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Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Thursday, March 24 2005 @ 11:37 PM EST

I thought you'd want to know that at soon as the new version of the State of Massachusetts Information Technology Division's Enterprise Technical Reference Model was posted, I wrote to Massachusetts to find out the one thing I know we all want to know, which is: Did Microsoft change its license in order to qualify their XML as an Open Format? As you will recall, Eric Kriss, Secretary for the Executive Office of the Administration of Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, when he announced the Open Format on January 14th, said this about their representations to him:

"But what I want to discuss informally today is we have been in a conversation with Microsoft for several months with regard to the patent that they have and the license surrounding their use of XML to specify specifically .DOC files in Microsoft Office 2003.

"They have made representations to us recently they are planning to modify that license, and we believe, if they do so in the way that we understand that they have spoken about -- we will leave it obviously to them to describe exactly what they are going to do -- that it is our expectation that when we do issue the next iteration of the standard that, in fact, the Microsoft, what are proprietary formats, will be deemed to be Open Formats because they will no longer have the restrictions on their use they currently have.

"That would include potentially, and, again, we need to wait for the final designation of this by Microsoft, it would include Word Processing ML, which is the wrapper around .DOC files, Spreadsheet ML, which is the wrapper around .XLS files and the form template schemas".

So, did they modify it? Here is the answer I got from Linda Hamel, Esq., General Counsel, Information Technology Division:

"Yes. It added a provision to the license stating that users could use ANY software (that would include GPL licensed open source desktop software) to read government records created using the MS XML reference schema."

You can read about the changes here.

Jean Paoli, Senior Director, XML Architecture, for Microsoft, explains the changes like this:

"The specific clarifications made to the license terms are as follows:

  • "As previously agreed and communicated to the EU, we are affirming that the license rights we are offering are perpetual.

  • "We are clarifying some language, such as providing a full definition of "enabling technology" and confirming that our reference to patents includes continuations, continuations in part and reissues of patents.

  • "We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not violate the license.

"We are extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Massachusetts on this issue and are grateful for its feedback, which enabled us to add that much more clarity around the issues to which Microsoft had already committed in the original iteration of the license agreement. The clarified form of license is now available online at microsoft.com/office/xml for anyone who wants to take advantage of it. Of course, those of you already taking advantage of the original iteration of the license terms will receive the benefits of the clarifications without any further action required on your part.

"The success of the open and royalty-free licensing program for the Office XML Reference Schemas is one of the factors that fuels my excitement over the continuing realization of our vision for XML in Office. The vision of XML on the desktop and true interoperability across heterogeneous systems, allowing documents to be archived, restructured, aggregated and re-used in new and dynamic ways is becoming a reality."

After you've read it all and digested it, remember that they are looking for comments before April 1.


  


Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA | 353 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: TonyW on Thursday, March 24 2005 @ 11:58 PM EST
Place any corrections in this thread.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: TonyW on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:00 AM EST
Place off topic comments here.

Please make your links clickable.

For example <a href="http://example.com"> click here!</a>

And change the Post Mode to HTML Formatted.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft is all over the details
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:04 AM EST
As stated, GPL software might be used to read documents created by the
government in MSFT's allegedly patent restricted XML format, but that would
leave non-government documents unreadable without violation. Or was that just
the gummint spokesman phrasing things oddly? I wouldn't bet a moldy old
Norwegian Blue on it, myself, not when the implied restriction would be so
convenient for MSFT. :-(

Granted, it may well not hold up in the long run, even if the alleged patent
isn't thrown out on its ear for being a mere elaboration on a use explicitly
mentioned by others earlier. The current state of patent insanity would be
amusing if it weren't so damn serious.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:06 AM EST
I noticed the license only covers government created documents. Of course there
are documents that are created for the government and all other documents too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A 'read only' license?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:12 AM EST
"We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government
documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not
violate the license."

A 'read only' license? Unacceptable. MS is simply replacing the old obstacles
with new obstacles.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FOSS Can't write to MS formats
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:13 AM EST
Unless the lawyer for the state IT group is being imprecise with his language.
Or can the state use FOSS to write documents in the MS format?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Unfounded Fears?
Authored by: inode_buddha on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:14 AM EST
If this is so, then a sigh of relief from me! Perhaps my earlier fears were unfounded -- we'll see when implementation happens.
(Bumper sticker: Implementation Happens)
The issues surrounding open vs closed formats is something that I do *not* want to have to deal with on a regular basis.
Alas, history may be the guide in that respect.

Going a bit OT here, kudos to PJ for her research. Often it seems to be a matter of knowing where to look, or who to ask. I would not have known who to contact in Massachusetts, or how to do so. In legal and financial matters, I usually don't know where to begin. Things that I know about are a different story.

---
-inode_buddha
Copyright info in bio

"When we speak of free software,
we are referring to freedom, not price"
-- Richard M. Stallman

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Unfounded Fears? - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:40 PM EST
MS allows writing, I wish MA demanded it
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:20 AM EST

I am unhappy with MA's requirement that you can read the document, but not
requiring that you be able to write or modify it.

I applaud MS for going the full distance and allowing the writing of the files.

BTW MS has made the format for Excel available since at least v2. They used to
allow free reading and writing of Excel files, as long as it was done in a MS
environment. I have written several programs that collected industrial or
scientific data and written it directly into Excel formatted files.

Dennis

[ Reply to This | # ]

XML Reference in Windows .MSI form
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:26 AM EST
Surprise!? The Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference file "xsdref.msi" is packaged as a Windows installable MSI file and requires running setup and agreement to the Microsoft license before installation completes.

So, this open standard reference not provided in an open format and requires possession of Windows PC in order to access and view the material...legally. I suppose there will be those who can tear apart a MSI file and extract what is pertinent, but that's probably just the sort of reverse engineering that could get someone in a bit of legal trouble.

