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07.24.09

Microsoft Claims GPL Compliance Came Before Any Violation Claims

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Servers, Virtualisation at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Exit sign

Summary: Microsoft’s loadable module had to be GPL licensed, but Microsoft asserts that it was compliant from the get-go

THE news about Microsoft’s Linux module simply won’t stop. We wrote about this in:

The claim that Microsoft complied after GPL violations is now being refuted by Vyatta’s management. Microsoft agrees.

Reports that Microsoft had to release the Hyper-V Linux Integration Components (LinuxIC) under the GPLv2 because they had violated the GPL have been rebutted by Microsoft and Vyatta. Vyatta had been referenced by reports as the source of the accusation.

This debunks some more reports such as this one, but it remains true that Novell was a notable collaborator. From Silicon.com:

What made Microsoft open up to Linux? Ask Novell

[...]

Microsoft’s move to offer several Linux drivers owes a lot to a key programmer at Novell.

More here:

Microsoft’s chief ally in the Linux realm, Novell, helped the software giant work with the Linux kernel community.

Vincent Danen asks, “What’s in it for them?” [for Microsoft]

As rudely as always, Microsoft defends its racketeering practices. SoftPedia does them a favour by printing what seems like a propaganda piece against Red Hat. This also includes a partial list of companies that participate in the Linux racket.

Novell stands out from the crowd of Linux vendors that have inked IP assurance agreements with Microsoft, but there are others, including Xandros, TurboLinux, Samsung, LG Electronics, Fuji-Xerox, Brother, TomTom and Kyocera Mita.

IDG approaches some routinely-Microsoft-hired analysts who pretend that Microsoft has changed. Even IDC, which is affiliated with IDG, gets quoted. It is the usual PR routine. Just the other day, the same writer, John Fontana, neglected to put TomTom in the timeline of Microsoft’s attitude towards Linux and instead gave the impression that things were improving. Selectivity can achieve a lot when it comes to reviewed history. Many nations selectively remember their better moments from the past and don’t teach the embarrassments at schools.

“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game. On the other side, if Microsoft is concerned about its intellectual property, there is no one in the free software community that wants to violate anyone’s IP. Disclose the patents and we’ll fix the code. Alternatively, move on.”

Mark Shuttleworth

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6 Comments

  1. BW said,

    July 24, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Gravatar

    It doesn’t actually rebut the claims, though, does it? If people had MS drivers without source code, then they were violating the GPL. Who cares who made the initial accusation? It doesn’t change the real reason for their source code release.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, like the first post claimed, it was merely an obligation. See how Microsoft Clarke spins it in El Reg.

    zatoichi Reply:

    Actually, you’re completely incorrect.

    Microsoft would be in violation of the GPL IF anyone to whom Microsoft had provided a binary driver were to request the sources, AND Microsoft were then to fail to provide them those sources in a timely fashion for no more than the “cost of physically performing source distribution”, i.e. the cost of the media plus reasonable postage and handling fees. See section 3 for details.

    They are in particular NOT required to publish the modified sources to the public, NOR are they obligated to provide absent a specific request, AND that request can only come from someone to whom Microsoft has provided a binary of “the program” in question.

    No binary, no request; no request, no violation. Do not pass “Go!”, do not collect $200.

    The guys over at gpl-violations.org lament the fact that some Linux-based devices are only sold in large quantities to customers who then rent them to users, e.g. some set-top boxes; if they can’t get hold of a binary (in the form of one embedded within a specific device)–in other words, if the code has not been “distributed” to them, and rental doesn’t constitute a distribution–they’ve got no standing to request sources for the GPL code in that device.

    Have you folks actually read the GPL? What else do you imagine it says? (Have we established that I know more about these things that you folks do yet…?)

    zatoichi Reply:

    And, by the way, when Dave Roberts was talking about some web sites that virtually put words into the mouths of Vyatta employees, he was talking about this web site.

    zatoichi Reply:

    …and rental doesn’t constitute a distribution…

    Clarification: at least, we don’t think it does, so far. There are some discussions going on over this point among FOS licensing pros in the FSFE legal network, with some interesting questions: what if I “rent” you something for 99 years? If I give you my Archos 5 media player to hold for five minutes, that doesn’t constitute a distribution whether you paid me a nickel to let you hold it or not; if I just give you the Archos, to keep, without an expectation of getting it back, that is a distribution…. Would a thief who stole one be entitled to ask for sources? These are the sorts of things lawyers mull over for fun.

    No binary, no request; no request, no violation. Do not pass “Go!”, do not collect $200.

    Also, I misspelled, “No binary, no request; no request, no violation; no harm, no foul. Do not pass “Go!”, do not collect $200, do not publish articles claiming Microsoft was ‘accused’ of ‘violating’ the GPL.”

  2. zatoichi said,

    July 26, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Gravatar

    I’m still waiting for a response from Roy as to why this story remains uncorrected. I’m also still waiting for some clarification from ROy as to whether he’s ever actually read the GLPv2, or whether, having read it, he simply failed to understand it.

    You call Novell a “collaborator”—with regard to a contribution of code to the kernel! I don’t know whether you missed the memo, Roy, but we value collaboration in the FLOSS community.

    And we don’t base the acceptance of code on the moral character of the code’s author. The reasons that ReiserFS stalled weren’t because of a moral judgment on its author having gotten convicted of murder.

    You further refer to Microsoft’s “racketeering practices”, without specifying what those are supposed to actually be. Care to enumerate these “racketeering practices” so we’re all clear on what you’re talking about.

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