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 23/4/2017: End of arkOS, Collabora Office 5.3 Released

    Links for the day



  2. Intellectual Discovery and Microsoft Feed Patent Trolls Like Intellectual Ventures Which Then Strategically Attack Rivals

    Like a swarm of blood-sucking bats, patent trolls prey on affluent companies that derive their wealth from GNU/Linux and freedom-respecting software (Free/libre software)



  3. The European Patent Office Has Just Killed a Cat (or Skinned a 'Kat')

    The EPO’s attack on the media, including us, resulted in a stream of misinformation and puff pieces about the EPO and UPC, putting at risk not just European democracy but also corrupting the European press



  4. Yann Ménière Resorts to Buzzwords to Recklessly Promote Floods of Patents, Dooming the EPO Amid Decline in Patent Applications

    Battistelli's French Chief Economist is not much of an economist but a patent maximalist toeing the party line of Monsieur Battistelli (lots of easy grants and litigation galore, for UPC hopefuls)



  5. Even Patent Bullies Like Microsoft and Facebook Find the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Useful

    Not just companies accused of patent infringement need the PTAB but also frequent accusers with deep pockets need the PTAB, based on some new figures and new developments



  6. Links 21/4/2017: Qt Creator 4.2.2, ROSA Desktop Fresh R9

    Links for the day



  7. At the EPO, Seeding of Puff Piece in the Press/Academia Sometimes Transparent Enough to View

    The EPO‘s PR team likes to 'spam' journalists and others (for PR) and sometimes does this publicly, as the tweets below show — a desperate recruitment and reputation laundering drive



  8. Affordable and Sophisticated Mobile Devices Are Kept Away by Patent Trolls and Aggressors That Tax Everything

    The war against commoditisation of mobile computing has turned a potentially thriving market with fast innovation rates into a war zone full of patent trolls (sometimes suing at the behest of large companies that hand them patents for this purpose)



  9. In Spite of Lobbying and Endless Attempts by the Patent Microcosm, US Supreme Court Won't Consider Any Software Patent Cases Anymore (in the Foreseeable Future)

    Lobbyists of software patents, i.e. proponents of endless litigation and patent trolls, are attempting to convince the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to have another look at abstract patents and reconsider its position on cases like Alice Corp. v CLS Bank International



  10. Expect Team UPC to Remain in Deep Denial About the Unitary Patent/Unified Court (UPC) Having No Prospects

    The prevailing denial that the UPC is effectively dead, courtesy of sites and blogs whose writers stood to profit from the UPC



  11. EPO in 2017: Erroneously Grant a Lot of Patents in Bulk or Get Sacked

    Quality of patent examination is being abandoned at the EPO and those who disobey or refuse to play along are being fired (or asked to resign to avoid forced resignations which would stain their record)



  12. Links 21/4/2017: System76 Entering Phase Three, KDE Applications 17.04, Elive 2.9.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  13. Bristows-Run IP Kat Continues to Spread Lies to Promote the Unitary Patent (UPC) and Advance the EPO Management's Agenda

    An eclectic response to some of the misleading if not villainous responses to the UPC's death knell in the UK, as well as other noteworthy observations about think tanks and misinformation whose purpose is to warp the patent system so that it serves law firms, for the most part at the expense of science and technology



  14. Links 20/4/2017: Tor Browser 6.5.2, PacketFence 7.0, New Firefox and Chrome

    Links for the day



  15. Patents on Business Methods and Software Are Collapsing, But the Patent Microcosm is Working Hard to Change That

    The never-ending battle over patent law, where those who are in the business of patents push for endless patenting, is still ongoing and resistance/opposition is needed from those who actually produce things (other than litigation) or else they will be perpetually taxed by parasites



  16. IAM, the Patent Trolls' Voice, is Trying to Deny There is a Growing Trolling Problem in Europe

    IAM Media (the EPO's and trolls' mouthpiece) continues a rather disturbing pattern of propaganda dressed up as "news", promoting the agenda of parasites who drain the economy by extortion of legitimate (producing) companies



  17. The Patent Microcosm Keeps Attacking Every Patent Office/System That is Doing the Right Thing

    Patent 'radicals' and 'extremists' -- those to whom patents are needed solely for the purpose of profit from bureaucracy -- fight hard against patent quality and in the process they harm everyone, including individual customers



  18. Another Final Nail in the UPC Coffin: UK General Election

    Ratification of the UPC in the UK can drag on for several more years and never be done thereafter, throwing into uncertainty the whole UPC (EU-wide) as we know it



  19. Links 19/4/2017: DockerCon Coverage, Ubuntu Switching to Wayland

    Links for the day



  20. Links 18/4/2017: Mesa 17.0.4, FFmpeg 3.3

    Links for the day



  21. Patents Roundup: Microsoft, Embargo, Tax Evasion, Surveillance, and Censorship

    An excess of patents and their overutilisation for purposes other than innovation (or dissemination of knowledge) means that society has much to lose, sometimes more than there is to gain



  22. How I Learned that Skype is a Spy Campaign (My Personal Story) -- by Yuval Levental

    Skype is now tracking serial numbers, too



  23. Links 17/4/2017: Devil Linux 1.8.0, GNU IceCat 52.0.2

    Links for the day



  24. EPO Patent Quality and Quality of Service Have Become a Disaster, Say EPO Stakeholders

    Stakeholders of the EPO, in various sites that attract them, are complaining about the service of the EPO, the declining quality of patents (and the rushed processes), including the fact that Battistelli's blind obsession with so-called 'production' dooms the already-up-in-flames EPO and makes it uncompetitive



  25. IAM is a Think Tank for Patent Trolls, Software Patents, the EPO, Microsoft, and Whoever Else is Willing to Pay

    The site where you get what you pay for continues to promote highly damaging agenda, which threatens to disrupt operations at a lot of legitimate companies that employ technical people



  26. An Australian Patent Troll, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA), is a Bully Not Just in the Patent Sense, Explains the EFF

    The mischievous troll GEMSA, which doesn't seem to get enough out of bullying real companies, is now attacking a civil rights group's free speech rights



  27. Alice Decision and PTAB Are Both Constantly Under Attack From the Patent Microcosm and Its Lobbyists

    A Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision against software patents, combined with a chopping block of software patents (whose efficiency is still increasing), is causing trolls and their facilitators (like patent law firms) to resort to dirty tricks and attempt to reshape the system to better suit them, averting irrelevancy



  28. Apple's Legal Actions Against Android and Against Qualcomm Could Eventually Weaken Patents at Two Levels

    By tackling the practices of Qualcomm and by dragging companies to court over ridiculous design patents (potential of blanket ban by the Supreme Court) Apple weakens the very business model it will need to rely on as its market diminishes, leaving it with nothing but patents



  29. IRC Proceedings: March 12th, 2017 – April 8th, 2017

    Many IRC logs



  30. IRC Proceedings: February 12th, 2017 – March 11th, 2017

    Many IRC logs


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