Does anyone at Microsoft actually understand how to make something that is open and accessible and yet licensed? Packaging a standard meant to be available to any platform developer as a Windows installable is either an amazing oversight or act of hubris. It seems like registering on-line should be sufficient to get the download.

For those seeking the file, click: xmldef.msi

[ Reply to This | # ]

Question: Is the format open for use in creating MA documents with a non MS word processor?
Authored by: webster on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:44 AM EST
* "We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read
government documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs
will not violate the license."

*** *** *** ***

"The vision of XML on the desktop and true interoperability across
heterogeneous systems, allowing documents to be archived, restructured,
aggregated and re-used in new and dynamic ways is becoming a reality."
_______________

Can my school start using the MA Office XML standards to create documents
without using MS software? Is it truly open?

It says that you can "merely" open and read Office XML files.

One can "merely" archive, restructure, aggregate and re-use in new and
dynamic ways." It does not say you can create without using MS Office.

I guess we will have to read the license for the answers. But if they don't say
it, I doubt they are granting anything or opening up.



---
webster

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is This Not the Advertising Clause?
Authored by: jentron on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:45 AM EST

#include "IANAL.h"

Is this not the advertising clause that prevented Linux from using BSD sources until it was removed?

From the MS Patent License:

If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation:

"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/ library/ en-us/ odcXMLRef/ html/ odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp."

This paragraph looks fatal for a GPL implementation:

By including the above notice in a Licensed Implementation, you will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.

Finally, this paragraph protects users but does nothing for the FOSS developer who implements the software:

By way of clarification of the foregoing, given the unique role of government institutions, end users will not violate this license by merely reading government documents that constitute files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas, or by using (solely for the purpose of reading such files) any software that enables them to do so.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Read-Only" and Tax forms???
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:51 AM EST
Ok, Maybe there's a "law of the land" that doesn't require writing
and all that, I wouldn't know. But last I looked, the government WAS REQUIRING
ME TO WRITE. Specifically, they insist I fill out tax forms - which they are
increasingly reluctant to send to me in hardcopy I might add. Now if I may only
READ these forms, it seems the gov is going to get a bit upset. Or is the
government intending to have several classes of format they wish to keep track
of for different purposes?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:53 AM EST
I do not trust M$ in any manner for anything at anytime.

Beware, M$ is up to something and that something is probably no good.

krp

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: iraskygazer on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:58 AM EST
Beware of any offer coming from Microsoft. The trend of MS is to make a peace
offering while acquiring patents for software concepts that have been around
before MS thought about them. Consider SGML and reasons for its existence. And
what about XML schemas? Novel reuse of these standards should be open to
copyright restrictions but there should be no ability to patent anything closely
related to SGML.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: micheal on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 01:02 AM EST
IMHO The two relevant sentances of the license (my empahasis) are:

Except as provided below, Microsoft hereby grants you a royalty-free license under Microsoft's Necessary Claims to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import, and otherwise distribute Licensed Implementations solely for the purpose of reading and writing files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas.

By way of clarification of the foregoing, given the unique role of government institutions, end users will not violate this license by merely reading government documents that constitute files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas, or by using (solely for the purpose of reading such files)...

So, any one can write/distribute/etc. programs that include the patents. However, end users can only use such programs to read government documents. Seems like (without addtional license) the program needs a notice stating that an end user is not licensed to write any files (Microsoft compatible or not) and is not licensed to read any non-government files (Microsoft compatible or not).

---
LeRoy -
What a wonderful day.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This does not make it compatible with the GPL
Authored by: cmc on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 01:15 AM EST
For a more detailed explanation, please see my post in the last article about this topic.

However, the relevant part (for this discussion) is this:

That "clarification", as seen in the updated patent license STILL is not compatible with the GPL or any OSI-approved open source license. Microsoft specifically states in the patent license that END USERS will not violate the patent license by using any software they like to "merely read" government documents. However, that clause does NOT cover the developers who write the software used to read those documents (and, by extension, the software itself). This leaves Microsoft open to litigation against the developers (which, let's be honest, is what they want; they want to go after the developers, not the end users).

Specifically, the patent license states that you (as the patent licensee) do not have the right to sublicense the patent. This restriction means that the patent license cannot be compatible with the GPL or any OSI-approved license because both the GPL and OSI-approved licenses specifically require you to sublicense all rights to your program. Microsoft's patent license says that whoever your program is passed on to would need to obtain their own patent license from Microsoft. And, of course, the only way Microsoft says to obtain that license is to download and install that xsdref.msi file.

It's one of those things that looks OK on the surface, but falls apart when you dig deeper into it. After all, does it matter if end users can legally use open source software to read those XML files if it's illegal to write that software in the first place?

cmc

[ Reply to This | # ]

Does MA listen to its citizens?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 01:17 AM EST
Apparently not with XML which is only licensed to distribute information but not
to receive it! So much for tax forms, census info and anything else a
government might solicit from its citizens. Sounds like a farce to me!

[ Reply to This | # ]

.MSI file extraction in Wine
Authored by: aasmodeus on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 01:18 AM EST
Sorry, I initially posted anonymously erroneously...

I wonder if extracting it within Wine would be violating the agreement to the license you mention, the reading of which would not be done automatically using this method.

So, anyway, this is from office.xsd (which is a UTF-16 unicode file):

There is a separate patent license available to parties interested in implementing software programs that can read and write files that conform to the Specification. This patent license is available at this location: http://www .microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/format/xmlpatentlicense.asp

And I'm legally obligated to include this text since I copied a portion of the document:

Copyright Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Permission to copy, display and distribute this document is available at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/html/odcXMLR efLegalNotice.asp?frame=true

[ Reply to This | # ]

Landmark Event. A new Standard. Significance can't be overstated.
Authored by: webster on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 01:31 AM EST
M$ has opened up, either that or they have misled or deceived us. Anyway if
they give you a problem, email a copy of the documents in question to the
Attorney General of MA in this MS Office XML format they require. It is a
perfect defense to everything.

