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Samba Team Receives Microsoft Protocol Documentation Imprimer
Écrit par Jeremy Allison   
December 20th 2007. Today the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (PFIF), a non-profit organization created by the Software Freedom Law Center, signed an agreement with Microsoft to receive the protocol documentation needed to fully interoperate with the Microsoft Windows workgroup server products and to make them available to Free Software projects such as Samba.

Microsoft was required to make this information available to
competitors as part of the European Commission March 24th 2004
Decision in the antitrust lawsuit, after losing their appeal against
that decision on September 17th 2007.

Andrew Tridgell, creator of Samba, said, "We are very pleased to be
able to get access to the technical information necessary to continue
to develop Samba as a Free Software project. Although we were
disappointed the decision did not address the issue of patent claims
over the protocols, it was a great achievement for the European
Commission and for enforcement of antitrust laws in Europe. The
agreement allows us to keep Samba up to date with recent changes in
Microsoft Windows, and also helps other Free Software projects that
need to interoperate with Windows".

Jeremy Allison, co-creator of Samba said, "Andrew did a superb job in
negotiating the agreement with Microsoft. We will be able to use the
information obtained to continue to develop Samba and create more Free
Software. We are hoping to get back to the productive relationship we
had with Microsoft during the early 1990's when we shared information
about these protocols. The agreement also clarifies the exact patent
numbers concerned so there is no possibility of misunderstandings
around this issue."

Volker Lendecke, head of the Samba Team in Europe said, "I am very
pleased to see that the European Commission acknowledged Free Software
as a valid competitor in the IT industry and that the License
conditions on the protocol information offered to the Free Software
world are indeed compatible with the GPL. This is much better than
what we have seen in similar cases in other countries and the
Commission has done a great job to push the case to this point."

Compatible with Free Software

After paying Microsoft a one-time sum of 10,000 Euros, the PFIF will
make available to the Samba Team under non-disclosure terms the
documentation needed for implementation of all of the workgroup server
protocols covered by the EU decision.

Although the documentation itself will be held in confidence by the
PFIF and Samba Team engineers, the agreement allows the publication of
the source code of the implementation of these protocols without any
further restrictions. This is fully compatible with versions two and
three of the GNU General Public License (GPL). Samba is published
under the GNU GPL which is the most widely used of all Free Software
licenses. In addition it allows discussion of the protocol information
amongst implementers which will aid technical cooperation between

Under the agreement, Microsoft is required to make available and keep
current a list of patent numbers it believes are related to the
Microsoft implementation of the workgroup server protocols, without
granting an implicit patent license to any Free Software

No per-copy royalties are required from the PFIF, Samba developers,
third party vendors or users and no acknowledgement of any patent
infringement by Free Software implementations is expressed or implied
in the agreement.

The patent list provides us with a bounded set of work needed to
ensure non-infringement of Samba and other Free Software projects
that implement the protocols documented by Microsoft under this
agreement. Any patents outside this list cannot be asserted by
Microsoft against any implementation developed using the supplied
documentation. Unlike the highly dubious patent covenants recently
announced by some companies this warranty extends to all third
parties. Also unlike past agreements, this agreement has been
carefully scrutinized by the Software Freedom Law Center, the premier
legal experts for the GPL and Free Software.

Microsoft must keep the documentation up to date with new products and
provide error correction assistance to parties signing the
agreement. Disputes will be resolved by the Trustee appointed by the
Commission as part of the court decision.

The Samba Team would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Carlo
Piana from the Free Software Foundation Europe and Eben Moglen of the
Software Freedom Law Center, who have been our legal representation on
this case. They have provided world-class legal services for many
years and we are sincerely grateful.

The Samba Team.
20th December 2007.

Contact: Cette adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir.

Samba Web site:

For more information on the agreement see:

An article on the history of the case:

An article explaining some details of the agreement:

The Protocol Freedom Information Foundation Web site:

The PFIF agreement text:

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