EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.28.08

Moonlight: Patent Bait Inside Your GNU/Linux Distribution

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, SUN at 10:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Why sue? Just cross-licence. Same thing, looks better.

We have been denouncing and protesting against Moonlight’s legal baggage since the very beginning. Miguel de Icaza joined in, but he woke up to smell the coffee when it was a little too late. He had already implemented the little monster. He trusted Microsoft and wanted us to trust his deceptive friends from Microsoft, too.

Head over to Groklaw and find out just why Moonlight is poison inside your GNU/Linux box, unless you’re a paying Novell customer. The concluding sentence:

My conclusion now, after having reviewed it, is the same as I predicted. This is worthless and potentially harmful vapor-speak.

Fortunately, adoption of Silverlight is poor, so whichever desktop environment or distribution you’re using, you might never require Mono. You can vocally object if Webmasters use this technology, which excludes Microsoft’s #1 competitor (as confirmed by Ballmer back in February and implicitly acknowledged by Ray Ozzie only yesterday). Don’t permit Microsoft to tax the Free Desktop.

“Without a fight, let alone a disclosure, it’s even worse to surrender if you have counterparts like Mandriva, Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc.”As a side note, the term “Linux tax” seems to be used spuriously at the moment. It talks about the cost of PCs with GNU/Linux preinstalled. Can you sense an ambiguity here? Should “Linux tax” not be a referral to the equivalent of “Windows tax”, wherein Microsoft uses mythical software patents to threaten vendors until they pay for GNU/Linux (thus the term “Linux tax”)? These are two separate things.

NetApp's lawsuit against Sun ought to teach us about the risk of allowing Free software to be taxed; there are lessons to be learned here. As the latest development shows, software patents may be moot in the court of law (see fragment below), so the worst one can do is give up and pay up like Novell did. Without a fight, let alone a disclosure, it’s even worse to surrender if you have counterparts like Mandriva, Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc. Novell should work with them, not against them (with Microsoft).

Portfolio Media, New York (May 27, 2008)–A judge has partly stayed software company Network Appliance Inc.’s patent lawsuit against rival Sun Microsystems Inc. over Sun’s ZFS technology, pending the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s re-examination of one of the patents in the suit.

One reader wrote to us just moments ago. He explains this situation better than we have:

“I saw it mentioned that Microsoft has “never sued anyone for patent infringement.” Some even go so far as to make the silly assumption that they do not like patents. That may have been true in the beginning, when Bill Gates wrote his now-famous memo on software patents in the early ’90′s. Now, Microsoft has made their peace with patents.

“They are in a bind at present, but they certainly are not suing out of benevolence. As Bill Gates said, “if you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.””“I can recall generally an instance several years ago where there was a free software project which aimed to be able to play Windows media files. It was shut down due to patent threats from Microsoft, when the author decided he couldn’t afford to defend a possible suit in court. In recent times, their attitude could well be summarised with “why sue when you can generate FUD and cross-licensing deals with threats?” Also, there are some good reasons for Microsoft to hold fire and not try to assert their patents in court.

“The first is that they may get a negative outcome in that their patent would be ruled invalid and they would be faced with a countersuit. Another reason is anti-trust related. I doubt the anti-trust authorities would look favourably on it if Microsoft tries patents as a further method to exclude competition. They are now testing the waters with their appeal of the latest EU sanctions to see if the court will see things their way and somehow rule that, yes indeed, intellectual property rights do trump anti-trust laws. Finally, Microsoft is making all of these soothing noises about “openness” lately, which include “covenants not to sue.” They may be afraid of a negative public relations backlash if they were to sue an open source project at this time. They are in a bind at present, but they certainly are not suing out of benevolence. As Bill Gates said, “if you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.” If they wanted to make it good, they wouldn’t sue *and* they wouldn’t make patent threats in the first place.”

Related readings:

Monopoly

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

24 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    May 28, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Gravatar

    Pity many of those links just read like advertising for flash. Which is just another crappy non-internet-standard being rammed down our throats.

    Of course, if the w3c could get its act together and mandate a video format (an open royalty free one at that) a good chunk of what flash is used for can be thrown away (good riddance to bad rubbish), and most of the rest could be handled with svg. But there are probably too many commercial interests against such a move for it to happen any time soon.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Gravatar

    Pity many of those links just read like advertising for flash.

