The Free Software Patent Question Microsoft's Sam Ramji Should Answer

By chromatic
July 30, 2008 | Comments: 3

Microsoft's Sam Ramji has a difficult job. As the directory of the open source software lab, his duties include advocating for free software within Microsoft, as well as trying to convince the rest of the world that the company led by men who've called various free software projects "a cancer", vaguely threatened patent suits against users of these projects, and called free software developers "communists" is really changing its spots to be warm and fuzzy.

I haven't opened my bottle of champagne yet.

At Sam's OSCON keynote, "history.forward()", he promised:

  • to engage openly and honestly with free software communities
  • to have the tough conversations
  • to advocate for the community's concerns within Microsoft

As you might expect, quite a few bottles of champagne remain corked. During the question and answer session, Karl Fogel and Jim Blandy both attempted to ask the big tough question. Unfortunately, we didn't get an answer.

I don't intend to imply that Sam dodged the question (it's difficult to top Bill HIlf's useless promise from last year); the entire panel on stage complained that they could barely hear the questions due to microphone issues. Later, Allison Randal explained that there was tremendous feedback. I can imagine that. I still want an answer though.

Both the Debian Free Software Guidelines (item 6) and the Open Source Definition (item 6) explicitly prohibit license discrimination against fields of endeavor. As the annotations on the latter explain, the intent is to allow the use of free and open source software within commercial settings for commercial use. All of the other points of the guidelines and definition support this goal; none contradict this goal.

More succinctly, free and open source software licenses must make no distinction between commercial and non-commercial licensees to comply with the guidelines and the definition. There is no distinction between commercial and non-commercial use, modification, and redistribution.

Microsoft's Patent Pledge for Non-Compensated Developers -- the patent pledge Sam mentioned when attempting to answer the questions he couldn't hear -- makes that distinction. Microsoft has the full legal right to assert patent claims against anyone. Microsoft has chosen to offer royalty-free use of patents to hobbyist developers only. Again, Microsoft has the full legal right to do so.

Here's my question. Given that free and open source software by definition makes no distinction between commercial and non-commercial use, what good is this patent pledge?

There's your tough question, Sam. Any chance of getting a community agreement somewhat more in line with the community with which you're trying to engage?


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3 Comments

I need to know where the file directory for the tts Microsoft Sam is and also was wondering how to get tts files recognized?

I guess us free software commies don't sue each other. As someone who hasn't signed Microsoft EULA, I am not bound to it and can't be sued for my inalienable 1st amendment free speech code, except for an equal weight of 2nd amendment lead. Of course, my free speech and code doesn't even weigh one grain of lead shot, so peace and love to yall, lest the Lord cometh with a can of whoop@$$.

Unlike you Windows EULA slaves, us FREE SOFTWARE "COMMIES" have Freedom, while you EULAs have a dictator and lost your souls. Microsoft EULA says U get sued, but U AGREE U don't sue. All hail the Gates OF Hell, and bow to the Root Of All Evil, while they liposuction the bacon through your obese buts. All you can do is play Solitaire until your Blue Scream of Death and Heart Attack. Your job is to Master Bait the Mouse. My software keeps doing its job when I'm out to lunch or out sick. My software doesn't get sick. Windows VIRUSES are an unnatural scam. Does your CAR get viruses? Not unless it's a Microsoft Lexus. Haaven't you heard the joke about Microsoft Cars? I can write free software in an hour that a hundred Microsoft programmers never could and never will be able to write. Really, because people wanted it for Windows, and it doesn't and simply just cannot exist for Windows. Microsoft is like an evil mechanic who fixes your tire but won't pass your inspection unless you buy an extra motor.

Windows is the one situation where you never GET what you paid for. Like a ho that takes off with your money and spits on you and gives you all of her VIRUSES.

VISTA, the greatest failure ever.
Mohave Experiment, the retard test for selling Vista.
Windows7, VISTA for retards.

Microsoft hates America, they give Windows to Asia without viruses, because they can't afford it nor the anti-virus. And guess what, they don't get any viruses because only a retard would believe that a computer can get sick. In other words, MICROSOFT CREATED THE VIRUS, IT'S BOGUS, AND THEY REFUSE TO FIX IT. It is easy, and either cheap or free to fix (PREVENT) a virus problem FOREVER.

If you can get Windows without signing the EULA which forbids fixing windows, then all you have to do is the common sense thing of using PROTECTION on software disks. You add a switch, you install on a CDROM, you mind the write protection on anything else, and duh, no viruses! You don't want updates, because they break Windows. You don't want to upgrade, because you need a bigger faster computer to run slower and less useful software. New windows never has been nor ever will be better than old windows, but FREE software has always been better because you only need to buy it cheap or get it free once, and it is rarely broken, easily fixed, and never gets sick.

WINDOWS IS BROKEN, AND SICK WITH BOGUS VIRUSES.
MICROSOFT IS A DICTATORSHIP.
EULA IS A SOUL DISPOSAL CONTRACT.
FREE SOFTWARE IS LEGAL, SIMPLE, AND FULL OF FREEDOM.
MICROSOFT HATES AMERICA.
AMERICA LOVES FREEDOM...?...OR MICROSOFT?
LOCK UP THE "GATES" OF HELL!

YOU AGREEd A EULA? READ IT NOW, FOOL!
ONLY US FREEMEN CAN POSSIBLY SAVE YOUR SOULS!
SUPPORT A CLASS ACTION AGAINST MICROSOFT'S WICKED EULA!
YOUR FATE IS SEALED:HEART ATTACK AND BLUE SCREAM OF DEATH!

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