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Documentation Compliance Means MS Can Resume Collecting Protocol Royalties 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-took-seven-years dept.
angry tapir writes "Microsoft may begin collecting royalties again for licensing some protocols because clear technical documentation is now available, according to the US Department of Justice. The change comes after the DOJ issued its latest joint status report regarding its 2002 antitrust settlement with Microsoft. The settlement required Microsoft to make available technical documentation that would allow other vendors to make products that are interoperable with Windows."
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Documentation Compliance Means MS Can Resume Collecting Protocol Royalties

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  • Outrageous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PizzaAnalogyGuy (1684610) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:57AM (#30411116)
    This is outrageous, and I have two examples why. First, protocols are like food recipes. The pizza you sell is yours, but the ingredients to make it is not. Here the protocol is your ham, pineapple, salami and shrimps on a barbeque sauce large size pan pizza. You have not stolen the app from your competitor, you're just making yours compatible with theirs. Like the third party IM clients can connect to MSN network. Secondly, how would any of those open source apps pay for the royalties? But maybe this is Microsoft's plan. Let me tell you what is happening here. Microsoft is paying for the local BBQ Sauce factory to include a license agreement before you can use their sauce in your pizzas. The license agreement says you are only allowed to use their BBQ sauce on Microsoft approved pizzas. And before you know, these pizzas will be degraded. Forget your ham, forget your pineapples, forget you bacon and forget your cheese. THIS is the pizza we offer, and this will be the pizza you like.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Damn your pizza analogies, I'm hungry now...

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by davester666 (731373)

        It could be worse. If you've had a few drinks and he used a car analogy, you could be off driving right now...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      First, protocols are like food recipes.

      Which can be copyrighted and regarded as a trade secret. Or do you think that KFC should have to post their recipe online for all to see?

      Perhaps you should try a car analogy instead? ;)

      • Re:Outrageous (Score:5, Informative)

        by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:12AM (#30411182) Homepage Journal

        You can't copyright recipes, and anything can be regarded as a trade secret.

        • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:18AM (#30411222) Journal

          Yes, I should have left it at trade secret. My stupid. I shall now commence pounding my head against the table to atone for my error.

          I also think that we just got trolled, based on the handle of the first poster.....

        • Yes, in some cases you can [copyright.gov]. I simple list of ingredients cannot, but then I don't think a protocol would be considered just a list of ingredients.

          • Re:Outrageous (Score:4, Informative)

            by bmo (77928) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:48AM (#30411422)

            A protocol is simply a statement of facts.

            Facts are not copyrightable.

            Sweat of the brow does not determine if something is deserving of copyright either. It must have _some_ creativity. Indeed, this is why software for years was not deserving of copyright, because it was considered a "list of instructions for a machine" instead of creative. This changed in the early 80's I believe (correct me if it was earlier).

            A recipe is not copyrightable. It is a list of facts to reach a goal. The artwork, layout, etc, however, is. Thus cookbooks are copyrighted.

            Software is unique in that it's now protected by both copyright, as if it's art, _and_ patent, as if it's a machine. Why one needs both is baffling to me.

            --
            BMO

          • by symbolset (646467)

            I've had more than 60K recipes online for over a decade and nobody ever bothered me about it. Sadly, I can't provide a link as the site's down now two weeks while we shift hosting providers. It's a hobby and it's free so I'm not apologetic about that. I'm a fairly busy guy and I'm not going to let that get in the way of my slashdotting. We get about 250k hits a month, down from a peak of over a million.

            You can't put out your protocol under anything less than an "all implementations are free" license and

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              You can't put out your protocol under anything less than an "all implementations are free" license and then pretend you're supporting interopability.

              Of course you can. It's called "reasonable and non-discriminating", and it's when you license your protocol to anyone who asks, for the same price regardless of who asks, and that price is reasonable. See MPEG4 etc.

              It can be argued whether this is open, but interoperable - sure.