    I think that only 1 or 2 of these can be interpreted this way. I dislike Flash as much as the next FOSS guy, but video is where it’s most difficult to avoid. You might want to read this. A former Microsoft employee was behind interception of Ogg (out of HTML5). Openness is a rival of some companies.

  3. AlexH said,

    May 29, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Gravatar

    “Fortunately, adoption of Silverlight is poor, so whichever desktop environment or distribution you’re using, you might never require Mono.”

    Er, what does this have to do with Mono again?

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Gravatar

    Moonlight is means for Mono to intrude other desktop environments. We covered this issue in considerable length before.

  5. AlexH said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Gravatar

    You might have covered it before, but that doesn’t mean your previous articles are correct. They often are not.

    Even if we cared about Mono “intruding”, how does using Moonlight help Mono?

  6. master_chief said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Gravatar

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080528133529454

  7. master_chief said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Gravatar

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080528133529454

    “My conclusion now, after having reviewed it, is the same as I predicted. This is worthless and potentially harmful vapor-speak.”

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Gravatar

    Okay, Alex, so just to give the gist of this (I can’t immediately think of where to find it): GNOME is already quite chummy with Mono, but other desktop environments need none of the same programs, which typically use GTK. With Moonlight, however, there’s an imposition coming from the Web (i.e. platform independent) for all GNU/Linux users to put Mono on their systems. The same goes for the OOXML translators.

  9. AlexH said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:35 am

    Gravatar

    That’s fine, except that Moonlight isn’t written in C# and doesn’t need Mono to run.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Gravatar

    Silverlight stack

    Image from the public domain

  11. AlexH said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Gravatar

    Theory is nice, but the fact is Moonlight isn’t written in C# as stated previously on this blog.

  12. Dan O'Brian said,

    May 29, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Gravatar

    Silverlight 1.0 (which is all Moonlight currently implements) is not scriptable from any .NET languages. You can only script it via javascript currently.

    Silverlight 2.0 is scriptable from .NET and afaik, Moonlight plans to implement support for that – however, obviously you won’t require Mono unless you actually visit Silverlight 2.0 sites.

    I believe I also read somewhere that Microsoft is releasing the source code to a bunch of their Silverlight 2.0 controls (the ones written in managed code) under the MS-PL (which is GPLv3 compatible, btw).

    I’m not sure why you guys are in such a huff over Moonlight anyway…

    IF Silverlight usage on the web becomes widespread (and that’s a big IF), Moonlight is just a way for Linux users to be able to view those sites if they choose to.

    I double Silverlight will become even more widespread than Flash is now.

    There are basically 3 groups of people on Linux when it comes to Flash:

    1. Those who refuse to visit any flash-enabled sites… and if we take the word of the posters on Slashdot/LinuxToday/Digg/etc, who all claim to boycott Flash sites, then there must be quite a few of these. Silverlight won’t affect these people – if they find no reason to view Flash sites, what will make Silverlight more of a requirement? None that I can see.

    2. Then you have another group of people who happily install Adobe’s proprietary Flash plugin to view their favorite Flash sites. Are these people going to be morally opposed to installing Moonlight? I somehow doubt it. Besides which, Moonlight is actually open source compared to Flash which is not, so it would actually be giving these people more freedoms.

    3. Thirdly you have the people who install Gnash or Swfdec and who are not legally protected from any patent attacks over (at the very least) video codecs (and possibly attacks for any non-codec related infringements by Adobe or any other 3rd party which may own patents related to Flash). These people seem to have no qualms with breaking the law or putting themselves in a risky legal situation (at the very least), so what could possibly be their reason to avoid Moonlight? Clearly patents do not concern them.

    I suspect Roy is in either group 2 or 3, especially since he posts Flash videos on his blog all the time – I assume he must actually view them (or maybe it’s like the articles he links to – posting without reading/viewing?). His hypocritical reasoning for being anti-Moonlight is that he thinks Microsoft is more likely to sue over patents.

    If you think that Microsoft is more likely to sue over patent infringements than Adobe, you’d be wrong. Adobe has a history of attacking other companies over patents, Microsoft has none. Adobe has also already attacked at least one Free Software project.

    Do the math.

