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Linux and Main: Eben Moglen on the Microsoft Decision and Its Ramifications

Nov 04, 2002, 20:00 (20 Talkback[s])

"It seems that it might be worse than the 1995 consent decree. Is that your view?

"I certainly agree with you that at its worst it is worse than the consent decree of 1995. There is nothing in this settlement agreement of the Justice Department which addresses what we believe is the central matter for the restoration of competition in the market, which is to ensure that free software developers may write their own code to implement any protocols and to provide services across any application program interface that Windows applications may make use of. That is, for the purpose of making competition in the O.S. market, the most important thing. Whatever a Windows application program uses in order to secure operating system services across any API or using any communications protocol, it has to be the right of free software developers to write their own code to serve across that interface. If that is done, if for example WINE and X and GNU/Linux can exist and can provide all those services, then there is de facto competition in the O.S. market. Because any application written for the Windows platform may run unmodified on a free software platform. The central item is the API interface; that was a central part of the government's case. Judge Jackson found that it was the subject of the illegal maintenance of monopoly by Microsoft, yet we have here an order now supported by Judge Kollar-Kotelly's opinion which does nothing to ensure competition in that domain. There are too many loopholes and too many weaknesses in the settlement agreement.

"We made absolutely clear to the Justice Department and to the District Court what needed to be done, in a very precise way, in order to close those loopholes. And we regret very much that that has not happened..."

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