Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th May 2009 22:32 UTC, submitted by lemur2
Mono Project If there is one technology in the Linux world that ruffles feathers whenever it's mentioned, it's Mono, the open source .Net clone. Since .Net comes out of Microsoft, and has some patents encircling it, it is said to be a legal nightmare. Supposedly, you can obtain a "royalty-free, reasonable and non-discriminatory" license from Microsoft regarding the patents surrounding Mono. iTWire decided to look at just how easy (or hard) it is to get such a license. Turns out it's kind of hard.
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RE[5]: minefield
by Slambert666 on Mon 1st Jun 2009 11:29 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: minefield"
Slambert666
Member since:
2008-10-30

The full quote is as follows:

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.


What this means in practical terms is that if someone gets a "court judgment" of "patent infringement" on a part of the project that limits the right to free redistribution then you may not distribute at all under the GPL. If that should ever happen the Mono project would have to re-license.

Most (almost all) of Mono is however under the BSD license, that has no such clause.

I don't know if python or perl or ruby has a patent problem. There is enough existing infrastructure out there written in all these languages and none of them have to keep themselves close to an published external spec (with potentially hostile patent holders being the very same entities that drafted the spec in question). If a patent threat for perl or ruby (python is licensed under a non-GPL BSD style language which does not even mention the word patent) surfaces, projects who depend on this languages will have to reevaluate their positiuons and either try to work around the patent, try to show prior art or try to throw out the patent question in order to remain faithful to their respective licenses.


How is this in any way shape or form different to the situation with Mono? The fact that Mono adheres to the ECMA spec is completely voluntary on the part of the Mono project but this fact also gives them a lot of legal leeway, so that the project and their lawyers can claim deception should Microsoft choose to sue. This is something that Ruby or Python etc cannot. Looking at the legal angle Mono is better protected than for example Python is.

Note that I'm not on a crusade against mono. All it would need (at least for such a paranoid soul like me) to end this whole affair is

- A legally binding, written patent license to the patents involved with mono from MS and HP. As I said earlier, RAND is not enough to ensure compability with GPL and even RAND-Z may be incompatible with the license, hence it would be good to have the actual text at hand so that legal analysis can be done by parties like the SFLC.

- The list of patent numbers which would be covered by this patent license, so that other VM implementations could use a clean-room approach to check their risk of infringening a patent and take respective measures (including trying to invalidate the whole mess).


This is just plain double standards. Why don't you write Guido and ask him for a (legally binding) list of patents that python is infringing on?

- A clarification on the end user license for Moonlight / Silverlight, as demanded in the article and the summary written by Thom.


Why on earth do you not just download it yourself and see. Moonlight and the MS Codecs are two different things, it is up to you if you want to install the MS Codecs or not. Moonlight comes standard with free Codecs only.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: minefield
by setec_astronomy on Mon 1st Jun 2009 12:07 in reply to "RE[5]: minefield"
setec_astronomy Member since:
2007-11-17

If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License.
(emphasis mine).

Perhaps it's my error, but I interpret this section of the GPL so that it does not need a court decision to trigger this clause. All it needs is

a.) a necessary patent license for implementing let's say an ECMA specification (which according to the articles seems to be necessary)
b.) with terms incompatible to the GPL
c.) and somebody starting to demand adherence to this license selectively

that distributing of Mono under the terms of the GPL and LGPL (well, at least those parts that are licensed this way) will have to stop.

This is exactly what I was trying to convey with my first response to your post, btw.

The fact that Mono adheres to the ECMA spec is completely voluntary on the part of the Mono project but this fact also gives them a lot of legal leeway, so that the project and their lawyers can claim deception should Microsoft choose to sue.

There would be no need for this ambiguity if there was
a proper patent license.


This is just plain double standards. Why don't you write Guido and ask him for a (legally binding) list of patents that python is infringing on?


Does Guido or any other of the Python devs have any patents which they may choose to license only in incompatible terms to the users of Python? Does Guido has a special patent covenant not to sue over patents with one mixed source vendor? Has Guido recently sued for example a hardware manufactor over his "special" implemenation of the vfat feature in the Linux kernel while silently collecting license fees from other vendors in a fashion which raises doubts about the conformance to the GPL?

Thought so.

If Mono is in a position (frankly, I have to claim irrogance on this point) to relicense the GPL/LGPL based parts of their project so that they don't have to deal with the patent fallout than this would indeed at least mitigate the risk of "pulling the plug" at mono. It does, however, leave a shallow taste.

Why on earth do you not just download it yourself and see. Moonlight and the MS Codecs are two different things, it is up to you if you want to install the MS Codecs or not. Moonlight comes standard with free Codecs only.


I was not talking about the codecs, but about the "Covenant to Downstream Recipients of Moonlight" (at least it does not mention any mpeg or related patents, explicitly excludes any other technology not directly associated with the plugin in its languague, hence I have to assume that this covers the plugin itself and not the codec), which can be found here:

http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab/moonlight.mspx

I may be wrong here, so please correct me if this is the case, but the definitions of "Downstream Recipients" and "Intermediate Recipients" in the document above seem to exclude a lot of potential parties to the GPL.

(e.g. downstream recipient is anybody who gets the software directly from novell and is not an intermediate recipient, intermediate recipients are not allowed to peddle their own branded version of operating sytstems).

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[7]: minefield
by Slambert666 on Mon 1st Jun 2009 14:55 in reply to "RE[6]: minefield"
Slambert666 Member since:
2008-10-30

"If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License.
(emphasis mine).

Perhaps it's my error, but I interpret this section of the GPL so that it does not need a court decision to trigger this clause. All it needs is

a.) a necessary patent license for implementing let's say an ECMA specification (which according to the articles seems to be necessary)
b.) with terms incompatible to the GPL
c.) and somebody starting to demand adherence to this license selectively
"

So you think that if Microsoft says linux infringes on 234 patents of theirs, then there is an alleged patent infringement and the kernel is in violation of the GPL? LOL :-)

What the GPL quote means is that you have to stay compliant with the remainder of the terms in the GPL even if a court order forces you to be non compliant with one of the terms.

As for the rest of your stuff, I'm now convinced that you are a anti FOSS troll working under the pretense of being pro FOSS. Obviously you want programmers to spend their time on patent licenses rather than programming.

Reply Parent Score: 1