EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

07.24.09

Microsoft’s Goodwill is to Obey the Law

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Law, Microsoft at 6:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s Linux code is from Microsoft, for Microsoft, which fights Linux

Love tag

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government official

Summary: Microsoft’s Linux module was made GPL-licensed only because the law required it after accusations of GPL violation

THIS will hopefully be the last post about an issue that we previously covered in:

A blog post that we linked to the other day revealed that Microsoft merely did what it had to do. It was a legal obligation, not a moral obligation. The pro-Microsoft folks wrote about it by citing the blog with the original claim.

As revealed by Stephen Hemminger – a principal engineer with open-source network vendor Vyatta – a network driver in Microsoft’s Hyper-V used open-source components licensed under the GPL and statically linked to binary parts. The GPL does not permit the mixing of closed and open-source elements.

This is further confirmed in Mary Jo Foley’s blog and there is wider coverage of this in Slashdot and OSNews, which chose the headline “Microsoft’s Linux Kernel Code Drop Result of GPL Violation”

To put things in the right order, also consider the headline from IDG: “Engineer: Microsoft Violated GPL Before Linux Code Release”

So, in hindsight, it was not Microsoft’s intention to release the module as Free software. Microsoft screwed up. Linus Torvalds responds to this too, but in his assessment he makes the mistake of comparing Microsoft’s patches to IBM’s. IBM is not the company which is attacking Linux; Microsoft is very unique in that regard. Why would Torvalds refuse to see that Microsoft writes code to advance the competitor/s of GNU/Linux, which is what makes Microsoft’s code different from code of Intel or IBM? Matthew Aslett says that “we should all be very grateful for Linus Torvalds.” We probably all are (I sure am), but this does not imply that there should be no disagreements at times. As Aslett noted:

Glyn Moody reminds us that there has always been a divide between purists and pragmatists, and that actually there is value in that divide in that debate helps expose weaknesses and refine arguments.

We wrote about this a couple of hours ago.

The Microsoft-faithful (and Microsoft investor) Synder daemonises those who warned about Microsoft’s code, so it’s clear that these folks are trying to bury something. Specifically, he writes:

In case you missed it, Microsoft has released 20,000 lines of Hyper-V device driver code to the Linux kernel community. The news prompted a number of commentators, including InfoWorld’s own Randall Kennedy, to go full-bore ballistic. You’d think the black helicopters were about to swoop down on Linuxland.

The other day we noticed the same type of denial in Beta News, which is typically biased in Microsoft’s favour. They are very specifically targeting critics of the big patch. It has always been self serving and it would be foolish to expect otherwise. Here is another interesting take on the subject.

Now ask yourself this question: would Microsoft have released their virtualization drivers as Open Source if they could have been included in the kernel as binary drivers? Probably not! (especially if as some suggest Microsoft had little choice)

The bottom line is that Microsoft did nothing out of altruism (companies are not like humans with compassion and ubuntu), so to claim this was a change of heart is to totally miss the point and to tactlessly embrace Microsoft’s PR.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

11 Comments

  1. zatoichi said,

    July 24, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft’s Linux module was made GPL-licensed only because the law required it after accusations of GPL violation

    Hold your horses there, Roy! Whoa, Nellie!

    That’s an overstatement. No one has the slightest idea that the law requires anything at all here, and it would take a court trial to determine that. I know it’s very tempting (and probably kneejerk behavior at this point) to paint Microsoft as a lawbreaker at every opportunity, but t’ain’t so, McGee.

    It may be safely reasoned that the GPL v2 license appertaining to portions of the composite drivers that Microsoft previously distributed required it.

    It can be said with a degree of certainty that accepted open source community practices required it.

    The headline seems to be asserting that Microsoft was in danger of breaking some specific and identifiable law here. I don’t believe that’s true.

    zatoichi Reply:

    Sorry, but it seems sometime that every time I look up, I see something new… I’ll try to save time for everyone by pre-commentating this one, using [square brackets]. Try to keep in mind that you mightn’t get to read the facts here otherwise, it might help.

    Microsoft was not “accused of GPL violations”, at least not as I read the story, although that’s been reported some places that don’t fact-check too carefully when there’s a headline at stake, like,say, here.

    What I understood was that Stephen Hemminger, found some sort of problem in drivers that were already a sort of a problem, being of a binary blobbish nature. He brought it to the attention of Greg, who had a chat with Microsoft about it. No accusation.

    And somewhat late-breaking news supports that sequence of events: Microsoft says that GPL violations were not the reason it released the drivers at all but because it was the right thing to do!

