EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.28.07

The Linux Kernel Could Go GPLv3

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Law at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

After a lot of harsh criticism (even cursing at times), Linus Torvalds seems rather satisfied with the new General Public Licence, which addresses Novell-type deals. This is of course excellent news.

Linus Torvalds, leader of the Linux kernel project and a major figure in the open-source programming movement, said Wednesday he’s “pretty pleased” with changes in a third draft of the General Public License (GPL) released Wednesday.

What could be even better for the GPL? Well, Dell has decided to give away GPL-licensed drivers, to be added to the Linux kernel. It has also confirmed that Linux-loaded laptops and desktops are on their way.

Dell has heard you and we will expand our Linux support beyond our existing servers and Precision workstation line. Our first step in this effort is offering Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook systems. We will provide an update in the coming weeks that includes detailed information on which systems we will offer, our testing and certification efforts, and the Linux distribution(s) that will be available. The countdown begins today.

GPLv3 Draft 3 is Here

Posted in Action, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents at 1:10 pm by Shane Coyle

For anyone who still says that GPLv2 doesn’t address patents, Groklaw had a link to an interesting piece about implied patent license aspects of GPLv2. I especially agree with PJ’s analysis that the Microvell deal is not harmonious with GPLv2, but rather it was more expedient to address the issue via a new license clause rather than litigation.

They wrote that about GPLv2. So if you think no one should use a software license to address patents, the GPL already does, my friends. So please don’t waste my time placing that thought in a comment on the draft. Read this article instead. That’s why the Novell-Microsoft patent deal sticks in the community’s craw, and why I personally doubt it is harmonious with GPLv2. I think that Eben Moglen just found an easier way to block it than through litigation. If you’ve followed the SCO Magical Mystery Tour, where after four years, we still don’t know what it’s actually about, you may be able to figure out why it could be easier and cheaper to just fix the license to make things crystal clear.

Well GPLv3 is definitely going to address patents, here is the patents section of the new draft, and it is constructed in no uncertain terms to tell Novell that their patent license deal (and any others like it) are unacceptable, "however denominated". Then, it grants an odd semi-exception to their deal which at first read had me quite confused.

11. Patents.
Each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under the contributor’s essential patent claims in its contribution, to make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and otherwise run, modify and propagate the contribution.
For purposes of the following three paragraphs, a “patent license” means a patent license, a covenant not to bring suit for patent infringement, or any other express agreement or commitment, however denominated, not to enforce a patent.

If you convey a covered work, knowingly relying on a patent license, and the Corresponding Source of the work is not available for anyone to copy, free of charge and under the terms of this License, through a publicly available network server or other readily accessible means, then you must either (1) cause the Corresponding Source to be so available, or (2) disclaim the patent license for this particular work, or (3) arrange, in a manner consistent with the requirements of this License, to extend the patent license to downstream recipients. “Knowingly relying” means you have actual knowledge that, but for the patent license, your conveying the covered work in a country, or your recipient’s use of the covered work in a country, would infringe one or more identifiable patents in that country that you have reason to believe are valid.

If, pursuant to or in connection with a single transaction or arrangement, you convey, or propagate by procuring conveyance of, a covered work, and grant a patent license providing freedom to use, propagate, modify or convey a specific copy of the covered work to any of the parties receiving the covered work, then the patent license you grant is automatically extended to all recipients of the covered work and works based on it.

You may not convey a covered work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is in the business of distributing software, under which you make payment to the third party based on the extent of your activity of conveying the work, and under which the third party grants, to any of the parties who would receive the covered work from you, a patent license (a) in connection with copies of the covered work conveyed by you, and/or copies made from those, or (b) primarily for and in connection with specific products or compilations that contain the covered work, which license does not cover, prohibits the exercise of, or is conditioned on the non-exercise of any of the rights that are specifically granted to recipients of the covered work under this License[, unless you entered into that arrangement, or that patent license was granted, prior to March 28, 2007].

Nothing in this License shall be construed as excluding or limiting any implied license or other defenses to infringement that may otherwise be available to you under applicable patent law.

Here is the explanation of the cutoff date rationale [PDF] and "letting Novell off" from the FSF themselves.

Drafting this paragraph was difficult because it is necessary to distinguish between pernicious agreements and other kinds of agreements which do not have an acutely harmful effect, such as patent contributions, insurances, customary cross-license promises to customers, promises incident to ordinary asset transfers, and standard settlement practices. We believe that we have achieved this, but it is hard to be sure, so we are considering making this paragraph apply only to agreements signed in the future. If we do that, companies would only need to structure future agreements in accord with the fifth paragraph, and would not face problems from past agreements that cannot be changed now. We are not yet convinced that this is necessary, and we plan to ask for more comment on the question. This is why the date-based cutoff is included in brackets.

One drawback of this cutoff date is that it would “let Novell off” from part of the response to its deal with Microsoft. However, this may not be a great drawback, because the fourth paragraph will apply to that deal. We believe it is sufficient to ensure either the deal’s voluntary modification by Microsoft or its reduction to comparative harmlessness. Novell expected to gain commercial advantage from its patent deal with Microsoft; the effects of the fourth paragraph in undoing the harm of that deal will necessarily be visited upon Novell.

Update: Matt Asay has some on Novell’s his response to the draft, wherein Bruce Lowry also repeats Stafford Masie’s promise of GPL3 compliance – even if they must revisit their deal with Microsoft:

We are firmly committed to continuing the partnership with Microsoft and, as we always have, fully complying with the terms of the licenses for the software that we ship, including software licensed under GPL3. If the final version of the GPL3 does potentially impact the agreement we have with Microsoft, well address that with Microsoft.

GPLv3 is Coming to Punish Novell Despite Its Contributions

Posted in Boycott Novell at 8:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Today is the day when we shall find out about the Grand Plan of the FSF. Backlash is expected, but we will get by despite all the skepticism.

Brown admits that the discussion so far about the license revision has revealed and possibly deepened the divisions between the free software and open source communities. But “there’s nothing we can do about that,” he says philosophically. “It’s just the way things are.”

To be fair to Novell, throughout their time as a decent Open Source citizen they have actually contributed a lot. In fact, they still contribute a great deal of stuff, but the damage they do at the same time outweighs the benefits.

Has the Media Been Poisoned Against Free Software?

Posted in FSF, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL at 4:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We previously highlighted the way in which the press mischaracterises Linux. We also wondered it this was deliberate. Yesterday we even mentioned what appears to be a coordinated effort to portray the “Linux community” negatively, as though it is a bunch of zealots and vandals filled with greed. This pattern seems to repeat itself.

ChangeLog: Reuters gets it wrong, again

According to Reuters, the “Linux camp” is trying to “sabotage” the deal between Microsoft and Novell. One wonders if Reuters has a special interest in slinging misinformation about the Linux community, or just deeply misunderstands the Linux community and can’t be bothered to get it right.

In February, Reuters’ Jim Finkle reported that “Novell could be banned from selling Linux.” Our own Joe Barr gave the article a good Fisking, noting that Finkle is conflating the open source and free software communities, and that Finkle fails to understand that the Free Software Foundation (FSF) can do little to prevent Novell from shipping Linux. At best (or worst, depending on your point of view), the FSF could make it difficult to ship future versions of software it controls the copyright to.

Is somebody pulling strings in the media? This is no longer amusing, especially when Free software advocates are equated to terrorists. Steretypes make bigots. How about this quote from a Microsoft analyst?

“I have a hard time seeing the [Linux] Zealots as any different from terrorist… I strongly believe that if September 11 showed us anything, it was that zealots” — Rob Enderle

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts