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Re: Eben wonders ("no comfort at all")

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Eben wonders ("no comfort at all")
Date: Sat, 04 Nov 2006 17:25:38 +0100

gregdek elaborated...

Novell and The Patent Fork

Lots of confusion from lots of quarters about today's joint announcement
between Novell and Microsoft.

A lot of that confusion is surely deliberate. There was a lot of talk
about "customer demand" and "interoperability" and "peace of mind," and
lots of fancy talk like that. Obfuscatory talk that suits use when
they're avoiding the uncomfortable prospect of looking you in the eye
and telling you the truth.

So let's get real. Let's look at one detail that was *perfectly* clear
from today's announcement.

Novell paid Microsoft for the exclusive right to distribute a "Microsoft
patent protected Linux" -- without realizing, evidently, that if they
ever choose to exercise this exclusive right in conjunction with any GPL
software -- like, oh, the kernel, or Mono -- they will be directly
contravening Section 7 of the GPL, thus voiding their own right to
distribute the software in question under the GPL.

Let's all read Section 7 of the GPL together, shall we? It reads thusly:

"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."

Why does Section 7 exist? To prevent *exactly* what M$ and Novell tried
to do today.

Man, $ after M is present but the Ghandi quote is missing... they all
come from the same school.

Well, well, well, I second Dan:

Possible GPL violations?
November 3rd, 2006 

That was the other thread running through Groklaw last night and this
morning. Old PJ, who says right up top on her blog that she is NOT A
LAWYER (*cough ahem cough*) declares that the Novell deal violates the
sacred GNU General Public License. And therefore is invalid. Her source?
Well, her own fierce legal acumen, and that of Columbia Law Professor
Eben Moglen, he of the waistcoats and pocket watches and 19th-century
diction. Moglen should know, though, since he wrote the GPL. And he says
this deal violates the terms of the license. So what happens next? Does
the Free Software Foundation sue Novell and Microsoft? I feel like the
dog in that old Far Side cartoon: Oh please oh please oh please.


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