Blogger Cant Tempt Microsoft To Drink OSI Kool-Aid

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-08-22 Print this article Print

Updated: Microsoft has decided, at least for the time being, not to submit its Shared Source licenses to the Open Source Initiative for approval as open-source licenses. So, someone else did.

A Microsoft Shared Source license was submitted to the Open Source Initiative for official approval as an open-source license—but it wasnt Microsoft who submitted it. "Someone submitted the Microsoft Community License, one of our Shared Source licenses, to the OSI without our knowledge or approval, but the OSI contacted us and asked if we wanted them to proceed with that," said Bill Hilf, Microsofts director for platform technology strategy.
"We told them that we did not want to be reactive and needed time to think about it."
Hilf said he could not remember who had submitted the license to the OSI, saying "it was some name I hadnt seen before." But, in an extensive search of the OSIs license-submit archives, eWEEK found that the license was submitted by John Cowan, who is a programmer and blogger in New York and who also volunteers for the Chester County InterLink, a nonprofit organization in Chester County, Pa., that promotes e-literacy and community development using information technologies. Chester County InterLink was founded in 1993 by former OSI president Eric Raymond and Jordan Seidel. Raymonds personal Web site also hosts the controversial "Halloween Documents," a series of confidential Microsoft memoranda on potential strategies related to open-source software and Linux, written in the late 1990s. In his submission e-mail, Cowan said that "Microsoft is adding new licenses to its Shared Source Initiative, which I believe qualify as open-source licenses. The second of these is a simple permissive license called the Microsoft Community License (MS-CL) … I include the full text in plain form here for convenience in commenting. "I believe that this license should be approved by OSI even though it is basically similar to more widely used weak-reciprocal licenses, because it is better to encourage Microsoft in particular to release under an OSI-approved license than not--I think it very unlikely that they will go back and adopt some existing license," the e-mail stated. In response, Brendan Scott, an open-source advocate and a proponent of customer copyright, who set up OSL (Open Source Law), a "micro boutique" legal practice based in Sydney, Australia, noted that "the process of approval is undermined unless the copyright holder of the license submits to the jurisdiction of the OSI. Exactly who does it is not to the point, but there must be a clear chain of authority from the ultimate copyright holder. I would repeat similar comments in relation to licenses which contain a trade mark as part of their name." Next Page: A Serious Wrongo.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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