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

08.17.09

Mono Team Puts Microsoft’s GPL-incompatible Licence and Patents-encumbered Software Inside GNU/Linux

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Samba, Ubuntu at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Niagara falls
The vitality of viewing dangers ahead

Summary: What the Mono team is up to and some consequences revisited

THOSE who believe that Microsoft accepts the existence of GNU and Linux are simply not paying attention. As we warned several times before, Microsoft is squeezing GPL-incompatible licences into the F/OSS world and sometimes into GNU/Linux distributions, not to mention Microsoft APIs and hooks [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. The following is a portion of an E-mail sent to us by a guy who used to do contract work for Microsoft. Now he is with the Mono team and he is trying to squeeze Mono into Fedora — a project which is actually in the process of getting rid of Mono.

I asked my friend [anonymised] if he would help us get it packaged up in RPM format for Fedora. He tells me that the MS-PL is not on the approved list for Redhat packages:

[...]

[ed: I mis-wrote OSL-approved]

http://www.opensource.org/licenses/ms-pl.html

I do not see MS-PL on the DFSG wiki page:

http://wiki.debian.org/DFSGLicenses

However, Mono contains code licensed under MS-PL and it is part of the main section, implying that it is compliant:

http://git.debian.org/?p=pkg-mono/pac…

Are the MS-PL pieces of Mono stripped from the Fedora package of Mono?

mcs/class/MicrosoftAjaxLibrary/*
mcs/class/System.Web.Mvc/*

Since when are parts of Mono licensed under Microsoft’s MS-PL? This is significant.

The issue of patents aside, it serves to illustrate Microsoft’s increasing grip and influence over the Mono project. Now, if only Microsoft could sink Mono and Moonlight into the guts of each GNU/Linux distribution, that would be something, would it not?

At Groklaw, Pamela Jones points to a video of the Apple-Microsoft deal (Macworld 1997), remarking quite importantly that “Steve Jobs [is] explaining how and why Apple and Microsoft did the deal in 1997, and he reveals that it began as a patent dispute.” This announcement was mentioned not so long ago for other reasons.

“Microsoft wants “Linux tax” because otherwise it cannot compete on price.”All these Mono encumberments are probably relevant because of Ubuntu’s new patent policy. It would be irresponsible to stir the hornet’s nest by putting Mono inside Ubuntu, which in turn might lead Microsoft — not any other company — to doing to Canonical just what it did to Apple. Microsoft listed Canonical as a business risk in its SEC filing and the monopoly would love to do to Canonical just what it is trying to do to Red Hat and has already achieved with Novell. Microsoft wants “Linux tax” because otherwise it cannot compete on price.

When it comes to genuine interoperability pursuits, Novell quit like a coward and joined hands with Microsoft over software patents, whereas others — like Samba — actually got their way without patent tax. As Groklaw has just put it, “Thank you, EU Commission for requiring interoperability. Thank you, Samba guys, FSFE and their lawyer Carlo Piana for not giving out and not selling out.” Well, Novell sure sold out. As a direct result, some of its Samba engineers quit the company.

In other news, here is a reminder of Gartner’s disdain for Free software (which offers no kickbacks and contracts), as evidenced in [1, 2, 3, 4]. Over the past few months we’ve written about a FOSS-hostile and pro-software patents Gartner analyst called Prentice [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Well, here he goes again:

One of the provisions in the Patent Reform Act of 2009 [PDF] is to recalculate the way in which damages are determined when a patent has been infringed. Currently, infringing a patent can be a very costly mistake. But the proposed legislation would allow for a reasonable royalty to be calculated as the price of licensing a “similar non-infringing substitute in the relative market.”

Does that mean that free open source products can now be considered substitutes in a relative market?

In response to this, Pamela Jones writes:

I read the section of the proposed bill he references, and it seems to me more likely that we can see why Microsoft is trying to do as many “Linux” patent deals as it can. Here’s the wording I notice:

“MARKETPLACE LICENSING. — Upon a showing to the satisfaction of the court that the claimed invention has been the subject of a nonexclusive license for the use made of the invention by the infringer, to a number of persons sufficient to indicate a general marketplace recognition of the reasonableness of the licensing terms … damages may be determined on the basis of the terms of such license.”

What if it means, instead, that some hardware folks who also have some Linux somewhere signed up because they are afraid of Microsoft, or it was one part of a larger and quite legitimate deal, or it was a small Linux vendor hardly anyone uses who was embraced? What does it mean, then? I hope someone has noticed this clause and has thought it through. Then again, given the history, what law can you write that works with 800 pound gorillas? Antitrust law, I guess. But why write a law so easy to undermine as this section seems to be?