    Sam Ramji said, the decision to release was “not based on any perceived obligations tied to the GPLv2″, and that the GPLv2 was “the preferred license required by the Linux community for their broad acceptance and engagement”. (I’ve met Sam, and Bill Hilf, a few times, at conferences.) [Call me a shill now.]

    [SFX: Cue ]

    Vyatta Vice President Dave Roberts states that neither it, or principal engineer Stephen Hemminger, have accused Microsoft of GPL violations, as reported elsewhere. {like, say here, Roy} In a blog posting, Roberts says “news stories have started to circulate that have bordered on putting words into the mouths of both Vyatta and its employees”

    So, not necessarily a violation, at least not according to the folks who were supposed to have found this violation. ["It's a conspiracy!"]

    Roberts says “Stephen merely called the situation to Microsoft’s attention” and that Microsoft have made the right decision to open source the Hyper-V drivers. Hemminger says “once Microsoft was aware of it, they were eager to resolve” the problem

    So, there was a “problem” or an “issue”, but it apparently was not clearly a violation; and Hemminger didn’t “accuse” anybody of anything, he merely called the situation to their attention, and they were “eager to resolve” it, this according to Hemminger himself.

    [SFX: Cue ]

    [Accusations of someone having been "bought off"]

    [Speculation that Vyatta is "not really a free software company"]

    [Speculation regarding possible threats on the part of large corporations to people's lives and well-being]

    [Attempts to probe Hemminger's and Roberts' past backgrounds]

    [Random conspiracy theories]

    ["Troll! Troll!"]

    Thank you for your kind attention.

  2. Nemesis said,

    July 24, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Gravatar

    “The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

    –Government official

    Who was this “unnamed source” Roy, saying a “government official” may sound nice but does that mean you had a chat to the postman this morning. I know it makes you sound more correct and factural but just stating “government official” with no source or ability to confirm or deny what you are stating to be fact or fiction.

    As for and the GPL’d code, MS is a fairly large company, it has the resources to re-write any drivers it felt may be in any form of violation, also you honestly believe the FSF would risk a test of the GPL in a court of law against a group with pockets way deeper than the FSF’s arms ?

    I dont think so, the GPL has not been properly tested in court, the FSF tend to try to scare people into compliance with copyright law.

    I know here MS can do no good, but it must be hard for you to put a negative spin and FUD on anything MS, Novell or anyone else you dont like does.

    It’s a damn shame you cant /kick MS /kick Novell like you love to do to anyone that does not toe the Roy mantra.

    bixler Reply:

    “The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”
    –Government official

    Who was this “unnamed source”

    This came from the Washington Post on Tuesday, December 8, 1998 during the US DoJ v. Microsoft anti-trust case:

    Gates Escalates PR War Outside Court
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/longterm/microsoft/stories/1998/gatesa120898.htm

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    And the law dealt with in this case is copyright law (GPL).

  3. zatoichi said,

    July 24, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Gravatar

    That’s a whole lotta laws, Roy. Pick one.

  4. NotZed said,

    July 24, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, they could’ve gone a more permissive license, like 2 clause BSD or the like. I guess they see the protections offered by the GPL as worthwhile after-all … since they explicitly chose it.

    This might seem a bit of a far-out comment, but Linux is starting to become a quasi-proprietary kernel since they locked the GPL at an obsolete version of the license. Example, all the drivers are inaccessible to any projects using a more advanced license, and commercial vendors often lock their privates away in binary blobs too.

    And it’s the drivers which define the platform … after-all, apart from all the drivers a kernel isn’t a terribly large amount of code.

    zatoichi Reply:

    This is striking me as just another backseat driver demand that Linus do things your way on his project. I see problems with GPL v3; Linus sees problems with GPL v3; lots of people see problems with GPL v3.

    Maybe there are some problems with GPL v3, and the people pushing it the loudest have a vested interest in propagandizing a license they don’t actually understand?

    I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone who thinks they’ve got a good grasp on the implications of GPL v3, and sect. 6 in particular, on government-regulated and certified mobile devices, such as cell phones, etc. You need to be able to discuss cell phone-related legislation, carrier requirements, and government certification regimes intelligently, for starts.

    I predict a vast silence, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised.

    The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet.

    —Damon Runyon

    Nemesis Reply:

    exactly, ive read of alot of developers and managers specifically veto’ing GPLv3 code, whereas V2 is acceptable.

    many big groups like apache, MIT, BSD apple, google and so on have very little respect for the GPL and prefer to emply less restrictive licenses.

    and yes, probity, certification, QA, “neck to strangle” and the very fact that GPLv3 came about as a knee jerk reaction to a new technology.

    People dont want to live in fear of RMS and becoming the focus of his next campain.

    No one wants to be the next Tivo, or the next target in stallmans cross hairs prompting him to draft a new and more restrictive license to preserve his version of “freedom”.

