[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Novell-MS Pact: Perens blasts Microsoft/Novell "protection racket"

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Novell-MS Pact: Perens blasts Microsoft/Novell "protection racket"
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 16:14:11 +0100

Mar. 19, 2007

Salt Lake City -- In a small conference room across the street from the
location of Novell's BrainShare conference, free-software advocate Bruce
Perens attacked Novell's patent deal with Microsoft and said that Novell
was enabling Microsoft to run "a protection racket" with the threat of
its patents.

Perens, a vocal opponent of the Microsoft/Novell patent deal, stated
that while the arrangement was legal under the GPLv2, Novell's deal was
made in "bad faith with the open-source community and [was] not moral."

More than that, though, Perens said, if the Novell-Microsoft patent deal
is allowed to stand. It would take only as few as "two or three
intellectual property law-suits" of open-source developers or small
business at a cost of at least $5 million dollars a pop, to destroy
open-source development. So, from where he sits, Novell is running a
"protection racket" with "Big Mikey" as the enforcer.

The activist opened his press conference by reading a note from the
president and founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman.
In the statement, Stallman wrote: 

The GPL defends the freedom of all users by blocking the known methods
of making free software proprietary.

Novell and Microsoft have tried a new method: using Microsoft's patents
to give an advantage to Novell customers only. If they get away with
scaring users into paying Novell, they will deny users the most basic
freedom, freedom zero: the freedom to run the program.

Microsoft have been threatening free software with software patents for
many years, but without a partner in our community, the only thing it
could do was threaten to sue users and distributors. This had enough
drawbacks that Microsoft has not yet tried it. Attacking in combination
with a collaborator in our community was much more attractive.

If nothing resists such deals, they will spread, and make a mockery of
the freedom of free software. So we have decided to update the GNU
General Public License not to allow such deals, for the future software
releases covered by GPL version 3.

Stallman made essentially the same statement last November. Crafting the
language that would prevent another company from making such a deal has
proven to be quite difficult. 

Months after the final version of the GPLv3 was due to appear, Peter
Brown, the FSF's executive director admitted in mid-March that, "We
continue to work on the details of the GPLv3 as it relates to the
situation presented by the Novell and Microsoft deal. We are researching
issues related to potential unintended consequences of the language we
plan to adopt. As soon as we are satisfied with the results of our
research we plan to bring forward the next draft." 

Perens said that he believed that this next draft would be released at
The Free Software Foundation's annual associate member and activist
meeting at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. on March 24. When pressed, however,
he admitted that he is no longer involved in working on "open-source
internal matters" such as the GPL, and that he doesn't know if the next
draft will appear then.

Novell, however, according to Perens, could solve the problem for itself
by keeping its technical agreement with Microsoft while repudiating its
patent agreement.

He doesn't think Novell will do this, though, because Novell's Linux
business hasn't taken off, and won't anytime soon. Therefore, he's
"forced to think that this is the first part of an exit strategy."
Perens then rhetorically asked, "Will Novell become a Microsoft proxy?
Will they be bought out by Microsoft?"

In particular, Perens continued, Novell will be forced to do this
because as vital code for Linux goes under the GPLv3, such as the FSF's
C libraries and programs, Novell's Linux will become forked and Novell
will not be able to afford to maintain it. 

To Perens, Novell was once a supporter of open source but has now become
a "parasite."

When asked about Perens' comments, Jeff Jaffe, Novell's executive VP and
CTO, said "When someone has gotten to the point of name calling they
don't have any content." 

"The serious question that people ask about this deal," Jaffe continued,
"is: 'will this agreement foster of hurt open source?' We believe that
this agreement will foster the growth of Linux and open source big time.
There are numerous examples of this. We're creating new open source
assets in management and interoperability."

Jaffe concluded, "The attention we're putting on interoperability with
Windows and Linux is helping Linux. Our customers moving to Linux
[story] is great evidence of this support." In the meantime, "People are
rushing to judgment" on our relationship with Microsoft. "Time will tell
that this partnership will work well for our Linux, our customers, and
all of Linux and open source."

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols


reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]