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Re: freetds library -- any legal issues?



On Mon, 2005-09-19 at 17:49 +0400, Dmitry Butskoy wrote:
>   Freetds library (http://www.freetds.org, LGPL licensed) is an 
> implementation of the Sybase/Mcrosoft TDS protocol (Tabular DataStream).
>   It is used, for example, to access mssql servers. In the current 
> Fedora's php there is a conditionally builded package php-mssql, which 
> (if build :)) depends on it.

This is an implementation of an unpublished protocol (Tabular Data
Stream, aka, TDS). The API details are available, but not under good
terms (you can find the Sybase PDF if you google, but it is marked
"SYBASE CONFIDENTIAL").

On top of that, it is patented by Microsoft (5,974,416). The LGPL
(license for freetds) says: 

For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free
redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly
or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it
and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the
Library.

Microsoft lists this specific patent (and a lot of other patents) in 
its "MICROSOFT WORK GROUP SERVER PROTOCOL PATENT ONLY LICENSE 
AGREEMENT FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCT DISTRIBUTION":
http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/9/e/f9e7224e-f673-4e7e-a6f1-14ed283f8030/EU_Patent_070605.pdf
This document describes how much royalty you owe Microsoft for 
permission to use those patents and to distribute technology that 
uses those patents. Hence, it should be apparent that the patent 
license does not permit royalty-free redistribution of freetds under
the LGPL in any country where software patents exist.

Freetds is thus in violation of the LGPL in most parts of the world, and
unsuitable for Fedora Extras. Sorry. :/

ps. IANAL

~spot
-- 
Tom "spot" Callaway: Red Hat Senior Sales Engineer || GPG ID: 93054260
Fedora Extras Steering Committee Member (RPM Standards and Practices)
Aurora Linux Project Leader: http://auroralinux.org
Lemurs, llamas, and sparcs, oh my!


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