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A Quick Look at Mono Licensing and Microsoft Licensing

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 3:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thanks to a couple of readers, who gave up a quick headsup on this issue, we believe that interesting new information is now available.

Curious bits about Mono licensing can be spotted in the Mono project Web site:

Why does Novell require a copyright assignment?

When a developer contributes code to the C# compiler or the Mono runtime engine, we require that the author grants Novell the right to relicense his/her contribution under other licensing terms.

This allows Novell to re-distribute the Mono source code to parties that might not want to use the GPL or LGPL versions of the code.

Particularly embedded system vendors obtain grants to the Mono runtime engine and modify it for their own purposes without having to release those changes back.


Could patents be used to completely disable Mono?

When .NET went Shared Source Miguel de Icaza talked about what it all meant. Looking at the Microsoft Reference License you find some very brow-raising phrases discussing software patents. Examples include:

(B) If you begin patent litigation against the Licensor over patents that you think may apply to the software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), your license to the software ends automatically.

IANAL, but nonetheless there’s something to watch out for here. We wrote about this before.

Another thing you may find suspicious is related to Novell’s copyright assignment, as mentioned above. From GNOME’s Web site, in the Evolution download page (at the bottom of the page): “Copyright © 2004-2007 Novell Inc.”

Remember that only weeks ago, Miguel de Icaza began speaking about Mono extensions for Evolution. Whatever you make out of this, all we do here is provide information.

From a discussion in Digg.com (initiated by accusations against the messenger)

Well, I actually question some of the newer parts of GNOME as well, like MONO.
They are truly constructing something that legitimizes the case for intellectual property infringement.

When some judge actually decides MONO is too much of a clone for a technilogical tool (this does not concern double-click style patents but true technology patents), the FUD due to that might back fire to all linux technology including those that are original.

If I were Microsoft i would be very happy with MONO. The trojan horse of the linux eco-system. Those actively promoting it on microsoft-sponsored-payroll (such as Novell), should have their loyalty questioned.

Richard Stallman actually wrote about this yesterday and even cited this Web site.

- ——– Original Message ——–
Subject: GNOME dependent on Mono
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2007 20:03:38 -0500
From: Richard Stallman rms [at] gnu.org
Reply-To: rms [at] gnu.org
To: foundation-list [at] gnome.org

I read http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/05/gnome-mono-yelp/ with
great concern.

Since I am not an expert, I cannot tell on my own if that description
of the situation is accurate. If part of it is not accurate, I hope
someone will explain. However, if it is accurate, GNOME has a serious

I have always supported the development of free platforms for C#, just
as I’ve supported the development of free platforms for any language
that users use. I also wouldn’t argue that people should not use C#
with a free platform for secondary applications.

However, making GNOME depend on Mono is running a grave risk, and a
grave mistake. If the article accurately describes the situation, I
think we need to launch a high-priority project to reimplement Yelp in
some other language.

The use of code from Firefox in a way that might cause trademark
problems is also a serious issue. The solution might not be difficult
- — it may be enough to remove the trademark in the sources used by
GNOME wherever that is necessary — but the solution does need to be
carried out.

The nontechnical impact of these issues vastly exceeds the technical
impact, so considering them only in technical terms is fundamentally
misguided. In this sort of decision, the Foundation should intervene
and decide based on the nontechnical issues at stake. If those who
work for Novell tell us not to worry, we should not listen to them.

Given all the information which is presented here, how can one’s doubts be alleviated?

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Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. werner said,

    November 30, 2007 at 9:32 am


    I think: a) All this is not bad , but b) everybody should know it

    We should not be worried about any kind of COMERCIAL INTERESTS w.r.t. open software. Let the wolfs eat them each another.

    But we should know this, and stay far from any comercial or ‘property’ things in open source.

    It’s almost normal but OK that anybody who dance with the devil and use, directly or indirectly, any privat, no-open aplication, earlier or later is enrolled with any ‘patent rights’, ‘license terms’ or things like this.

    Thus, one simply should not participate to such privat or half-privat things, nor use them.

    It should also be observed, that patent rights – in opposite to copyrights – apply only to comercial concurrents. They are irrelevant for end-users. At least under european legislations, you can USE them as you want. Already because of this, is irrelevant the FUD by M$. In the worst case, they could process only sellers, but not users.

    The next thing is, that other states have the right of autonomy in their public administration and in the realisation of human rights (f.ex., ensign, social integration). They have even the right to declare the informatics, and the own development and divulgation of software for their administration, ensign etc as a public service and souvereignity function – in a few constitutions this is even the case – and divulge it (f.ex., give such open software to poor persons to realize the UNO’s resolution’s warrant to ensign, participation on the modernity, etc) This is not limited by patent rights of others. Not only because these are exclusively comercial rights, unaplicavel to no-comercial distribution, but because the economic rights always are submitted under higher rights, inclusive the government has the souvereignity to determine social function of economy etc. Now, the FUD by M$, when ‘advising not to use open source’ other country/people and their public service’s autonomy, human rights, is not only a right or even need for these countries to check / cancel their adherence to international patent / economic agreements; it can be a crime against public administration and souvereignity of other countries – especially when this ‘advices’ lead to fears or abstence the poor people or the officials use open software for realize their fundamental rights/ensign or public/administrative functions, resp. I think there is nothing to ‘give gratuitly’ to M$ and companions, so that is time that other counties open criminal processes against such ‘advises’.

  2. Uncle Warthog said,

    November 30, 2007 at 6:15 pm


    Regarding Novell’s Mono copyright assignment terms: It strikes me as funny that they would expect anyone to contribute to Mono under those conditions considering that it is, by and large, this issue which is causing them to fork OpenOffice. Seems to me like Novell wants to have it both ways.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 30, 2007 at 8:29 pm


    On Groklaw, see OpenSuse developers pledge (at the bottom part of the article).

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