Many folks have perceived the new version of the GPLv3 as a vendetta against Microvell, with possible risks (legal, I suppose) involved with their attempting to close the loophole exploited by the Microvell deal.
Wilder contends that, at some point, efforts to block patent licenses that were legally entered into and fully consistent with contract law, as well as the intellectual property laws enacted by Congress, “begin to expose those developing and agreeing to GPLv3 to potential defenses and counterclaims.”
Efforts by non-parties to force or induce a party to abrogate a validly entered-into contract or forego entering into a prospective contract can give rise to a cause of action for tortious interference, he said. Tortious interference occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff’s contractual or other business relationships.
Of course, the GPL is a license and it would be up to Novell whether they wanted to (or could) comply with the license’s terms in order to get usage of all of that code they love to resell. As far as I know, excepting Novell employees, no Free Software developers or projects are contractually obligated to provide Novell code under any specific terms – if Samba wants to go GPLv3 (or proprietary, for that matter), it will be up to Novell to either comply with the license or forego distribution of the newly licensed version.
Neil McAllister takes a closer look at the V: for Vendetta analogy, reminding readers that most of SUSE is not Novell’s code and that it is only natural for a programmer to look to strengthen the terms of the license for their code, rather than see it exploited.
Much of the code that Novell packages and sells to its customers as Suse Linux doesn’t belong to Novell. It belongs to the programmers who originally wrote it, and who have licensed it to Novell under very specific terms, as outlined in the GPLv2. The patent indemnification provisions of Novell’s deal with Microsoft clearly ran contrary to the spirit of that licence (if not the letter). Is it any surprise that the GPL’s authors would seek to clarify and strengthen its terms?
I also include a quote from Jeremy Allison’s departure from Novell, since it is able to illustrate how many Free Software developers feel about the deal in a way that even Microsoft should understand.
For people who will point out to me we don’t “technically” violate the GPLv2 here’s an argument I recently made on the mailing lists.
“Do you think that if we’d have found what we legally considered a clever way around the Microsoft EULA so we didn’t have to pay for Microsoft licenses and had decided to ship, oh let’s say, “Exchange Server” under this “legal hack” that Microsoft would be silent about it – or we should act aggr[i]eved when they change the EULA to stop us doing this?”
So, the ugly consequences of the deal did not take long to emerge. According to a mailing list discussion, Novell’s Linux is losing features which supposedly infringe on Microsoft software patents.
James Ots noticed that Sub-pixel Antialiasing in openSUSE 10.2 seems to be broken, so he recompiled the package from sources, with sub-pixel antialiasing turned on.
Two comments pointed to an openSUSE ML message: [Bug 259718] Sub-pixel antialising does not work when set from KDE Control Center, which quoted comments from the sources to explain the reason and the WONTFIX decision:
Uncomment the line below if you want to activate sub-pixel rendering (a.k.a. LCD rendering, or ClearType) in this build of the library.
Note that this feature is covered by several Microsoft patents and should not be activated in any default build of the library.
Is this the direction taken? Will it expand? Will features be stripped in order to cripple GNU/Linux? In any event, Novell does nobody any favours here, except Microsoft of course, which can now intimidate other distributors. I am aware of the fact that other distributions, such as Ubuntu, take a similar route, but the owner of patents appears to be Apple. We’ll soon find out what exactly is going on here.
For a moment, we beg you ignore our domain name which — as we explained before — should have only refected on protest against patent deals with Microsoft, not the company as a whole. Then, hopefully, this placement of the video should not be perceived as disrespectful.
As stated by journalists when Ray Noorda passed away (just shortly before Microsoft/Novell negotiation bore ‘fruit’), he never would have approved. In fact, it turns out that he supported Linux many years ago, whereas today’s Novell appears to be losing focus.
We previously embedded a video which features an interview with the previous CEO, Jack Messman, who did not negotiate with Microsoft. If Ray Noorda (or maybe even Jack Messman) was still around, none of this would have happened, surely not behind the community’s backs. Watching the video leaves you rather sad. It is saddening to see how a great company sold itself (and its community) to their aggressive rival.
Let’s begin with Bruce Perens, who points out that Dan Lyons is at it again. For those who do not know, Lyons is a Forbes journalist that has been often accused of shilling for Microsoft and SCO by attacking Richard Stallman and Groklaw, among other entities (it could be part of a larger scheme).
If you read Dan Lyon’s blog, 100% of it in recent time has been snippy comments directed to Groklaw and other Open Source entitities.