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. Battistelli's 'Special Relationship' With Portugal and the 'Inventor of the Year' Charade

    What makes Portugal rather unique when it comes to Mr. Battistelli, who is allegedly desperate for support from smaller countries whose vote is easier to 'win'



  2. Patent Lawyers' Marketing Dominates and Marginalises Meaningful Analyses of Software Patenting in the US

    In an effort to create demand for software patents again, patent lawyers produce a huge heap of so-called 'analyses' which piggyback just one single decision (the exception, not the norm)



  3. A Mix of Patent Aggression and Sanctions/Raids (Using Controversial Patents) Against East Asian Companies

    New stories that demonstrate patent protectionism and show how Western industry, which barely makes anything anymore, relies on patents (software and design patents included) and this self-serving patent regime perpetuates itself even in Asia, where almost everything is actually being manufactured (and often/increasingly designed/developed too)



  4. Rumour: Battistelli Wants to Extend the Term of Topić's EPO Appointment in Spite of Criminal Charges Against Him

    The EPO's 'ringleader', Mr. Battistelli, is trying to keep his confidants (like Mr. Minnoye and Željko Topić) together for several more years to come, even defying rules regarding retirement age



  5. Links 29/5/2016: NetBSD 7.0.1, Genode OS 16.05

    Links for the day



  6. [ES] La Gerencia de la EPO Bajo Creciénte Estres por las Autoridades Legales Croatas, Políticas Alemanas, y los Medios Italianos

    Las cosas no son color rosa como la calma relativa sugiere, y esperamos en las próximas semanas mayores eventos otros que la protesta en todas las sedes de la EPO a través de Europa



  7. [ES] Los Medios de Comunicación Comienzan a Informar al Público Europeo Acercas de las Desventájas de la UPC Mientras que la EPO Acelera su Cabildeo por Ratificación

    La vergonzósa promoción de la UPC por parte de la EPO da otro paso adelánte mientras que venues de la prensa Europea (incluso canales de televisión) comienzan a explorar el arreglo secreto que es negociado por los abogados de patentes (con clientes corpórativos) y las oficinas de patentes, no el público o cualquier grupo que represente los intereses del público en general



  8. [ES] Algunos Detalles Acerca de ¿Cómo el Presidente de la EPO Es Rumoreado Estar Comprando Votos, y el Porqué es Suficientemente Base Para un Despido Inmediato?

    Algo de información tras las cortinas y una detallada explicación de la dependencia finánciera sistemática, creada por Battistelli a un costode €13 millónes o más, la cuál evita una efectiva supervisión de Battistelli



  9. Mishi Choudhary and Mike Masnick Explain Why India Should Reject Software Patents

    Both an Indian activist-lawyer and a widely-recognised author from the US explain to Indians why over-reliance on patents -- and acceptance of patents on software in particular -- is a very bad idea



  10. Microsoft Boosters Pretend Microsoft Fights for Privacy While the Company Uses Malware Tactics to Put Keyloggers on Everyone's Computers

    In spite of malware-inspired tactics that should land Microsoft in courts of law all around the world (as a defendant), Microsoft-friendly circles pretend that the company fights for people's rights like privacy -- all this when Microsoft installs keyloggers on people's PCs without their consent and obviously against their will



  11. Battistelli's Assault on EPO Staff's Right to Strike in Relation to French Politics and That 'Bicycle' Pretext for Crackdowns

    The latest bicycle 'gossip' and how it's being used, based on expectations from EPO staff, to introduce further crackdowns on human/labour rights



  12. Vice-President of the EPO Under Investigation: Treason, Abuse, Violations, Giving and Receiving Bribes

    An English translation of documents involving the Organised Crime Section of the Criminal Police Department in Zagreb, where the Vice-President of the EPO faces criminal charges



  13. EPO Management Warns People About Scams When the EPO's Management is Itself Falling for Scams

    Jesper Kongstad, the Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, helps demonstrate that not even the EPO is intelligent enough to spot an obvious scam



