11.26.06

GPL Section 7 vs. Brad Smith

Posted in GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft at 9:09 pm by Shane Coyle

The GNU General Public License, Version 2, is the license that applies to redistribution of a great many Free Software projects, many of which are included in Novell’s Linux offerings. I would like to contrast some aspects of the GPL 2 and the words of Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation at the news conference.

The GNU GPL is a license that covers copying, redistribution, and modification – it is not an End User License Agreement, there is no restriction on your use of GPL software ever, but there are rules for redistribution. Of particular note in reference to the Novell-Microsoft deal is Section 7 (emphasis mine):

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.

Now, here are some of Brad Smith’s words from the day of the deal, particularly in reference to the Patent aspects of the agreement and Novell’s payment of royalties on their Open Source Software offerings:

To do that one of the things we fashioned was an approach that will ensure, for example, that every customer who purchases a subscription, for example, for SUSE Enterprise Linux, will get not only service and support from Novell, but will get as part of that, in effect, a patent covenant from Microsoft. We knew that this was something we had to figure out a way to accomplish, because that was the number one thing that customers were telling us. Customers told us that they wanted us to find a way to address the patent issues directly among ourselves in the industry, so they wouldn’t have to figure out how to deal with these things instead.

By fashioning this covenant we’ve been able to do that. Today Novell is the only company in our industry that is able to provide a customer not only with the code to run Linux, not only the service and support for it, but the patent, a patent covenant that runs for Microsoft Corporation, and that we think is very important, again, as you heard from Ron, for all of the customers in the industry.

There is, of course, a little bit of economics involved, as they always are, and you’ll see in the press release some references to this, although you’ll also see that we’re not announcing any numbers today. But, as you’ll see in the press release it makes clear that on the patent side, we dealt with both of these sides of the equation. We dealt with the need for an up-front balancing payment, a balancing payment that runs from Microsoft to Novell, reflecting among other things the large relevant volume of the products that we have shipped. And you’ll see, as well, an economic commitment from Novell to Microsoft that involves a running royalty, a percentage of revenue on open source software shipped under the agreement.

The terms of Microsoft’s Patent Pledges are restrictive and discriminatory, not allowing for any redistribution of code outside of contributing to OpenSUSE.org (for Novell’s benefit), and not allowing commercial interests any rights.

If Novell has entered into this “Patent Covenant”, agreeing to paying royalties in return for these Microsoft license terms for their users, therefore allowing its partner Microsoft to limit their user’s redistribution rights, are they violating the GPL? Or, is it the brilliance of this deal that now Novell customers would be violating the GPL if they redistribute, since they are the ones with the rights which cannot be passed on?

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2006/11/26/gpl-section-7-vs-brad-smith/

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

What Else is New


  1. Video: “Unjust Computing Clamps Down” by Richard Stallman

    12 days ago the FSF uploaded the video above, in which current threats to software freedom are explained by the FSF's founder



  2. FSF Web Site Now Lists the Seven Voting Members, Including Alexandre Oliva, Former Acting FSF President

    The FSF is now in good and reliable hands, which we're told are all supportive of the decision to bring back the FSF's founder to the Board; Oliva remains involved as a voting member



  3. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 11: The Rapporteur Who Once Was Vice-President

    EPO‘s former Vice-President of DG3 will be the person to decide on the EPO’s (mis)conduct



  4. [Meme] Captured EPO

    Put the EPO back in the hands of people who do all the work and actually understand the real goals of a patent office



  5. An Urgent Need to Fix the EPO, Which is Becoming Rogue at Every Level (Even the 'Legal' Level)

    Helpless examiners are being put in a grave dilemma: violate the EPC or lose the job; it's meanwhile clear that internal appeals, including referrals to the Boards of Appeal, are also hopeless because these courts or tribunals obey tyrants, not the EPC, and moreover they cover up past abuses of the tyrants



  6. IRC Proceedings: Monday, May 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, May 17, 2021



  7. 6,700 Signatures in Support of Richard Stallman's Return to the FSF's Board

    6,700 signatures will be secured any day now (maybe later today); we thought the graph is worth replotting again, even if only to remind people how badly the defamatory hate letter has backfired



  8. [Meme] The Real Gates Scandal is About Connections to Sex Trafficking (Epstein), Not Infidelity

    Some media is still trying to shift attention (some of the very same media that misdirected focus to Richard Stallman when a Gates-Epstein scandal unfolded at MIT), but people aren't gullible enough



