11.27.06

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RMS: Deal is GPL2 Compliant

Posted in Deals, GPL at 11:31 am by Shane Coyle

Richard M Stallman has spoken, and apparently he believes that the Novell-Microsoft deal is in compliance with the GPL2. Stallman also vowed to ensure that GPL3 does not allow for such discriminatory deals:

“What has happened is, Microsoft has not given Novell a patent license, and thus, section 7 of GPL version 2 does not come into play,” he said. “Instead, Microsoft offered a patent licence that is rather limited to Novell’s customers alone.”

“It turns out that perhaps it’s a good thing that Microsoft did this now, because we discovered that the text we had written for GPL version 3 would not have blocked this, but it’s not too late and we’re going to make sure that when GPL version 3 really comes out it will block such deals,” he added.

As stated by Bruce Perens: “It is abundantly clear that Novell and Microsoft took the time to engineer a circuitous legal path of issuing covenants to each other’s customers, rather than licenses to each other, in order to circumvent Novell’s earlier agreement with the community of GPL software developers.”

Whether or not Novell is adhering to the letter of the GPL2, it is certainly not abiding by its spirit, as is outlined in the preamble to the GNU General Public License:

Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone’s free use or not licensed at all.

Do not support the company that turned its back on the community for a short-lived stock boost, Boycott Novell.

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