back to article Microsoft admits Win 7 tool violated GPL

Microsoft will soon release a Windows 7 tool under the GPL, after admitting the product violated the terms of the popular open-source license. On Friday, the company said it will release the ImageMaster USB/DVD source code and binaries under GPLv2 next, following an internal investigation into the matter that found it had …


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  1. h 6
    Gates Horns

    Prolly not the first

    Sudo--not invented here.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Responsibilities and duties

    While it might be a duty of a third party to do all that it is contracted to do up to a project getting signed off it is a responsibility of the commissioning body to ensure that the contract does not compromise yes?

  3. Jerome 0

    The average software product

    "22 per cent of the average software product or application - or 700MB of code"

    Whoa, hold up there. That would mean that an average application has over 3 gigabytes of code? Seems a touch unlikely - the average Microsoft application, maybe...

  4. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Good. But...

    "Microsoft called the violation a mistake"

    Read "we knew, but we thought we could get away with it. That was a mistake."

    Maybe I'm a bit too cynical, but seriously, given how the MS lawyer crew scrutinizes every single bit of code released on our planet to see if they could slap a patent infrigement case on the developer's face, I find it hard to believe that they did not spot this stone in their own garden. That's not even MS fault actually. The US IP protection system works like that: given that you lose your rights if you fail to defend them immediately, big corps are encouraged to steal ideas right, left and center. If they don't get caught, they /de facto/ own the stolen goods, and if they get caught they just have to correct the distribution conditions with no penalty whatsoever. Meanwhile, the small guy who want to protect his work has to spend several tens time his annual income in legal fees to have his case considered -with very little chances of success because he can't bribe (sorry, lobby) the court. Rotten system.

    Thumb up this time, Fail icon for the system.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I hate to say it loudly but

    this is one of those rare moments when Microsoft acted with professionalism and honesty. It means that even for them, GPL counts as a valid license.

  6. raving angry loony

    not likely

    "mistake" my arse. It was deliberate and blatant theft, just like a lot of their other products. They just got caught this time, AND by someone who had the balls to call them on it.

    As for Microsoft acting with professionalism and honesty? Please, they haven't done that for 30 years, they aren't about to start now. Microsoft is about appropriating other peoples work and calling it their own. From Basic to DOS to damn near every product they've got.

  7. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Even for them, GPL counts as a valid license

    Yup, how considerate of them. Also, MS employees tend to avoid shooting their neighbours in the face, which means they act with honesty and professionalism. Even for them, the law that forbids murder count as a valid rule.

    Wait , what do you mean by "it is not optional"?

  8. lpopman

    massive trees

    @Jerome 0:

    You would be surprised. I have worked on source trees that have been more than a Gig in size....

  9. Anonymous Coward

    AC: Microsoft acted with professionalism and honesty?

    No. It means they were caught and were shown to be as guilty as a puppy next to a pile of poo.

  10. WinHatter

    bitter init??

    M$ is having a taste of their own medicine ... hope they get sued and publicly spanked for some other "mistakes" that haven't caught the public attention.

    But will Win 7 matter enough to attract law suits ???

  11. chris 233
    Thumb Down

    Re: I hate to say it loudly but

    < this is one of those rare moments when Microsoft acted with professionalism and honesty. It

    < means that even for them, GPL counts as a valid license.

    `Microsoft', `professionalism' and `honesty' in the same sentence? Huh! No, dear AC. They were caught! Someone noticed! That is the only reason. It does seem significant, though, that to fix their problem they acknowledge the GPL rather than take it to court to attempt to have the GPL voided.

  12. Forename Surname

    So I wonder if...

    Microsoft would accept the "woopsies" defense if someone else violated one of their license agreements.

  13. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    who cares?

    "Ironically, licensing specialist Black Duck this week reported 22 per cent of the average software product ... contains open-source code"

    who cares? There are plenty open source licenses much less restrictive than GPL - MIT, BSD, boost to name just a few. While we are at it, boost library is known to majority of C++ programmers and used in many closed-source projects. So yes, large part of C++ projects most likely contain open-source code - like boost.

  14. JimC

    @I hate to say it loudly

    I think that's an exaggeration. When you've been caught with your hands comprehensively in the till its certainly better to say "its a fair cop but society's to blame " rather than make accusations that you're being framed, but its still rather a long way from actual honesty.

    Truth is Microsoft had no choice because they would most certainly have lost in court, and there would be no shorttage of folk happy to finance the case no matter how long it was dragged on for.

  15. Shaun Hunter

    Its amazing how much windows software contains FOSS code

    Especially video apps, they love mplayer

  16. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I wonder

    how much open sauce code has been 'borrowed' by m$ to build the various incarnations of windows over the years....

  17. fishman


    If the code that had been misappropriated had been closed source, Microsoft could have had a $400 million dollar lawsuit thrown at them. They were lucky that it was GPL'd.

  18. Ian Michael Gumby

    @ Not Likely...

    Didn't you know that many lawyers believe that unless you tell a lie under oath, its not really a lie. ;-)

    That is, they didn't make a 'mistake' until they got caught.

    You do know that Bill Gate's parents are both lawyers, right? Kind of says it all, considering Microsoft's tactic is to fight the charges, making money while in court, and then paying a fine which is much less than their revenues. ;-)

    With respect to the 22% of commercial code containing GPL... its possible. But do you really think that those who embed GPL code honestly don't know that they are doing it, or are they admitting that when they did it, they didn't think they were breaking the law, or that they knew they were breaking the law, but just that they didn't think they'd get caught. ;-)

  19. frymaster


    Provisionally agree - I think the crucial point is that we just don't know. It could be some vast evil plot to steal 7zip's UDF parsing code, or it could be some tit of an MS programmer (or tit of a third-party dev, or whatever)

    in either case, their optimal response would be the same, and I can't see something this daft being a considered deliberate strategy on behalf of higher management tbh

  20. Nuke
    Thumb Down

    @ Bronek Kozicki

    TFA : "Ironically, licensing specialist Black Duck this week reported 22 per cent of the average software product ... contains open-source code"

    Bronek Kozicki : "who cares? There are plenty open source licenses much less restrictive than GPL"

    The quote from Black Duck does not say they are infringing anything. They are giving a bare-bones statistic, that is interesting in many ways.

    For example It is a suprisingly high, though plausible, figure And it gives the lie to the claims that OS code is "not good enough" for professional applications - claims that persist, despite Apache, Sendmail. OS X, etc etc.

  21. P. Lee Silver badge

    Cynical, Moi?

    "We made a mistake but we have massive code reviews and cash with which to make amends."

    "See how hard it is to avoid the virus of open source? Even the professionals don't always get it right. Can you really afford to make a similar mistake? You could end up with all your code belonging to those commies out there."

    "It's much safer just to stick to proper commercial software. We'll make sure you don't have to deal with such nasties."

  22. Patrick O'Reilly

    Re:I hate to say it loudly but

    The only reason they did it is because they had to. Otherwise the FSF would sue them, win and have a new pot of money to fight back against Microsoft wtih.

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