Summary: More disturbing details about Moonlight are unleashed
ONE OF our regular participants has just taken a close look at Moonlight’s legalese and published 3 questions about the project. Watch the image at the bottom. Yes, it figures. Moonlight is now being called “Microsoft Moonlight” and this is not a joke. Novell is becoming an attractive takeover target for Microsoft.
“Users is the key word,” claims oiaohm. It “says nothing about distributions. Codecs in Moonlight come from Microsoft.”
“Moonlight is now being called “Microsoft Moonlight” and this is not a joke.”“The way the Microsoft covenant reads to me,” says the author, “only Novell can distribute Moonlight. So, if you are non-Novell user, it won’t be something that is wrapped up in your distro.”
“Unless [the] distribution wants to risk hot water or out side where Microsoft rules apply,” adds oiaohm in an informal IRC conversation.
There is also “the expectation is that users will get the distro from wherever and then download Moonlight from Novell,” remarks the author.
Well, guess what? Debian Legal has just received the following from Saul Goode, who had taken a look at Moonlight licensing; it does not seem too good. Fedora (Red Hat) reached the same conclusion after the SFLC had taken a look at the Moonlight licence and did not like what's in it.
Since the license for the Debian package must “comply with” the Ms-PL, its license should necessarily offer the patent grants required in Section 2(B). Assuming that a license which complies with the Ms-PL is used — or indeed that the Ms-PL itself used — the question is thus raised, how are patent grants being provided for the MIT/X11-licensed components of the Debian binary package? Without providing such a grant, the package licensing would not meet the terms and conditions of Section 2(B) and fail to “comply with” the Ms-PL. Providing such a grant should demand extra measure be taken with regard to the MIT/X11-licensed code because the authors of that code were not obligated by its licensing to provide such a grant.
As a final comment, and one more hypothetical in nature, the Ms-PL makes no distinction between derived and collective works and offers no exemption for “mere aggregation” (as does the General Public License). In lieu of such an exception, we are left with relying upon the interpretation of the courts as to what constitutes a derived or collected work of joint authorship under copyright law. Should a Ms-PL-licensed package be included with a Debian distribution, it may very well be argued that the entire distribution (a collective work) must be offered under licensing which “complies with” the Ms-PL — any inclusion of code for which there is no patent grant could be construed as infringement of the copyrights of Ms-PLed code’s author.
While Mark Shuttleworth is asleep at the wheel, Moonlight makes it into Ubuntu; Mono had already slipped its way into it anyway, thanks to pressure from fans of .NET. “It’s shocking,” we’re told, “considering de Icaza said publicly you must download Moonlight from Novell (or else).”
“But why should other GNU/Linux vendors be foolishly dragged into Novell’s (and Microsoft’s) trap?”Whereas Debian doesn’t care about anything legal all that much, Canonical is vulnerable because it is a company and it inflicts great pain upon Microsoft's profit. Microsoft does not even need to attack it directly (either with FUD or with legal action) and one regular reader of ours thinks that it inevitably will.
All in all, Microsoft hopes that by assimilation it will gain greater legal and technical control over GNU/Linux. It’s the same ol’ embrace, extend, and extinguish (EEE) tactic. It’s about attracting engineers to .NET/C# (or clones) and leading them into the ‘first class’ choice which is Microsoft .NET along with Silverlight, Visual Studio, and Windows. One has to bury one’s head in the sand in order not to comprehend it.
Earlier on today we wrote about Microsoft's "embrace, extend, and extinguish" against open source. Well, here is a new comment from the Microsoft Blog in ZDNet, which attracts the pro-Microsoft crowd, naturally:
“Sounds like one more way to help migrate from linux to Microsoft Windows. If this is implemented pulling data from a linux server will be that much easier until the server is no longer needed. I’m liking this interoperability.”
So go ahead, Novell. Do what Microsoft has paid you almost half a billion dollars to achieve. But why should other GNU/Linux vendors be foolishly dragged into Novell’s (and Microsoft’s) trap? █