back to article Microsoft GPL violation hits memory hole

Microsoft has dished up the warm fuzzies for the open-source faithful following an earlier sleight of hand on its massive code drop to GPL. On Wednesday, at OSCON, the company touted new and existing open-source plug-ins for Office, SQL Server, and its emerging Azure cloud for science and academia. Tony Hey, corporate vice …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is OK to use GPL with closed code...

    ...if you are *very* careful how they are linked.

    But for most commercial operations (and commercial = making money = closed source) it is best to body swerve any GPL licensed code.

    Unless you fancy dropping a big fat load onto the faces of freetards like MS just had to.

  2. Neil Paterson


    ...please sue! (unless of course some other entity should do it)

  3. Kwac
    Thumb Up


    before all the 'GPL is crap' comments I'll say "if you write the code, you decide how it's licensed". NOBODY has the right to say otherwise.

    If you want to use that code follow the rules.

    If you don't like the rules, a) go without, or b) do it yourself.

  4. Balefire


    No, seriously, what did you expect?

    Anyway, I always thought the idea was that the unstable OS in a VM on the stable OS...

  5. Big-nosed Pengie
    Gates Horns


    I hope the FSF sues them for as much as Mickey$shaft has made suing other people for license infringement!

  6. ElReg!comments!Pierre
    Gates Horns


    So that answers the ¨what are they trying to hide¨ question that was bugging the whole community, then. Now for the bonus question: if the infinitesimal fraction of code they released for everyone to see features such a blatant IP infringement, what about the rest of their code? There goes the (blatantly moronic to begin with) claim that ¨useful Linux features are just reverse-engineered MS stuff¨. It would seem that MS did not even care to reverse-engineer GPL code: nicking it ¨as is¨ is so much more convenient... just slap a dumbed-down interface on it and sell it for an arm and a leg, now *that* is a successful business model!

    I wonder how much I would get for pointing the BSA at microsoft... what do you mean by ¨we really only protect thieves with very deep pockets¨?

    Ye Olde Evile Gates, not evil Jobs, as if Apple had stolen the patented MacOS look-and-feel from someone else it would have been noticed, shurely?

    That´s the US economy model for you folks: smash and grab, mostly.

  7. asdf

    gpl is so pinko commie

    Thats right I said it. Everything must be owned by a select few elite people or else it is dirty socialism that will end the world. Tragedy of the commons is a lesson my preacher taught me well and applies equally to bits that last forever. I mean honestly how can anything be good if everyone owns it? How can anything be good if it is not making a few select people rich at the expense of everyone else?

  8. alain williams Silver badge

    @It is OK to use GPL with closed code...

    ''Unless you fancy dropping a big fat load onto the faces of freetards like MS just had to.''

    'Freetards' ? A freetard is someone who takes for free without giving anything back.

    MS had to give code as GPL since it had taken GPL code to use in a closed source product, ie MS was acting as a ''freetard'' but was caught out and so did the only thing that it could do (except 'fess up - which it found unacceptable).

    Why is it that so many people who post in support of MS post anonymously? Is it because they have taken MS's shilling ?

  9. breakfast Silver badge


    Hey, could you interview people with less confusing names in future please?

  10. Tom 7


    Bodyswerve GPL code?

    Its a lot easier to learn what your talking about. The only reason why MS had to release the code was they tried to use someone else's work as their own. They've done this for years but couldn't bully their way through this one. If you cant work out how to use your code with GPL2 legally that's probably because its not your really your code.

  11. Adrian Midgley 1


    ca change.

  12. Piers


    >Ye Olde Evile Gates, not evil Jobs, as if Apple had stolen the patented MacOS

    >look-and-feel from someone else it would have been noticed, shurely?

    Not 'stolen', originally licensed from Xerox who (strangely) were not interested in developing it commercially at the time. Apple developments later licensed to Microsoft by Apple.

  13. Glyn Simpson
    Thumb Up

    Hey I used to work for Hey

    Back in the Heyday

  14. cowbutt

    GPL Corrections

    "Under the terms of the GPL, any module that's been combined with code licensed under GPL must be released under the GPL."

    Incorrect; Microsoft could have chosen to cease distributing their code, and optionally re-written it in a non-infringing way.

    Furthermore, the FSF has no right to sue in this case as the Linux kernel copyright isn't owned by the FSF. Only copyright owners whose rights have been infringed have the option of suing.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Their own code?

    Seems like nobody (including the author) did bother checking what happened. I have tried, taking into account the very few facts that this article references.

    MS (in this case, I'm not speaking about th rest of what they did) did not "steal" GPL code. As the article pointed to by the author says: "Microsoft originally was licensing the Linux drivers, also known as the Linux Integration Components (LIC), in a way that was in violation of the GPL. It was offering them under a combination of the GPL and a closed source license.".