With this license everyone can write to this standard. Everyone can create MS
Office documents without MS Office. Their Monopoly price will come down but
more will use it. "Office XML" will become the standard. Those using
old MS versions will upgrade. MS itself will now be pressured to port Office to
Linux to take advantage and compete with OO.org. Suites will be stuck on this
format but will compete on gimmicks to produce this format. MS is bound to
remain loyal to it and support it.

Other states will adopt the MA standard. The standard will drive the software.
Every word processor will have to support it.

---
webster

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's not that easy
Authored by: cmc on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:01 AM EST
Here is my comment in a last article about this. It's the email I sent to MA on their request for comments.

I didn't think about it at the time, but reading other comments on this article has shed light on another issue: what about writing files? If the Commonwealth of MA allows Microsoft's XML specifications to be classified as an Open Format, that means that they can (and probably will) use that format both for internal use and for public consumption. Internal use means they will be tied to non-open source programs (see my lengthy reasoning here). Also, anyone who wishes to send files to the Commonwealth in this format would be required to use a non-open source program. That's because open source programs (contrary to what Microsoft has stated in their FAQ) cannot be licensed for use with these XML specifications, because the patent license specifically states that it cannot be sublicensed and is non-transferable.

However, even if they cleaned up their act and started allowing the license to be compatible with open source licenses (which I highly doubt they will), there is one other catch that I think is a very significant one: they disclaim all warranties, including those of non-infringement (even if they are aware of the infringement). This means that if they infringed someone else's patent or copyright in creating and patenting their XML specifications, then the rightful rights-holders can come after all of Microsoft's licensees demanding damages. This, to me, is the biggest reason to avoid this license at all costs.

cmc

[ Reply to This | # ]

A further thought
Authored by: micheal on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:10 AM EST
It seems the license allows a non-Microsoft program to read and write M$
compatible files, But, end users can (only) read those files using any non-M$
program. So, if the governement sends me a M$-compatible file that I need to
modify (e.g., fill in some blanks) and return to the government, then I need to
use a M$ program to do so.

Looks like M$ is just pretending to comply.

---
LeRoy -
What a wonderful day.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Imagine this scenario...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:20 AM EST
If this gets enacted as-is and I have no Microsoft software available to me at
all and
- I get an official document sent to me via email that requires filling out
(something like a Tax Return) that I have to return electronically

Do I have a legitimate defence for not returning the document electronically in
that if I did, I would be breaking a Microsoft Patent by opening, modifying and
writing the document using a non Microsoft Licensed Application. If I did this
would I be liable to higher damages if sued for patent infringment by Microsoft
than the fine for not return of said official document to State government?

To me, this is the $64K question.

I don't live in MA but I applaud their aims in this respect. IMHO, they should
tell Microsoft to go think again. This is not acceptable as it stands


[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: JeR on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:20 AM EST

Microsoft's Valoris quotation:

“The MS license provides access to the schemas and full documentation to interested parties and is designed for ease of use and adoption. In this regard the MS XML Reference schemas satisfy the requirements.”

What Valoris wrote in the very next paragraph of that report [PDF]:

“The associated legal terms seem to create a lot of controversy. As we are not qualified to make a judgement on this basis, we will simply highlight the main points hereafter, and recommend examining carefully the legal aspects of the licence.”

---
non-breaking space

[ Reply to This | # ]

This latest proposal still makes MA Microsoft's monopoly taxcollector!
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:40 AM EST
The limitation that only government documents only can be
read and that documents cannot be written is too
restrictive. Which software vendor will produce a special
wordprocessor just to read MA government documents and
which user is going to buy a special word processor that
can do this? Which user will risk accidentally violating
Microsoft's patents and being sued if they accidentally
open a non-MA government document.

The no write clause means that forms and the like cannot
be filled, and that contractors submitting documentation
will have to pay Microsoft it's monopoly tax to bid for MA
government contracts.

Basically what MA would be doing if this was adopted is to
force MA taxpayers to pay Microsoft $600 each to read
government documents which should be available free.

It is a complete joke if you ask me. The conditions shuld
be NO STRINGS ATTACHED as in the OpenOffice format.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: geoff lane on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:49 AM EST
This is a very simple matter. Microsoft wants to limit access to data that
belongs to others. Every government contract with Microsoft should contain at
the very start a statement that makes it clear that the data ALWAYS belongs to
the licensee and ALWAYS must be held in an external format that is public and
ALWAYS can be processed by third party software to extract the full range of
data and meta-data.

Of course, other software companies should be held to the same standard.


---
Not using the GPL is not a character flaw.

[ Reply to This | # ]

SenderID all over again -- this is NOT GPL compatible
Authored by: LinuxLobbyist on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:51 AM EST

From the license:

If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation:

"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp. "

By including the above notice in a Licensed Implementation, you will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.

You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights.

And from the issued statement:

We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not violate the license.

This is exactly what MS tried to pull during the whole SenderID debacle. As long as any license tries to distinguish between developers and end users and profers differing rights to each group, it is highly unlikely that it can ever be compatible with the GPL. ALL license rights must be transferable per the GPL, and it is quite clear from the quoted portion above that the rights granted by this license are not transferable.

Add to that the specification in the license of "government documents" likely makes it incompatable with the GPL, too.

Oh, and one more thing. The addition of the notice that's required means that it is not likely GPL compatable.

