No. This isn’t a bit like the Novell-Microsoft agreements. This is for access to Microsoft’s protocols, as ordered by the EU Commission and agreed to by Microsoft. It’s a good thing, in my opinion, and the Samba guys worked really hard to make this as good as it gets. Note that it’s a copyright agreement, with no per-copy royalties, not a patent licensing, but there’s a list of patents. Samba has not agreed to license them. Rather it will avoid them, and with a list of them provided by Microsoft, they can and so can you. There is no acknowledgment of them by Samba, no money paid for them, nothing. This is what Novell and others could have done, and thanks to Samba, everyone is a bit freer today.
Microsoft now gun shy of government regulators
Then a remarkable thing happened. Responding to an article on Groklaw where the agreement was being discussed, the trustee Neil Barrett posted a suggestion that I get in touch with him. Neil directed me to Craig Shank, who heads up Microsoft’s protocol licensing team. Neil thought that Craig would be the right person to talk to to try and fix some of the problematic parts of the agreement.
This in turn resulted in several weeks of intensive discussions, during which we found that Microsoft was indeed very willing to make modifications to the agreement to make it more suitable for use by the free software community. Microsoft was keen to ensure that it complied with the court ruling, Neil Barrett was happy to help facilitate those discussions, and of course we were more than willing to point out the parts of the agreement that were problematic for free software projects.