    A freedom by the way that only benifits a very very small minority of the FOSS community. As basically no one hacks FOSS/Linux code. a very very small percentage of the total commuity. sadly.

    This means for most people the GPL holds little or no value.

    zatoichi Reply:

    …a knee jerk reaction to a new technology…

    Actually there’s a saying among lawyers: “Hard cases make bad law”.

    The corollary to this is that writing a license because you’re aggravated with a specific device is probably not a great idea. The “Tivoization” stuff in the GPL is probably the biggest problem in there.

    Of course, folks here likely don’t know anything about that. They think Microsoft violated the GPL v2…

  5. zatoichi said,

    July 26, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, are you planning on correcting this story, since Vyatta, Stephen Hemminger’s employer, asserts that you’re all wet about this, that there was no violation?

What Else is New


  1. Links 17/6/2018: Linux 4.18 RC1 and Deepin 15.6 Released

    Links for the day



  2. To Keep the Patent System Alive and Going Practitioners Will Have to Accept Compromises on Scope Being Narrowed

    35 U.S.C. § 101 still squashes a lot of software patents, reducing confidence in US patents; the only way to correct this is to reduce patent filings and file fewer lawsuits, judging their merit in advance based on precedents from higher courts



  3. The Affairs of the USPTO Have Turned Into Somewhat of a Battle Against the Courts, Which Are Simply Applying the Law to Invalidate US Patents

    The struggle between law, public interest, and the Cult of Patents (which only ever celebrates more patents and lawsuits) as observed in the midst of recent events in the United States



  4. Patent Marketing Disguised as Patent 'Advice'

    The meta-industry which profits from patents and lawsuits claims that it's guiding us and pursuing innovation, but in reality its sole goal is enriching itself, even if that means holding science back



  5. Microsoft is Still 'Cybermobbing' Its Competition Using Patent Trolls Such as Finjan

    In the "cybersecurity" space, a sub-domain where many software patents have been granted by the US patent office, the patent extortion by Microsoft-connected trolls (and Microsoft's 'protection' racket) seems to carry on; but Microsoft continues to insist that it has changed its ways



  6. Links 16/6/2018: LiMux Story, Okta Openwashing and More

    Links for the day



  7. The EPO's Response to the Open Letter About Decline in Patent Quality as the Latest Example of Arrogance and Resistance to Facts, Truth

    Sidestepping the existential crisis of the EPO (running out of work and issuing many questionable patents with expectation of impending layoffs), the PR people at the Office choose a facts-denying, face-saving 'damage control' strategy while staff speaks out, wholeheartedly agreeing with concerned stakeholders



  8. In the United States the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Which Assures Patent Quality, is Still Being Smeared by Law Firms That Profit From Patent Maximalism, Lawsuits

    Auditory roles which help ascertain high quality of patents (or invalidate low-quality patents, at least those pointed out by petitions) are being smeared, demonised as "death squads" and worked around using dirty tricks that are widely described as "scams"



  9. The 'Artificial Intelligence' (AI) Hype, Propped Up by Events of the European Patent Office (EPO), is Infectious and It Threatens Patent Quality Worldwide

    Having spread surrogate terms like “4IR” (somewhat of a 'mask' for software patents, by the EPO's own admission in the Gazette), the EPO continues with several more terms like “ICT” and now we’re grappling with terms like “AI”, which the media endlessly perpetuates these days (in relation to patents it de facto means little more than "clever algorithms")



  10. Links 15/6/2018: HP Chromebook X2 With GNU/Linux Software, Apple Admits and Closes a Back Door ('Loophole')

    Links for the day



  11. The '4iP Council' is a Megaphone of Team UPC and Team Battistelli at the EPO

    The EPO keeps demonstrating lack of interest in genuine patent quality (it uses buzzwords to compensate for deviation from the EPC and replaces humans with shoddy translators); it is being aided by law firms which work for patent trolls and think tanks that propel their interests



  12. Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald and Vossius & Partner Find the Courage to Express Concerns About Battistelli's Ugly Legacy and Low Patent Quality

    The astounding levels of abuse at the EPO have caused some of the EPO's biggest stakeholders to speak out and lash out, condemning the Office for mismanagement amongst other things



  13. IAM Concludes Its Latest Anti-§ 101 Think Tank, Featuring Crooked Benoît Battistelli

    The attack on 35 U.S.C. § 101, which invalidates most if not all software patents, as seen through the lens of a Battistelli- and Iancu-led lobbying event (set up by IAM)



  14. Google Gets Told Off -- Even by the Typically Supportive EFF and TechDirt -- Over Patenting of Software

    The EFF's Daniel Nazer, as well as TechDirt's founder Mike Masnick, won't tolerate Google's misuse of Jarek Duda's work; the USPTO should generally reject all applications for software patents -- something which a former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO seems to be accepting now (that such patents have no potency after Alice)



