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Eben Moglen Sets Record Straight Regarding Microsoft/Novell After Novell Lied

Eben Moglen portrait



Summary: Professor Eben Moglen responds to disinformation from Novell's Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier, who was sent to London by Novell's PR team in order to speak to journalists

"DOWNHILL" is where Novell is going, but even on its way down to the bottom Novell resorts to lying and revisionism. Brockmeier's lies about Eben Moglen's stance are finally being refuted and rebutted by Moglen himself.



In a short exchange with ITWire, Moglen has some strong words to share:

OpenSUSE's Brockmeier caught out over Moglen claim



OpenSUSE community manager Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier has been caught out spreading misinformation about the patent deal that Microsoft signed with his employer, Novell, a little over three years ago.

During a recent tour of Europe, Brockmeier gave an interview to eWeek Europe to spruik his company's position and what he claimed it had gained from the patent licensing deal over the three years since it was signed.

He was quoted by Peter Judge of eWeek as saying: "Even Eben Moglen [Columbia law professor and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center] approved of the deal and said it was compliant with the GPLv2 licence agreement."

Such a claim is surprising considering that Moglen is well-known as a co-author of the GPLv3 which introduced a clause that would prevent such deals from happening in the future.

Contacted by iTWire, Moglen said he was surprised by the claim. "I *did* say the deal didn't violate GPLv2 section 7," he said.

This, however, is not surprising as many people knew that, legally, the GPLv2 did not prohibit the deal. However, many people at the time felt that it did violate the spirit of the licence. Prominent free software developer Jeremy Allison quit Novell in disgust over the deal.

Moglen, who is highly respected both for his academic scholarship and his contributions to free software, was surprised that he had been painted as someone who had approved of the deal.

"I *disapproved* of the deal, quite firmly; there is some rather popular video of me on the web explaining why, in relation to Microsoft's annual 'Be Very Afraid' tours," he said.

[...]

While some who read the article have contested these claims in comments at the end of the piece, Brockmeier has offered no comment.


The Source was probably the first Web site to properly expose Brockmeier for his lies. In reference to the above it adds:

Everyone who knows anything about the Microsoft/Novell deal – among whom I assume Mr. Brockmeier is counted – understand this position. The entire “trick” that permitted the deal was a this loophole of letter-compliance but spirit-violation under the GPLv2 which was specifically closed in the GPLv3.

And when I say specifically, I mean the Microsoft/Novell deal was listed by name.

Why the pretense that someone acknowledging Novell pulled a fine-print fast one and got away with it is equal to approval and endoresement? I understand the desire to spin a shameful collaboration of betrayal and discrimination on Novell’s part, but why try to use the name and reputation of someone who publicly condemns you? They will surely correct your gross distortions, and then where are you? (Still on Novell’s payroll! <rimshot>)


Yes, he is being paid to say such nonsense. Upton Sinclair once said, "It's hard get a man to understand something, when he's being paid not to understand it."

Here is a new interview with Brockmeier, where he is asked about many issues including Mono:

HO [Heise/H Online]: Novell appears to have set itself high hopes for Mono and you say that this is the first commercial development tool for the rapid creation of .NET applications for Linux, Unix and Mac OS X within Visual Studio. Is it really the ‘first’ tool of this kind and what do you think will appeal most to developers about its form and function?

JB [Joe Brockmeier]: As far as I know, it is the first tool of its kind. But I'm not the ‘Mono guy’, so I don't spend much so time with it – but I would say that the most appealing thing about the tool is what you've emphasised in the question: that it allows rapid development of cross-platform .NET applications. Giving developers an opportunity to easily target cross-platform development with a language they're already familiar with is a big incentive.


Later on we will write a long post about the latest of the Mono folly.

Georg Greve passes on the words of the FSFE (which he founded): "EC's Microsoft browser settlement better than expected, but interoperability promises utterly useless..."

This is a subject that we covered yesterday, having previously explained that Microsoft attacks Free software as commercial software using the so-called "interoperability promise". Groklaw has just analysed this too and made a comparison to the Novell/Microsoft deal:

Microsoft tries this trick every time. Same thing with the Microsoft-Novell patent pledge, if you recall. It means the same thing here, that you are not covered unless you are not a commercial competitor of Microsoft. So Linus in his bedroom would be covered, but once people actually started to use Linux to the benefit of the world's economy, the deal is off? Then what happens? Is the old code still covered? How is it interoperability if your main competition is excluded from interoperability? My guess is Microsoft means for you to have to pay for a patent license, if you are commercial, judging by Jason Matusow's comment about similar language in the Novell deal:
The offer not to sue open source software developers for patent infringement might sound philanthropic, but it has been dismissed from various quarters as "divisive" and "worse than useless".

Earlier this week the Samba development team urged Novell to rethink its agreement with Microsoft as it favored non-commercial developers or those contributing to Novell’s openSUSE project over contributors to other commercial open source projects.

Meanwhile the Software Freedom Law Center said the offer was "worse than useless" and was not to be relied upon.

While Matusow’s request for input from the open source community shows that the company is open to criticism, it appears it will not be changing its position on commercial open source developers.

"Our design goal is to get language in place that allows individual developers to keep developing. We are not interested in providing carte blanche clearance on patents to any commercial activity - that is a separate discussion to be had on a per-instance basis," he wrote.
But the GPL forbids paying for a patent license, so it's a cute trick to keep GPL code, and that includes Linux, out in the cold, unable to interoperate.


Microsoft is modeling a deal with the EU in a similar fashion to that which it signed with Novell. It is surprising that the FSFE has been as polite as it is about it.

“People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”

--Steve Ballmer

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