names and the peculiar use of handles.

        Go read Folklore.org [folklore.org]. In particular, read this story [folklore.org] about Microsoft employee Neil Konzen. Basically he was working on Microsoft Office for the M

  • QOS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kinzillah (662884) <douglas.price@ma ... u minus caffeine> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:12AM (#10745806)
    Maybe they will be patenting their idea of setting the QOS on all packets to realtime, thereby making the whole damn thing useless.
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:14AM (#10745809) Homepage Journal
    And I thought the purpose of intellectual property was to encourage innovation. With talented people now forced to investigate potential issues, I can't see how IP does anything but slow progress. Time for revision?
  • A lot of rumours... (Score:4, Informative)

    by arevos (659374) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:23AM (#10745830) Homepage
    There seem to be a lot of rumours, but no real evidence that Microsoft will pursue this action. Getting control of TCP/IP as a protocol is a near-impossible challenge, even for Microsoft.

    As another have pointed out, they could patent IP routing algoritms, but I think most of the apocalyptic vision predicted by this story is rather unlikely to ever happen.

    At least, I hope so!
  • by jocks (56885) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:26AM (#10745840) Homepage
    Being the canny Scot that I am, I have used my inate ingenuity and now all my computers at home are linked together using TTCPS. Yes Two Tin Cans and a Piece of String networking is the way forward.

    I have already spoken to Linus T. who will be imlementing TTCPS in kernel 2.8, but I have released some modules which can be compiled into kernels 2.4 and 2.6 right now. Those of us on BSD can try the Two Steel Cans and a Piece of Cord (TSCPC) protocol but I'm not sure about compatability.

    I've also received a letter from SCO's lawyers claiming that the string I used was from their own private ball and I should cease and desist. To counter this I am using twine spun by my own mother from the wool of our own sheep. I still maintain that the string I was using was just like any other piece of string and as SCO has been unable to specify what length they have missing I am not too worried.

    Some geeks over at www.ttcpsgeek.org have been experimenting with High-Tensile string and have achieved remarkable increases in bandwidth - expect this to be ported back into TTCPSv2, due for release at the end of February.

  • by cavac (640390) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:26AM (#10745841) Homepage
    ..because M$ wasn't even the publishers of most of the protocols.

    For example, take the "Character Generator Protocol" http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc0864.txt [ietf.org], which was posted by Mr. Postel on May 1983 without any restrictions for usage and/or modification.

    And AFAIK Postel never did work for Microsoft and never sold his rights to them.

    I didn't take a look at the other protocols yet, i i guess it's the same story for most, if not all, of them...
  • by theolein (316044) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:28AM (#10745845) Journal
    I sit here using my Mac, open the MS page listing all the protocols that MS wants you to sign a licence agreement for, and lo and behold I see that Apple File Protocol is the first on that list. I think Apple might have some fun with it's lawyers on this one.

    I also wonder just how arrogant, dumb and just plainly disconnected from reality you have to be to start licencing protocols that Microsoft had absolutely nothing to do with, such as DNS, DHCP, TCP/IP etc.

    And the microsofties on this board wonder why people refer to MS as M$ or slam the company constantly.

    MS is a bunch of criminal bastards. Fuck them and may they burn in fucking hell.
  • Ping (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GridPoint (588140) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:29AM (#10745852)
    Not only are their legal precedents shaky (to say the least), they didn't even bother to check their facts very well. For one thing, they refer to the "ping" program as "Packet Internet Groper (ping)". This meaning of the program's name is a well-known backronym [wikipedia.org] of the original meaning which the author of ping [army.mil] stated had to do with the similarity to submarines.

    Maybe this is a hint as to how much actual investigative work they have put into this spectacle.
  • How unexpected (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:35AM (#10745866) Homepage Journal

    And of course, when yet another of MS' asinine patents is discussed, the shills come out of the woodwork bleating the corporate line "Microsoft is only interested in using their IP defensively!".

