06.06.07

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The ‘War of Words’ Will End When GPLv3 is Here

Posted in Courtroom, FSF, FUD, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 7:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Among the interesting writeups there are also the perspectives of Windows professionals. Even them are willing to admit that Microsoft’s new strategy is motivated by fear and desperation.

Denial. Open source? Never heard of it. Why don’t you come back when you folks are actually making some money?

Anger. What do you mean Linux and Apache are stealing market share from the low end of the server market? That’s our business!

Bargaining. OK, here’s a thought: Maybe Linux and Apache are taking share on the low-end. But as long as Windows Server and Microsoft IIS continue to dominate the Fortune 500, we won’t have any problems.

Depression. What? They’re in the data center now? But…we offer so much more functionality than the open-source solutions! Can’t people see that?

Acceptance…

This leads to the conslusion that a War of Words has become the last resort. SCO tried this, but see where they ended up.

It’s been a while since I mentioned the SCO Group on this blog, largely since it stopped shouting its mouth off about its legal claims and its various court cases are slowly winding their way towards conclusion.

Two recent headlines predict a patent war, but one also acknowledges the fact that staying out of court is the better choice to Microsoft.

Microsoft’s move is seen as a FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) strategy to force open source users into a licensing deal with the software giant or even migrating to a Microsoft platform, Haque said.

With or without the courts, the days of FUD are numbered. GPLv3 is coming and it spells doom to the idea of using patents as an anti-Linux weapon. Again, it is worth emphasising that GPLv3 is not just about patent-related clauses, which are just one type of amendment among several. Matt Aslett appears to be wondering what the GPLv3 is mainly for, just as we did. It’s about a variety of things, so it cannot be characterised as a vendetta targetting Microsoft.

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2 Comments

  1. Shane Coyle said,

    June 7, 2007 at 12:25 am

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    Remember, the GPLv3 being applied to Microsoft requires a few ifs

    like if Novell includes GPLv3 code in SUSE (if Microsoft allows them to), and if a coupon gets cashed in after GPLv3 is in SUSE, and if it’s proven that the coupons are equivalent to distributing

    For this to happen a Microsoft distributed Novell SLES coupon has to be used after at least one program licensed with the GPLv3 is included in the Novell SLES distro. So far Novell says they will include GPLv3 software in SLES. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to realize their mistake. Richard Stallman noted:

    “Microsoft is scrambling to dispose of as many Novell SLES coupons as possible prior to the adoption of GPLv3. Unfortunately for Microsoft, those coupons bear no expiration date, and paragraph 6 has no cut-off date. Through its ongoing distribution of coupons, Microsoft will have procured the distribution of GPLv3-covered programs as soon as they are included in Novell SLES distributions, thereby extending patent defenses to all downstream recipients of that software by operation of paragraph 6.”

    Novell noted in their recent 10-K filing that “Microsoft may cease to distribute SUSE Linux coupons in order to avoid the extension of its patent covenants to a broader range of GPLv3 software recipients”. Microsoft has indicated they don’t believe their coupons amount to participating in the distribution of a GNU/Linux distro anyway, so they don’t accept that they are subject to any version of the GPL. But it does appear Microsoft and Novell made a mistake by exploiting a loophole in the GPLv2 just at the time the GPLv3 was being drafted.

  2. Shane Coyle said,

    June 7, 2007 at 12:49 am

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    I also wonder if Novell can skirt the issue by simply avoiding GPLv3 licensed software that is affected by their license with Microsoft.

    For instance, Novell confirms that OOO is covered by their right-to-use license for their customers, so they wouldn’t touch that under GPL3, but say K3B (or whatever) for instance isn’t affected by the MS covenant not to sue that Novell is paying royalties for – if Novell includes that under GPLv3 does it have any impact on their MS deal since there is no protection for that to pass on?

    Can Novell and Xandros cherry-pick GPLv3 projects that won’t interfere with their discriminatory patent license? I need a lawyer to explain…

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