Are we beginning to see a patern here?

---
Local Linux Lobbyist
Ever see a penguin fly? -- Try Linux.
GPL all the way: Sell services, don't lease secrets

[ Reply to This | # ]

A simple solution.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 03:14 AM EST
Wouldn't the simplest and the best solution be for MA to
adopt OpenOffice and the OpenDocument format as it's
standard format, and ask Microsoft to provide an
OpenDocument filter to the public if they want to be
considered for MA contracts (something that Microsoft can
easily do and which will improve MS Office). MA could
then put a link to OpenOffice.org's website on their web
page so that the public can download OpenOffice to read
government documents free the same way as they do Adobe
Acrobat to read PDF files.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's not really an open format if:
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 03:32 AM EST
- You cannot read *and* write the documents
- It only applies to a subset of documents (govt only)

Why do institutions accept the minimum possible (supposedly on behalf of Joe
Public) whilst allowing corporations to continue to abuse the freedoms and
wallets of those self same people?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Strange relationship between MA and Microsoft.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 04:01 AM EST
If Microsoft have been asked formally to draft a license
which may discriminate against other vendors, then
shouldn't those other vendors and FSF also be asked
formally to comment on what is being proposed, and be
given sufficient time to respond. The date of 1st April
doesn't seem like sufficient time for legal consultation
by those other parties.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The concession says it all.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 04:03 AM EST
Only government documents and only read.
Might be good enough for the government but the rest of us should take note and
not use microsoft products.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Microsoft is angling to do in MA
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 04:16 AM EST
http://scottmace.typepad.com/imanager/2005/02/microsofts_new_.html

[ Reply to This | # ]

Meaning of "end user"!
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 06:47 AM EST
No doubt, the question remains, whether a document format is "open",
if the terms must apply for government documents only. However, to me there also
is another question. What is an "end user" in the terms of this
license? That sounds questionable.

For example, may I use GPL software to convert the document into another format,
which I offer to other people? Am I an end user, if I develop software for
indexing it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Vendor lock-in
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 08:02 AM EST
If MA allows its documents to be created in XML then it may be stuck with MS
forever for all its computers. As far as I can tell, this license would not
permit easy interoperability. The part of the government with MS computers
could not easily share its XML documents with the part that wasn't using MS.
XML would be the default format for all documents in an MS environment and it
would be a pain to save in a non-XML format.

In fact using MS would be viral. If you opened a document in a non-XML format
and saved it again it would be somehow broken and you'd be stuck with the XML
version. (Actually, in my experience just broken.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Trust Microsoft?
Authored by: digger53 on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 08:14 AM EST
What happened to Stac over compression?
What happened with O/S2?
What happened with Netscape when they refused MS's illegal proposal to divide up
the browser market?
What happened to WorPerfect and others trying to write to Win95 with the schemas
MS provided them?

Deceit and treachery seem to be acceptable and normal at Microsoft. Trust
Microsoft? I think not. Anyone who trusts these vipers deserves no sympathy
when bitten. Snakes may shed their skin, but the innards stay the same.

---
When all else fails, follow directions.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Doesn't look good to me
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 08:21 AM EST
"Government" documents only? What kind of "open" is that?

"Read", not "read, write, or otherwise modify"?

"Perpetual" license, but only to the (old) Office 2003 version?

No assurance future versions will be free and open? With their history of
version-du-jour?

Who helped them push this lump, Orrin Hatch?

[ Reply to This | # ]

License is for user, who will develop the program..
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 08:28 AM EST
A user will not violate the terms of the license by opening a government
document...... What about the developer of the program that can open that
document? After all how are they to insure that users only open government
documents? Does this mean that if I develope and distribute a program capable
of opening word-ml based government documents I get a free pass from M.S.?
Somehow, I don't think so.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Maybe we're conditioned to paranioa
Authored by: emmenjay on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 08:55 AM EST
There is a lot of noise being made about the negatives of MS new license, but
much of it seems unfounded.

I'm not a lawyer, but some of the lawyer-type people seem to be saying that it
does give the rights for FOSS to read and write files in the MS Office format.

The only restriction seems to be a requirement for attribution. That isn't
uncommon. e.g. RSA requires that.

Now experience has taught us to expect the worst from MS - and the worst has
usually been what we got. However *maybe*, we might have won this round.

We certainly need to be looking with a fine-tooth comb for "gotchas",
but let's consider the possibility that it will be OK.

Optimism - I like it. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL does not allow restrictions on use.
Authored by: Benanov on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 09:09 AM EST
The GPL does not allow restrictions on how one use the program. It seems like
"end users don't violate the license by reading government
documents."

Of course, if anyone can read *any* document (not just government documents)
with a GPL program...I suppose this concern goes away (no one just ever codes
write functionality into the program.)

However if it's only government documents, Microsoft didn't bend an inch for the
GPL. They just look like they did.

Watch yourself, PJ. Microsoft is tricky.

---
That popping sound you hear is just a paradigm shifting without a clutch.

[ Reply to This | # ]

End users?
Authored by: overshoot on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 09:13 AM EST
We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not violate the license.

No, they'll just sue the suppliers of the software. Nice wordsmithing, that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • End users? - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:28 PM EST
My comment
Authored by: Jude on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 09:42 AM EST
I understand that Microsoft has won tentative approval of
their patented Word XML schema as an "Open" document format
by making some changes to their licensing requirements.
Specifically, MS has added an exclusion that would permit
any software, regardless of licensing, to be used to read
government documents that use their patented XML schema.

My opinion is that Microsoft's license requirement change
is not sufficient to qualify their XML schema as an "open"
format. Few people will want word processing software that
can legally be used ONLY to view government documents, and
few developers will be motivated to create software that
would be restricted to such narrow use. In other words,
although Microsoft's licensing change creates the legal
possibility of the existence of alternative (non-Microsoft)
document reading software, it will not change the fact that
the licensing requirement strongly discourages the actual
creation of such software.