              • by symbolset (646467) *
                I have nothing to add here except that your lack of "getting it" is provably deliberate. You're a lawyer, aren't you?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by symbolset (646467)

                RAND is a cover for non-open. It used to work before the lawyers got ahold of it. Let me school you:

                There is one and only one measure of openness now: You can implement it without a license, or you can't. That's it. You want to be interoperable, or you want to control who can interact with your interface. The control is the limiting factor and it's the difference between useful and not.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by QuantumG (50515) *

            If you write your recipe as some creative prose, then sure, you can copyright that, the same as any creative prose.

            But when I come along and see your prose and say "man that's pointless, here's a mere list of ingredients and some straight forward instructions" there's nothing you can do about it. Copyright doesn't prevent me from making a recipe of your prose, and copyright does not protect recipes.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          That of course brings up another question. Should anything be legally treated as a trade secret. Does not the end user, the potential victim of malfeasance have a right to make knowledgeable choices. Should not every citizens be entitled to the truth of what they are purchasing, is the government betraying it's own citizens when it allows companies to with hold information from the public that would likely alter their choice to select a product.

          The reality is, in the 21st century there is no longer any r

        • http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html [copyright.gov]

          Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.

          Protection under the copyright law (title 17 of the U.S. Code, section 102) extends only to "original works of au

          • by gbutler69 (910166)

            http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html [copyright.gov]

            ...

            Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to names, titles, short phrases, ideas, systems, or methods.

            Given the above, can someone please explain to me why Computer Software is copyrightable?

            • http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html [copyright.gov]

              ...

              Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to names, titles, short phrases, ideas, systems, or methods.

              Given the above, can someone please explain to me why Computer Software is copyrightable?

              It is considered a literary work. Given that nobody actually practices literate programming, I don't think this makes much sense.

        • You can't copyright recipes

          Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection. Recipes [copyright.gov]

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Actually you can copyright recipes.

          They are creative works just like novels and movies.

          And most of them btw are longer than the notorious Happy Birthday which somehow seems to enjoy copyright even though it's 4 lines long.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        Yeah, but a food recipe can easily be reverse engineered and used for profit or given away. If I magically figured out KFC's recipe without having prior knowledge of it and I made my own fried chicken stand that drove KFC out of business there wouldn't be a thing KFC could do. Similarly, I could reverse engineer coke and make my own soda. About the only thing that you -can't- do with a trade secret is if you know it most agreements forbid you from disclosing it or competing using it.

        As for copyright, ye
        • by Jurily (900488)

          About the only thing that you -can't- do with a trade secret is if you know it most agreements forbid you from disclosing it or competing using it.

          They only limit you if you signed an agreement, and you're in a country where the authorities give a damn.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        No, but if you reverse-engineer KFC chicken and determine a recipe that makes something that tastes exactly the same, KFC can't stop you from publishing it.

      • Re:Outrageous (Score:4, Informative)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob&hotmail,com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @03:36AM (#30411882) Journal
        Kentucky Fried Chicken Seasoning Mix Recipe
        Just mix these commonly-found spices together! Great when used for skinless chicken fingers too.

        2 tablespoons salt
        2 cups flour
        2 tablespoons pepper
        4 tablespoons paprika
        1 teaspoon garlic salt
        1 tablespoon mustard, ground
        1 tablespoon French thyme, ground
        1 tablespoon sweet basil
        1 teaspoon oregano, ground
        1 tablespoon jamaica ginger, ground

        http://www.bubhub.com.au/community/forums/showthread.php?t=14201&page=2 [bubhub.com.au]

        • What the hell is “garlic salt”? Isn’t that just garlic and salt? But how much of it is garlic then?fresh ingredients, it will taste way better! (Or deep-frozen. But not dried or heated or something. But take more if it’s fresh because of the additional water in it.)
          2. If you put the seasoning *below* the skin of the chicken, with a bit of butter, it will become even greater.
          3. I prefer real herbes de Provence and a bit or garlic instead. Best taste ever. (If done right.)

          How this is o

          • Huh, halt the comment just went *poof*. WTH happened there? Here the full comment again:

            What the hell is “garlic salt”? Isn’t that just garlic and salt? But how much of it is garlic then? What the hell is “garlic salt”? Isn’t that just garlic and salt? But how much of it is garlic then?

