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05.21.07

Microsoft Dismisses Being Subjected to GPL, Uses Novell as a Proxy

Posted in Deals, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Novell at 9:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In the following new coverage, Microsoft claims to be exempted from the GPL. This contradicts a few other arguments.

Microsoft is not convinced that distribution of SUSE vouchers makes the company subject to GPL requirements. Richard Wilder, a patent lawyer for the Association of Competitive Technology (an organization partially funded by Microsoft), argues that Microsoft isn’t subject to the GPL because the company isn’t literally distributing Linux or any other piece of GPL-licensed software. Speaking to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Wilder said, “[Microsoft is] not distributing Linux. They’re providing somebody access to a service, but they’re not providing copies of Linux on a disk, and they’re not providing somebody access to Linux for the purpose of download, and so they’re not engaged in any distribution.”

So, where would Microsoft be if it were not for Novell? The true situation is yet to be understood as there are two sides to every argument. There is some further discussion about the GPL in the second part of a recent interview with Eben Moglen and, given that he knows the licence better than most, he is quite likely to be correct.

The following article explains why Microsoft has entered the deal and what this means to Novell.

Microsoft seemed satisfied in the past to wage the battle against Linux through its SCO Group proxy, but SCO’s lawsuit against IBM — claiming IBM contributed SCO intellectual property to Linux — has been slowly circling the drain for some time. With Windows Vista sales hardly taking flight, and Microsoft’s next-generation server operating system — Longhorn — still not ready for prime time, it seems that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer decided it was time to unleash the lawyers to buy the Redmondians some time. [Note: this is a point which we stressed before]

Meanwhile, Novell may start selling a lot more SuSE Linux, because Novell and Microsoft’s software patent agreement shields the distribution against Redmond’s wrath. But that agreement hasn’t won Novell a lot of friends. The free-software community has risen up to protest Novell’s moves, urging people to dump SuSE. And many open-source license-holders are considering relicensing key libraries to the Limited GNU Public License to exclude SuSE from using them.

In other news, Novell has just got itself a contract in California.

San Diego Students Learn on Linux Desktops From Novell

[...]

San Diego Unified School District is the second-largest school district in California, serving more than 130,000 students, 100,000 of whom are in grades three through 12 and are targeted by the Always-On Learning Initiative.

For a change, neither Microsoft nor “intellectual property” are mentioned in the press release.

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