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Strange Bedfellows: The Linux Foundation and Microsoft

Article Source Jim Zemlin's Blog
May 18, 2009, 7:11 am

Today the Linux Foundation issued a joint letter with Microsoft to the American Law Institute regarding a draft of their Principles of the Law of Software Contracts.

Who is the American Law Institute (ALI)

The ALI is a hardworking group that engages legal experts around the country who write “restatements of the law” or legal treatises in hopes that judges will use them in deciding cases. In order to participate in this process you need to be a member. You have to pay a fee to access material, and there is no public review prior to publication. This is why we decided to participate in drafting this open letter.

Why is this important?

The principles outlined by the ALI interfere with the natural operation of open source licenses and commercial licenses as well by creating implied warranties that could result in a tremendous amount of unnecessary litigation, which would undermine the sharing of technology.

There are times when we can agree

Sam Ramji, Microsoft’s Senior Director of Open Source and Linux Strategy, recently attended the Linux Foundation Collaboration to participate in a panel titled, “Why we can’t all get along.” While Sam heard a lot from people in the Linux world about where we disagree, he also pointed out that there are areas where we can agree and work together for the betterment of users of technology. This is one of those cases.

As Horacio E. Gutiérrez, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel points out in his blog and the letter also states:

“Notwithstanding our varying approaches to the licensing and distribution of software, we share a common desire for a sound, effective commercial law framework for software contracts that reflects business and community realities. Such a framework will ultimately increase the variety and functionality of software available, benefitting both businesses and consumers.”

Today we are finding common ground with Microsoft and we look forward to potential collaboration in the future as well as to competing in the market and keeping each other honest.

 

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