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osOpinion: Open Source Takes a Look at Loopholes in the Microsoft Deal

Nov 09, 2001, 14:03 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Adam Barr)

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"The proposed antitrust agreement between Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice calls for the formation of a three-person Technical Committee to assist in enforcement of and compliance with the agreement (section IV.B.1). But a close look at the agreement reveals more than one loophole and back-door provision that could either limit -- or enhance -- the role of open-source contributors in enforcing the deal.

The members of the Technical Committee must be "experts in software design and programming" (IV.B.2) who have not worked for Microsoft or a competitor within the past year (IV.B.2.a).

The Technical Committee appears designed to handle detailed programming issues. Many stipulations in the agreement, such as the rules against Microsoft retaliating against Windows OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) who distribute competing products (III.A) or change the Windows desktop (III.C), and requirements for uniform licenses for the top 20 Windows OEMs (III.B), do not require a committee of software design experts to adjudicate."

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