May 18, 2001

ESR: Microsoft's "Shared Source" plan -- such a deal!

Author: JT Smith

- By Eric S. Raymond -

If you're like most people, you have neither the time nor the patience
to plough through the quagmire of corporate rhetoric at
http://www.microsoft.com/ Business/Licensing/ SharedSource/.
Fortunately, what Microsoft is actually saying, beneath all the
obfuscatory verbiage, is very simple. Here's an executive summary:Software users and programmers of the world, have *we* got an offer for *you*!

1. First, we'll let you pay us for the privilege of seeing the source
code to our software, bugs and all.

2. Then, we'll use your work to raise the price of our next release.
including anything you contributed. You won't get paid for
your creative work, and you'll have no rights in it. If we're
feeling nice, maybe we'll give you a discount on the next release.
Then again, maybe not.

3. Oh, and by the way...if you try to use any of what you learned from
helping us fix our bugs for your own purposes, we'll sue your ass off
and smother you in lawyers.

Such a deal!

We here at Microsoft call this "protecting intellectual property
rights in order to create a sustainable business model". Um, that
would be *our* intellectual property and *our* business model. You
surely weren't thinking we cared about *your* business or *your*
rights, were you?

What's ours is ours. And if you cooperate on "shared source", what's
yours will be ours too!

Have a nice day -- and remember (eyes misting, hand held to heart)
we're doing it all to support "innovation".

Editor's note: This was an email Raymond sent to several news organizations Thursday evening.

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