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03.07.08

Is Mono Now Officially a Software Patent Trap?

Posted in Deception, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents at 3:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

A few hours ago we mentioned de Icaza's very telling confession. He knows that Novell acted selfishly. He is also aware of the implications of using Mono (he knew this all along). One of our readers, Woods, had the following useful pointer to add.

Microsoft indemnifies Novell Moonlight users

[...]

“We should have stayed with the open source community,” de Icaza said but added: “That’s better than saying we might be infringing but we are going to stick it to the man… I think we’ve done as well as we could.”

Note the defeatism. Elsewhere on the Web, in PC Authority in fact, Microsoft’s Novell-style and Novell-inspired taxoperability program receives a closer look. For a change, a respectable publication does not blindly praise Microsoft for opening up. It acknowledges that a patent trap exists therein.

Microsoft’s patent pledge is perhaps more worrying. It has promised not to assert patent claims against developers working on open-source projects, but the cover does not apply to commercial distributors of those projects, so distributors like Red Hat are still very much at threat. In broader terms, it undermines one of the basic tenants of open-source — that the user can, within the licence requirements, do whatever they like with the software — since the user is only free from the threat of patent claims until they start charging money.

Ultimately, Microsoft’s sincerity is in question, with many speculating that its true motives remain hidden. If Microsoft is genuine, only consistent good deeds will counter its history and silence the critics.

Judging by the latest news, there is no consistency in good deeds. Either Microsoft back-stabbed de Icaza (exploited him) or he knowingly did what just brought him large sums of money (wealth triumphs freedom).

Nomo

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3 Comments

  1. Victor Soliz said,

    March 7, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Gravatar

    de Icaza, meanwhile, is excited by Silverlight 2.0, released to beta this week. He highlighted the inclusion of .NET class libraries, integration with LINQ, integration with sockets and the ability to program with Silverlight using a choice of languages as important features.®

    Oh gosh.

  2. Logan said,

    March 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Gravatar

    Mono has always been a patent trap. Moonlight is even worse. By infecting Free Software in this way Microsoft will have more leverage in blackmailing Linux companies into paying the Tax. It’s all about blackmailing. Not about suing. No Linux company has the legal resources (money, time and experience, like IBM has) so they will have no other choice: accept to pay or have Microsoft constantly threating them and their customers. That is not good for business.

    Novell is no longer a victim in this blackmailing. Novell is now a partner. It benefits every time Microsoft threats other commercial distros. They’re Microsoft rivals, but they’re also Novell rivals. It’s a win-win situation.

    Either they pay and ruin the Community. Or they refuse to pay and ruin their commercial reputation.

    Novell and Miguel de Icaza are also helping Microsoft redefining what is Open Source (It will be more difficult to ruin Free Software, specially GPL3). Open Source is no longer Free (either in Freedom or in Cost). It’s only for the hobbyist! See for example the source code release for Singularity; Academic license (only for the hobbyists, in this case for student/hobbyist).

    Last year’s licenses submissions to OSI were all about gaming the system, exactly like they did with the ISO (OOXML).

    Pretending to be cooperating when they are in fact gaming the system. They win both ways. Appearing to be doing good work by opening up or undermining the credibility of the institutions or both.

    Why isn’t Novell releasing the fruits of the colaboration with Microsoft under the GPL3: Mono; Moonlight; OOXML converters; and so on?

    Doesn’t matter; Their PR blitz is working. Buzzwords its all people want to hear:

    - OOXML is open and a ISO standard;
    - they’re releasing Silverlight for Linux
    - they’re an open source company because they’re opening up specifications for their protocols
    - they support other open source companies and developers by promising not to sue

    This is all people will hear.

    Never mind that OOXML is not open and is not (for now) a ISO standard.
    Never mind that is Novell doing the “dirt” work by porting Silverlight to Linux.
    Never mind that opening up protocols does not make it a open source company.
    Never mind the fact that using those specifications would make every open source license useless and no longer Open Source.

    It’s a farce, a charade. The Master Magician has coming to Town.

    What’s is really surprising is why so few people are opposing
    this. This is going to ruin their business. They depend of a true Open Source environment. Why no one dares criticize Novell and Miguel de Icaza, the saboteurs.

    “Silverlight cross-browser plug to Linux is getting patent protection from Microsoft, indemnifying users from aggressive patent holders and litigators such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).”

    How can Microsoft protect them from the MPAA. Does this means that people using Microsoft codecs can pirate films at will. ;)

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 7, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s a farce, a charade. The Master Magician has coming to Town.

    Well, that’s just why we need to speak out louder. As time goes by, the press is listening more to ‘that other side’. More people wake up.

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