“The Software Freedom Law Center’s CTO Bradley Kuhn has issued a statement regarding the Novell-Microsoft agreements and how they will impact FOSS developers. They have analyzed in particular Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Non-Compensated Developers and see little value and in fact say it’s worse than useless, because it creates an illusion of safety and because it limits severely what that developer is allowed to do with his work.”
SFLC’s Letter to the FOSS Community Regarding MS Patent Promise
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2006-11-11 9:12 pmMarcellus
To allow Open Source to contaminate proprietary code is asking for trouble. FSF is a snake and no matter what they say, you will eventually get bit, if you touch anything GPL. It is in the nature of FSF and GPL to do that.
2006-11-11 10:05 pmsbergman27
“””To allow Open Source to contaminate proprietary code is asking for trouble. FSF is a snake and no matter what they say, you will eventually get bit, if you touch anything GPL. It is in the nature of FSF and GPL to do that.”””
You do understand that not all OSS code is under the GPL, right?
Is using BSD licensed code “asking for trouble”?
As far as copylefted licenses go, it’s no big secret that they do have teeth. Very prominently displayed teeth, in fact. To some, those teeth are smiling. To others, who prefer to keep their code proprietary, they may be perceived (quite rightly) as fangs. But the copylefted aspect is always quite forthright, and it is the responsibility of the user of the source code to understand what they are getting into.
I may be critical of the FS fanatics, but the anti-FS zealots are just as bad, really.
One might (naively) expect less of that on a site dedicated to diversity in OSes.
Edited 2006-11-11 22:06
2006-11-11 11:04 pmDudesdad
Thank you for offering the other side of the matter.
More Old time logic: Water and Oil don’t mix.
Keep MS and FOSS separate.
As for being a snake the GPL comes right out and says what to expect when you use GPL protected code. Their provisions are made known from the get-go.
Microsoft on the other hand portrays itself as being the keeper of all that is good worthy of installing on your machine, while killing anything they can’t control or commandeer and pass off as their own.
How many companies have been consumed or destroyed by MS after becoming a “partner”?
I became a Linux user as a hobby. But after watching this crap that has gone on for years I have become a Linux and BSD Zealot.
Now I have made up some New Time Logic: MS? No good will come of it.
Viva La Freedom.
The covenant could infact decrease innovation or any progress.
Anyone else wanna preach to us about how great the deal was, and how much interoperability will be increase, and how anyone who saw this coming is an insane GPL zealot? Thought not. Novell sold us all out, plain and simple.
Edited 2006-11-11 17:43
What happened to my other article. Dang it!
Yea, I loved this analysis. Really paints a picture, picture has novell and a wad of MS cash and some worthless promises.
Novell is putting its buisness interests above the whole community, but I think they are despite of everything listening to the reaction of the community and users, so they will probably react if we push them around for the bullsh*t theh’ve done, fu**ing traitors. So Novell bashing is great, and the only way we can only pull their phoney image down and make them listen. A nice anti-Novell logo would do wonders
2006-11-11 7:22 pmMitarai
The I would call you all a bunch of pathetic hypocryts, Red Hat included, how many of you are using MySQL you know the company that parnered with SCO?
My advice to you, get a life outside the Internet.
2006-11-11 8:01 pmsbergman27
“””The I would call you all a bunch of pathetic hypocryts, Red Hat included, how many of you are using MySQL you know the company that parnered with SCO?”””
I prefer PostgreSQL, myself.
But while MySQL AB is not my favorite company, I think you are off the mark in criticizing them for supporting the Open Server platform. In my way of thinking, it is never wrong to make OSS software work better on *any* platform, proprietary or not, and despite the community’s general feeling about said platform. It helps the users of that platform by making OSS software available to them. And it makes it easier for them to transition to another platform at a later time because they can start moving to OSS applications now, and then move to another OS in a two phase migration.
Furthermore, as an OSS advocate, I’m getting a bit weary of the FS fundamentalists’ constant preaching. I put them in the same class as religious fanatics who are bound and determined to save our mortal souls, and are oh so very sure of thier own moral purity.
Please stop. It reflects badly upon us reasonable folks, and makes people think we’re all a bunch of loonies.
Edited 2006-11-11 20:04
2006-11-11 8:41 pmb3timmons
“I’m getting a bit weary of the FS fundamentalists’ constant preaching.”
To clarify, was the article itself preaching?
I agree that “MS suckz!” rants are wearisome. But talking and thinking about ethics, complete with the notions of good and evil things, do not have to involve any religion or faith at all. Read any decent ethics book; the god(s) have nothing to do with it.
These debates would improve if people came out and stated their assumptions up front. For example, I assume that business is all about expedience. Thus anything that interferes with that, such as ethical considerations, is often brushed aside as “religion”. The cool part, however, is that sometimes companies think more long-term, where ethics might be more obvious.
2006-11-11 9:29 pmsbergman27
“””To clarify, was the article itself preaching?”””
No. In fact, I’m generally negative about Novell’s actions of late, myself. Though I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, for now. I suspect, though, that Hovsepian’s Novell is going to be quite a different entity than Messman’s Novell. The shareholders threw Messman out because he was (among other things) not acting aggressively enough to monetize that Linux thing that Novell owns. Hovsepian has an ultimatum to do so. The shareholders absolutely do not understand the environment in which Novell is acting, and I must admit that it will be a bit satisfying to me to see them all lose their shirts. Petty of me, I know. But hey! 😉
My comments are more directed at people right here in this forum who can’t seem to deal with the fact that we are all not so fundamentalist as they, and who can’t seem to refrain from accusing “all of us” of being “pathetics hypocryts” [sic] for having the audicity to disagree with them about some of the many companies on their hate lists.
Edited 2006-11-11 21:44
2006-11-11 10:48 pml3v1
I’m getting a bit weary of the FS fundamentalists’ constant preaching
Yeah, what about lines like – and I know I’m not quoting this for the first time, still – “secured an irrevocable promise from Microsoft to allow individual and non-commercial contributors the freedom to continue open source development”… MS, to allow, the freedom, to continue, non-commercial ?
You know what ? I’ll take any amounts of FOSS preaching anytime.
2006-11-11 11:10 pmsbergman27
“””Yeah, what about lines like – and I know I’m not quoting this for the first time, still – “secured an irrevocable promise from Microsoft to allow individual and non-commercial contributors the freedom to continue open source development”… MS, to allow, the freedom, to continue, non-commercial ?”””
I agree that MS’s motivation for making this deal was the opportunity for casting fear, uncertainty, and doubt upon the OSS alternative.
I’ll add that I believe that Novell, as a publicly traded company, is acting in it’s own interests and putting the good of OSS in a distant second place as a priority. (Big surprise there. I’ve never quite understood why Novell and their “mixed source” agenda didn’t get roasted by the community before. Caldera, before they became The SCO Group, got roasted for a lot less.)
But what does your quotation above have to do with my criticism of Mitarai for accusing MySQL users of being a bunch of hypocrits? Do you think that MySQL users are a bunch of hypocrits?
Edited 2006-11-11 23:12
2006-11-11 8:02 pmAccident
>My advice to you, get a life outside the Internet<
So what are you doing here?
It’s already been argued that Novell had few other choices; ascertaining the business value of things such as “community support” is tough.
Regardless of the merit of things such as Mono, the fact is that Novell has employed great people who have benefitted the FOSS community. It is those people that deserve sympathy; they were let down by Novell/MSFT. Given how talented many of them seem to be, however, they will make out OK.
The bottom line is that the bet on Novell/MSFT is a bet that community support matters less than the synergies that might be found in the partnership of this new paradigm, i.e., they needed monopoly money. In any case, community support is clearly more appreciated elsewhere.
2006-11-11 11:05 pmJody
“The bottom line is that the bet on Novell/MSFT is a bet that community support matters less than the synergies that might be found in the partnership of this new paradigm, i.e., they needed monopoly money.”
You do know that most contributions and support of FOSS softare these days is from or funded by for-profit companies right?
Almost all companies are “evil”, just some are better at hiding it.
As much as we hate companies that litigate instead of innovate, Novell sets the example by setting legal matters aside for the sake of focusing on improving their market position (and that of Linux) and we hate them for it.
Here is an excersize for you. Instead of debating against me with what would no doubt equate to “MS is evil, mkay?” why don’t you summarize, as best you can, the conditions of the deal with MS.
Do you even understand what they are?
2006-11-12 12:52 amb3timmons
“Almost all companies are “evil”, just some are better at hiding it.”
I cannot disagree with this, but do believe that a given evil can be more or less significant for the things I value, such as free software.
“Here is an excersize for you. Instead of debating against me with what would no doubt equate to “MS is evil, mkay?” why don’t you summarize, as best you can, the conditions of the deal with MS.