  15. From the Eastern District of Texas to Delaware, US Patent Litigation is (Overall) Still Declining

    Patent disputes/conflicts are increasingly being settled outside the courts and patents that aren't really potent/eligible are being eliminated or never brought forth at all



  16. Links 13/6/2018: Cockpit 170, Plasma 5.13, Krita 4.0.4

    Links for the day



  17. When the USPTO Grants Patents in Defiance of 35 U.S.C. § 101 the Courts Will Eventually Squash These Anyway

    Software/abstract patents, as per § 101 (Section 101) which relates to Alice Corp v CLS Bank at the US Supreme Court, are not valid in the United States, albeit one typically has to pay a fortune for a court battle to show it because the patent office (USPTO) is still far too lenient and careless



  18. Buzzwords and Three-Letter Acronyms Still Abused by the EPO to Grant a Lot of Patents on Algorithms

    Aided by Microsoft lobbying (with its very many patent trolls) as well as corrupt Battistelli, the push for software patenting under the guise of "artificial intelligence" ("AI") carries on, boosted by Battistelli's own "Pravda" (which he writes for), IAM Magazine



  19. The United States is Far Better Off With the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), So Why Do Lawyers Attack It?

    The anti-PTAB lobby (which is basically the pro-troll or pro-litigation lobby) continues to belittle and insult PTAB, having repeatedly failed to dismantle it; in the meantime PTAB is disarming several more patent trolls and removing from the system patents which were granted in error (as well as the associated lawsuits)



  20. Links 12/6/2018: Neovim 0.3 and Wine 3.10

    Links for the day



  21. Corrupt Benoît Battistelli Promotes Software Patents in IAM's Patent Trolls-Funded Event in the United States

    With less than 3 weeks remaining for Battistelli's term he engages in gross revisionism, lobbying, and even looting of the patent office



  22. The EPO's 'Expert' Georg Weber is Still Advocating Software Patents in Europe (But He Disguises Them Using Buzzwords)

    The EPO's overzealous support for software patents continues unabated while the European Parliament looks the other way; this is part of the plan to expand patent scope in Europe and flood the continent with low-quality patents (causing a ruinous litigation boom like in China)



  23. Battistelli's EPO is Outdoing North Korea When It Comes to Propaganda and Abuses Against Staff

    Battistelli’s ‘scorched Earth’ approach — his sole legacy at the EPO — has left many workers in mental breakdowns (if not dead), but to celebrate the ‘Battistelli years’ three weeks before the end of his term the Office issues new propaganda material (pertaining exclusively to the Battistelli years, 2010 to 2018) while Battistelli-leaning media offers ‘cover’



  24. IPBC, a Patent Trolls-Funded Event of IAM, is Advancing the Attacks on Section 101/Alice

    Andrei Iancu preaches to the litigation 'industry' in an event (lobbying opportunity) organised by the patent trolls' lobby, IAM



  25. PTAB Carries on Undeterred and Unabated, Courts Are Becoming Less Tolerant of Low-Quality Patents

    With the shift away from the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) and with PTAB applying growing levels of scrutiny to patents the likelihood that abstract patents will endure at the patent office or the courts is greatly diminished



  26. Apple v Samsung Not Over, Hearing on a New Design Patent Trial Next Month

    Apple's legal battles against phones that have Linux inside them simply aren't ending; meanwhile, there's more evidence that Apple would be wise to simply push for patent reforms, namely further restrictions on patent scope



  27. Links 11/6/2018: Qt 5.9.6 and Weblate 3.0.1 Released

    Links for the day



  28. Latest Docket Reports Show That the American Courts/Legal System Still Anything But Patents-Hostile

    "Damages" (or so-called 'harm') from patent infringement, as demonstrated in the US earlier this month, still an overrated concept which leads to overinflated "compensation" for infringement; the patent microcosm's claims that US courts have become "anti-patent" are laughable at best



  29. Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Blind to Its Participation in a Scam Around Patents on Nature

    For over $20,000,000 (so far) the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has agreed to pretend that it has something to do with controversial patents of Allergan, in effect grossly abusing the concept of tribal immunity while at the same time enabling privatisation of nature



  30. Post-AIA, Post-Alice/§ 101 USPTO Still Granting Software Patents in Defiance of the (Case)Law

    The patent microcosm, which looks for new ways to patent algorithms (in spite of Alice), actually dooms the US patent system by filling it up with invalid patents — software patents that are just waiting to be thrown out by courts which can better assess subject matter (no financial incentive to grant aplenty)


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts