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07.05.07

GPLv3 Cluebat Hits Microsoft, Which Has Just Entered the ”Denial” Stage of Its Agony (Updated)

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Xandros at 11:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remember those famous stages of agony? Well, Microsoft shows us what they are all about. Here is the latest news:

Microsoft Says It Is Not Bound by GPLv3

Microsoft cleared the air July 5 on its obligations to GNU General Public License Version 3 support, declaring it will not provide support or updates for GPLv3 under the deal it penned in November with Novell to administer certificates for the Linux distribution.

Who didn’t see that coming? Microsoft has expressed anger and frustration whenever GPLv3 was mentioned and whilst it evolved towards completion. Some said this might even lead them to the courtroom. Their failing plan is now facing a real roadblock. Those plotting to ‘kill’ Linux (or change the way it is distributed using ‘innovation tax’) face the realisation that more projects will gradually upgrade their license and leave Microsoft’s partners well behind. Thus, Microsoft’s Linux is becoming very undesirable, even stranded.

As I very recently stated, a lot of people fell victim to ‘placements’ in the media and they now associate GPLv3 (or even GPL) with something very negative. It is important that people check who writes about the GPL and what hidden interests/affiliations are involved. As Richard Stallman put it quite recently:

They [people who spread GPLv3 FUD] usually disagree cause they disagree with the GPL’s goal of guaranteeing freedom for every user. Defend the users’ freedom, don’t listen to them… We have to defend the users’ freedom against these threats.

In a series of short articles (here is one on devices), Bruce Perens has been trying to bust GPLv3 myths, but this probably hasn’t reached a wide enough audience. GPLv3 sabotages Microsoft’s plans to hurt Linux. The latest developments demonstrate this very well. They are in agony.

Update: here is the full statement from Microsoft:

“Microsoft is not a party to the GPLv3 license and none of its actions are to be misinterpreted as accepting status as a contracting party of GPLv3 or assuming any legal obligations under such license.

While there have been some claims that Microsoft’s distribution of certificates for Novell support services, under our interoperability collaboration with Novell, constitutes acceptance of the GPLv3 license, we do not believe that such claims have a valid legal basis under contract, intellectual property, or any other law. In fact, we do not believe that Microsoft needs a license under GPL to carry out any aspect of its collaboration with Novell, including its distribution of support certificates, even if Novell chooses to distribute GPLv3 code in the future. Furthermore, Microsoft does not grant any implied or express patent rights under or as a result of GPLv3, and GPLv3 licensors have no authority to represent or bind Microsoft in any way.

At this point in time, in order to avoid any doubt or legal debate on this issue, Microsoft has decided that the Novell support certificates that we distribute to customers will not entitle the recipient to receive from Novell, or any other party, any subscription for support and updates relating to any code licensed under GPLv3. We will closely study the situation and decide whether to expand the scope of the certificates in the future.

As always, Microsoft remains committed to working with the open source software community to help improve interoperability for customers working in mixed source environments and deliver IP assurance. Our partnerships with Novell and other Linux platform and desktop providers remain strong and the IP bridge we built with them, embodied in our collaboration agreements, remains intact. In particular, our technical and business collaboration with Novell continues to move full steam ahead, including our joint development work on virtualization, standards-based systems management, identity interoperability and document format translators. In addition, the patent covenants offered by Microsoft and Novell to each other’s customers are unchanged, and will continue to apply in the same way they did previously.”

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4 Comments

  1. shane coyle said,

    July 6, 2007 at 4:53 am

    Gravatar

    Not shocking, really, I never thought Novell et al were going to touch anything under V3 that is affected by their exclusionary patent deals, or should I say I never thought MS would allow them to.

    However, MS taking so much time to deny being bound by V3 sounds like an implicit admission that they are bound by V2, which provides us all a bit of protection at least.

    Where’s my damn source code?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 6, 2007 at 5:12 am

    Gravatar

    I’ve collected a couple of interesting short pieces that say more about this predictable development.

    MS: Dancing as fast as it can to try to get away from GPLv3

    ant to laugh? Microsoft Says It Is Not Bound by GPLv3″ — they think they can so declare, like an emperor, and it becomes fiat. It’s not so easy. I gather Microsoft’s lawyers have begun to discern the GPL pickle they are in.

    Microsoft Issues Statement Concerning the GPLv3 and Novell Agreement

    Well, I’ve already included it verbatim in the update above. There’s also this one:

    Commentary: Some Linux Vendors Dance with the Archfiend, Microsoft

    What is the future remedy for the open source community? Its called the GNU General Public License version 3. The GPLv3 has specific clauses to prevent the surrender of open source code to third parties who use discriminatory patent licenses, such as the recent Novell/Microsoft agreement. However, the GPLv3 is not retroactive. The developer has to move his or her code to GPLv3 and all previous versions remain licensed under whatever license that version of code happened to use. The GPLv3 already has an effect on Microsoft. Just yesterday, Microsoft said they will not distribute any Novell certificates that contain GPLv3 code.

    In short, Microsoft is not happy. The FSF has the upper hand. On the face of it, Apache sort of shows its support for GPLv3, but that’s worth a separate post. It’s just another example of the growing list of GPLv3 supporters.

  3. John Drinkwater said,

    July 6, 2007 at 5:35 am

    Gravatar

    The best line imho from the statement “Furthermore, Microsoft does not grant any implied or express patent rights under or as a result of GPLv3″

    Are they saying here, that if any part of their SuSE voucher distribution is covered by GPLv3, then their statement applies, and they aren’t granting patent rights? That violates GPLv3 certainly…

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 6, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Gravatar

    John, look what Groklaw says. :-)

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070705205728953

    “Microsoft Says It Is Not Bound by GPLv3 — they think they can so declare, like an emperor, and it becomes fiat.”

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