            Oh, and by the way:
            1. If you use fresh ingredients, it will taste way better! (Or deep-frozen. But not dried or heated or something. But take more if it’s fresh because of the additio

      • by fyrewulff (702920)

        Recipes cannot be copyrighted, although the instructions can be.
        You can also patent the machines that put together your item, which would also document exactly how to replicate it.

        Basically companies that have a 'secret recipe' are taking a risk-reward gamble.
        If you can keep it a secret, you don't have to patent it. Patenting would protect it, but it would "start the clock" so to speak. The patent would eventually expire and the documentation would be there plain as day.

        The big companies rely on people thin

        • by shentino (1139071)

          If KFC really ran ads on how to make their secret recipe then they just lost trade secret status through voluntary disclosure.

          • by fyrewulff (702920)

            They didn't... they only showed them picking up like 3 of them before they said something like "Okay, what's our cost up to now?" I think the ingredients they had picked up so far were pretty generic, flour etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gbjbaanb (229885)

        You forgot that KFCs secret recipe is protected in order to keep them competitive against their, uh, competitors. Microsoft forfeited that right when they stopped having competitors, that's why the DoJ got involved in the first place.

    • I think the IM clients are a bad example.

      The IM clients rely on a central server that costs money.

      A company using Microsoft's FAT format for its memory card isn't going to cost Microsoft anything.

      Starting your own disk format is much harder than your own IM client.

      Really, I've always thought that its the file formats that are keeping Microsoft in their position.

      For instance if you could load windows drivers in Linux, or Mac I think Microsoft would be in serious trouble.

    • Re:Outrageous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:28AM (#30411612)
      yeah right how dare they not just do it all for free right? there's no reason you can't charge a license for a protocol, just like any other piece of software. there should of course be nothing preventing you writing a competing protocol or your own clean room version. that's why patent are bad, but this is not.
      • by bit01 (644603)

        there's no reason you can't charge a license for a protocol,

        Bullshit. There are many reasons why charging a license for a protocol is bad. The fact that you are dishonestly pretending there are no reasons is telling.

        ---

        Don't be fooled, slashdot is not immune, like most social networiking sites it is full of lying astroturfers dishonestly pretending to be objective third parties rather than paid company propaganda.

        • by timmarhy (659436)
          telling in what way, that i don't agree with you? judging by your sig maybe you think i'm paid or something - if you know somewhere i can get paid for pointing out the obvious like i am, sign me up!

          but seriously, are you suggesting if i come up with a protocol for transfering data between x and y, i shouldn't be able to charge people to use it? i've already pointed out i don't agree with patenting a protocol, so please don't waste time retreating into that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bit01 (644603)

            telling in what way,

            You didn't respond to my main point. Dishonest.

            judging by your sig maybe you think i'm paid or something - if you know somewhere i can get paid for pointing out the obvious like i am, sign me up!

            Not explicitly stating you are not an astroturfer and trying to distract. Dishonest.

            but seriously, are you suggesting if i come up with a protocol for transfering data between x and y, i shouldn't be able to charge people to use it?

            Pretending there are no reasons why this is a bad idea. Dis

            • by maxume (22995)

              For all your pomp about dishonesty, you are doing a pretty good job of poorly reading "there's no reason you can't charge" as if it says "there's no reason you shouldn't charge".

              Your attitude is that I shouldn't charge you for my booklet about what my various smoke signals mean, you need to go further than repeating your attitude to establish that I can't charge for it.

              • by bit01 (644603)

                For all your pomp about dishonesty, you are doing a pretty good job of poorly reading "there's no reason you can't charge" as if it says "there's no reason you shouldn't charge".

