05.25.09

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Licence to Use Microsoft Moonlight and Mono Not Possible?

Posted in ECMA, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 5:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono is greed

Summary: ECMA is seemingly unable to offer answers regarding Microsoft Moonlight and Mono

OVER AT iTWire, Sam Varghese has just published a detailed story about his attempt to acquire a licence for (or information about) Microsoft Moonlight, Mono, and Microsoft patents. It is no surprise that ECMA, which was corrupted by Microsoft throughout (or before) the OOXML scandals, is unable to supply answers.

How difficult or easy is it to obtain one of the much-touted “royalty-free, reasonable and non-discriminatory” licences for Microsoft patents that are part of a technology like Mono?

[...]

He replied two days later, pointing out, “Ecma does not have anything to do with possible licensing of .NET. But Microsoft is one of our members, so I have asked them whom to contact there – if anything is needed, what I just do not know.”

Dr Sebestyn added: “My contact at Microsoft said that you should contact Peggy Moloney there, who would be able to help you.”

I wrote to Ms Moloney on April 28, asking for the same information: “I understand that the terms of the licences to the patents which Microsoft holds on the .NET development platform permit people to obtain a royalty-free, reasonable and non-discriminatory licence to use them. I would be grateful if you let me know exactly how one obtains such a licence.”

I also asked her about the variance in the terms for the licensing of Moonlight, a clone of Microsoft’s Silverlight, using which the company hopes to capture the market that is dominated by Adobe’s Flash. De Icaza is behind this project as well.

[...]

There’s a been a deafening silence since then. There the matter stands after nearly a month. You would think that’s a decent period for anyone to think things through and respond – if the intention of doing so exists.

To me, it looks this licence is as real as the unicorn. Or maybe Santa Claus. I think Mono fans need to think of a fresh defence when people talk about the dangers of patent suits arising over this technology. The licence talk has worn more than a little thin.

When we asked Microsoft for a Mono licence Microsoft was willing to sell one. But what kind of a procedure is this? This is not Free software. To use a term that Slated once coined, it’s “Poisonware” — meaning it’s a patent trap disguised as “open source”.

According to our reader, ushimitsudoki, Microsoft “has changed the Moonlight covenant on their web site. [...] right now the only thing I have noticed is that it mentions Moonlight version 1.0 and 2. Before it was 1.0 and 1.1 and this was a point I had been making in a few places around the web [...] Miguel (or someone claiming to be him) said they were trying to get it changed from 1.1 -> 2.0 in response to me on Ars Technica, so I am not surprised at the change.”

“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

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2 Comments

  1. Shane Coyle said,

    May 27, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Gravatar

    Heh. I, too, have attempted to contact both HP and Microsoft to ascertain the reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing details regarding creating a Free implementation of ECMA 334 & 335.

    Sam seems to have more headway (and visibility), perhaps he can finally get to the bottom of all the FUD one way or the other.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Did they ever reply? I wondered about your query the first time I read Sam’s article.

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