Good news for FSFE and Samba from ECJ on MS anti-trust case

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at
Mon Sep 17 09:09:36 UTC 2007

This morning, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) announced that it is
upholding the European Commission's anti-trust case against Microsoft:

FSFE has been working on this case since 2001, so this is great news.  Our
press release (pasted at the end of this mail) is at:

The core of this case is that through anti-competitive behaviour, Microsoft
has distorted the file/print server software market.  The European
Commission decided that the only way to rectify this is to have Microsoft
publish the interoperability information needed for others to write
alternative file/print server software.

FSFE's role all along has been to ensure that when Microsoft is required to
publish interoperability information for other software developers, SAMBA
must not be excluded from being able to use it.  The European Commission has
agreed that this is reasonable because SAMBA is the only remaining
competitor to Microsoft's file/print server software.

There are also some fines of a few hundred million euro, but these aren't

Today, the ECJ backed the European Commission.

Uncharacteristically, Microsoft seem to have fumbled their press work on
this.  They haven't come out with any quotable reactions, or even any
attempts to paint this as a victory (like they did when they lost the ISO
OOXML votes).

Sean Daly is down in Luxembourg right now, where Georg and Carlo are, and
there should be an interview done soon which will go on Groklaw later.

==========The press release=================
FSFE, Samba: A triumph for freedom of choice and competition

"Microsoft can consider itself above the law no longer," says Georg
Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

"Through tactics that successfully derailed antitrust processes in
other parts of the world, including the United States, Microsoft has
managed to postpone this day for almost a decade. But thanks to the
perseverance and excellent work of the European Commission, these
tactics have now failed in Europe," Greve continues.

Carlo Piana, FSFE's legal counsel: "FSFE and the Samba Team welcome
the decision of the court. This is a milestone for competition. It
puts an end to the notion that deliberate obfuscation of standards and
designed lock-in is an acceptable business model and forces Microsoft
back into competing on the grounds of software technology."

"The Samba Team would like to thank the European Commission for its
outstanding job over the past years. Millions of users around the
world will reap the rewards of their work," comments Jeremy Allison,
co-author of the Samba project. "This is a very important day for the
Samba Team: we hope to finally compete on a level playing field,
without being denied access to interoperability information. Samba
would then be able to offer consumers real choice, with the benefits
of software freedom."

Volker Lendecke of the Samba Team: "Now that the court has decided, we
will be watching closely what the exact licensing terms for the
interoperability information are. It will be very important to make
sure that the information is usable in Free Software, otherwise the
great success the Commission has achieved here is severely
harmed. Samba is one of the most important players in the workgroup
server market, the market in which the comission wanted to restore

"This is a very good day for Europe, but it is only a step along the
way. The recurrent theme for Microsoft's behaviour over the past years
is an apparent perception of interoperability as a threat to
overcome," summarises FSFE counsel Carlo Piana. "The most recent
example was provided by MS-OOXML, which Doug Mahugh of Microsoft
described as a commercially motivated response to the threat provided
by the ODF ISO standard and the interoperability and choice it offers.
Tactical, not technical considerations were the driving force behind
Microsoft's global efforts to manipulate national standardisation
bodies into blind acceptance of MS-OOXML."

FSFE president Greve concludes: "Today's decision has set a very
important precedent for the future. Secret manipulation of open
formats and protocols has clearly been marked as unacceptable
conduct. We now encourage the European Commission take up the recent
antitrust complaint brought forward by ECIS. In a joint effort with
the Samba Team and, the FSFE gladly offers its
expertise to the European Commission for that investigation."

CiarĂ¡n O'Riordan __________________ \ _________ \  GPLv3 and other work supported by \   Fellowship:

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