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Carlo Piana and the EU Antitrust Case Against Microsoft

Software Freedom Law Show episode 0x10

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Karen and Bradley interview Carlo Piana, a lawyer who has worked extensively in the E.U. Microsoft Anti-Trust case.

Running time: 00:44:49.

Show Notes

Segment 0 (00:31)

  • Karen mentioned she owned a thinkgeek shirt that has a visual joke about number base systems. (01:13)
  • Bradley misspoke saying that 10 in binary would make it the second show. Of course, it would make it the third show if we numbered in binary, since we start numbering at zero. (01:50)
  • Bradley mentioned that the Software Freedom Law Show crowd sources its marketing. (03:30)
  • Bradley mentioned that the US Antitrust case against Microsoft, which included both the federal government in the USA, and many State/Commonwealth Attorneys General, many of which settled separately. (05:17)
  • This show discussed the EU Antitrust case against Microsoft. (08:30)

Segment 1 (11:18)

[Photo of Carlo Piana]
  • Carlo mentioned that materials about the EU/Microsoft Antitrust case takes up 4-5 square meters of his office. (14:20)
  • The EU case started with an ancient complaint by Sun Microsystems. (15:10)
  • Carlo mentioned Novell was more dominate historically in Europe than in the USA, and Novell had been more Unix-friendly and compatibility-friendly. As Microsoft became dominant, Sun complained. (15:50)
  • The integration of Windows Media Player into Windows was one of the issues raised in the EU case. (16:50)
  • EU required Microsoft to provide timely and complete interoperability information so that competitors can create working replacements. This made Samba the natural client for Carlo in this case. (17:56)
  • Microsoft challenged the decision, saying that it would give a “free ride” to their competitors, (19:45) and claimed the information wasn't necessary to achieve interoperability, because they could just reverse engineer or implement from standards documents. (20:18) Microsoft sited Samba as an example of how reverse engineering could work. (20:45) Carlo called this a lame excuse. (21:10)
  • Carlo said that the EU entirely rejected Microsoft's excuses. (22:46)
  • With the help of SFLC, Carlo was able to negotiate licensing conditions that were GPL-compatible. This was necessary because EU allowed RAND licensing of the protocol information, which is often problematic for GPL-compatibility (which typically requires RF licensing). (25:55)
  • The compromise required that USD$10,000 be paid by the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation, and after that GPL-compatible licensing for the protocol information was available generally to Samba and the entire community. (26:3)
  • Unfortunately, patent claims held by Microsoft are outside of the agreement. Carlo continues to make efforts on this. (27:23)
  • Carlo is also working on the OOXML issue (31:10), which Carlo says is clearly an antitrust violation. (33:30)
  • In the EU third parties interested can be heard by the Commission early in the process. (34:20)
  • Carlo mentioned that the participation and testimony of the Samba team, in particular Jeremy Allison and Andrew Tridgell, was central to make a convincing case to the EU court. (36:25)

Segment 2 (39:29)

  • Bradley believes that the most important people in the Free Software world are doing things that no one else is willing to do. (39:40)
  • Karen pointed out that the international nature of Free Software means that the success in the EU helps developers around the world. (42:30)

Tags: bkuhn, karen, numbering, microsoft, anti-trust

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