                Thank you, an actual honest response. Yes, a very literal reading would be as you say however given the context he/she was trying to imply a lot more without explicitly saying it (as advertising/marketing lowlifes frequently do, trying to deceive the reader while avoiding a actual, legal commitment) and I called him on it. The fac

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Protocol licensing really isn't all that bad unless you try to be sneaky about it, i.e., with a submarine patent.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phantomfive (622387)
        That is in fact the case here. According to the article, some of the protocols are encumbered by patents. I can't imagine what kind of patent you can get on a protocol, but that is the sorry state of the matter.
      • by Vahokif (1292866)
        This isn't about software, this is about a specification, and they can charge money for anyone who implements the specification, clean room or otherwise.
      • by MeNeXT (200840)

        No problem here but a monopoly should not be allowed to bundle products either.

      • Re:Outrageous (Score:4, Insightful)

        by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @09:13AM (#30413274)

        You might be able to patent a *particular* implementation of the protocol, but if you think you can patent a 'protocol', you don't understand what a protocol is.

        Its like patenting a language. Can you imagine someone patenting English, or French, and then in order to speak it, you'd have to pay a license fee? I'm not talking about books on learning the language, or video courses, or whatever, I'm talking about the language itself.

    • by Korbeau (913903)

      The license agreement says you are only allowed to use their BBQ sauce on Microsoft approved pizzas. And before you know, these pizzas will be degraded.

      I'd say any pizza with BBQ sauce on it is already pretty much degraded!

      I'd go for baconnaise instead!

    • I have a few pizza recipes that I have licensed under the GPL ... ;)
  • protocols (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:57AM (#30411120) Journal

    Since when protocols are something you can license? They're pretty much available for everyone, technical details available or not. Protocols really shouldn't be limited by licenses.

    However on another case, Blizzard has [slashdot.org] been fighting such too [slashdot.org] against cheaters on their games.

    But really, what law do you violate if you're using a "licensed" protocol? I haven't heard of such cases before.

    • by eln (21727)
      Protocols aren't any more open than any other piece of code. I can develop a completely closed protocol that governs how one of my own programs interacts with one of my other programs. If you attempt to use the protocol without my permission, you would likely be guilty of unlawful reverse engineering under the terms of our old friend the DMCA, which prohibits reverse engineering except in very limited circumstances.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by benjamindees (441808)

        The DMCA only prohibits reverse engineering to circumvent "copy protection" mechanisms. It would be circular reasoning to assert that the copyrighted material being protected is the protocol itself.

      • Re:protocols (Score:4, Insightful)

        by symbolset (646467) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:11AM (#30411536) Journal

        Protocols are not code. Protocols are methods of interaction between pieces of code, even if the code is methods of interaction embedded in hardware. That these methods could possibly be considered as something that should be protected by some sort of intellectual property agreement is a testament to how far we've fallen from the root assumption of Unix: that all things should be able to connect to all other things whenever physically possible.

        This is the mindset that brought us DRM, all of Sony's stupid proprietary media formats, and an iPhone that won't tether.

        I'm sick of it. I have enough stuff that doesn't connect to my other stuff. I'm not buying any more stuff that doesn't connect to the stuff that I already have. I'm not using any systems that require proprietary licensing to connect the stuff I have to the new stuff I buy. I'm done with all that stupidness.

    • by martas (1439879)
      protocol design is a difficult and important process. by designing a protocol for something that performs better than existing ones, you can gain competitive advantage. if this advantage then disappears because everybody else can just copy the results of your hard work, i'm pretty sure anybody would be pissed. IANAL, but it seems to me that a company should be allowed to make money from their own work.
      • Re:protocols (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:04AM (#30411498) Journal
        It is extremely rare that a protocol becomes a competitive advantage because of their quality, mainly because designing a protocol in most cases isn't really very hard. Usually the only reason to keep a protocol secret is to keep competitors from interoperating with your software, which is why Microsoft was convicted of being a monopolist in the first place.

        In fact I can't think of any protocol that was kept secret because it performed better at the time. Maybe some old networking protocol or something. I can think of a ton of protocols that were kept secret purposely to prevent interoperability. Here's a few:

        SMB/CIFS
        CDMA diagnostic port protocol
        Blizzard online game protocols
        IPodITunes protocol
        Skype
        AIM protocol
        MSN chat protocol
        Yahoo chat protocol

        There are others. Fortunately reverse engineering a product for the purpose of interoperability is allowed under the DMCA. That is one of the bright spots of that legislation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by roystgnr (4015)

          Blizzard online game protocols ...
          Fortunately reverse engineering a product for the purpose of interoperability is allowed under the DMCA.

