[freetds] TDS versions

James K. Lowden jklowden at freetds.org
Thu May 29 10:25:17 EDT 2008

Dossy Shiobara wrote:
> > Observe: this is quite shrewd.  Microsoft promises not to sue me as a
> > personal person working on a project on the Internet.  There wasn't
> > much money in that anyway, and they get the "good" publicity.  ("The
> > only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.") 
> > Meanwhile, if perchance someone *is* trying to compete, they have to
> > talk to daddy.  
> I don't see this as an issue around competition.  It's about making
> money.  If you develop it for free and release it as open source,
> Microsoft in turn grants you full permission to do so.  

Hi Dossy, 

Before I take up your point, I want to thank you once again for bringing
this to my attention, specifically.  It's been an education, and if you
get a positive result from Microsoft regarding the status of TDS and The
Pledge, you will have done a service to a great many people.  Just please
remember no good deed goes unpunished. 

Regarding our philosophical discussion, I suppose it's clear I don't care
for Microsoft's business practices.  Patent 7,318,075 represents no
nonobvious innovation and in my estimation very little work, perhaps six
man months.  In fact, the technical effort is likely dwarfed by the legal
and marketing resources surrounding it.  So it's very much about milking
something because it can be milked, and it can be milked largely because
the nontechnical people evaluating its legality don't realize -- can't
realize -- how much is being made over how little.  

OK, that's my opinion and, you know, everyone's entitled to his own
opinion but not his own facts.  You said: 

> If you sell your
> product or at least do not distribute the source, then Microsoft wants
> your money to do so.

Not so.  The LGPL allows mixed distribution: you can distribute (and sell)
your closed-source binary as long as you provide a way for the recipient
to relink your object code with another version of the LGPL code.  Loosely
speaking, the LGPL code has to remain free, in the sense that the user
must retain the same ability to change it that the author had when he
linked it in the first place.  

OpenLink distributes FreeTDS in just this way.  The fact that they
distribute FreeTDS sources in no way makes them "an open source project". 
They're required to get an MCPP license irrespective of FreeTDS's license,
because they're treading on Microsoft's patent and aren't a pure
open-source enterprise.  The fact that the closed-source portion is
noninfringing is irrelevant.  

I don't call that "fair".  I call it peculiar.  



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