Similarly, Dana Blankenhorn writes:

Google open source strategy not just a patent dodge

[...]

Google has lost this battle before because the pharmaceutical and medical device makers refuse to go along.

[...]

I have no doubt Google acts in its self-interest, as all companies and indeed all institutions and individuals generally do. But self-interest and evil are different things. Until Google crosses the line I’m not crossing them off my “nice” list.

In a reactionary fashion, Jones writes: “I don’t think dodge is a pretty word, but I don’t think either that it was meant in a derogatory way. Speaking for myself, while I agree with Dana that the patent reform act isn’t even happening at the moment, even if Google or anyone was thinking up strategies to avoid Microsoft’s attempt to use patents to strangle FOSS, I’d say, Please do. What would be wrong about that? I wake up nights thinking about how to do precisely that. Avoiding people’s patents is legally required, after all. You can be nice and smart at the same time.

Those who can reject Mono are hopefully paying attention because although there are plenty of software patents in the United States, few are as obvious an “infringement” as Mono (exact copy) and only a small proportion is owned by the company which has been trying to crush Free software for over a decade.

Groklaw has also found this barrage of amicus briefs regarding the Bilski case. Yahoo’s new life of a “Microsoft zombie” — to borrow SJVN’s token [1, 2, 3] — might play a role there.

As the first commenter there put it, read ‘em and weep. Yahoo! submitted one, which he summarizes like this: “The focus on physicality does not make sense in today’s technology.” The brief does, at the end, say that Bilski was properly rejected, because it was vague and overbroad. But then it says, “If Bilski had developed a process that, in machine-like fashion, directed commodities traders to take a clearly defined series of steps to hedge their positions, that process might lead to useful, concrete, and tangible results. Such a process would be a manmade tool for achieving a particular result, not an unpatentable law of nature.” Excuse my simplicity, but is this saying you can patent people acting like cogs in a machine, as long as the movements and steps they take are rigid and reproducible? Where does that end?

Allies of Microsoft are widely represented there. Among the new amicus briefs there are also many lawyer-oriented firms (not the same as engineers). Even the BSA submitted one and its connection to Microsoft is obvious [1, 2, 3, 4].

“Microsoft is unique among proprietary software companies: they are the only ones who have actively tried to kill Open Source and Free Software. It’s not often someone wants to be your friend after trying to kill you for ten years, but such change is cause for suspicion.”

Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)

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

A Single Comment

  1. NotZed said,

    August 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Gravatar

    I know everyone uses the term ‘tax’, but it isn’t a tax, it’s a private rent.

    Tax might be a dirty word, particularly in the USA it seems, but taxes are necessary to provide services for everyone and to grease the wheels of industry.

    Private rents however are unnecessary extraction of wealth for non-productive purposes.

    I think MS wants to be like the big banks – who are involved with and extract rent from every single transaction required to function in a modern world. The big food companies like Nestle already have the cradle-to-grave food segment sewn up too, so they just want to be part of the action.

What Else is New


  1. Links 4/8/2015: KDE.org Redesign, Point Linux 3.0

    Links for the day



  2. Microsoft Admits Vista 10 Not a 'Free' 'Upgrade', Especially If You Upgrade

    Microsoft debunks its own false promises, showing that Vista 10 as 'free' is virtually a mirage



  3. Free Software is Commercial

    orporate media helps stigmatise Free/Open Source software as unsuitable for commercial use and once again it uses the 'security' card



  4. 'Sanader’s Protégé' Željko Topić Slammed by Press in His Home Country

    The mischiefs of Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić still not forgotten while temporary calm prevails at the EPO



  5. Links 3/8/2015: Linux 4.2 RC5, Korora 22

    Links for the day



  6. The World is Changing and Patent Law Can Change Either for Better or for Worse

    Recent secret dealings (which are being exposed to the public owing to whistle-blowers) show the degree of coordination and collusion against public interests; it's up to us, the majority, to fight back and tackle this injustice



  7. The Latest on Patent 'Reform' in the US: GOP Media Deception, Healthwashing Patents, and SIIA Lobbying

    Techrights looks at the more prominent actors driving patent policy in the US, with budget to absorb and agenda to lobby for



  8. Newegg Uses Its Fight Against Patent Trolls for Marketing

    Comments on Newegg's fight against patent trolls in court, setting an example for other companies