          That's assuming, of course, that you can convince a judge that your purpose was interoperability. Last I heard, it was still illegal to make a client interoperate with Blizzard's servers [massively.com], and illegal to make a server interoperate with Blizzard's clients [eff.org].

    • Some of the protocols are covered by patents, and some of the protocols have documentation that must be licensed, it isn't all available free, unfortunately.
  • Just in time, too! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer (533834) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:02AM (#30411134)

    And it only took them ten years. [wikipedia.org]

    Funny how the government doesn't even give you ten days past the due date of a parking violation though, isn't it?

  • Ahh, shit (Score:2, Funny)

    by inode_buddha (576844)
    Here we go again, clumsily trying to do the interoperability dance. It reminds me of deja vu all over again...
  • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:23AM (#30411250)

    An interesting side effect of the DOJ's decision to force Microsoft to document more of their protocols was that internal Microsoft employees have found their job easier and the teams more efficient.
    I stumbled across this tidbit while research for a final paper about software patent (good/bad/why/alternatives). You can read about it here [ssrn.com].

    • by bogaboga (793279)

      Any hope for something similar when it comes to MS Office and Exchange?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Foredecker (161844) *

        Oh, do you mean these :)

        Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Protocol Documentation [microsoft.com]

        Here is the announcement from Feb 2008: Microsoft Makes Strategic Changes in Technology and Business Practices to Expand Interoperability [microsoft.com].

        Bing is your friend. [bing.com]

        -Foredecker

        • by symbolset (646467)

          Given the article, don't you think your protocols link is a little rich? Especially given the similar exFAT [theregister.co.uk] licensing article from yesterday [slashdot.org] ?

          You're open or you're not. There's none of this licensing the protocol nonsense in "interopability".

          BTW: I'm not stalking you. It seems we're interested in the same stuff. I haven't hit your blog link yet - I've been busy selling your products and blind links from that thread merit the due caution of access from offsite hosting through a proxy or seven, which t

          • No worries :)

            What is a 'blind link'?

            -Foredecker

            • by symbolset (646467)

              A blind link is a link to a server that's not known good, or a link to an URL shortener like j.mp [slashdot.org]

              Microsoft advises against clicking blind links, and that's good guidance. It's talking to a wall since Twitter almost requires those links, and it's the hot tech right now. Of course I have my own URL shortener service so I don't have to use other people's.

              I'm not worried about you piercing my anonymous veil, since once you've been online as long as I have, "whois username" will almost always pierce that vei

              • by symbolset (646467)
                By The Way: this is not a request for an interview. I would rather clean septic tanks than work for your company, and the local septic company is always hiring (FlowHawks [google.com]).
                • Hahahah! The bit about the honeydipper is hilarious! I have a septic system and when it isnt working, Ill pay those guys anything. I unclogged it myself last winter and I dont want to do it again...

                  Im the same way about my foredecker handle. Its not anonymous in any mayterial way, but there is separation from work. Thats why I use my Wordpress blog now and will only use my msdn blog for pure work stuff.

                  In any case, Id really enjoy meeting you. Next week is really busy for me, but anytime after the 19th wou

                  • by symbolset (646467)

                    That would be lovely. Sorry about the ranting. You'll note that at 3am on a Saturday I can sometimes get a little dumb.

                    I'll get you a direct email some way.

  • I mean they didn't invent it. Their using of this critical interoperability protocol without payment to the inventors is ludicrous.

    just my 2 cents ( paid in full to the anglo-saxons )

    • by ewhac (5844)
      They'd switch to Loglan [loglan.org].

      ...Actually, they'd make trivial, incompatible changes to the language and call it Microsoft Loglan.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Really? Cool.. James Cooke's estate, will be collecting some massive royalties from MS for use of text written in Loglan :)

      • by Dracos (107777)

        No, they'd call it L#.

