Microsoft Settlement (fwd)

kim2 at kim2 at
Thu Jan 24 13:24:19 UTC 2002

Hello. Don't forget to mail the us department of justice on this important

read you soon,
	Kim Bruning
	(Text Follows)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002 23:18:42 +0100 (CET)
From: kim bruning <kim at>
To: microsoft.atr at
Subject: Microsoft Settlement

Dear sir/madam,

I live in a small village called Wijk en Aalburg in the Netherlands. I am
a software engineer, employed by a small computer company in Delft. Also,
I study Biology in the city of Utrecht.

I am not a United States citizen, so I'm not sure how you will regard what
I have to say. If I only comment on what I see then perhaps my opinions
might still be of some value. I hope you will be able to use them.

Others have commented on many aspects of the settlement. Much of the text
seems reasonable. I see two minor points which might need some

Point 1:
Under I.1. "All terms, including royalties [...] reasonable and

I would like to refer you to a discussion on RAND (Reasonable and
non-Discriminatory) licensing as has been proposed for the world wide web
consortium (The organization which sets standards for the world wide web).

Note especially objections made by some of the w3c contributors. To wit:
rand is not non-discriminatory. It discriminates directly against Open
Source and Free Software projects.  These projects simply cannot use or
pay for such RAND licensing due to their legal structure. The arguments
that could be made here are very similar to those stated in the w3c
discussion. Here are some arguments of my own:

Royalty Free (RF) Licensing has been proposed as an alternative, and
overcomes this weakness.

Why are Free Software and Open Source Software important? There are two
arguments based on reason, and one is based on simple demonstration:

(1) The free software operating system Linux is considered by many to be a
somewhat important competitor to Microsoft. It is distributed under the
GNU general public licence (GPL) which is a distribution license. Allowing
Microsoft to discriminate against such competitor would not be fair. It
could also hardly be called non-discriminatory, of course.


(2) As far as I know, original implementations of RFC 791 (Internet
Protocol) and RFC 793 (Transmission Control Protocol)  were released under
the university of California's' "Berkeley Software Distribution" License.
This is a free software license. These 2 protocols form the heart of the
current day Internet. The implementation was left Royalty Free, and hence
all parties adopted it. Also, since the original source was open, all
parties could learn from it, and the TCP/IP system was quickly adopted
worldwide. This is very important.

IETF RFCs can be obtained from many sources. Here is one on the world wide

(3) Quite simply put: The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol(RFC821) is royalty
free, to the best of my knowledge. This protocol is used to transmit
E-mail across the Internet. If it were not for SMTP, and if it were not
for its royalty free status, I would not have been able to send this

A possible solution to the shortcoming in I.1. (and similar problems with
related points under I) would be to allow for Royalty Free licensing of at
very least the data interchange formats used by Microsoft.

As an aside:
Requiring Microsoft to submit their data formats (such as word and excel)
to the International Standards Organization (ISO) might improve the
situation further. Such standards organizations argue that good
standardization has demonstrably improved economic gain, and stimulated
competition between all parties concerned. I think that even Microsoft
might actually gain from such an action in the long run. I see nothing
wrong with this, because such gain would result from fair competition.


Point 2:

Under J it is said that Microsoft may not disclose information about
security systems, and may set almost any requirement when sharing security
information with a security vendor.

I am a programmer, not a certified computing security professional.

However, I have learnt much from such security professionals. I will try
to summarize their point of view as best as I can. Please don't hold any
minor errors or omissions I make against me.  For a more comprehensive
discussion of security, you could try looking at the scientific literature
on this subject. Obtaining advice from a Data Encryption Scientist might
be somewhat rewarding.

Open knowledge of algorithms and methods is a requirement for truly strong
security. This seems reasonable to me. After all, if one knows of a
certain weakness, one can compensate for it and prevent people from
exploiting it.

If a hostile element was to be the only person to know a weakness in a
security system, then that person would certainly be able to exploit that
weakness. Further, security systems which are put up for public review can
quickly be assessed for potential weaknesses, and these weaknesses can be
repaired. No such process can be used for systems which are kept secret.

A second slight problem which some people have brought up is that there
might be a weakness here. People might state "security concerns" as an
excuse to sidestep what they are required to do under I in some
situations. In fact this does not seem very hard to do from a technical

In short, section J on the whole might have some weaknesses. It might be a
good idea to gain advice from one or more security experts (such as
perhaps a professor teaching about data encryption, or people employed by
a government security agency) to determine if this is indeed the case.

hopefully this is of some use to you,
		Kim Bruning,
		Anjelierstraat 47,
		4261 CK Wijk en Aalburg,
		The Netherlands.

More information about the Discussion mailing list