Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 3rd Feb 2007 16:43 UTC, submitted by mwtomlinson
Novell and Ximian The Free Software Foundation is reviewing Novell's right to sell new versions of Linux operating system software after the open-source community criticized Novell for teaming up with Microsoft. "The community of people wants to do anything they can to interfere with this deal and all deals like it. They have every reason to be deeply concerned that this is the beginning of a significant patent aggression by Microsoft," Eben Moglen, the Foundation's general counsel, said on Friday. Update: The FSF claims this is being hyped.
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RE[2]: OK
by rayiner on Sat 3rd Feb 2007 18:37 UTC in reply to "RE: OK"
rayiner
Member since:
2005-07-06

The question is, doesn't that suddenly put every non-Novell distribution at risk? It's not about freedom or ideology, it's about the legal system*. In signing the deal, Novell basically admitted to liability. They were covered from that as part of the deal, but since Novell ships the same code as every other Linux distributer, that calls into question the liability of all of them. It gives Microsoft (or a proxy agent) a stronger case for going against RedHat, who is not covered by the deal.

The FSF probably has no legal recourse against Novell, and they understand that as the updated comment from Moglen shows. However, this situation underscores the need for GPLv3, which has patent terms that would potentially mitigate a situation like this. And it's not only the FSF who recognizes that patents can be used to subvert free software --- IBM, Sun, and Mozilla all have patent clauses in their open-source licenses.

*) It should be noted that Moglen has his JD from Yale and is a professor of law at Columbia. He has strong beliefs about the freedom of software, but he's better-qualified to talk about the legal ramifications of the Novell-Microsoft deal than any of us posters on this forum!

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