      • by neltana (795825)

        They'd switch to Loglan [loglan.org].

        ...Actually, they'd make trivial, incompatible changes to the language and call it Microsoft Loglan.

        Meanwhile, FSF would promote Lojban [lojban.org], the free alternative that forked back in 1987. Many flame wars would ensue.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:15AM (#30411552) Homepage

    Congratulations, Microsoft, and allow me to offer this toast:

    May you attempt to create a revenue stream and inhibit competition, and continue to poison your long-term success by limiting others' ability to create novel goods and services with your platforms.

    May your long, slow, demise be as stealthy as a panther in the night, so that you may continue not to understand until it is too late to recover and your war chest is too depleted to purchase any particularly egregious laws during your death spasms.

    And finally, may Steve Ballmer always be your public face. He is nearly as amusing as Sarah Palin.

    :)

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @03:06AM (#30411748)

      And finally, may Steve Ballmer always be your public face. He is nearly as amusing as Sarah Palin.

      You software hippies are just afraid of Steve Ballmer because of his good looks, his charm, his masculinity, his Christianity, his ability connect to the common user and his overall wonderfulness!

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, someone who throws chairs about so handily must press a lot of benches.

      • by Jaxoreth (208176)

        You software hippies are just afraid of Steve Ballmer because of his good looks, his charm, his masculinity, his Christianity, his ability connect to the common user and his overall wonderfulness!

        Yawn. Wake me when he's the mother of five children.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    OK. So the government order Microsoft to document the protocols. Microsoft then does what the government asks. Now the government acknowledges that Microsoft has done what was asked.

    Somehow, the comments here make it seem like Microsoft made yet another mistake. Wasn't this what they asked Microsoft to do?

    • OK. So the government order Microsoft to document the protocols. Microsoft then does what the government asks. Now the government acknowledges that Microsoft has done what was asked.

      Somehow, the comments here make it seem like Microsoft made yet another mistake.

      This is Slashdot. Hereabouts, the ultimate Microsoft mistake is that it exists in the first place.

      Well, some softer guys would settle at MS releasing all its existing code under GPL, and switching to producing a fully libre Linux distro with drivers, blackjack, and hookers.

    • "OK. So the government order Microsoft to document the protocols. Microsoft then does what the government asks. Now the government acknowledges that Microsoft has done what was asked. Somehow, the comments here make it seem like Microsoft made yet another mistake. Wasn't this what they asked Microsoft to do?

      No, they were asked to open the specs not, after much delay, publish a mishmash of source code and API calls and then charge other compamies to connect their computers to their-own customers computer
  • Nice, another trade barrier. You can't use this protocol unless you pay $x. At least, if you live in the USA. If you live in a country where interoperability is a right, you now have documentation to help you attain it. If you live in a country where the $x barrier to entry doesn't exist or isn't enforced, you can now make your product $x cheaper than your competitors in the USA.

    Interoperability: brought to you by the European Union and the People's Republic of China while companies in the USA fought expens

  • by tridge (3078) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @06:11AM (#30412340) Homepage
    Before everyone gets too worked up, please look at this:

    http://samba.org/samba/PFIF/ [samba.org]

    Samba and any other free software project (via the PFIF) has a royalty free license to most of the patents that are important for these protocols.

    There are some patents that are excluded from this (see appendix 4 of the agreement for a list of the excluded patents), and we do indeed need to avoid infringement of those patents. That has not so far proved to be an insurmountable obstacle, although it is an inconvenience.

    Cheers, Tridge

    • by ascari (1400977)
      The Samba project and the people who work on it are truly amazing: Consider Tridge's statement that a salvo from the batteries of one the world's largest and most aggressive software corporations is a mere "inconvenience". That should tell us a lot about the power of individuals and open source! Yay! At the same time I wish that Samba was less necessary. I wish that there were good Windows drivers for the many excellent open source distributed file systems etc. that are out there, so that people weren't "f

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