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  3. <head>
  4. <title>FSFE - FSFE and the antitrust case against Microsoft</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <a id="moreinfo" href="/activities/ms-vs-eu/ms-vs-eu.html">Microsoft against free competition</a>
  8. <h1>FSFE and the antitrust case against Microsoft</h1>
  9. <p class="background">
  10. Europe's most important antitrust action in the software field
  11. was the European Commission's case against Microsoft, running
  12. from 2004 to 2007. FSFE participated as a
  13. third party, providing expert input on Free Software,
  14. interoperability and competition. We worked closely with the
  15. Samba team, which develops a Free Software alternative to
  16. Microsoft's proprietary workgroup server.
  17. </p>
  18. <p class="background">
  19. The European Commission imposed a record fine of EUR 497 million on
  20. Microsoft. In 2012, the European Court of Justice ruled that
  21. Microsoft would have to pay another EUR 860 million for failing
  22. to comply with the Commission's decision.
  23. </p>
  24. <h2>FSFE represented developers' interests</h2>
  25. <p>
  26. FSFE played two key roles in this case. We represented
  27. the interests of Free Software developers. In our
  28. official role as Intervener, we persuaded the European
  29. Commission to reject any royalty requirements that
  30. would be incompatible with Free Software. We also
  31. argued constantly for the publication of useful
  32. technical documentation and against lock-out of Free
  33. Software based on arbitrary manipulations of formats
  34. and standards.
  35. </p>
  36. <p>
  37. FSFE's most important achievement was to make sure that Free
  38. Software developers could actually use the interoperability
  39. information which Microsoft was forced to release to build
  40. competing products.
  41. </p>
  42. <h2>Incorruptible</h2>
  43. <p>
  44. FSFE was one of only two public interest organisation which
  45. Microsoft could not buy off. The case began with many
  46. companies giving testimony of Microsoft's breaches of
  47. antitrust regulation, but one by one these companies
  48. made deals with Microsoft and withdrew from the
  49. case. FSFE and SIIA were the only two organisations
  50. that pursued this case from start to finish. We were
  51. later joined by ECIS, who did extraordinary
  52. work. Without this sustained support, the Commission
  53. would probably not pursued the case as decisively as
  54. it did.
  55. </p>
  56. <h2>Getting interoperability information</h2>
  57. <p>
  58. At the heart of this case was that the European
  59. Commission would require Microsoft to publish
  60. interoperability information. This type of information
  61. is necessary for non-Microsoft software, such as Samba
  62. running on GNU/Linux, to communicate and function
  63. fully within existing client-server Microsoft
  64. networks. <i>The interoperability information was not
  65. secret because it was valuable. It was valuable only
  66. because it was secret.</i>
  67. </p>
  68. <h2>Ruling confirmed at all levels</h2>
  69. <p>
  70. Supported by the persistent work by Carlo Piana,
  71. Andrew Tridgell, Jeremy Allison, Volker Lendecke,
  72. Georg Greve and other people acting on FSFE and
  73. Samba's behalf, the Commission's decision that
  74. Microsoft had breached competition rules was upheld at
  75. the highest level.
  76. </p>
  77. <h2>Interoperable applications now possible</h2>
  78. <p>
  79. Information has now been published and is being used
  80. by the developers of Samba and many other projects to
  81. improve network interoperability for Free Software
  82. applications. This facilitates migration to Free
  83. Software. The court rulings have also set important
  84. precedents as to what business practices are
  85. considered acceptable.
  86. </p>
  87. <address>
  88. Free Software Foundation Europe<br/>
  89. Schönhauser Allee 6/7, 10119 Berlin, Germany<br/>
  90. E-Mail: office@fsfeurope.org<br/>
  91. Phone: +49-30-27595290<br/>
  92. http://fsfe.org/activities/ms-vs-eu<br/>
  93. </address>
  94. </body>
  95. </html>
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