Bonum Certa Men Certa

A Quick Look at Mono Licensing and Microsoft Licensing

Thanks to a couple of readers, who gave up a quick headsup on this issue, we believe that interesting new information is now available.

Curious bits about Mono licensing can be spotted in the Mono project Web site:

Why does Novell require a copyright assignment?

When a developer contributes code to the C# compiler or the Mono runtime engine, we require that the author grants Novell the right to relicense his/her contribution under other licensing terms.

This allows Novell to re-distribute the Mono source code to parties that might not want to use the GPL or LGPL versions of the code.

Particularly embedded system vendors obtain grants to the Mono runtime engine and modify it for their own purposes without having to release those changes back.

Patents



Could patents be used to completely disable Mono?



When .NET went Shared Source Miguel de Icaza talked about what it all meant. Looking at the Microsoft Reference License you find some very brow-raising phrases discussing software patents. Examples include:

(B) If you begin patent litigation against the Licensor over patents that you think may apply to the software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), your license to the software ends automatically.


IANAL, but nonetheless there's something to watch out for here. We wrote about this before.

Another thing you may find suspicious is related to Novell's copyright assignment, as mentioned above. From GNOME's Web site, in the Evolution download page (at the bottom of the page): "Copyright ۩ 2004-2007 Novell Inc."

Remember that only weeks ago, Miguel de Icaza began speaking about Mono extensions for Evolution. Whatever you make out of this, all we do here is provide information.

From a discussion in Digg.com (initiated by accusations against the messenger)

Well, I actually question some of the newer parts of GNOME as well, like MONO. They are truly constructing something that legitimizes the case for intellectual property infringement.

When some judge actually decides MONO is too much of a clone for a technilogical tool (this does not concern double-click style patents but true technology patents), the FUD due to that might back fire to all linux technology including those that are original.

If I were Microsoft i would be very happy with MONO. The trojan horse of the linux eco-system. Those actively promoting it on microsoft-sponsored-payroll (such as Novell), should have their loyalty questioned.


Richard Stallman actually wrote about this yesterday and even cited this Web site.


- -------- Original Message -------- Subject: GNOME dependent on Mono Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2007 20:03:38 -0500 From: Richard Stallman rms [at] gnu.org Reply-To: rms [at] gnu.org To: foundation-list [at] gnome.org

I read http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/05/gnome-mono-yelp/ with great concern.

Since I am not an expert, I cannot tell on my own if that description of the situation is accurate. If part of it is not accurate, I hope someone will explain. However, if it is accurate, GNOME has a serious problem.

I have always supported the development of free platforms for C#, just as I've supported the development of free platforms for any language that users use. I also wouldn't argue that people should not use C# with a free platform for secondary applications.

However, making GNOME depend on Mono is running a grave risk, and a grave mistake. If the article accurately describes the situation, I think we need to launch a high-priority project to reimplement Yelp in some other language.

The use of code from Firefox in a way that might cause trademark problems is also a serious issue. The solution might not be difficult - -- it may be enough to remove the trademark in the sources used by GNOME wherever that is necessary -- but the solution does need to be carried out.

The nontechnical impact of these issues vastly exceeds the technical impact, so considering them only in technical terms is fundamentally misguided. In this sort of decision, the Foundation should intervene and decide based on the nontechnical issues at stake. If those who work for Novell tell us not to worry, we should not listen to them.


Given all the information which is presented here, how can one's doubts be alleviated?

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