    I completely fail to see how this can ever be used for anything but to harass competitors. Not surprising, since this strategic direction was already outlined in a 1998 memo [opensource.org].

    So this ought to shut up the MS shills for awhile (unfortunately, there is a large divide between 'ought' and 'will').

    Mart
  • Hold your hourses! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danalien (545655) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:38AM (#10745878) Homepage
    just read the 1st line

    • Is Microsoft Ready to Assert IP Rights over the Internet?
      November 5, 2004

      Has Microsoft been trying to retroactively claim IP (intellectual property) rights over many of the Internet's basic protocols? Larry J. Blunk, senior engineer for networking research and development at Merit Network Inc., believes that might be the case.

      [...]

    I am not found of M$ like the next slashdotter, but, before 'we' start bashing M$ ... lets do it after we know the _facts_ :)

    I mean,

    Microsoft Offers to License the Internet

    • vs
    Is Microsoft Ready to Assert IP Rights over the Internet?

    is a big difference, that awards 'caution, biased story alert'.

    • by SilentChris (452960) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:19AM (#10746073) Homepage
      Good, you've RTFA. Now go all the way and RTFL (read the f*ing license). Apparently the guy in the eWeek story didn't.

      "Implementation of these Protocols and, to the extent Microsoft is not the owner or sole owner of the Technical Documentation for these Protocols, use of this Technical Documentation may require securing additional rights from third parties. Licensee is responsible for contacting such third parties directly to discuss licensing details."

      In other words, "We don't own any of this. We use it. If you use MS software to access these protocols, here's the (extremely liberal and almost nonexistant) 'license' to do so." Nothing to see here.
      • not so liberal (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geg81 (816215) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:48AM (#10746495)
        If you actually execute the license agreement, you will be under all sorts of legal obligations to Microsoft that you weren't under before; for example, you need to put a notice into your software and you may be restricted in how you can sublicense it. And you get nothing from them in return because they don't actually own any of the protocols. This is not a "liberal" license, it's a license for suckers.
  • Closer look (Score:5, Informative)

    by MadFarmAnimalz (460972) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:43AM (#10745889) Homepage
    I think the level of implied evilness in this matter is overplayed. Microsoft aren't denying that these standards are not exactly theirs exclusively to play around with.

    Reading the FAQ, it looks more like some arcane clot of lawyers came up with this one to cover [Microsoft's|developers'] butts from ???. (can't figure out what the lawyers were trying to accomplish).

    Specifically, this:

    Q. I noticed a number of these protocols are available for license via other avenues - for instance, under license agreements promulgated by members of a standards setting body. If I already have rights to implement protocols (e.g., under other agreements), do I also have to sign a royalty-free license?

    A. No, unless you wish to obtain rights available under the royalty-free license that are not available under other license agreements you may have.


    There. They are acknowledging that you can use the protocols anyway without signing this license agreement.

    Strange move, but not evil if I read things properly.
    • Re:Closer look (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ctid (449118) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:18AM (#10745955) Homepage
      There. They are acknowledging that you can use the protocols anyway without signing this license agreement.

      Well, that's very big of them, but some of these protocols don't belong to Microsoft. For example, TCP/IP was developed before Microsoft existed. You might reasonably call this "stupid". I would also call it "evil", just as I would call a burglar evil if I caught him trying to sell (sorry, "licence") property that belonged to me. I think "strange" is understating the case.
  • yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Renraku (518261) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:46AM (#10745891) Homepage
    Lets just up and hand Microsoft the keys to the Internet. So every other company that has invested even one dollar in internet infrastructure or internet-capable programs will lose a lot of money from whatever Microsoft will do with it. Then, all these said companies can sue Microsoft (not a class action, individual cases) and they will absolutely slashdot Microsoft's legal funds. Once that's done, they'll have to tap into their reserves. If these companies can bare their chests to such financial loss and paperwork, Microsoft would be wiped out. Someone could take the things that Microsoft sealed up, and free them. Unfortunately, someone would claim them for themselves, much like a certain human claimed the Ring.
  • The other shoe drops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:51AM (#10745897)
    We've all been waiting for MS to start fighting with patents.
    It is their last resort against a better product.

