On Dec. 20, the Samba Group and the Software Freedom Law Center announced a deal with Microsoft that places all of Microsoft’s network protocols needed for programs to work with Windows Server into the hands of the newly formed Protocol Freedom Information Foundation.
The PFIF is a U.S.-based nonprofit corporation. It will make Microsoft’s server network protocol documentation available to open-source developers such as Samba, which creates programs for Windows Server interoperability, and private companies. This information is provided under an NDA (nondisclosure agreement) and developers must agree to the NDA before gaining access to the documentation.
This revolutionary deal came about because of the European Union’s decision that Microsoft had been acting as a monopoly in Europe. After Microsoft failed in its appeal, the software giant not only had to pay a $613 million fine, it also had to open up some of its proprietary protocols to competitors, including open-source ones.
In the deal, the PFIF gets the actual documentation. Samba or other developers can then access the documentation if they agree to the NDA and pay 10,000 euros. There are no other charges or royalty fees. However, the source code free software developers produce from this documentation can be fully open-sourced under the GPLv2 (GNU General Public License) or GPLv3 and will not be covered by the PFIF/Microsoft NDA.
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