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Eben Moglen To Scrutinize Novell-Microsoft Deal 102

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the hard-looks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Novell is providing Eben Moglen's Software Freedom Law Center with confidential access to the legal terms of the Novell-Microsoft partnership, allowing to organization to verify if the deal is compatible with the GPL2 and GPL3 licenses. Moglen in the past has alleged that the patent license between the two companies could be in violation with section 7 of the GPL. Novell on Tuesday published a document on its website, explaining that they circumvented the GPL provisions by providing a patent license to the end user rather than between the two companies."
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Eben Moglen To Scrutinize Novell-Microsoft Deal

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:44PM (#16790465)
    From the Groklaw's article [groklaw.net]:

    Novell here is stepping outside the line of fire and agreeing with Microsoft that *end users* are the ones that you must go after in any patent infringement dispute. Shades of SCOsource. Thanks for nothing, Novell. More questions: When were Novell SUSE customers asked if they wished Novell to negotiate a agreement with Microsoft on their behalf? When were Novell SUSE customers asked about the terms of said agreement? What consideration does Microsoft get from Novell's customers? Does negotiating this agreement on Novell's customers' behalf indicate that Novell assumed Power of Attorney for their customers in this matter? Did Novell truly represent the best interest of their customers using Power of Attorney? Can Novell legally assume Power of Attorney for their customers without a written grant? Do Novell customers have the ability to "opt-out" of this agreement? Is this agreement binding on customers?
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:18PM (#16790607) Homepage Journal
    Here's the wildcard, or the advantage that Novell has. You are correct that as soon as Microsoft sues somebody for patent infrigement, everybody, including Novell, must immediately cease distributing any GPL covered works that infringe that patent.

    No, I did not say that, and that is not true. You only have to cease distributing if you're worried Microsoft is going to sue you. Even if you do stop distributing that doesn't mean Microsoft can't sue you for what you distributed in the past.

    However, Microsoft may be able to get an injunction during the patent litigation to stop all non-Novell users from *running* Linux.

    Yeah, and how are they going to get that? Judges don't have the power to make laws ya know. You can't get an injuction against people you havn't even sued and you can't sue "all non-Novell users". Can you please think before you say shit like that?

    Now, what are the odds a judge would grant Microsoft an injunction that brought the economy to a grinding halt? Nill, I'm guessing.

    How did your mind even learn human speech?

  • No violation here... (Score:2, Informative)

    by zcat_NZ (267672) <zcat@wired.net.nz> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:55PM (#16790674) Homepage
    As I suggested on Groklaw earlier;

    Apart from narrowing down the offered 'protection' to almost nobody, Microsoft
    have given themselves the option of changing the terms at any time, which is
    surely no different from having the option to sue at any time. An option they
    already had.

    The agreement is 100% FUD, "All hat and no cattle" -- it doesn't
    violate section 7 of the GPL because, as near as I can tell it doesn't actually,
    irrevocably grant anybody any rights or protection at all.

  • by adah (941522) on Friday November 10, 2006 @01:52AM (#16791446)
    If Microsoft has patents that cover GPL licensed software that Novell wants to continue distributing, Novell must secure a license for anyone who receives the software from Novell not only to use the software, but also to redistribute the software. If they don't, they are in violation of the GPL and can therefore not distribute the software.

    You are right here that Novell cannot distribute the patent-infringed software either—Novell wrote that clearly on the online statement (are you anti-Novell guys really reading?). However, you missed one important point. Just think about SCO. SCO was threatening to sue the existing enterprise Linux users, but not just IBM, Red Hat, etc. And I remember somebody even paid to avoid suits. By signing this agreement with Microsoft, Novell customers can at least rest assured that they will not be sued by Microsoft. That is some relief, and that can give Novell some advantage in the enterprise market.

  • by idlake (850372) on Friday November 10, 2006 @06:35AM (#16792002)
    Even if the deal is GPL-compatible, if Microsoft actually asserted any patent, Novell still couldn't distribute the software in question anymore.

    In any case, it's good to see that GPLv3 will just make such deals completely impossible.
  • by AVee (557523) <slashdotNO@SPAMavee.org> on Friday November 10, 2006 @06:44AM (#16792020) Homepage
    The general response from the OS community about this deal is really starting to become disgusting FUD. Especially because it comes from the people who allways the first to point fingers when others are spreading FUD. Everybody is so upset about how Novell paid MS for a patent license when in fact it's MS who paid Novell, not the other way around. Not to mention the fact there is a mutual do-not-sue agreement, no patent license. Novell managed to get money from MS, managed to make them pledge not to sue their customers, their contributors and unpaid open-source developers. They also got MS to work with them on providing compatible document formats. In return they promised not to sue MS customers. Cleary that makes Novell more evil than the devil himself. And indeed MS is using it to spread FUD, as usual. But this time everybody here seems to fall for their FUD...
  • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:13PM (#16794510) Homepage
    Well, it seems pretty obvious, but Moglen tells Novell to stop distributing his clients' code without a license, and (I believe the usual routine) opens up negotiations as to how they can resume distribution.

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