Consider this: A developer working on such software will need
to test their software to make sure it properly displays files
that are stored in the Microsoft format. Such testing would
require the creation of test documents that use various features
of the format. Under Microsoft's licensing change, a developer
could not even legally test their own program unless the test
documents were created by a government agency. The developers
would be legally forbidden to test using their own test documents
unless they were themselves government employees or contractors.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: producer on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 10:44 AM EST
Perhaps a very slight leaning, but certainly no bend.
Just a scam and more double talk. And the state will buy right into it,
irregardless of what their press proaganda says (or doesen't).
MS has now conceded that it's okay to use a different type of gas in your car,
but all driving must be kept under 10 mph.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Seems like a trap
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 10:46 AM EST
While it is a small step in the right direction it sounds like a trap to me.
Users are allowed to have the technology, but only to read government records.
Sounds kind of like them giving software to schools then sicking the BSA on
them.

I can just see it now, somebody using the software to write a personal document
could be liable for patent infringement under that license.

Leonard

[ Reply to This | # ]

Slashdotted
Authored by: feldegast on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 10:50 AM EST
http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/03/25/1523253&from=rss

just incase there is something interesting there


---
IANAL
The above post is (C)Copyright 2005 and released under the Creative Commons
License Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 10:53 AM EST
Correction, MA is a commonwealth, not a state :P

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Really? - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:14 PM EST
    • Really? - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:44 PM EST
A Letter to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 11:24 AM EST
Here is the text of a letter I sent as a comment on the proposed draft:

Sirs,

I would like to comment upon this Public Review Draft, regarding Microsoft's
plans to "open" their XML schemas to enable third-party software to be
able to view MS .doc files.

Jean Paoli, Senior Director, XML Architecture, for Microsoft, has written:

"We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government
documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not
violate the license".

While this may seem a generous gesture to comply with the wishes of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it will in fact cost Massachusetts taxpayers even
more money. Suppose that there was a need to not only view a document, but to
modify it (a new law, perhaps, or even using an old law as a template for a new
one), and suppose that in the future the office in question had only third-party
(non Microsoft) software available to perform this task. Since the software
could be displayed under Microsoft's new terms, then it could also be printed.
And if it can be printed, then it can be scanned into an open format text file
such as RTF which could then be edited. (One could probably also scan directly
from the display into an optical character recognition program). Or if Microsoft
prevents the document from being printed (and what use would this be then to the
Commonwealth?), then one could use a screen capture utility such as Snag-it to
save and print the information. The point is, there is no way to prevent a
displayed document from being printed, and thus enabled for optical character
recognition.

Thus, Microsoft's license restriction to allow the document to be "read
only" is in fact no restriction at all in terms of allowing the document to
be (eventually) edited. But it does involve several intermediate time-consuming
(labor-intensive) steps which will cost the taxpayers money.

Thus, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should recognize that Microsoft's
seemingly good-willed gesture to allow reading of their proprietary-format
documents by third-party software does not prevent editing of these documents,
but rather merely puts obstacles in the way as an effort to shut out third-party
solutions. The only effect this has on editing documents is to raise the (labor)
cost of using third-party solutions, thus making their own expensive Office
Suite seem more competitive. Thus, Microsoft's strategy seems to be 'if you
can't beat them on price, then make their software more expensive to use.'

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Sincerely,
(me)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Still (at least) one problem ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 11:27 AM EST

Microsoft can still terminate your rights to *write* such files. If they steal
your patent and incorporate it into their XML schema, and then you sue them for
this theft, they can terminate your rights to write files using the schemas. If
the government requires you to submit court documents using these formats, then
Microsoft could effectively bar you from use of the court system. (and all
because *they* stole *your* work!)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: tknarr on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 11:41 AM EST

Perhaps MA should adopt a simple definition of "open format". Software that uses or implements an open format should:

  1. At a minimum be able to read and write files using the full scope of the format without needing to assent to any particular license terms to do so.
  2. Not be required to pay any royalties merely because it uses/implements the format.
  3. Be distributable and redistributable under it's own license terms without any restrictions or conditions imposed on those terms by the use or implementation of the format.
Those terms seem to me to pretty much cover it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 11:42 AM EST

Well, isn't that just great. Microsoft in its infinite generosity granted us permission to read their file format. We should all expect Microsoft's legal machinery to kick into high gear as soon as some enterprising developer implements a package that writes their oh-so-valuable XML format. Microsoft abhors anything resembling real competition.

Call me a purist but this move in no way makes their format a "standard". As far as I know, the state of Massachusetts is not a recognized standards body. Once a real standard is created and agreed upon it'll allow folks to exchange documents in all fifty states; not just one.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: jim Reiter on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:01 PM EST


"Yes. It added a provision to the license stating that
users could use ANY software (that would include GPL
licensed open source desktop software) to read government
records created using the MS XML reference schema."

The operative words are "read" and "government records".

Does this exclude correspondence? How about writing
records?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reminds me of the "gif" format fiasco.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:11 PM EST
Anybody still use gif format, legally? Wonder why?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Help PJ - We're All Over the Map
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:35 PM EST
I read this board faithfully, but I get the feeling that lately we're moving
farther and farther away from covering topics related to Free Software and its
benefits and closer and closer to anti-everything propaganda. We need to be
careful or we will get branded as such.

Don't get me wrong...I get the connections to the topics covered, but no one
will ever see the benefits of what we're trying to do when all we talk about is
what we are NOT.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sweet deals for MA in the future?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:48 PM EST
I'm sure that if MA accepts this there will some very
sweet deals offered by MS for ProngHorn and all its
other related office apps. Of course, the 2003 formats
won't be supported.

