11.21.06

Why are we waiting for GPL3?

Posted in Action, Boycott Novell, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Novell at 2:57 am by Shane Coyle

IANAL, AFAIK.

Now, with the preliminary disclaimers out of the way, I applaud Eben Moglen and the FSF’s pledge to construct the GPL3 to specifically include language to outlaw discriminatory patent agreements such as the MS-Novell deal.

“I’m instructed by my client,” Moglen said, referring to the FSF, “that version 3 will contain measures that will prevent any such deal from occurring in the future. We will change the law such that . . . we will reverse the legal consequences of this deal.”

But, I still do not concede that the deal is compliant with the GPL2 in practice. GPL2 will not let you limit the redistribution rights of those who receive GPLed code from you (GPL V2 S6):

6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients’ exercise of the rights granted herein.

Of course their is a technicality, Novell is not placing restrictions on you, their partner Microsoft is. Review the terms of the MS Community Commitment , your options for “legal” redistribution are to submit your changes to OpenSuSE.org. Otherwise, you may only make changes for your own personal use, and may not share them with others.

Microsoft hereby covenants not to assert Microsoft Patents against each Individual Contributor (also referred to as “You”) for Your distribution of Your personally authored original work (“Original Work”) directly to openSUSE.org, but only if, and to the extent, (i) Your Original Work becomes part of SUSE Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and (ii) You ensure that as a result of Your contribution, openSUSE.org, and all further recipients of Your Original Work, do not receive any licenses, covenants or any other rights under any Microsoft intellectual property. This pledge is personal to You and does not apply to any use or distribution of Your Original Work by others.

Those are the liberal terms for contributors to OpenSuSE.org, if you are not willing to contribute your code improvements back to Novell, you can always just keep them to yourself. Really.

If you are a “Non-Compensated” Hobbyist developer, Microsoft will not allow you to redistribute or share your code improvements without fear of litigation. And just forget it if you are a “corporation, partnership or other legal entity”. This is what MS calls “community”.

By entering into this deal with MS, Novell is in effect limiting recipient’s rights to redistribute GPL’ed code using MS as a proxy. As I have said before, whether or not Novell is violating the letter of the GPL, it is certainly violating its spirit.

Novell must not be supported, Boycott Novell.

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A Single Comment

  1. Darkamex said,

    November 21, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Gravatar

    News about GPL 2 patching progress:

    http://yahoo.reuters.com/news/articlehybrid.aspx?storyID=urn:newsml:reuters.com:20061121:MTFH52123_2006-11-21_05-01-05_L20597961&type=comktNews&rpc=44

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