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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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  • Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe_cot (1011355) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:53PM (#16790203) Homepage
    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.

    So they're claiming that since the patent license is for their end users, and not for the company, it's alright that they're distributing patented software under the GPL, because their users can still use it .... except that Redhat, Ubuntu, Debian, and ..... oh yeah, almost every distribution ever uses large amounts of Novell's code, and aren't covered by the license at all. A great day for the GPL. Let the patent nuclear war commence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:59PM (#16790261)
    In europe? Shoot Charlie McGreevy, quick. That traitorous bastard is microsoft's man to his rotten core, and will stop at nothing to bring software patents to europe.
    Bomb Microsoft Ireland. Bomb the EPO.

    Microsoft has been saying for years that developers can't earn money writing free software - well, I can, have done for years. But with their patent machinations, they're trying to make what they've said a reality, trying to make free software the domain of hobbyists only.
  • by AdamKG (1004604) <slashdot@nOSPAM.adamgomaa.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:00PM (#16790269) Homepage
    that a GPLv3 is sorely needed?
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:06PM (#16790299) Homepage Journal
    In all seriousness, is anyone here still willing to endorse Microsoft's attacks on Linux and their abuse of the patent system, or are you planning on switching away from the use of SUSE Linux in your work enviroment?
  • GPL Section 7 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuggz (69912) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:06PM (#16790301) Homepage
    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.


    Novell as the distributor must provide the license to the recipients. Novell has no license to distribute the patents from Microsoft. Obviously this means they can not grant such a license to those they distribute the code to.
    I don't see how they could possibly claim to comply.
  • customer problems? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by burnin1965 (535071) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:15PM (#16790331) Homepage
    I find the answer to question number 2 intriguing:


    Q2. Why did Novell make this deal with Microsoft? Was Microsoft threatening a lawsuit?

    Novell started discussions with Microsoft in order to solve problems for our customers by improving Linux/Windows interoperability in areas like virtualization, heterogeneous server management, and office document compatibility. By securing a commitment from Microsoft to support the use of Linux and open source software, we have allayed any potential concerns for our customers and removed a barrier to enterprise-wide Linux adoption.

    There was no threatened litigation.



    First I'd like to ask of the SuSE customers who frequent slashdot, were you having problems with "Linux/Windows interoperability in areas like virtualization, heterogeneous server management, and office document compatibility" which you brought to Novell's attention?

    And second, exactly what were your potential concerns about any "barrier to enterprise-wide Linux adoption" that were allayed by Novell's agreement with Microsoft?

    It seems that we have seen article after article and report after report that shows significant progess by the open source community in providing everything that Novell claims this agreement addresses so I'm a bit skeptical of this answer and would like to know what SuSE customers think.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:39PM (#16790431) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, imagine instead of crashing Linux with one powerful blow of Microsoft's patent war hammer they decide to, I don't know, make money from it.. how would you go about doing that? Hmm, well, you'd want to try to license those patents right? But this damn section 7 of the GPL says you can't do the usual non-transferable patent license, you have to do infinite and implicit transferance (much like the GPL itself). Bummer, can't make money off it, no wait! There is a way. What if we were to sell the licenses directly to the customer? See, if Microsoft doesn't threaten to sue the distributors of Linux and, instead, threatens to sue their customers, directly, then the distributors are not restricted from distributing the software under section 7. Thing is though, why would the customers pay Microsoft? They already have paid Novell right? Well, what if Novell was to pay Microsoft for the customers? That'd work, but why would Novell agree to pay for their customers? Ahhh, because if they don't Microsoft will sue them. Tangled. Web. We. Weave.
  • SuSE Customers (Score:0, Insightful)

    by ntufar (712060) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:41PM (#16790455) Homepage Journal
    if the patent license and royalty payments are between microsoft and the customer, then are the customers in violation of section 7 of the gpl? This could be bad news for SuSE customers...

    It can be the case if you buy a SuSE Enterprise Linux Desktop bundled with Microsoft's "covenant". If you use your SuSE Linux to write GPL code Microsoft can now sue you for breach of this "covenant" rather than for patent infringement.

    Beware developers. Microsoft aims here at ability of you, as independent developers, to write and distribute code you wrote.
  • Re:then what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shane (3950) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:57PM (#16790529) Homepage
    "So, what if Eben finds that it is compatible with GPL?" Then Novell did not break the law.

    However, there is a far more important question before us: Did Novell act in a way that is beneficial to the community at large or harmful. If it was harmful, then it is safe to say they did not behave in a way compatible with the spirit of the GPL and I personally find unforgivable for company that claims to be FOR us.
  • by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @10:34PM (#16790884) Homepage

    So, the whole idea of the dodge is that Microsoft and Novell have swapped some money and--in exchange--worked out an agreement whereby they won't be suing each other and their customers for violating patents the one or the other may hold.

    Would anybody care to explain how that isn't just a re-wording of the textbook definition of a license?

    I mean, if you explained to the judge that all you did was hold a sharpened piece of iron alloy near the upper portion of my thorax while indicating that you desired to take possession of my wallet...well, what kind of a blithering idiot of a judge wouldn't find you guilty of mugging me?

    Cheers,

    b&

  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:16AM (#16792594) Journal
    No, no we can't... you silly troll. Furthermore, not only is the GPLv3 not "needed" it ability to be applied to existing codebases with multiple rights holders is in serious question.

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