Bonum Certa Men Certa

Glyn Moody on GNU GPL Against Software Patents and Microsoft Racketeering

GPLv3



Summary: How the General Public License can help fight the likes of Microsoft, whose only answer to GNU/Linux domination is now taxation of GNU/Linux (through patent extortion)

THE TABLET on which I'll record Richard Stallman tomorrow dons a GPLv3 sticker. We wrote about the GPLv3 quite a lot back in 2007 when it was new. We needed the GPLv3 because of patent deals such as Novell's. Microsoft was rapidly signing (or looking to sign) more extortion deals against Linux and in the middle of 2007 it announced a large-scale campaign to shake down all GNU/Linux vendors.



Towards the end of 2013 we have this moderate view from Dr. Glyn Moody. He explains today: "A theme that has re-appeared on this blog many times over the years is that of software patents. As I've noted before, they are perhaps the biggest single threat to free software, especially since the decline of Microsoft. Indeed, it's not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.

"That's already manifest in its Android licensing strategy. Note, in particular, that it refuses to discuss what exactly Android allegedly infringes upon. This means that it can sign secret deals with companies willing to go along with this ploy, giving the impression that there is a problem, without offering the slightest proof to that effect..."

“Indeed, it's not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.”
      --Glyn Moody
Moody's analysis then proceeds to explaining how the GPLv3 relates to all this. Now that Microsoft's super-trolls and other trolls such as Erich Spangenberg [1, 2, 3, 4] are going after legitimate companies we must recognise that fighting patents with patents (like OIN does) is not a solution. Trolls cannot be confronted by a reactionary lawsuit and here we have a story of a patent troll winning again. To quote TechDirt, where Moody is a writer: "There's a reason why patent trolls love east Texas -- and big part of that is that the juries there have a long history of favoring patent holders, no matter how ridiculous or how trollish. That was on display last night, when the jury in Marshall, Texas sided with patent troll Erich Spangenberg and his TQP shell company over Newegg. As we've been describing, Newegg brought out the big guns to prove pretty damn thoroughly that this guy Mike Jones and his encryption patent were both not new at the time the patent was granted and, more importantly, totally unrelated to the encryption that Newegg and other ecommerce providers rely on. Having Whit Diffie (who invented public key cryptography) and Ron Rivest (who basically made it practical in real life) present on your behalf, showing that they did everything prior to Jones' patent, while further showing that what Newegg was doing relied on their work, not Jones', should have ended the case."

Recently, when big trolls like Microsoft were risking a loss to their patent leverage, lobbying/AstroTurfing from Microsoft paid off. So we are left in a situation where Microsoft's extortion -- not just patent trolls -- is a real issue. The GPLv3 is a partial solution to that, if only more projects (like Linux) adopted it...

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