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Gravatar

    Dan,

    I can’t offer a very lengthy response at the moment (OOXML is a more urgent problem), but one point I would like to make is that it’s naive to accept Silverlight and assume that v2.0 features will always stay in the corner. The second point, which is related to the first, is that Moonlight gives people the illusion that the target audience for Silverlight is large. We’ve gone through this problem before, e g. here.

    As a side note, it would be fruitful if you guys don’t descend to insults (I rarely/never do). It takes us nowhere. It makes neither of us look decent.

  14. Dan O'Brian said,

    May 29, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Gravatar

    Find me a website/developer who makes Linux users a priority and has chosen Silverlight “because Moonlight exists”.

    You won’t find a single website/developer.

    The websites out there that use Flash are the same way, Linux support is an afterthought.

    The web developers out there with any desire to create truly cross-platform websites will do it in HTML and javascript.

    I fully support HTML5 and other truly open/cross-platform web technologies and hope they eliminate the need/usage of Flash and Silverlight, so don’t get me wrong.

    But at least be honest, Roy, you only attack Moonlight because it’s a Novell product. If this was being written by the Gnash guys, you’d be praising it all over the place.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Gravatar

    You’re looking at this backwards. For me, being a GNU/Linux user at home and at work, it would be hard or impossible to complain about sites that use Silverlight. They would claim that GNU/Linux is not excluded. Just watch how Microsoft uses Novell to fake support for FOSS, to grease up antitrust regulators, please some naive critics, etc.

  16. gggggg said,

    May 29, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Another ignorant troll. You’re in luck Roy. You might soon be receiving some “gifts” for promoting “Silverlight”.

    They can pretend everything, assume everything. They even might say that the sky is green. But saying so doesn’t make it the truth.

    I also “love” how all these trolls end their posts with something like this or a variant:

    “I’m true Linux use but…”; “I only use Open Source so you know I’m not a Microsoft shill/troll”; “I hate/dislike/don’t trust Microsoft but I don’t see nothing wrong with Mono/Moonlight/pick your own”

    In the more ridiculous statements like:

    “I don’t care about patents, they don’t affect me, so all is truly well and Microsoft is great”

    OR

    “Flash isn’t open source, it’s covered by patents (the patents have nothing to do with flash but with the video codecs anyway, but do they care about the truth, NO….)”

    You’re being it by “pros” now, no eets or Goldfarts.

    You’ve graduated. Expect some “gifts” soon. Hahahahaha….

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, I don’t know about Alex and a few others, but quite a few critics have their careers or projects depend on Mono, so they merely fight for what they (want to) believe in.

  18. AlexH said,

    May 29, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Gravatar

    @g*:

    If that statement about not caring about patents was directed at me, then I have to say you misread what I wrote.

  19. Miles said,

    May 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Gravatar

    Which of your critics have projects or careers that depend on Mono? Mine doesn’t, AlexH’s doesn’t, does Dan’s?

    Even if they did depend on Mono, that doesn’t make them wrong…

    You, on the other hand, have been proven wrong on quite a few occasions and continue to be proven wrong time and time again. So if anyone “merely fight for what they (want to) believe in”, it would seem to be you, no?

  20. Miles said,

    May 29, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Gravatar

    For me, being a GNU/Linux user at home and at work, it would be hard or impossible to complain about sites that use Silverlight. They would claim that GNU/Linux is not excluded.

    You might notice that the same would hold true for Flash sites, and Flash is hardly Free Software. So… how is this any different?

    As Dan already pointed out, you’re being hypocritical.

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Gravatar

    How am I being hypocritical? I have nothing to do with Flash and I don’t defend it. Read the article again and remind yourself why the patent holder is the key issue.

  22. Miles said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Gravatar

    How am I being hypocritical? I have nothing to do with Flash and I don’t defend it.

    1. You post flash videos to your site all the time
    2. You attack Moonlight as if it is somehow worse than Flash

    Read the article again and remind yourself why the patent holder is the key issue.

    You keep trying to convince yourself that the possibility of Microsoft having patents on Moonlight is somehow more harmful to Linux/FOSS than patent holders who aggressively enforce their patents.

    This is simply not the case.

    As much as you may hate Microsoft, it doesn’t make them evil – it just makes you full of hate.

    Microsoft has never sued anyone over patents. Ever.

    I know you like to claim they do it by proxy through Accacia (sp?) but considering your track record when it comes to you throwing out accusations left and right, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to take your word for it.