MA really needs to just use OpenOffice. Save lots
of money and everybody can read, write, and whatever.


[ Reply to This | # ]

World's Best Team of Software Professionals?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:53 PM EST
Who assembled "the best team of software professionals the world has ever
seen"? Answer: Bill Gates (Look it up: WSJ, summer 1999).

[ Reply to This | # ]

World's Best Team of Software Professionals?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 12:54 PM EST
Who assembled "the best team of software professionals the world has ever
seen"? Answer: Bill Gates (Look it up: WSJ, summer 1999).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dead Blog?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 01:31 PM EST
No one seems to be posting here anymore.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Proposed Memorandum/Addendum of Understanding
Authored by: webster on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:22 PM EST
[seal/logo]


From: The Commonwealth [not Monowealth] of Massachusetts (MA)

To: Software Producers and Vendors [including MS]


Thank you all for your efforts and cooperation in helping us to insure that the
MA archives will be forever and freely accessible to the public. What's more it
will be easy to compile on a variety of hardware and software.

It is understood that by donating your standards for our archive approval, our
standards and conditions and this memorandum will prevail over any of your
licensing, patent, contract, copyright, contract, IP, and trade secrets
considerations. These standards are meant to be open to all to read and
produce.

It is understood that anyone writing or reading documents according to MA
standards has the right to do so without violating any of the rights enumerated
above. You hereby consent to the full use of these standards. You also consent
to anyone developing software to read, write, transform, send or manipulate in
any way MA archive standard documents so long as they don't steal any
proprietary software and IP unrelated to the MA standards. The mere use or
production of a MA standard document shall not violate a propietary right of any
kind.

All are to understand that these principles apply whether any document produced
according to MA standards are meant for MA archives or not. There should be no
risk in using MA standard documents.

Should any claims be made against the state or software producers for using a
company or association's donated standards, the company shall cooperate in
upholding the standard against any such claimant [like SCO].

In resolving any disputes over MA standards, MA documents, including this memo
shall be determinative. Documents from any company that donated
"standards" shall be disregarded.

......


.......

Signed,


____________M$ et al____________________

_____________Governor, MA





---
webster

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pacer update
Authored by: SeismoGuy on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:28 PM EST
More Pacer activity here: http://www.utd.uscour ts.gov/documents/ibm_hist.html

0-0 Filed: 03/22/05
Docket Text: **Terminated document(s): terminating [142-1] motion to dismiss counterclaim; ruled on in Memorandum Decision of 2/9/05
425-1 Filed: 03/23/05
Docket Text: SEALED DOCUMENT entitled: Memorandum in Opposition to IBM's Motion for Entry of Order Limiting Scope of IBM's Ninth Counterclaim
0-0 Filed: 03/24/05
Docket Text: **Terminated document(s): terminating [142-2] motion or, in the alternative to separate per order 2/10/05

[ Reply to This | # ]

What the license DOESN'T allow
Authored by: GLJason on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 02:58 PM EST
Although the license says it allows creation of software for reading and writing, their "clarification" specifically talked about "end-users" and "solely for reading".
  1. They didn't clarify that it was acceptable to create and distribute said software, just that end users would be fine using it to READ those documents. So the government must still use MS software to write those documents?
  2. They require a notification to be displayed that the program contains Microsoft's IP, therefore it cannot be used in GPL programs, correct?
  3. You cannot modify the specification to create your own document format, you have to use their exact specification. If you want something added to it, you had better contact Microsoft: "No right to create modifications or derivatives of this Specification is granted herein."
  4. "You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights." - Since anyone can use the license, this just means that Microsoft is the one granting authority, right?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 03:31 PM EST
Not good enough. MS is permitting reading, but not writing. If for any reason
the Commonwealth of Massechussets, requires you submit a form, and it happens to
be the MS XML, you're ..... out of luck if you haven't paid the MS tax.

Can't submit comment on their site!

[ Reply to This | # ]

MA should define open file formats.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 05:59 PM EST
If microsoft did not already have a monopoly on office suite software they would
not be able use a license to restrict "read-only" proprietary formats.
By doing so they are once again using their monopoly illegally. Remmember having
a monopoly is not necessarily illegal but using it prevent competition or
leverage other markets is. Clearly by restricting the writing or editing of
public documents, by controlling the format of those documents is intended
prevent other software developers from creating software that competes and
therefore is an illegal use of their monopoly.

The Commonwealth of Mass. needs to define the criteria for open format
documents. Microsoft can either choose to adhere to those criteria or not.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't beleive anything they say
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 06:19 PM EST
I'll beleive that MS is playing by open rules (i.e. TRULY open) when they:

1) stand up and say it
2) provide a licence proving it
3) abide by it for several years
4) don't go back on it

Why should we beleive anything they say... ever? ..when time and time again
they have proven themselves not worthy of the public's trust.

We'll trust you MS when you have EARNED our trust, never before.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is everyone in the US insane?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 06:27 PM EST
How can the US allow patenting specifications, formats,
protocols and standards? We are not even talking about
software here.

What is innovative and non-obvious about the possibility
of a specific specification, format or standard.

How on earth did the US patent office decide Microsoft's
formats and protocols are patentable?

How on earth can any sane person in government even
consider giving one company a 20 year monopoly on so
called "standards" every person will be forced to use?

This whole issue is just plain daft!

[ Reply to This | # ]

To: Standards@state.ma.us
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 25 2005 @ 09:04 PM EST

To: Standards@state.ma.us
Subject: License is not nondiscriminatory: MS Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 08:52:49 -0500

"... or de facto format standards controlled by other entities that are fully documented and available for public use under perpetual, royalty-free, and nondiscriminatory terms."

