The American Law Institute (ALI) is a group that writes papers about certain complicated laws to help judges conclude right decisions when facing cases to do with said laws where the answer is far from plain. The group has been developing the Principles of Law of Software Contracts since 2004, and will be finalizing it on Tuesday during their annual meeting. If it's approved, it'll be published, and that wouldn't bode so well with the Linux Foundation and Microsoft-- in fact, it has potential to gum up what they both stand for pretty badly.
The section of the principles that bites Microsoft's and the Linux Foundation's bottoms is a part concerning warranties and defects in software. According to a ChannelWeb article, "one warranty would make software developers liable for infringing on patents and copyrights, while the other would make contributors to open-source software liable for material defects in the software. The law currently allows contributors and licensors of open source to avoid liability by offering their wares on an 'as-is' basis." Apparently, if these guidelines are published as they currently are, cases involving open-source software and the liability of its creators could be judged incorrectly and unfairly. Microsoft's and the Linux Foundation's letter points out the flaws and requests that the association let interested parties suggest amendments so that the guidelines will better fit existing laws and practices.
John Locke (I found his name interestingly familiar), a consultant at Freelock Computing, stated the following on the subject:
Horacio Guiterrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft, said in his blog post:
It's not as if Microsoft and the Linux Foundation don't notice that it's strange for them to be working together on this in lieu of their vastly different business models. Guiterrez also said in his post:
What's really interesting is that he seems to hope that the two organizations will work together more like this in the future instead of work apart, contentiously or not. He also seems to think that there is much that the Linux Foundation and Microsoft could accomplish together. While this is true, I don't foresee such apocalyptic happenings coming to pass anytime soon. You never do know, though. This news in and of itself was a surprise.