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Media Contact: Free Software Foundation
Bradley M. Kuhn <pr@gnu.org>

FSF Files Statement on Microsoft Judgment under Tunney Act

Washington, DC, USA - Tuesday, January, 29, 2002 - Eben Moglen, board member and general legal counsel to the Free Software Foundation, yesterday filed a response to the Proposed Revised Final Judgment in United States vs. Microsoft. The FSF seeks to remove verbiage added by Microsoft that we believe would eliminate the value of the settlement by preventing Free Software systems from competing effectively against Windows products.

Moglen reiterated today: "The language of the Proposed Judgment should be amended to require Microsoft to release timely and accurate API information to all parties seeking to interoperate programs with Microsoft Windows and applications written to work with Microsoft Windows."

The Proposed Judgment allows Microsoft to specifically block such interoperation through two specific methods. First, under the Proposed Judgment, Microsoft can keep API information out of the hands of Free Software developers through the imposition of royalty requirements. Large groups of cooperating volunteers are both logistically and financially unable to pay such royalties for access to APIs. Royalty charges for Microsoft API access would slow to a halt Windows interoperability work by their most viable competitor, the Free Software GNU/Linux operating system. Free Software developers have by the nature of their development model always given unfettered access to their APIs, and we ask that Microsoft be required to do the same.

Second, the Proposed Judgment includes broad language concerning the disclosure of communications protocols. This provision is so indefinite that Microsoft will likely argue that all APIs and communications protocols connected with the security and authentication aspects of electronic commerce can be kept secret. Industry standard security practices currently demand that all such protocols be publicly known and documented. Under this Judgment, Microsoft would be permitted to keep these private from both Free Software and the public relying on them for their privacy and security.

The full FSF response to the Proposed Revised Final Judgment is available at http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/ms-doj-tunney.html.

About GNU/Linux:

GNU/Linux is the integrated combination of the GNU operating system with the kernel, Linux, written by Linus Torvalds in 1991. The various versions of GNU/Linux have an estimated 20 million users.

Some people call the GNU/Linux system "Linux", but this misnomer leads to confusion (people cannot tell whether you mean the whole system or the kernel, one part), and spreads an inaccurate picture of how, when and where the system was developed. Making a consistent distinction between GNU/Linux, the whole operating system, and Linux, the kernel, is the best way to clear up the confusion. See http://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html for more explanation.

About Free Software Foundation:

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software---particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants---and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software. Their web site, located at http://www.gnu.org, is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. They are headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.

Copyright © 2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110, USA

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Updated: $Date: 2005/05/05 19:37:19 $ $Author: novalis $