    In summary (unless somebody can bring more facts to the case to prove I'm wrong), what they did was:

    - write some product (Hyper-V) and a bunch of Linux drivers to make the OS work with the hypervisor

    - license parts of the drivers code (which they did write) under GPL, so that these parts can be integrated in the Linux kernel

    - people complain that this newly GPL-ed code now is beeing linked with non-GPL code

    So yes, technically they did infringe the license, but with their own code. Not like if they had taken parts of existing Linux code to put in their closed software(OK perhaps they have done it, but this story does not show it).

    If id had been possible to write linux drivers which are not GPL code, probably MS would not have GPL-ed anything at all. They thought they could go away with releasing "stub" code which works with their closed code. Like others do (hint: look how some gfx card drivers are implemented).

  16. Anonymous Coward


    I perked up for a second when I read you could conjour boobies with the power of your mind.

    Then i remembered where I was. Blast!

  17. Mike Gravgaard

    RE- GPL Corrections

    "Furthermore, the FSF has no right to sue in this case as the Linux kernel copyright isn't owned by the FSF. Only copyright owners whose rights have been infringed have the option of suing."

    Actually they do, if they sued Microsoft they would be protected the GPL license.

  18. SteveK

    Re: Their own code?

    Yep, that's how I read it too - that the only 'offence' is using their own code that they wrote and gave to the Linux community to improve performance of Linux guests on Hyper-V in their own closed products too, without making their own products open source.

    So I guess they will withdraw those drivers and then when people moan that Linux doesn't perform so well running on Hyper-V compared to VMWare that they tried to help but the community objected.

    As a user rather than developer, with my Linux on VMware setup I'd far rather that the proper drivers could be integrated in the kernel than have to build new modules whenever the kernel is updated - now I understand why they aren't!


  19. cowbutt

    Re: Their own code?

    Some Linux kernel symbols (functions, constants) are deemed protected and can only be used by kernel code that is GPLed (see , ). Code which uses these symbols is considered a derivative work and must also be distributed under the terms of the GPL. Code which doesn't use said symbols, isn't, and can be distributed under any licence. Presumably Microsoft's implementation of these drivers used some GPL-only symbols, and was not ported from some other OS either.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Their own code

    Except that the first bit they released under GPL had to be so because it linked to the kernel. It can't then be linked to a binary blob. If I write code in Visual Studio that links to some MS libs then I have to abide by the license for those libs when licensing the code that I wrote. This is no different.

    There are ways to legitimately work with closed source binaries, but MS chose not to use them, probably because they usually have a performance penalty which is exactly what the native driver is there to avoid.

  21. Geoff Mackenzie


    "when people moan that Linux doesn't perform so well running on Hyper-V compared to VMWare"

    I don't think you'll find many people would care. As another commenter already mentioned, sane people run Windows VMs on Linux anyway, not the other way round.

    Aside from working around the after-effects of dealing with a monopolist, I can't see any reason to run Windows at all any more. A few Windows XP (or 2003 Server) VMs should cover most peoples' unportable legacy systems long enough for them to be replaced.

    Also, @AC, first post; the term 'freetard' isn't really appropriate here. The 'tard' suffix would imply that us 'freetards' are in some way making a mistake or missing out on something because of our unwillingness to part with cash. I for one just prefer to spend a few extra notes on the hardware and run a stable, flexible, secure and convenient operating system on it. Nothing very 'tarded about that as far as I can see.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This thicky does not understand

    They wrote some drivers using bits of GPL code

    They then released the drivers as per the GPL conditions

    Is that about the size of it?

  23. Lewis Collard

    "Creative Commons"?

    "Hey continued to list Microsoft Office and SQL Server projects it has released under a Creative Commons license - a workflow system called Trident, a context and semantic tool for SQL Server called Zentity, and software for data visualization in Excel, a project called Node XL."


    The MSPL (under which at least one of the projects mentioned is licensed) is not a Creative Commons license. Neither is the GPL, and neither is any other license that is not authored by the organisation called Creative Commons. Please stop giving them credit which they don't deserve.

  24. Rex Alfie Lee
    Jobs Horns

    Why Do This At All?

    I know that M$ needs this but why do Linux users need this. As one of the entries stated that isn't the idea to put the wobbly OS inside the stable OS, not the other way around. Anyway, for Linux users I can't imagine why we'd want this. I can't see how it benefits us other than to put us into the cold, spikey grips of the benevolent destroyer, M$. This helps them far more than it helps us. The amount of kudos it gives having M$ smile warmly down on Linux is infinitely less than the danger posed by being in their litigious grip. Screw Stevie "I'm goina f**king kill Google" balmy-Ballmer & his old mate, Billy Gates who gives so many millions of his own dollars away to the starving through the Bill Gates Foundation. It's such a huge chunk of his oh so few, hundred billion it makes me weep. The fact that his name is on the door makes it even more warm & wonderful.

    As for ASDF, who wrote in above, I believe that his last post in another forum to be as intelligent as the one printed here & almost as inspiring. What genius is here, whoops ...nope & as I stated in the other forum has no point to offer so why do it. Not because you're a moron ... oh sorry, you are after all.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Large companies

    They just try anything and if they get a slap on the wrist for it they don't really care. This is a matter few people actually care about once you leave certain circles so there is no serious risk of a PR disaster.

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