Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 28th Mar 2007 21:02 UTC, submitted by Ali Davoodifar
GNU, GPL, Open Source The FSF has released the third draft of the revised third version of the GNU General Public License. Some of the changes in the new draft, such as the increased clarification and legal language, or the housekeeping changes that reflect new aspects of the license are likely to be accepted. However, the license also includes a new approach to the controversial issue of lock-down technologies as well as more explicit language about patents, including language designed to prevent a re-occurrence of agreements such as the one that Novell entered into with Microsoft - all of which is apt to kindle heated debate as the revision process enters its final stages after fifteen months of intensive work.
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Does it prevent novell agreement?
by lsls on Wed 28th Mar 2007 23:22 UTC
lsls
Member since:
2006-11-13

If GPLv3 specifically prevents patent protection agreements such as the Novell-MS deal, won't it also have some effect on other patent protection programs (through indemnification) that Red Hat, Sun and others have?

I know they are two different kinds of patent protection, but at the end they have the same result: protecting users which pay against patents.

And if GPLv3 doesn't prevent patent protection through indemnification, can't Novell just reword the agreement and present it as an indemnification program?

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

In the end, it will likely not prevent entities doing things of which RMS does not approve.

These static clauses that are added as reactions to specific events are doomed to failure.

One would not write code like that. Much better to point to a table which can be dynamically updated.

He really might as well be honest and include a clause that indicates that "This license grants you these rights until such time as your company name appears on the list at http://gplv3.fsf.org/blacklist.html".

It would save a lot of unnecessary "debate".

Reply Parent Score: 5

ubit Member since:
2006-09-08

It'd be nice if all that was needed is to list the four freedoms.

But the Tivo/DRM and Novell patent deal (in which companies like Red Hat and IBM are attacked by Novell's patent deal that only applies to it and MS's customers, making software unfree) are also attacks against the license AND those freedoms, so of course it addresses those concepts.

Edited 2007-03-29 01:01

Reply Parent Score: 4

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

It also is impracical, unrealiable and not legally enforcable.

Also, the GPL 'feature' that Novell/Microsoft exploited is being classed as a bug in the GPLv2.
This new clause (11?) in the GPLv3 can be seen as a bugfix.

Luckily for everyone, software gets patched when bugs are found. The alternative that you are suggesting is some form on online-vtable lookup. This may work for SAAS and online applications. But for most software, performance and common-sense win.

Reply Parent Score: 1

butters Member since:
2005-07-08

I see your point about reacting to unforeseen loopholes. It sucks that it has to be this way, but it does. The law is about enforcing behavior in a consistent manner. When new behaviors emerge, new laws have to be created.

Once upon a time, the federal income tax in the U.S. was a fairly simple system. But people kept finding ways to outsmart the system, and the tax code expanded to the point of absurdity. But a flat tax isn't the answer, and neither is sending a tax agent door to door to individually assess tax rates based on what kind of car you drive, how big your TV is, or where you go for vacation.

The world is getting more and more complex because the inner workings of the Machine are getting more and more accessible to the public. Everyone wants to be "on the inside," and so thinking up new ways to keep the miscreants out is a full-time job for the insiders. Think of the FSF as free software insiders. They see their world becoming more and more accessible, and expensive IP lawyers are starting to think about how one could legally exploit free software. What was ingenious 15 years ago is now woefully unprepared.

People seem to think that all of these amazing technological and social advances will make our lives simpler and easier. My grandparents might have had to walk to work in the snow, uphills both ways, but we have to navigate a world where if you do what's right, you get screwed by people who do what's legal.

I'm a very independent person. I like to figure things out for myself. But I know when I'm outmatched. One of the first things I did when I started my first real job was make appointments with a few financial planners and a few lawyers. Unless you live and breathe the loopholes and implications of the law, you're gunna get screwed. If you want to actually do something productive and earn a living, then you'll lose to the people that sit around and think about how to steal the shirt off your back and then sue you for wearing it in the first place.

Yes, we live in a ridiculously complicated world. If that doesn't make you think, "good, that makes it easier to exploit people," then you need to find help.

One would not write code like that.

If you had my job, you would chuckle at this statement. Every so often there's another inconceivable corner case that doesn't even seem obvious in hindsight. All you can do is sigh, curse the complexity, and drop the fix. "If the following seemingly impossible condition exists..."

Reply Parent Score: 5

jackson Member since:
2005-06-29

If GPLv3 specifically prevents patent protection agreements such as the Novell-MS deal, won't it also have some effect on other patent protection programs (through indemnification) that Red Hat, Sun and others have?

I don't know about the Sun agreement, but the Red Hat "patent protection program" is fundamentally different. Red Hat has stated to its customers that it will indemnify them for any losses caused in the event a customer is sued for patent infringement due to their use of Red Hat products. There is no other company or entity involved. It's just Red Hat saying, essentially, to its own customers: "Don't worry, we'll reimburse you if you get sued."

Conversely, the Novell agreement is a cross agreement with another company, Microsoft. Novell's customers get the benefit of _Microsoft's_ agreement not to sue based on _Novell's_ contemporaneous agreement not to sue Microsoft's customers. It's this kind of mutual release that is problematic.

Reply Parent Score: 2

butters Member since:
2005-07-08

Exactly! The Novell deal has been hyped by the IT media outlets as a competitive advantage in luring corporate customers. Finally conservative corporations don't have to worry about being sued for using Linux, they conclude.

What? First, the Novell deal only prevents Novell's commercial Linux customers from being sued by Microsoft. A patent suit against free software would be difficult and expensive at best. We've seen how long and unsuccessful SCO's copyright suit has been, and copyright is child's play compared to litigating on patent claims. Only a really desperate corporation (like SCO) would do such a thing, and the last I checked, Microsoft was doing fairly well.

Further, as the parent notes, Red Hat already offers its commercial customers IP indemnification covering any software they distribute and anyone who might try to sue. They do this by simply standing by their products. They guarantee that they have the legal right to distribute their software. No implicit admissions of guilt, in fact quite the opposite, and no partial coverage.

So why is the IT media so dazzled by the Novell deal? And why hasn't Red Hat been more vocal about how their indemnification offer is more appealing to both corporates and the community?

Reply Parent Score: 3

borker Member since:
2006-04-04

Indemnification and patent protection agreements are two different things.

Indemnifications are agreements made by an entity to assume the legal risk for their customers created by a third party holding a patent that might be infringed by a product being used by the customers.

Patent protection schemes are made by entities that do hold patents that could possibly be infringed upon by a second entity's product and states that the patent holder won't sue (in the Novell/MS case at least) the second entity's users.

In essence, patent protection schemes amount to almost the same thing as a patent license but with a wording that sidesteps the language of GPL2. GPL3 seeks to create language that can't be circumvented using this 'hack'

Edited 2007-03-29 18:13 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2