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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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

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"First, the Novell deal only prevents Novell's commercial Linux customers from being sued by Microsoft."

It's all hogwash. End-users can't be sued for the patent infringements of vendors. Well, maybe in sue-happy U.S.A but lets not noncern ourselves with that craziness.
It's as absurd as if Onkyo would sue anyone who owned a Sony amp for patent infringement if Sony infringed on an Onkyo patent.
There's a good reason for this not happening, it's not reasonable to expect end-users to understand the complete design of the products they purchase.

Edited 2007-03-29 07:38

Reply Parent Score: 2