    It has been reported here that the man primarily responsible for "productizing" IBM's patent portfolio went to microsoft to do the same thing a couple of years ago. So far, we've seen silly little things like attempting to patent the FAT32 format on flash devices, but nothing really used as an offensive weapon.

    Ironically, our best hope of defeating Microsoft in the patent arena is IBM, and to a lesser extent, Novell. Both companies have significant patent portfolios that can be used as a retaliatory threat to MS for trying to lock-out Free software with their patents. Both companies have been hurt badly enough by MS in the past, but are currently stable enough that they aren't likely to make deals either (like Sun did).

    Personally, I feel that the whole idea of patent portfolios and all encompassing cross-licensing agreements is an abuse of the patent system because it locks out the little guy. But, in this particular fight we don't have a hope of achieving patent reform soon enough (if ever), so we might as well be glad that we have a few big guns on our side.
  • by Keeper (56691) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:57AM (#10745912)
    This is part of the DOJ settlement requiring Microsoft to license communications protocols essential for 3rd party software/operating systems to interoperate with Windows. No matter how stupid, trivial, or ancient, they're required to license them.

    And now they have.

    From the FAQ (http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url =/library/en-us/randz/protocol/published_protocols _and_royalty-free_license_faq.asp):

    Q. When I sign a royalty-free agreement for these protocols, what am I licensing?

    A. The list of protocols under this license includes protocols for which documentation has been published, and that Microsoft has implemented in Windows client operating systems to interoperate with Windows server operating systems (up to and including Windows Server 2003). However, just because a protocol appears on the list does not mean that Microsoft is the owner or sole owner of rights in that protocol or its documentation. What the royalty-free license does is ensure that a license is available from Microsoft under whatever rights it may have in the published documentation and/or protocols on the list.

    • by nagora (177841) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:18AM (#10745956)
      No matter how stupid, trivial, or ancient, they're required to license them.

      You can't license what you don't own. The obvious motivation for this long list is to allow MS to claim ownership at some future date when President Jeb Bush lifts even the pathetic restrictions of the DoJ case. They know that many small companies (and that's most when compared to MS) will simply fold and pay up rather than face being ground down in court for 10 years arguing the point.

      TWW

    • by KontinMonet (737319) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:22AM (#10745961) Homepage Journal
      ..a license is available from Microsoft under whatever rights it may have...

      Of what use is this license to the ordinary Joe? If MS terminates the license after 30 days, then what? Does Joe have to re-license the use of all 130 protocols elsewhere? And is Joe aware that there may be rights that are no longer valid making him have only partial rights to documentation and protocols? And, under the terms of the license, no improvement to the protocols is allowed either even if MS has no rights in that particular protocol.

      Perhaps MS should have named it a ...royalty free but (perhaps partially) restricting and confusing license...
    • by Rosyna (80334) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:34AM (#10745981) Homepage
      This does seem like it was created just to fulfill that portion of the DOJ settlement. However, MS obfuscated it in an insane way so you can't even see which protocols you actually want to license. Give the reader so much data that they are overwhelmed and just give up.

      Although I had assumed it was illegal to claim you could license something you don't own. Or maybe MS is licensing "their" version of the protocol. Like Kerberos. Their version isn't standard at all...
  • The Real Problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by justin_speers (631757) <jaspeers@com[ ]t.net ['cas' in gap]> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:20AM (#10745959)
    First off, everyone should read anonymous_cowherd's comment above before panicking or engaging in any premature Microsoft bashing... [slashdot.org]

    Second off, before everyone starts ripping on evil corporations and patents... let's not forget that the evil Government creates the environment that breeds bacterial scum like SCO.