  14. Links 28/5/2016: Wine 1.9.11, New Gentoo

    Links for the day



  15. Links 27/5/2016: Android for Raspberry Pi, Google Beats Oracle in Court

    Links for the day



  16. Warning: EPO Surveillance May Have Just Gotten Even More Intrusive

    BlueCoat, which the EPO uses to enable oppression inside its European premises, has just gotten even nastier and staff may be at risk



  17. Victim Card Ends up in Another Blunder for Battistelli and His Six Bodyguards

    Battistelli is wrecking what's left of the EPO's reputation (after decades it took the Office to earn it) as the media continues to scrutinise his appalling regime



  18. Italian Report About EPO Now Available in English

    An English translation of a TV program which earlier this month documented some of the glaring problems at the EPO



  19. The EPO is Doing Great, Says EPO-Connected 'News' Site

    IAM 'magazine', a longtime ally of the EPO, gives people the impression that all is fine and dandy at the EPO even though that's clearly not the case



  20. Microsoft Has Killed Nokia (and Its Own Mobile Ambitions), But Watch What it Does With Patents

    Microsoft announces many more layoffs, having already caused tremendous damage to the Finnish economy, and patents are left astray for Microsoft's favourite patent trolls to pick



  21. EPO Management Under Growing Stress From Croatian Law Enforcement Authorities, German Politicians, Italian Media

    Things are not as rosy as the relative calm may suggest, and in the coming weeks we expect some major events other than the protest at all EPO sites across Europe



  22. Microsoft, a Dead Company Walking, Resorts to Malware Tactics, Now Truly Indistinguishable From Crackers

    Microsoft is essentially taking over people's PCs and installing on them a large piece of malware, complete with keyloggers, against the will of these PCs' owners



  23. Links 26/5/2016: CentOS Linux 6.8, Ansible 2.1

    Links for the day



  24. The Latest EPO Victim Card (Played by Željko Topić) Should be Treated as Seriously as Those Bogus Claims of Violence by a Judge (Updatedx3)

    In its desperate pursuit of a narrative wherein the staff of the EPO is violent and aggressive the management of the EPO, renowned for institutional aggression, finds (or claims to have found) a little tampering with a bicycle



  25. Links 25/5/2016: Nginx 1.11, F1 2015 Coming to GNU/Linux Tomorrow

    Links for the day



  26. The Media Starts Informing the European Public About the Downsides of UPC While EPO Accelerates Its Lobbying for Ratification

    The EPO's shameless UPC promotion takes another step forward as the European press outlets (even television channels) begin to explore the secret deal that's negotiated by patent lawyers (with corporate clients) and patent offices, not the public or any public interest groups



  27. Some Details About How the EPO's President is Rumoured to be 'Buying' Votes and Why It's Grounds/Basis for “Immediate Dismissal”

    Some background information and a detailed explanation of the systemic financial dependency, created by Battistelli at the cost of €13 million or more, which prevents effective oversight of Battistelli



  28. How the Patent Lawyers' Microcosm Continues to Boost Software Patents Filth by Misdirecting Readers, Relying on Highly Selective Coverage

    Under the guise of reporting/analysis/advice the community of patent lawyers is effectively lobbying to make software patents popular and widely-accepted again, based on one single case which they wish to make 'the' precedent



  29. Documents Show Zagreb Police Department in Investigation of Vice-President of the European Patent Office

    Željko Topić's troubles in Croatia, where he faces many criminal charges, may soon become an extraordinary burden for the EPO, which distances itself from it all mostly by attacking staff that 'dares' to bring up the subject



  30. [ES] Interrumpiendo la Propagánda Distractante de Battistelli: los Empleados de la EPO Protestará de Nuevo en una Quincena

    La exágerada extravagancia (desperdicio de dinero) en la Ceremonia de Premiación al Inventor Europeo de la EPO tendrá que competir por atención de los medios con miles de empleados de la EPO (en todaslas sedes de la EPO) marchándo en las calles para protestar por los abusos de la EPO


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