The Microsoft patent license quite deliberately discriminates against users of open source software licensed under the GPL. GPL software is Microsoft's biggest competitor, and they are not willing to permit authors of GPL software to use their patented data format. They achieve this goal by using license terms which seem reasonable but which nevertheless have the desired discriminatory effect.

It is not possible to qualify for both licenses at once, and hence is it not possible to distribute GPL software which uses the Office 2003 XML reference schemas.

Thus, since its terms are NOT nondiscriminatory, Office 2003 XML is not an open format, and you should not say it is.

For a patent license to be nondiscriminatory, it must simply state that everyone is licensed to practice the invention. Otherwise, it discriminates against people who cannot meet the license terms.

When a government approves such a data format, the government becomes a party to the discrimination.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Bends for the GPL to Qualify as Open Format in MA
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 01:07 AM EST
what follows is a letter to the Massachusetts ITD committee. I cc'd it to
mathfox & pj at groklaw.net.. hopefully those are the right addresses...



Regarding the proposed Open Standards/Format Proposal.

There is a difference between Application & Data.
Applications are licensed/owned by their creator.
Data is owned by essentially he who creates.. in this case, We, the People,
& handled in trust for us by the state.

Regarding Microsofts 'open standard' on xml, Their license leaves them room
to disallow writing to a document & both reading & writing to 'non
governmental documents'. this is not an open standard. This IS a restriction
on the use of the data, one which has no applicability toward protecting the
property (word processor/spreadsheet, etc) of the owner of said application.
The restriction simply makes it difficult for other appliction authors to play
in the same game (by creating a non-level playing field). This has at least the
effect of removing competition from the equation, ie, Microsoft would create for
themselves a largely captive audience, using the states use of 'their standard'
(not 'open standard') to sell products to that captive audience. In other words,
businesses (large & small) that needed to share data with the state would be
forced to buy/license Microsoft products.

Massachusetts has the opportunity here to take the lead & require that
the data standard have NO restrictions on Anyone. If it does, it may well find
the rest of the country follows it in the use of a true, democratic standard.

It would be well to remember that PDF is Not an open standard in that the
user is allowed no freedom of access to the stored data. It must be used in only
a predescribed manner. Blocks/hinderances in the possible uses of public data,
created now, at what is essentially the beginning of a new age of data
storage/manipulation, may, probably will, have detrimental effects in the
future.

I ask the state of Massachusetts to think well on this matter.
Who will 'own' the data of the state of Massachusetts?

thank you
bobby

cc to mathfox@groklaw.net & pj@groklaw.net

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • PDF - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 03:08 AM EST
Microsoft Bends not at all
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 05:13 AM EST
It was my impression that a patent does not prevent duplication of a protected
thing. Indeed, the description requirements enable duplication, among other
reasons as encouragement for improvement and eventual competition. Patents
forbid selling, lending, using in trade, and such.

"We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government
documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not
violate the license."

Any person already has an absolute right to open and read any "Office
XML" files, and a right to create software or to train rats to assist.
Whatever rights microsoft has only prevent one from selling or giving said
software and rats, to others.

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ: pls ask Prof. Moglen for comment
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 11:25 PM EST
I found a pointer to quotes from Prof. Moglen here: http://xml.coverpages.org/ni2003-11-18-a.html

An article dated 2003-11-18 in _The Register_ quotes Moglen "But it's not the case that this license violates Section 7. I want to reassure people that it's not an issue."

I'm not exactly sure what situation he is talking about, because it seemed very clear to me, after reading the copyright license and the patent license that they do violate Section 7 of the GPL. It seems to me that Microsoft includes the sentence "You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license" in order to make it completely clear that their licence is incompatible with the GPL.

Please obtain Prof. Moglen's comment on this matter. Thanks.

[ Reply to This | # ]

questions..
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 04:15 AM EST
** from http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/faq.mspx

Q. Can I distribute a licensed program under an open source software license?

A.(excerpt) On the other hand, some open source licenses may include specific constraints or restrictions that might preclude development under the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema licenses. You should check with your legal counsel if you have questions about a particular open source software license.

** It is NOT an open standard. There are restrictions on who can write code to use it.


Q. Is Microsoft committed to making any future updates to the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas available under the same terms and conditions as the licenses offered on November 17, 2003?

A. Yes. Microsoft is committed to making updates to the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas available under the same terms and conditions as the licenses offered on November 17, 2003. At the same time, Microsoft reserves the right to change its policy and/or the terms of the licenses with respect to future versions of Office.

** i.e. they are NOT committed.. They are only making a non-enforcable 'promise', fingers crossed.

** here from the license page
http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/format/xmlpatentlicense.asp

** I really like this line.

"Microsoft may have patents and/or patent applications that are necessary for you to license in order to make, sell, or distribute software programs that read or write files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas."

** translation.. Be afraid, be very afraid.. we 'may' have something. Play it safe & use our 'free' license (anyone else notice how Microsoft slipped a new SWL into the media-player 'upgrade' that everyone needed??) The worst of it may be that Microsoft will trick everyone into believing they (Microsoft) have rights they (Microsoft) don't really have! Talk about your extreme FUD. I also like how they put it at the beginning of this document to make it 'look' like the license is giving us access to something they 'own'.

** Up until at least very recently, in the state of TN, if you never submited to the states licensing requirments, you could legally drive without getting a drivers license. The act of once getting a license subjected you to 'prior agreement' with the state requiring you to maintain that license. Does anyone else see the same thing here?? Microsoft can say "you already acknowledged we own this by having previously accepted our license". See 'may' reference below.