Do you even understand what they are?”
The business and technical agreements could do quite a bit for the adoption of FOSS, but all of the heat seems to be focused on the patent one, i.e.,
With “certain exceptions”, MSFT agrees to not assert its patents against Novell’s end-user customers for using Novell products and services for which Novell is paid; and vice versa. Moreover, each have payment obligations to each other here.
Reading the SEC filing or whatever has not dissuaded me from considering this as an attempted end-run around the GPL. Indeed, by your suggestion to learn more about the deal I stumbled across some commentary by MSFT people associated with the deal such as Hilf. His evident pride at trying to circumventing the GPL evokes disgust in me. How does my expertise or ignorance of the overall deal pertain to this consideration? Am I wrong in assuming that you see the business and technical and agreements as compensating for the negativity surrounding the attempted circumvention?
If I am right, then your appeal is really to open source rather than to free software types. I have yet to see the FS case made for this deal, a case that I do not see Novell making. I would love to be wrong and dump money on NOVL.
Edited 2006-11-12 01:12
In other words, you are adminting to be a pathetic hypocryt, yep, that’s what I thougt.
I can be wrong, but to my understanding what i have been reading. Microsoft is competing with the open
source companies that sell stuff and if a paid developer uses a microsoft patent unknowingly, then ms might go after that company like redhat and oracle,etc because they are raking in profits at microsoft’s patents expense, but since novell signed up, they are safe because they agree to work with microsoft patents portifolio in a respected manner.
This isn’t just about the Novell dal as others have stated, but the SFLC had this to say:
“The patent covenant only applies to software that you develop at home and keep for yourself; the promises don’t extend to others when you distribute. You cannot pass the rights to your downstream recipients, even to the maintainers of larger projects on which your contribution is built…
It’s worse than useless, as this empty promise can create a false sense of security. Don’t be confused by the illusion of a truce; developers are no safer from Microsoft patents now than they were before…
….You cannot pass the rights to your downstream recipients, even to the maintainers of larger projects on which your contribution is built…”
Now we are playing both sides on the Novell thing. First we claimed the protection meant it was a cross licensing agreement on the part of Novell and they violated the GPL.
Now we are claiming it is useless becasue the contributions can’t be distributed (which means IT DOES NOT BREAK GPL).
Why are we conviniently overlooking the fact that this is a counter-point to the anti-SuSE GPL complaints?
The GPL says you cannot distribute patentented software under GPL anyway, so even if MS did permit the changes to be passed downstream it would still be useless as far as the GPL is converned.
As for the Novell thing, it does not impact Novell directly (who distributes software downstream), rather their customers are able self-create what every they need without fear of MS so long as their changes are not redistributed.
The agreement is pretty much worthless, but it does nothing to stand in the way of GPL software.
2006-11-11 9:55 pmb3timmons
Look at the big picture: the lawyer behind the GPL has been down on the Novell thing and vows that v3 will not fall prey. Now the SFLC is getting involved. The agreement is, in effect, FUD. Ballmer unsurprisingly is coming off as a clumsy thug. Then there is the guilt by association with the track record of MSFT, the source of the money for Novell.
Not all of the above bad perception of Novell/MSFT is necessarily justified, but anyone can understand why the perception itself exists and the burden is now on Novell/MSFT (with help from the SFLC) to prove that perception to be false. So this is not as simple as kool-aid.
2006-11-11 10:52 pmJody
You are talking but what are you saying? You completely avoided countering the point I made in my post which was that the non-distribute clause that the SFLC says makes this agreement worthless is the same clause that means it complies with the GPL section 7 which prohibits passing patents downstream.
If I am wrong please counter my point with a more solid reason than Ballmer is a thug and anyone who deals with MS is bad.
2006-11-12 12:02 amb3timmons
My comment was about the negative perception in general.
I will not counter your point at the moment for two reasons:
(1) IANAL and am undecided about the legality and await more substantial reasoning, say of lawyers from a third-party, such as the SFLC.
(2) I am unsure how important your point really turns out to be. Even if your point stands and more generally all is legal, people will still want to see why this deal, in particular the attempt to circumvent the GPL, should not be considered unethical when Novell positions itself as having not only customers but also a community. Such considerations are important to some. Even for the others, the GPL comes out not looking as strong and perhaps not serving their interests as well.
One could assume that all is legal right now, and proceed to make the ethical case–not that I want to take you away from coding *grin*.
