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[GNU/FSF Press] Microsoft cannot declare itself exempt from the requirem

From: Brett Smith
Subject: [GNU/FSF Press] Microsoft cannot declare itself exempt from the requirements of GPLv3
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 09:23:18 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.11

 Microsoft cannot declare itself exempt from the requirements of GPLv3

   "Microsoft has engaged in anticompetitive conduct in the software
  industry for many years, and has sought to attack free software for
             almost as long," Free Software Foundation says
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA--Tuesday, August 28, 2007--The Free Software
Foundation (FSF) today released the following statement in response to
claims by Microsoft regarding their obligations under the GNU General
Public License version 3 (GPLv3).

In its November 2006 deal with Novell, Microsoft attempted to use its
patent portfolio to divide and conquer the free software community. It
did so by extending narrow and discriminatory promises not to sue
certain classes of Novell SUSE GNU/Linux customers for patent
infringement, while leaving others vulnerable to attack, including
noncommercial developers and users of other GNU/Linux distributions.
Microsoft's ultimate aim in this scheme was the de facto proprietization
of free software: it hoped that frightened users would be willing to pay
one favored distributor just to be safe from lawsuits.  Though the
details and timing were a surprise, it was no isolated incident;
Microsoft has engaged in anticompetitive conduct in the software
industry for many years, and has sought to attack free software for
almost as long.

We, the Free Software Foundation, responded to Microsoft's threat by
revising the draft of version 3 of the GNU General Public License
(GPLv3).  In particular, we added a provision to ensure that, if any
user receives a discriminatory patent promise from Microsoft as a result
of purchasing a copy of a GPLv3 program from a Microsoft fulfillment
agent, Microsoft would be bound by GPLv3 to extend that same promise of
safety to all downstream users of that software.

In its press release dated July 5, 2007, Microsoft announced that it was
withdrawing discriminatory promises of patent safety it previously made
to certain Novell customers.  We regard Microsoft's decision with
satisfaction.  FSF first requested the withdrawal of those
discriminatory promises in a meeting with Microsoft's general counsel,
Brad Smith, on November 9, 2006.  (We have no opinion on Microsoft's
legal obligations to the intended beneficiaries of the repudiated
promises, or to Novell.)

We do not, however, agree with Microsoft's characterization of the
situation involving GPLv3.  Microsoft cannot by any act of anticipatory
repudiation divest itself of its obligation to respect others'
copyrights.  If Microsoft distributes our works licensed under GPLv3, or
pays others to distribute them on its behalf, it is bound to do so under
the terms of that license.  It may not do so under any other terms; it
cannot declare itself exempt from the requirements of GPLv3.

Microsoft has said that it expects respect for its so-called
"intellectual property"--a propaganda term designed to confuse patent
law with copyright and other unrelated laws, and to muddy the different
issues they raise. We will ensure--and, to the extent of our
resources, assist other GPLv3 licensors in ensuring--that Microsoft
respects our copyrights and complies with our licenses.

About The Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software--particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants--and free documentation for free software. The FSF
also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of
freedom in the use of software. Its web site, located at, is
an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support
the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters
are in Boston, MA, USA.

About the GNU General Public License
The GNU General Public License (GPL) is a license for software.  When a
program is released under its terms, every user will have the freedom to
share and change it, no matter how they get it.  The GPL is the most
popular free software license in the world, used by almost three
quarters of all free software packages.

FSF Founder and President Richard Stallman wrote the version 1 of the
GNU GPL in 1989, and version 2 in 1991. Since then, free software use
has increased tremendously, and computing practices have changed,
introducing new opportunities and new threats. In 2005, Stallman began
writing version 3 of the GPL (GPLv3). In January 2006, the FSF began a
systematic process of public review and feedback for this revision,
concluding with the final publication of GPLv3 on June 29, 2007.

Media contacts:
Brett Smith
Licensing Compliance Engineer
Free Software Foundation


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