  9. Microsoft Lies, Propaganda, Embedded 'Journalism' and Other Dirty Tricks to Promote Vista 10

    The Vista 10 entrapment is being sold to the public using bogus/unverified figures, Microsoft propagandists pretending to be journalists, and some gullible people who actually believe them



  10. Microsoft -- Like Bill Gates -- Bribes PBS for Propaganda to be Presented as 'TV Programme'

    Microsoft pays the supposedly 'public' network to act as courier of Microsoft marketing, shrewdly disguised as 'information'



  11. Links 2/8/2015: KDE Applications 15.08 Beta, Zorin OS 10

    Links for the day



  12. Links 1/8/2015: Steam Sale, blackPanther OS 14.1

    Links for the day



  13. Vista 10 Inherently Criminal: Vandalising the Competition (Dual Boot, Rival Web Browsers, Online Services)

    Vista 10, the latest incarnation of Windows, takes its anticompetitive aspects to a whole new level, betraying even so-called 'partners' in the process



  14. As Microsoft AstroTurfing/PR Budget Runs Dry, Vista 10 Truths Come Out

    The media manipulation by Microsoft (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars spent on 'marketing') grows thin as a growing number of growingly angry early adopters of Vista 10 publicly rant



  15. Links 31/7/2015: Lennart Poettering as 'Linux Hero' and systemd Conference Coming

    Links for the day



  16. Links 30/7/2015: Apache Spark on Z System, Elive 2.6.8 Beta

    Links for the day



  17. Microsoft's Mouthpiece Mary Branscombe Tries to Shoot Down Free Software, But Fails Miserably

    At the CBS-owned ZDNet, which is Free/Open Source software-hostile, new FUD surfaces, but the FUD is so flawed that a full rebuttal is easy and almost imperative



  18. People of New Zealand Must Rise Up to Defend Sovereignty and Stop Software Patents

    The TPPA serves to override (launder) the law of New Zealand, allegedly legalising patents on software in the process



  19. Microsoft Illegally Evades Billions of Dollars in Tax, Says IRS

    The criminal enterprise known as Microsoft finds itself embarrassingly exposed in the courtroom, for the IRS belatedly (decades too late) targets the company in an effort to tackle massive tax evasions



  20. Vista 10 Very Buggy Upon Release, Just as We Have Repeatedly Warned for Weeks

    Vista 10 is prematurely pushed out the door (to meet a deadline) way ahead of it being stable, even remotely polished, and supported by hardware companies (there is a serious drivers issue)



  21. Surveillance Machine With a Keylogger: Vista 10 Will Spy on the User (Over the Internet) Even While Playing Games

    Microsoft is making it clear that even playing a simple game like Solitaire on Vista 10 will make one subjected to spying (for targeted ads); other serious violations of privacy revealed upon release



  22. Links 29/7/2015: Akademy 2015 Ends, NetBSD 7.0 RC

    Links for the day



  23. MPEG-LA is Preparing New Patent Obstruction (Called DASH) Against Free Software, OIN Grows

    A new conspiracy against free multimedia software, set up by the MPEG cartel, is called DASH



  24. New Zealand's Media Gets History Wrong on Software Patents

    Setting the record straight on the fight against software patents in New Zealand



  25. Not Only Vista 10 Crashes a Lot, Any .NET Application Does Too (Updated)

    Microsoft software is quickly becoming synonymous with crashes as any piece of software developed with Microsoft's tools, not just the underlying platform, crashes chronically



  26. The Government of Bulgaria Sells Out to Microsoft, Again

    Despite some promises and reassurances that Bulgaria will consider Free/libre software, the Bulgarian government hands out a lot more of taxpayers' money to the Mafia



  27. Corporate Media Finally Finds Out That Vista 10 Crashes a Lot

    Stability issues of Vista 10 are belatedly reported to be a major catastrophe, leaving it unusable for many early adopters



  28. Links 28/7/2015: Linux 4.2 RC4, New Logos and Bug 'Branding' for FUD

    Links for the day



  29. Patents Roundup: Technicolor, Alice, Voip-Pal, Fitbit, Marijuana Patents, and JDate

    A look at some of last week's patent news, with imperative responses that criticise corporate exploitation of patents for protectionism (excluding and/or driving away the competition using legal threats)



  30. Corporate Lobbyists Including Koch-Connected Front Groups Attack Real and Perceived Patent Reform in the United States

    Looking at some of the latest propaganda for and against a bill which is already too watered-down to actually fix the US patent system


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