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08.01.09

Groklaw on Microsoft’s GPL Violation and Microsoft on the GPL

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 5:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More insights into Microsoft’s “hell froze over” moment

INITIALLY, GROKLAW responded very skeptically to Microsoft's loadable module for Linux. As we shall show later on, it may as well be a Trojan that inserts Microsoft APIs (or hooks) into the heart of Linux, just like Mono. As more details unfolded, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], Groklaw’s editor became aware that Microsoft’s announcement was a PR charade over what used to be a GPL violation. Responding to Microsoft’s denial of violation (at Heise), Groklaw quotes:

“Stephen merely called the situation to Microsoft’s attention” and that Microsoft have made the right decision to open source the Hyper-V drivers. Hemminger says “once Microsoft was aware of it, they were eager to resolve” the problem, which he discovered in March 2009.

Pamela Jones adds: “I see. So eager it only took 5 months to actually do it.” Later on she linked to the SFLC’s side of the argument, quoting:

The violation was rectified when Microsoft contributed more than 20,000 lines of source code to the Linux community last week….But Ramji said Microsoft was going to release the code under the GPL anyway.

“Cough.Sputter,” remarks Jones. “Stop! If I laugh any harder, I can’t breathe. Seriously, folks, if Microsoft was already talking about it months ago, why violate the GPL? Duh.”

“This viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it.”
  –Craig Mundie, Microsoft
The pro-Microsoft spin will no doubt live on regardless. Sam Ramji was probably lying on Microsoft’s behalf or at least trying to embellish this by making it look like Microsoft was all cuddly and open. Ramji has a history of playing that role [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Here is the Microsoft enthusiast Gavin Clarke interviewing Ramji after Microsoft had attacked GNU/Linux with plenty of FUD (May 2007). Ramji said: “The reason we disclosed that [Microsoft claims Linux violates 235 patents], is because there was a request for transparency following the Novell deal last November. This was a response to that transparency.”

“Transparency,” eh? So attacking GNU/Linux is now “transparency”? Especially when the patents are ones that either don’t exist or Microsoft refuses to disclose? This is “transparency”? We also wrote about that interview in [1, 2, 3] where it was mentioned for other reasons.

While on this issue of Microsoft supposedly “warming up” to the GPL (simply because it has no other choice), let’s use a quick reminder. As an obligatory insight from Microsoft, here is what Craig Mundie told the The New York University Stern School of Business about the GNU GPL: “The GPL mandates that any software that incorporates source code already licensed under the GPL will itself become subject to the GPL. When the resulting software product is distributed, its creator must make the entire source code base freely available to everyone, at no additional charge. This viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it.”

He added: “The GPL asserts that any product derived from source code licensed under it becomes subject to the GPL itself. When the resulting software product is distributed, the creator must make all of the source code available, at no additional charge.”

This is deception, it’s FUD, it’s Microsoft. It almost implies that no money can be made because of the GPL, despite obvious contradictions and business success stories like Red Hat.

Here are some more of Craig Mundie's views on the GPL. Yes, Microsoft truly “warms up” to the GPL… like it is "warming up" to ODF… warming up like a blazing fire.

“There’s free software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”

Bill Gates, April 2008

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