  9. Links 17/5/2021: New GeckoLinux and Kdenlive 21.04.1

    Links for the day



  10. Richard Stallman Refers to Intel's Management Engine (ME) -- or a Back Door -- as 'Master', and the Processor Intel Lets Us Use as 'Slave'

    “The president and founder of the Free Software Foundation will speak about pressing issues in free software today, and will present the winners of the 2018 Free Software Awards,” says the summary (this was 3 years ago, i.e. before the purge of language, with a prominent role played by Intel)



  11. Links 17/5/2021: NetBSD 9.2 and Early Look at Bodhi Linux 6.0.0

    Links for the day



  12. Calle Josefsson as Living Proof That Attacking the Causes You Once Proclaimed to Stand for is Very Profitable

    Some thoughts on the situation of the Boards of Appeal in Haar; they're led by someone who receives a huge salary (a four- or five-fold increase) in exchange for an epic sellout and abandonment of principles; as a de facto legal slinger or imposter/poser he has already done incredible damage on several levels



  13. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 10: A Faustian Pact?

    Benoît Battistelli‘s rubber-stamping judge from Sweden saw his salary growing four- or five-fold and he has meanwhile lowered his public profile, fearing that people will see what he sold his soul for



  14. EPO Staff Representatives Not Amused to See an Office That Steals From Staff and Even From Pensioners

    The heist continues; the EPO isn't just a milking cow of Germany but also of EPO officials who keep the 'lid' or the 'cover' on this whole financial instrument, which would enrage member states if they truly understood what's going on



  15. [Meme] Virtual Prisons for Virtual Hearings (Haarings)

    Today’s EPO has a truly twisted notion of the “rule of law”



  16. President of the Boards of Appeal, the Star of the Haar Show

    It’s best in the metal version; burn in Hell, Lesley Gore



  17. Right To Repair: When You Don't Own What You Buy (and Cannot Even Repair It Legally)

    The second part of preliminary background regarding the Right To Repair; our associate who extracted the videos from YouTube says that both are relevant to “Freedom 0″ (as per the FSF’s definition of Free software)



  18. Right To Repair: What It's About and How That Relates to Software

    A short (less than one minute) video that offers some background or sheds light on the intersection between Software Freedom and the Right To Repair



  19. Brand as Distraction From the Core Issues Surrounding the Right To Repair

    Excerpt of a video from Odysee, in which an important point is explained regarding a very actual and relevant case, more so given a recent ruling that indirectly impacts software freedom, mostly in (but not limited to) the United States



  20. Virtual 'Courts' Aren't Courts and Aren't Suitable Substitutes, Either

    The cheapening of the concept of justice, even as the pandemic that serves to justify that cheapening is gradually being brought under control, is the real issue that should be debated in Haar (or from private homes, probably somewhere around Haar); whether it's compulsory or not ought to be a side question



  21. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, May 16, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, May 16, 2021



  22. Links 17/5/2021: Linux 5.13 RC2 and a Lot About Patents

    Links for the day



  23. (All-Time) Archive of Techrights Videos Contains About 1,000 Videos, All Listed in One Place Now

    We're improving access to old material in the site and right now the focus is ways to improve discovery of old video/multimedia files



  24. Haar Song

    The Office in Munich is overseen by “a municipality near Munich,” according to Wikipedia (not inside Munich, so that in itself is a violation of the EPC)



  25. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 9: Squeezing Out the Lifeblood of Democracy?

    The lack of public discourse at the EPO (where tyrants like Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos make up the rules and then have them rubber-stamped by kangaroo courts) helps explain an atrocious policy and moral abyss, which recently led to acceptance of European software patents and mass surveillance disguised as “access to justice”



  26. Luke Smith on Why Free Software Matters and 'Open Source' is Meaningless

    A video just released by a popular YouTube channel



  27. Links 16/5/2021: ExTiX 21.5, Drumstick Multiplatform MIDI File Player Refresh

    Links for the day



  28. EPO.org is a Really Awful Source of Information

    The site that bears a .org suffix is actually more like a private corporation lying about itself in order to save face and attract more money -- or in other words funds that will be squandered and stolen by corrupt administrators



  29. IBM Has Changed a Lot Since 2018, and Not for the Better

    IBM isn't that much of an ally of GNU/Linux as a community-led or community-centric operating system; IBM is in it all just for IBM and we need to treat IBM accordingly



  30. [Meme] Criticising IBM is Racist and Intolerant

    Systemd is becoming untouchable and its critics are framed as "toxic" or "trolls", no matter the facts and irrespective of the technical substance of their complaints


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

Recent Posts