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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- "GPL Draft Has Microsoft/Novell Deal in Mi

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- "GPL Draft Has Microsoft/Novell Deal in Mind"
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 15:53:42 +0100

Developer News

February 16, 2007

GPL Draft Has Microsoft/Novell Deal in Mind

By Sean Michael Kerner

NEW YORK -- When the the third draft of the General Public License
(define) comes out, look for language that addresses the recent
Microsoft-Novell patent deal.

Members of the Free Software Foundation, which oversees the draft change
process for the GPL, said a new patent clause is being inserted in the
draft that could effectively thwart future patent pacts similar to
Microsoft's deal with Novell.

The November agreement between Microsoft and Novell provides Novell
users with a promise from Microsoft not to sue Novell's Linux customers
for alleged Linux patent infringements.

Experts at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions summit here said the latest
draft of proposed changes to the dominant open source license would
include an indirect patent license provision that will prevent GPL
version 3 users from striking deals similar to Novell's agreement with
Microsoft; Novell is not directly providing patent protection but rather
is receiving it indirectly via Microsoft.

During a panel discussion yesterday, Richard Fontana, legal counsel at
the Free Software Foundation's Software Freedom Law Center, argued that
it is not clear whether Novell's deal with Microsoft is in violation of
GPL version 2, which is why the new clauses in version 3 are necessary.

"Microsoft is taking its first step in a new strategy to attack free and
open source software by driving a wedge between commercial vendors and
the community," Fontana said, during a lively and sometimes raucous
panel discussion. "We feel it to be the beginnings of a very dangerous
attack by Microsoft to attack free software and that's why we want to
address it in version 3."

GPL version 2 is the premier open source license in use today and is
currently undergoing discussion and draft revision. After two drafts in
2006 , a third and final draft is expected early this year. Among the
key changes in the new license are new terms regarding patents and
digital rights management.

Though the third draft of the GPL is not yet publicly available, Mark
Radcliffe, a partner in legal firm DLA Piper, offered some clues about
what it would include. He mentioned defined terms and a move away from
copyright terminology that is more U.S. centric. The new agreement will
be broader and will have global applicability, and will apply to both
documentation and hardware.

A key new addition will also be a new termination provision. The GPL
version 2 only provides for immediate license termination if a user is
found to be in violation. New terms in the third draft of GPL version 3
will provide for both notice and cure such that immediate termination is
not the only remedy for license violations.

Radcliffe, who runs one of the four committees tasked with discussing
the GPL version 3, is also learning a thing or two about the process of
updating the license contract as well. "I've been practicing law for 25
years and this is the most unique way of drafting a contract I've ever

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"A Decision from FSF in 2 Weeks on Novell-MS Deal"

       -- When you want to know more but don't know where to look.
          (Saturday, February 03 2007 @ 01:50 PM EST GROKLAW)

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