    In other words, engage in some activism. Help out the EFF [eff.org], fight software patents in Europe, do whatever it takes to stop this problem at the source: Evil Government...

  • In other news ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@annexia. o r g> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:23AM (#10745962) Homepage
    In other news, Microsoft have agreed to cap their legal expenses at $31 billion.

    Rich.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:54AM (#10746026)
    Microsoft didn't even notice the internet until windows 95 came out.
  • Pay Attention, Kids (Score:4, Interesting)

    by maximilln (654768) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:01AM (#10746037) Homepage Journal
    "Thus, by signing the agreement as it presently stands, one might be agreeing to certain things gratuitously, meaning simply that the licensee agrees to give Microsoft continuing control over how the protocols are used," Peterson said.

    This is exactly how the real world works. The worlds of politics, business, law, promotions, even employment interviews, are based on recruiting your support for agreements which can't be negotiated.

    Wasn't this how BIll managed to get Microsoft's ownership of an early version of DOS for a minimal amount of money? I'd heard he got someone else to enter an agreement which recognized it as owned by Microsoft, but he hadn't actually paid anyone else that contributed to writing it (yet).

    Well, and all the poor German children around the 1940s. They thought it was like playing mountaineer when they got to join Boy Scouts (or whatever the German equivalent is).
  • This is silly. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:18AM (#10746071) Homepage

    It is clear to anyone who reads the license itself (or, if you perfer english, the FAQ [microsoft.com]) that Microsoft is not trying to claim IP ownership over *any* of the protocols listed in the license. They specifically and clearly say this a number of times in both documents.

    However, that doesn't mean this is totally benign. It is classic M$ policy to require the user to license technology from them whether they plan to profit from it, or restrict usage or not; it is better, on their view, to have consumers using their technologies under only a nominal license (the terms of which may be changed later, if need be) than under no license at all. Given that M$ clearly doesn't *know* what protocols they have what rights over, it may be that they're distributing a catch-all license, in the hopes of figuring out what their rights are later and locking them down.

    However, as IANAL, this raises the question of whether such a hypothetical license is binding...can you ask a user to sign a license under an IP right that neither party can identify, and that may not even exist? Given that it doesnt even specifiy what it is that the user is licensing (it only effectively says what it relates to)...can this even be considered a real license?

  • What MS is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 3seas (184403) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:18AM (#10746072) Journal
    ... is a marketing company first and formost. Second being a third party integrator of the works of others, if not law manipulators, making integration of the works of others in third place.

    In their marketing they lie, they mislead, they present an illusion of their being something they are not, innovators. They use the law to manipulate others in the industry thru licensings and such agreements.

    Numerious times they have been found guilty in a court of law for anti-trust violations and they general response is that such fines are part of the cost of doing business, as is the case of organized crime.

    So when issues such as this article refers to comes up....

    Facts?...... you want what?

    OK!!

    MS operates on illusion and their ability to fabricated it, if even just thru insinuation. And unfortunately, the public typically falls for it.

    Is that fact enough for you all?

    Licensing the internet is a good summary of what the general public would preceive of this, and MS knows it, and that is why they are doing it.

    DUH!
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:21AM (#10746078) Homepage
    ... when I think of Microsoft's original reluctance to do anything "TCP/IP" or internet in the first place and then their use of BSD code to make it all happen I kinda wonder...

    Is the BSD licensing such a good thing after all? It's a license to leech -- a license to embrace and extend -- to take that which is ubiquitous and to own it.

    I haven't read the article yet but when I read through the comments here, I get a pretty good feel for what others have read. And while Microsoft might have added tweaks to existing code, I don't think it would have been possible for them to make it happen with existing BSD licensed code for them to start off with. I've long thought it was a bad thing and now I see a pretty clear example of what I consider an abuse of it.
  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @09:50AM (#10746138) Homepage
    From the Microsoft License Agreement:

    2. Enhancements and Updates
    Other than any updates that Microsoft may publish at the URL location(s) for the Protocol(s) listed in Exhibit A, no other Microsoft enhancements or updates to Protocols and/or Technical Documentation are licensed under this Agreement. In the event Microsoft elects to make other such Microsoft enhancements or updates available, such enhancements or updates will only be licensed by Microsoft under a separate written agreement.

