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04.09.07

Bruce Perens Responds to ACT Assertions

Posted in Action, Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD, GPL, Law, LGPL, Microsoft at 2:33 pm by Shane Coyle

Bruce Perens spoke recently with eWeek regarding those intimidating-sounding statements recently made by a lawyer for the ACT regarding GPLv3 and the possible "legal risks" associated with it. Basically, Bruce debunks each and every argument posed by Mr. Wilder.

In his analysis Wilder claimed 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.”

Perens dismissed that as nothing more than words designed to create the impression that the Free Software Foundation is going against the law, violating existing contracts and even running afoul of Congress, all without stating any facts to back up the assertion.

With regard to Wilder’s contention that “efforts by non-parties to force or induce a party to abrogate a validly entered-into contract or forgo entering into a prospective contract can give rise to a cause of action for tortious interference,” Perens said that he cannot see how providing a new version of software under a new license—when another version under another acceptable license like GPL 2 exists—could ever be considered to be tortious interference.

Perens also dismisses allegations of group boycott or refusal to supply, and argues that Microsoft has become a Linux distributor – bound not only by the upcoming GPLv3, but also the current GPLv2 and it’s patent provisions:

But, to Perens, the fact that Microsoft is currently giving to customers coupons that can be redeemed for a copy of SUSE Linux indicates that these coupons are intended to be redeemed for a copy of the copyrighted GPL 2 software.

“So, Microsoft is actively participating in distribution of the GPL2 software today, and must have assented to GPL 2 to do that, because any distribution without assent to GPL2 would be infringement. Under GPL 2, they have already given away the rights to use Microsoft patents that are applied in the Novell distribution, for any use in any GPL software, by anyone, forever,” Perens said.

Perhaps Stafford Masie was more correct than even he knew at the time, and even cooler – SUSE can go and reenable the sub-pixel rendering, after all.

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