    “Accacia employs ex-Microsoft employees” is not proof of anything, especially considering how large a company Microsoft is and how many employees have come and gone over the years. It’s really not surprising at all that a company might actually employ an ex-Microsoft employee. *Gasp*

    Without proof, all you have is a baseless accusation (which is the only thing you are famous for, I might add). Time and time again, you make these accusations and time and time again you are shown to be wrong.

    Give me solid evidence. I’m not the average sheep that takes everything you say as fact without question like some of the trolls on this site do.

  23. Dan O'Brian said,

    May 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Gravatar

    You’re looking at this backwards. For me, being a GNU/Linux user at home and at work, it would be hard or impossible to complain about sites that use Silverlight. They would claim that GNU/Linux is not excluded.

    As Miles said above, how is this any different from current Flash sites?

    s/Silverlight/Flash/ and you get exactly the same deal, but I don’t see you attacking Flash with the same tenacity as I see you attacking Moonlight which I find rather hypocritical seeing as how Moonlight, by any definition, is freer that Flash.

    Are you really pro-Free Software, or just anti-Microsoft? Your actions speak louder than your words, and suggest you are the latter rather than the former.

  24. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m afraid that you’re still dodging/missing the key point. Why would Adobe sue or intimidate Linux vendors? Might it be to elevate the price of GNU/Linux? To make that platform less attractive?

What Else is New


  1. Links 16/12/2018: DXVK 0.94, WordPress 5.0.1, Fuchsia SDK

    Links for the day



  2. Immunity of the European Patent Office Has Helped Shield Dangerous Thugs From Justice

    The Topić case is set to resume in Croatia as Topić runs out of diplomatic immunity he long enjoyed (and exploited) at the European Patent Office



  3. Patent Law Firms' War on Facts and Constant Lying About Unitary Patent

    The Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC) has failed; this, however, is no excuse for constantly lying and it's a problem more people ought to speak about because it stigmatises lawyers as self-serving liars, not a legitimate source of honest legal advice



  4. EPO Chief Economist Yann Ménière Keynote Speaker at Patent Trolls-Funded Event Set Up by the Patent Trolls' Lobby

    The EPO continues to align itself not only with the interests of patent trolls (even those from another continent) but also with the trolls themselves, causing great embarrassment and confusion over the goals/motivations of the Office



  5. The European Patent Organisation (EPO) Loses Legitimacy If (or When) Christoph Ernst Becomes Subservient to António Campinos

    The structural deficiencies of the EPO, where separation of powers does not quite exist, is further pronounced by the imminent role of Christoph Ernst, who gets 'demoted' from pseudo-boss of Campinos to a mere assistant of his



  6. Links 15/12/2018: Cockpit 184, Vivaldi 2.2, Krita 4.1.7 Released

    Links for the day



  7. Links 13/12/2018: IRS Migration, GNOME 3.31.3 Released

    Links for the day



  8. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Decisions Still Uncontroversial Unless One Asks the Patent Maximalists

    Contrary to what the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has claimed, PTAB is liked by companies that actually create things and opposition to PTAB comes from power brokers of the Koch brothers, law firms, and trolls (including those who foolishly repeat them)



  9. Latest Talk From IBM’s Manny Schecter Shows That IBM Hasn't Changed and After the Red Hat Takeover It'll Continue to Promote Software Patents

    IBM's hardheaded attitude and patent aggression unaffected by its strategic acquisition of a company that at least claimed to oppose software patents (whilst at the same time pursuing them)



  10. The European Patent Troll Wants as Much Litigation as Possible

    Patent quality is a concept no longer recognisable at the European Patent Office; all that the management understands is speed and PACE, which it conflates with quality in order to register as much cash as possible before the whole thing comes crashing down (bubbles always implode at the end)



  11. António Campinos Turns His 'Boss' Into His Lapdog, Just Like Battistelli and Kongstad

    The European Patent Organisation expects us to believe that Josef Kratochvíl will keep the Office honest while his predecessor, the German who failed to do anything about Battistelli's abuses, becomes officially subservient to António Campinos



  12. Links 12/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.1 Released, CNCF Takes Control of etcd

    Links for the day



  13. EPO Trust, Leadership and Commitment

    "Trust, leadership and commitment" is the latest publication from EPO insiders, who in the absence of free speech and freedom of association for the union/representation are an essential spotlight on EPO abuses