    3. Licenses
    3.1 Copyright License. To the extent Microsoft has copyrights in the Technical Documentation for the Licensed Protocols , Microsoft hereby grants You a non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-sublicensable, personal, worldwide license to make a reasonable number of complete copies of that Technical Documentation solely for use in developing Licensed Implementation(s).


    3.2 Patent License. To the extent Microsoft has Necessary Claims, Microsoft hereby grants You a nonexclusive, royalty-free, non-sublicenseable, personal, worldwide license under those Necessary Claims to use the Technical Documentation for the Licensed Protocols to:

    So in English, Microsoft is not claiming ownership of anything. They are just saying that they may or may not own something but you can license it from them anyway.

    Additionally, this license offers no indemnifaction. Even if you license the 130 protocols listed from Microsoft, if there is a legal challenge on a patent, Microsoft isn't going to protect you (according this this agreement).

    My last point is this does not cover Microsoft extensions or as them call them "updates" to protocols. Does this mean you are licensing whatever is in the public RFC from Microsoft and their version of the technical documentation?
    It's all so strange.
  • by wine (211387) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @11:48AM (#10746498)
    I read a couple of comments saying Micorsoft did only say it might have some rights and this discussion is an exageration. Maybe it is, but this might become an issue if Microsoft starts shouting that the Open Source community steels as always and that there are no legally correct open source implementations of these 130 standards. And I'm afraid there never will be any, because of how the license is drafted.

    This license resembles the Sender-ID license and therefor makes Open Source implementations with this license very dificult. Please read the Apache Software Foundation's position regarding sender ID [apache.org]. Lawrence Rosen states:

    The open source development and distribution process works as well as it does because everyone treats open source licenses as sublicenseable, and most of them are expressly so. Open source licenses contemplate that anyone who receives the software under license may himself or herself become a contributor or distributor. Software freedom is inherited by downstream sublicensees. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Sender ID patent license continues the convenient fiction that there are "End Users" (S1.5) who receive limited rights.

    And then:

    The "nontransferable, non-sublicenseable" language in their reciprocal patent license (S2.3) also imposes an impossible administrative burden on the open source development community and, in essence, creates additional downstream patent licenses that will be incompatible with the AFL/OSL and similar open source licenses, and with the open source development process.

    He continues:

    The scope of the patent license is limited to compliant implementations. This is incompatible with the broad grant of open source licenses to create any derivative work whatsoever. In addition, as Internet software is often non-compliant for many possible different reasons, this would restrict the use of Sender ID unacceptably. In addition:

    • Measurement of compliance is a problem.
    • If compliance is needed to get a license, then it's a problem. If compliance is not needed to get a license, then the clause should just be dropped.
    • Full compliance might be difficult to achieve for technical or resource reasons.
    • Obvious extensions (many already under discussion) could be subject to unknown additional patents.
    • Accepted best practices often exceed or conflict with compliance for Internet standards.
    Now, please have a look at the Microsoft license for these 130 protocols [microsoft.com]:

    3.2 Patent License. To the extent Microsoft has Necessary Claims, Microsoft hereby grants You a nonexclusive, royalty-free, non-sublicenseable, personal, worldwide license under those Necessary Claims to use the Technical Documentation for the Licensed Protocols to:

    (a) make, use, import, offer to sell, sell and distribute directly or indirectly to end users, object code versions of Licensed Implementations only as incorporated into Licensed Products and solely for the purpose of conforming with the Protocol as described in the corresponding Technical Documentation, and

    Due to the similairities of the Sender ID license and this license I think, Open Source may never be able to live up to the requirements of this license. If it doesn't, it might not necessarily be at risk for litigation over whatever rights Microsoft might have, but Microsoft definitely gains the selling point of having legally unencombered implementations while Open Source has none.