2006-11-12 1:07 amJody
..in particular the attempt to circumvent the GPL..
Another unsupported accusation?
The GPL is a license to distribute software. If you make something at your house and don’t distribute it, what does the GPL have to do with it in the first place?
Telling me I am allowed to do what I want at home is pointless, but it sure does not violate the GPL.
From news.com “Microsoft will pay Novell a net amount of $108 million in an agreement under which both companies release each other from patent claims from past actions, Hovsepian.
This isn’t really about protecting SuSE customers from a threat that never existed, it is more about MS protecting their investment by not being open to lawsuits from the mass amount of IP Novell owns.
MS bailed out Borland a while back, they settled their lawsuits with AOL, they purchased the greater part of SGI’s graphics portfolio, they own a license for UNIX, they made a similar agreement with Sun, and now they just paid Novell to release them for possible litigation for past actions.
This about MS making deals with most of the companies that matter to lower the chanced that they might get sued from existence.
Don’t forget which of the 2 companies shelled out the $108 mil.
2006-11-12 1:28 amb3timmons
circumvention != violation. The accusation is the attempted circumvention , although you claim everything is legal. Fine, but circumvention is legal, its attempt quite evident here, and hence the accusation is supported. There are many comments from Novell and Microsoft on this, e.g., the Novell FAQ #1 that shows how they try to get around it, plain as day. You can still argue that Novell has not tried to circumvent, but I suppose there are better ways to defend the deal overall.
Thanks for the background on the other MS deals–that did help to put things in better perspective. I am trying really hard to see Novell’s POV, FWIW.
Edited 2006-11-12 01:42
No one is forcing anyone to use any of Microsoft’s licenses or patents. Developers will choose what they want to use be it BSD, Creative Commons, GPL, or MIT. I’m sure some research before hand will show if there is a patent on any work being produced. Also SFLC, who do you think you are butting in with your 2 cents? You are no different than anyone else who wrote a commentary on the deal.
I’m not surprised at all that a group that “provide legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software” would be against this deal.
Alright I’m going to lay my entire understanding of this deal out there, because I see a lot of back and forth bickering and a lot of folks seem completely clueless about this thing. If you think I’m completely full of shit, feel free to call me out but bring your proof please.
Microsoft has long since learned the only way to stop free software/open source/linux whatever you want to refer to it as, is by killing off the hackers that make it happen. So far the only reason they haven’t targetted individuals for patent violations is because of the threat of Novell suing their asses into the stone age with their own patent portfolio. But Novell is sinking financially at this point because they don’t have a place in the desktop world and RedHat is severely kicking their asses in the server market. So they go to Microsoft and offer to not use their patent portfolio against them (as far as I know this part is completely binding because it was never stated otherwise) in exchange for a promise that Microsoft won’t sue individual developers (a promise Microsoft can back out of at any time). Where does this leave us? Well it leaves Novell with an assload of cash and Microsoft in a prime position to f–k us all. Go ahead and try using something patented by Microsoft and see how long that “promise” lasts. Anyone who has ever contributed code under a free software license should be extremely pissed at this point. Those who have not will probably say we’re all just nutters.
Again, I could be completely off base. If you think I am, go ahead and put me straight, but you will need actual proof not “Ju ze4l0tz sUx0r”.
2006-11-12 3:19 amb3timmons
I’m with you; I guess one thing to do is to consider competing technologies, e.g., help displace Mono in its niches with Java (assuming good news next week from Sun).
You give MS its strategic due, which too many overlook. Another analysis which does a good job here is
The distributors of other versions of Linux cannot assure their customers that Microsoft won’t sue for patent infringement. “If a customer says, ‘Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?’ Essentially, If you’re using non-SUSE Linux, then I’d say the answer is yes,” Ballmer said.
If you don’t pay msft, then msft may just sue you for using linux. It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, once you have been sued by a $300 billion ruthless monopoly, you have already lost. Msft can financially ruin you with litigation expenses.
This is blatant extortion. Huge abuse of the US patent system, and legal system. This is yet another example of massively abusive business practices by a convinted monopolist. This is as ruthless and unfair as it can possibly be. And so typical of this thuggish, useless, company.
But, it’s msft, so I guess it’s okay.
If you lie down with dogs you will get fleas.
Microsoft will contaminate like a virus and spread until it owns you.
To allow Open Source to be contaminated by “deals” with Microsoft is just asking for trouble. They are a snake and no matter what they say you will eventually get bit. It is their nature to do so.