** back to Microsoft, lest anyone think this is just paranoia speaking, let's look at this comment

"Microsoft Office still natively saves to undocumented binary files, and as we noted here, there's plenty of room in the specification for binary data or what Microsoft calls "arbitary schema". People forget that the X in XML is for extensible."

** this "arbitrary schema" could be patented & licensed for fee negating the entire so called 'free' license.

** or here

(excerpt) "Notwithstanding the foregoing, "Necessary Claims" do not include any claims: ... (ii) covering any Enabling Technologies that may be necessary to make or use any product incorporating a Licensed Implementation"...

"Enabling Technologies" means technologies that may be necessary to make or use any product or portion of a product that complies with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas, but are not expressly set forth or required in those specifications, such as general word processing, spreadsheet or presentation features or functionality, operating system technology, programming interfaces, protocols, and the like."

** One scenario.. Microsoft ties another patent to the necessity to use the XML 'standard', requiring one & all to license (for fee) that patent. See above on binary files/arbitrary schema.

** here, again, is the 'may' line

"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation."

** They get us, to acknowledge their ownership of something not theirs.

(excerpt) "end users will not violate this license by merely reading government documents that constitute files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas, or by using (solely for the purpose of reading such files) any software that enables them to do so. The term "government documents" includes public records."

** notice the limitation to reading (government documents only).. ALL writing plus reading of non-government docs, by inference, is disallowed. Here is the first problem I see with this.. Business', both large & small, who have to do business with the state, will be forced to buy a Microsoft program to be able to write documents in the 'standard' required by the state. This amounts to, at the very least, free 'advertising', by the state, for Microsoft, &, at the worst, a state mandated monoply. The only others who seem to be licensed to write programs are non-gpl (read, for profit) software firms.

** I know that the license seems to allow creation of software for both reading & writing of documents adhering to the XML standard.. but here it references only reading (of government) documents.. Forgive my paranoia, but Microsoft has a history of keeping the target moving.. Perhaps the " Licensed Implementation" requires the use of licensed (for fee) software to decode possible binary data storage?

** Bottom Line.. If Microsoft Really wanted an Open Standard/Format, they need simply GPL it! So easy, eh? No fancy legalese that only highly paid lawyers in expensive court actions (read, what the small, open source community can't afford) can understand. Simple english giving Microsoft ownership & others the right to use. The answer as to their choice of licenses is probably contained in a statement made in the first question from their FAQ quoted above. "some open source licenses may include specific constraints or restrictions that might preclude development under the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema licenses." The only good reason for the wording of their license is to, in fact, preclude those certain (read GPL) licensed softwares from using the Microsoft license.

** note that FSF finds Microsoft's Shared Source License unacceptable. There is no reference to the XML schema 'license'.

** In regards to Prof. Moglens statement regarding Sec. 7, I also wonder.. Perhaps his opinion is based on a reading that Microsoft, while implying that it 'may' have patents, in fact, does not (regarding this schema). I have written the FSF and am awaiting their reply.

** hopefully I've not contributed (too greatly (;-)) to the confusion surrounding this issue!

** as may be obvious, '**' denotes authors (copylefted (LGPL)) comments. Free use as long as they are attributed to myself (bobby) or "as found on GrokLaw". Bolding is mine. So are opinions..

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenDocument Format is to read-write document fomats what PDF is to read-only document formats.
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 04:54 AM EST
The OpenDocument format (soon to be an ISO format) and soo
to be implemented by OpenOffice 2.0 and several other
office suites is also an XML format but is completely
unrestricted in it's use (unlike Microsoft's WordML). This
looks like the best solution for MA.

Microsoft could easily include an OpenDocument filter for
Word and so could any other wordprocessor vendor, without
any restriction, payment of royalties or condition imposed
on them. On the other hand, OpenDocument format would
easily fit in with any licensing format Microsoft might
want to implement. It is only Microsoft's efforts to lock
in users to it's own file formats to maintain it's Office
suite monopoly that prevents Microsoft from doing so.

Also OpenOffice is a free download available to the public
at no cost and with no restrictions or conditions on it's
use. People download and use Adobe Acrobat PDF reader as a
universal read only document format. They can use
OpenOffice as a universal read-write document format.

I can't really see how MA can justify choice of WordML
over OpenDocument format, since until other vendors (eg.
OpenOffice, StarOffice, Lotus, and Wordperfect actually
include a WordML filter in their wordprocessors (I can't
see this happening unless WordML format grant is given on
a royalty free and unrestricted perpetual license),
requiring WordML would force MA's taxpayers to spend $600
to purchase Microsoft Office 2003, and a new Windows XP
license ($200) if the user has an older Windows version or
other OS like Linux or Apple OS/X and possibly a new more
powerful computer to run it on ($500). This is clearly
unacceptable for something that should be provided free to
all with no strings attached. The difference between
WordML and OpenDocument formats is that OpenDocument
formats readers-writers are available right now for
download FREE and without restriction on use to run on
every desktop platform available.

The big question is should MA collude with Microsoft to
extort money from it's own taxpayers and sub-contractors
by putting MA documents in a format that would force them
to buy or switch to Microsoft products to access something
that they should be provided free? - an act that I believe
would probably be found to be illegal if investigated by
anti-trust authorities.

If MA wanted to use MS Word internally, then it could
always do so and convert the word documents into
OpenDocument format using the free OpenOffice program for
posting on it's website in OpenDocument format, since
OpenOffice reads and writes Word 2000/XP format.
Alternatively MA could use Word 2003 internally and save
documents in WordML format, and pay an Open Source
developer to develop a WordML to OpenDocument converter.
This would only be usable in-house, because of Microsoft's
license restrictions, but then end users would not have to
pay anything to read the converted OpenDocument file.
Whatever the case, I believe MA's external format must be
a true unencumbered open standard like OpenOffice.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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