    As I said, IANAL. Maybe someone with more legal knowledge can comment on this subject. I hope I'm wrong.

  • by PolR (645007) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @12:39PM (#10746748)
    RTF, yes M$ does not claimn ownership of the protocol. But they won't tell they don't own it either. If you have signed the licensed, would your lawyer advise that you can take the chance?

    The license contains some interesting clauses. For example:

    3.4 Reservation of Rights. All rights not expressly granted in this Agreement are reserved by Microsoft. No additional rights are granted by implication or estoppel or otherwise. By way of clarification, in order for a third party to distribute a Licensed Implementation as part of its third party branded products, such party must be authorized to do so by You and must also execute this license and comply with its terms.
    Here we have an obligation for licensee to license their implementation of the protocol and require third parties to enforce the license as well. This obligation exists even if M$ has no right to the protocol in the first place.

    Another funny clause:

    3.2 Patent License. To the extent Microsoft has Necessary Claims, Microsoft hereby grants You a nonexclusive, royalty-free, non-sublicenseable, personal, worldwide license under those Necessary Claims to use the Technical Documentation for the Licensed Protocols to:

    (a) make, use, import, offer to sell, sell and distribute directly or indirectly to end users, object code versions of Licensed Implementations only as incorporated into Licensed Products and solely for the purpose of conforming with the Protocol as described in the corresponding Technical Documentation, and

    (b) to distribute or otherwise disclose source code copies of the Licensed Implementation(s) licensed in Section 3.2(a) only if You (i) prominently display the following notice in all copies of such source code, and (ii) distribute or disclose the source code only under a license agreement that includes the following notice as a term of such license agreement and does not include any other terms that are inconsistent with, or would prohibit, the following notice:

    "This source code may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. Our provision of this source code does not include any licenses or any other rights to you under any Microsoft intellectual property. If you would like a license from Microsoft (e.g. to rebrand, redistribute), you need to contact Microsoft directly (send mail to protocol@microsoft.com)."

    Yes M$ admits they might not have a patent, but they don't tell you if they have one or not. So read clause a). It says you can distribute the licensed protocol only as a Licensed Implementation. Do you take the chance and distribute an open source implementation? If M$ happens to have a patent afterall, you are in violation. You may have good chance to challenge the patent and invalidate it, but then you are up for a trial and the contract may be found enforceable for the time period before the patent is invaludated. What would the company lawyer advice? What a PHB will decide? This is called chilling effect.

    Now look at clause b). As a licensee you are required to tell the world that M$ has rights to the protocol, even if it might not be the case.

  • by cbreaker (561297) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:27PM (#10747818) Journal
    It's pretty obvious. The license doesn't do much, but it DOES say:

    "Microsoft, at its option, may list You as a licensee on a website or in other public communications."

    So in other words, they will put out a newsletter at some point that looks a something like this:

    "Microsoft customers see value in Intellectual Property rights, unlike those Communist Linux Bastards. The Microsoft Protocol Bullshit License has been signed by JoeBobCompany because they know that being protected is important in these times of questionable patent and license issues that our legal department is causing."
  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @03:45PM (#10747927) Journal
    IANAL, but I think this would apply here. This doctrine should be applied more often to sink submarine patent claims.

    http://www.legal-definitions.com/equitable-estop pe l.htm
    http://www.lectlaw.com/def/l056.htm
    http:/ /www.converium.com/2103.asp
  • by Dracos (107777) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @07:00PM (#10749448)

    ...this license is referenced in the EULA for the next version of Windows, whether XP2 or Longhorn (or sooner in the next versions of various network enabled products, like MSN messenger). End user and PHB ignorance is they only way this scheme can work, and MS knows it.

    Microsoft is essentially trying to do to the internet what SCO is trying to do to linux.

    This license basically amounts to intent to defraud.

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