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Re: Licensing of code for proprietary file types

Hi Dave,

On Sat, 17 Aug 2002, Dave Smith wrote:

> I have developed a set of functions and routines for accessing a prorietary
> file format of Microsofts and wish to find out what objections Microsoft can
> make if I license the code under an open source license (preferably the
> GPL).
> There are no other free code libraries around that will do this stuff, and
> any applications I have seen have got their code licensed from Microsoft.

well, there is xine-lib (package libxine0) which does decode ASF files,
for example. And more come to my mind: wine is said to run .EXE files just
like OpenOffice does read .DOC or .XLS files...

> Can Microsoft come down heavy on me, for writing and publishing code to
> access their file format and licensing other people unlimited use of the
> code via the GPL?

I don't think so, unless you broke any agreement you had made with them
(eg. you signed a non-disclosure agreement to get the file format specs).
Then it depends very much on where you are: Here in Germany, your lib
would even be specially protected by law, as it provides interoperability
with other (MS) software...

> PS, the fileformat in question is the outlook PST file.

Hmmm, don't know that format. But I guess you're not in trouble as long as
you don't have to circumvent any copy protection (=>DMCA) in order to read
these files ;-)


PS: No, IANAL...

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