  14. Links 11/12/2018: Tails 3.11, New Firefox, FreeBSD 12.0

    Links for the day



  15. Number of Filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Highest in Almost Two Years

    Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which [cref 113718 typically invalidate software patents by citing 35 U.S.C. § 101], are withstanding negative rhetoric and hostility from Iancu



  16. With 'Brexit' in a Lot of Headlines Team UPC Takes the Unitary Patent Lies up a Notch

    Misinformation continues to run like water; people are expected to believe that the UPC, an inherently EU-centric construct, can magically come to fruition in the UK (or in Europe as a whole)



  17. The EPO Not Only Abandoned the EPC But Also the Biotech Directive

    Last week's decision (T1063/18, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04) shows that there's still a long way to go before the Office and the Organisation as a whole fulfil their obligation to those who birthed the Organisation in the first placeLast week's decision (T1063/18, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04) shows that there's still a long way to go before the Office and the Organisation as a whole fulfil their obligation to those who birthed the Organisation in the first place



  18. Patents on Abstract Things and on Life (or Patents Which Threaten Lives) Merely Threaten the Very Legitimacy of Patent Offices, Including EPO

    Patent Hubris and maximalism pose a threat or a major risk to the very system that they claim to be championing; by reducing the barrier to entry (i.e. introducing low-quality or socially detrimental patents) they merely embolden ardent critics who demand patent systems as a whole be abolished; the EPO is nowadays a leading example of it



  19. Links 10/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC6 and Git 2.20

    Links for the day



  20. US Courts Make the United States' Patent System Sane Again

    35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and other factors are making the patent system in the US a lot more sane



  21. Today's USPTO Grants a Lot of Fake Patents, Software Patents That Courts Would Invalidate

    The 35 U.S.C. § 101 effect is very much real; patents on abstract/nonphysical ideas get invalidated en masse (in courts/PTAB) and Director Andrei Iancu refuses to pay attention as if he's above the law and court rulings don't apply to him



  22. A Month After Microsoft Claimed Patent 'Truce' Its Patent Trolls Keep Attacking Microsoft's Rivals

    Microsoft's legal department relies on its vultures (to whom it passes money and patents) to sue its rivals; but other than that, Microsoft is a wonderful company!



  23. Good News: US Supreme Court Rejects Efforts to Revisit Alice, Most Software Patents to Remain Worthless

    35 U.S.C. § 101 will likely remain in tact for a long time to come; courts have come to grips with the status quo, as even the Federal Circuit approves the large majority of invalidations by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) panels, initiated by inter partes reviews (IPRs)



  24. Florian Müller's Article About SEPs and the EPO

    Report from the court in Munich, where the EPO is based



  25. EPO Vice-President Željko Topić in New Article About Corruption in Croatia

    The Croatian newspaper 7Dnevno has an outline of what Željko Topić has done in Croatia and in the EPO in Munich; it argues that this seriously erodes Croatia's national brand/identity



  26. The Quality of European Patents Continues to Deteriorate Under António Campinos and Software Patents Are Advocated Every Day

    The EPC in the European Patent Office and 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the USPTO annul most if not all software patents; under António Campinos, however, software patents are being granted in Europe and the USPTO exploits similar tricks



  27. Team UPC is Still Spreading False Rumours in an Effort to Trick Politicians and Pressure Judges

    Abuses at the European Patent Office, political turmoil and an obvious legislative coup by a self-serving occupation that produces nothing have already doomed the Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC); so now we deal with complete fabrications from Team UPC as they're struggling to make something out of nothing, anonymously smearing opposition to the UPC and anonymously making stuff up



  28. Patents on Life and Patents That Kill the Poor Would Only Delegitimise the European Patent Office

    After Mayo, Myriad and other SCOTUS cases (the basis of 35 U.S.C. § 101) the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reluctant to grant patents on life; the European Patent Office (EPO), however, goes in the opposite direction, even in defiance of the European Patent Convention



  29. EPO 'Untapped Potential'

    "Campinos is diligently looking for ways to further increase the Office’s output without increasing the number of examiners," says the EPO-FLIER team



  30. Links 9/12/2018: New Linux Stable Releases (Notably Linux 4.19.8), RC Coming, and Unifont 11.0.03

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts