Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
GNU is Not Unix Microsoft

FSF Positioning To Sue Microsoft Over GPLv3? 369

Posted by kdawson
from the no-easy-out dept.
mjasay writes "Groklaw notes that the Free Software Foundation has decried Microsoft's attempts to distance itself from its obligations to abide by GPL Version 3 (press release here). Citing Microsoft's earlier declaration that they are not bound by GPLv3, the Free Software Foundation declared, 'Microsoft cannot by any act of anticipatory repudiation divest itself of its obligation to respect others' copyrights.' The press release implies that the Free Software Foundation may sue Microsoft over the issue."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FSF Positioning To Sue Microsoft Over GPLv3?

Comments Filter:
  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:39PM (#20387889)
    Can someone explain how MS would be bound by GPL3? They make no GPL software.
    The Novell deal was made prior to GPL3.
    How does GPL3 relate to MS at all?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Sounds like FSF just wanted to get in the news. Or on slashdot, or whatever. Reading the press release, they don't really SAY much... other than "We hate you Microsoft, neener neener neener."
    • by just_another_sean (919159) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:44PM (#20387969) Homepage Journal
      IIRC the GPL3 would apply to MS as soon as someone redeems a SUSE voucher that they received from MS. MS would argue that merely giving out the vouchers is not distribution but most people (the FSF included) see it differently.

      I'm not sure if that holds true or not (IANAL, etc.) but it should be interesting to see how this plays out. MS is obviously at least slightly worried or they wouldn't have issued the PR in the first place.
      • by mr_mischief (456295) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:49PM (#20388065) Journal
        The angle MS and Novell are taking is that Microsoft's vouchers apply to Novell's GPL v2 stuff. If Novell just happens to distribute GPL v3 stuff in place of that, then it's Novell distributing it of its own free will and not a procurement via Microsoft.

        I say the FSF has a right to question that tactic. I'm just not sure where the courts will fall on it.
        • by m0nkyman (7101) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:59PM (#20388201) Homepage Journal
          I'd say that because the distribution of the vouchers predates GPLV3, that MS has a leg to stand on here.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        MS is obviously at least slightly worried or they wouldn't have issued the PR in the first place.

        FSF issued the press release, not MS.

        MS would argue that merely giving out the vouchers is not distribution but most people (the FSF included) see it differently.

        Sorry, but most people, (IANAL) including judges IMO, would not. If I buy a movie from blockbuster, and they give me a coupon for a free whopper from Burger King, would blockbuster be suddenly responsible for the conduct of the BK employees and the food service?

        • by Random832 (694525)

          MS is obviously at least slightly worried or they wouldn't have issued the PR in the first place.
          FSF issued the press release, not MS.

          This was a reaction to a statement by MS. They would not have made that statement if they were not worried.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            This was a reaction to a statement by MS. They would not have made that statement if they were not worried.
            And if MS had let this pass without a statement the slashtards would (still) be channeling Neil Patrick Harris and yelling "It's scared!". When you are an ideologue all evidence points to your favored conclusion.
            • In as much as there are slasdotards there are propritards (tards that use proprietary software) that use MS Software. Now, if you don't want to get into such a stupid ad homenen fight then stop trying to insult others. If you do not, then we can clearly take from your position that you do not have a clear idea of what FOSS is nor what it is trying to accomplish.
          • by sumdumass (711423)
            Maybe MS isn't worried and is just using this as an opportunity to pull the crazies out with all the conspiracies on how MS will be tricked into losing everything because of some future event concerning the GPLv3 at a time when Vista adoption is slower then expected and the OS is radically different enough that a switch to linux would be in the same cost scale as a switch to Vista.

            Wow, what a run on sentence. Anyways, why people are frothing over the aspect of tricking MS into losing it's patent rights beca
        • I'm not going to argue your movie/burger analogy (+1 for originialty though!). However I would like to point out that MS did issue a concerning the GPL3 [microsoft.com] which is what prompted the response from the FSF.

          And sure, maybe "most people" was over stating it a bit. How about - "enough people, including the FSF, feel differently". Of course you are right in that it will ultimately be up to a judge to decide whether or not MS's partnership with Novell and the voucher distribution constitutes software distribution.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mhall119 (1035984)

          If I buy a movie from blockbuster, and they give me a coupon for a free whopper from Burger King, would blockbuster be suddenly responsible for the conduct of the BK employees and the food service?

          Good analogy, but I would take it one step further. If Burger King decided that the name "whopper" would from now on refer to a beer (perfectly legal), would Blockbuster then be required to have a liquor license? Would Burger King even be required to allow the coupon to be redeemed against the new "whopper" product instead of the old "whopper" product they made when the coupon was issued? I think in both cases the courts would rule no.

      • You might as well say that the US government is distributing SuSE.

         
      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:07PM (#20388311)

        IIRC the GPL3 would apply to MS as soon as someone redeems a SUSE voucher that they received from MS.


        This is inconsistent with the FSF's contention that the GPL is a copyright license but not a contract in which the licensee gives up pre-existing rights, since no rights under copyright are necessary to distribute the vouchers and therefore a pure license of the type the FSF claims the GPL is would be completely irrelevant.

        That contention aside, even viewing the GPL as a contract (or, rather, a contract offer), the argument seems to fail since there is no evidence of agreement by Microsoft to be bound by the contract, and thus no contract formed that is binding on Microsoft in the first place.
        • Mod parent up. It's one of the more insightful posts I've read here. I'm not fan of MS by any stretch of the imagination, but this is just turning into a witch hunt.
        • by Aim Here (765712) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:40PM (#20388767)
          Don't think 'copyright violation'. Think along the lines of estoppel.

          The threat here isn't that the FSF sues Microsoft for a GPLv3 breach; the FSF is making clear that there's a defence to a patent infringement lawsuit, namely that Microsoft aided and abetted the distribution of software under GPLv3 terms. If Microsoft sues RedHat over some FSF code, Eben puts on his cape, leaps into the courtroom and shouts "Aha! But you helped everyone distribute that code. Under the GPL. And because of the intricacies of the voucher system, under GPLv3. And the patent provisions of GPLv3 make clear under what conditions this software is allowed to be distributed. Novell gave EVERYONE permission to use every patentable idea in this software, and by helping Novell do that, you gave everyone permission too"

          I reckon that's roughly the scenario that the FSF is hinting at here. It's obviously not a straightforward 'you distributed our software' copyright lawsuit.
          • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @07:02PM (#20391489)

            Don't think 'copyright violation'. Think along the lines of estoppel.


            Yeah, it doesn't work under those terms, either.

            The threat here isn't that the FSF sues Microsoft for a GPLv3 breach; the FSF is making clear that there's a defence to a patent infringement lawsuit, namely that Microsoft aided and abetted the distribution of software under GPLv3 terms.


            Except that, well, they didn't. They issued vouchers when SUSE was (as it still is) distributed under GPLv2 terms, under an agreement with Novell, with very specific limitations on where the patent guarantee applies that are inconsistent with the GPLv3 (which didn't, IIRC, exist at the time the agreement was made.)

            And the patent provisions of GPLv3 make clear under what conditions this software is allowed to be distributed.


            Yeah, they do. And, under the terms of the GPLv3, Novell is not permitted to distribute software under the GPLv3 with only the guarantees Microsoft has provided, which are not as broad as the GPLv3 requires. The result is not that Microsoft's guarantees would be legally treated as broader than they are if Novell changed the licensing on SUSE, the result is that (1) if Novell choose freely (because the software was GPLv2 or later and they wanted to use v3) to use the GPLv3, Novell may be liable to downstream redistributors and users not protected by Microsoft's guarantee for implicit or explicit misrepresentations, particularly if they induced the decision to spend money on SUSE, or (2) if Novell incorporated some else's GPLv3 software into SUSE and thus was compelled to distribute it only under the GPLv3, Novell would be prohibited from honoring the SUSE vouchers and would be liable to Microsoft for breach of contract and/or to the voucher holders as third-party beneficiaries, or, if they chose to distribute despite the terms of the GPLv3, would themselves be in violation of the GPLv3 and liable for copyright infringement.

            Most likely, though, what it really means is that Novell doesn't move SUSE to GPLv3 until and unless the vouchers aren't a substantial issue and they are willing to absorb the costs associated with doing so, and if they want to put out a GPLv3 Linux product in the meantime, they do it under a different name, and don't make it eligible for the vouchers.
            • by Aim Here (765712) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @07:21PM (#20391695)
              "Except that, well, they didn't. They issued vouchers when SUSE was (as it still is) distributed under GPLv2 terms, under an agreement with Novell, with very specific limitations on where the patent guarantee applies that are inconsistent with the GPLv3 (which didn't, IIRC, exist at the time the agreement was made.)"

              Now there's two things here that give the FSF leverage. One is that Microsoft agreed that Novell should release software under a 'GPLv2 or later' license. The other is that the SuSE vouchers did NOT have an expiration date. Meaning if someone has one of those vouchers, they can wait until GPLv12 to cash it in. There's no way that Microsoft can plead ignorance of the 'GPLv2 or later' language in the code it was distributing, there's no way it can complain about the lack of the expiration date, since it clearly agreed to the voucher system, and Microsoft must surely have been aware that the GPLv3 was being drafted. How can Microsoft suddenly be surprised that it was going to help supply the world with GPLv3 software?

              "ah, they do. And, under the terms of the GPLv3, Novell is not permitted to distribute software under the GPLv3 with only the guarantees Microsoft has provided, which are not as broad as the GPLv3 requires."

              Except that Novell has confirmed that it's going to go ahead and distribute GPLv3 software anyway. If Alice comes along with a voucher, supplied to her by Microsoft, and gets GPLv3 software from SuSE, and then reads her GPL, happily offers that software to Bob, who gets sued by Microsoft for patent infringement, who is at fault? Bob isn't, he took his GPL at face value. Alice isn't, she took her GPL at face value AND Microsoft helped Alice get this software, with full knowledge that it was going to contain a GPL license. The answer is that both Novell and Microsoft are at fault. Microsoft can't sue Bob, because Microsoft helped Bob (via Alice) get his software with all the GPL guarantees and whatnot. And if Microsoft DOES have the right to sue, then Novell is guilty of copyright infringement for not providing a secure enough GPLv3 guarantee along with the code it supplied.

              "Most likely, though, what it really means is that Novell doesn't move SUSE to GPLv3 until and unless the vouchers aren't a substantial issue"

              Novell ARE [novell.com] distributing GPLv3 software. The FSF DOES [nwsource.com] believe the vouchers are a substantial issue, and made that clear as soon as they spotted that the SuSE vouchers had no expiration date. Your 'most likely' scenario is already in the bin.
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:44PM (#20388841) Homepage Journal
          Well, for analogy, consider that I contract with someone to distribute bootleg copies of a CD for me, in return for coupons. I then claim to the judge that I owe nothing to the record label, since the license of the CD was not a contract and did not compel me to give up my pre-existing funds. :-)

          I don't think it's relevant that the GPL is a license rather than a contract, since MS has the right to tell Novell to stop honoring those coupons, and thus to stop joining Microsoft to the license.

          Bruce

          • by roscivs (923777)

            Well, for analogy, consider that I contract with someone to distribute bootleg copies of a CD for me, in return for coupons. I then claim to the judge that I owe nothing to the record label
            This is absolutely correct. The record label has no reason to sue you for copyright violation, as you weren't the one (a) duplicating their CDs, or (b) distributing them. This seems pretty straightforward to me.
            • That's the rub, isn't it, if contracting out an activity constitutes engaging in it? Certainly for criminal activity, it amounts to the same thing. For civil cases, I'd say you'd have a pretty good case too, so I'd have to disagree with you. If you paid someone to, for example, damage my house, you can bet I'd sue you - and win, too, if I could prove there was a contract.
          • You think MS can legally weasel out of the GPL obligations? What are you, some astroturfer or something?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HermMunster (972336)
          If Novell does not include any GPL v3 products in their SuSE and people then redeem them Microsoft is not bound. But if Novell does decide to include a GPL v3 product and someone redeems then the license applies to Microsoft (just as the GPL v2 would apply). Novell could refuse to accept the redeemed coupons in order to protect the agreement between themselves and Microsoft and then the redeemer could then go back to Microsoft and ask for a refund. This essentially freezes the SuSE product--and Linxpire
      • Microsoft implied they were not bound by the GPL v3 for anything and that it could not be enforced against them. That's what the FSF is talking about. They are saying that they are immune to anything having to do with the GPL simply by declaring it. The FSF is going to take issue because it means that any company can so declare if Microsoft isn't taken to task on the issue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        MS would argue that merely giving out the vouchers is not distribution but most people (the FSF included) see it differently

        There are two problems with this. First, there is no support whatsoever in either copyright statute or case law for the notion that distributing vouchers to a copyrighted work is legally a distribution of that work. (And the very idea is weird. Would the FSF say that if I went to the theater and bought tickets for a movie, and then gave those tickets to someone else, I'm distributing

    • by IBBoard (1128019)
      The claim I've always seen from the FSF is that Microsoft will (when Novell's Suse distro starts using GLP3 packages) become a "GPL3 distributor" because of their vouchers. There's something in being a distributor that means they're not allowed to be part of the deal that they were part of (which would mean they couldn't have the vouchers, which would mean they would be in the situation, which would mean the GPL3 might never have included the section prohibiting it, which means MS and Novell may have done a
      • this post is untrue.
        • by IBBoard (1128019)
          Any more detail on that, or just a blanket "it isn't true"?

          Some of the exact details may be wrong, but the general "MS being a distributor of GPL3 and hence bound under GPL3" thread of my reply seems to agree with the thread of the main reply to the OP.
          • sorry if that was unclear. i was making a joke, since the ggp post was somewhat circular. my "this post is untrue" was referring to itself.

            if it's true, then it makes it untrue, which makes it true, etc...

            sort of like "there's a hole in the bucket..." [wikipedia.org]
      • by Enoxice (993945)
        Hmmm...the premise for Back to the Future IV, perhaps?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:50PM (#20388075)
      The Suse vouchers that MS handed out had no expiry date and nothing stating which version of Suse they were valid for.
      GPLv3 states that if you give rights to certain users, you must extend those same rights to ALL users without exception.
      If a single person uses a Suse/MS voucher to obtain software licensed under GPLv3, ALL users of that software are immune from lawsuits by MS.
    • by stinerman (812158) <nathan,stine&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:50PM (#20388081) Homepage
      I'm at a loss there too.

      As we all know, the GPL relies on copyright for enforcement. If I distribute GPL'd software, and I do not accept the GPL, then I have committed a copyright violation as nothing but the GPL allows me to distribute the software.

      To be sued for copyright infringement, I must have actually made copes of and distributed GPL'd software, not "conveyed" or "propagated" or any other such language. Unless Microsoft has actually redistributed (not caused someone else to distribute, like Novell*) GPLv3 software without abiding by its terms, they are off the hook for copyright violations. They'd only be on the hook for a contract violation.

      Again as we all know Microsoft has not signed the GPLv3, so it is not a party to it and does not need to abide by it.

      *Unless my understanding of copyright law is wrong, one must make copies of a work and/or distribute them to be on the hook for infringement. The FSF might have a contributory copyright infringement case, but that would be much harder to prove, AFAIK. Of course, I'm an armchair lawyer, so hopefully someone who actually has a law degree will clear this up.
      • As a followup to my own post, this seems to be the issue of contention:

        If Microsoft distributes our [the FSF] works licensed under GPLv3, or pays others to distribute them on its behalf, it is bound to do so under the terms of that license. (my emphasis added)

        I'm not so sure paying others to distribute works in this manner is an infringement of copyright. Again, I hope a lawyer will clear this up.
        • I'm not so sure paying others to distribute works in this manner is an infringement of copyright.

          AFAIK, it would only be if it was an infringement of copyright for the person paid to distribute the works in the first place, and even then it might not be without some other knowledge on the part of the person paying.

          If Novell is following the terms of the GPL and is somehow getting paid by Microsoft to distribute software, Microsoft is neither bound by the license (which they never agreed to, which is the on

        • Again, I hope a lawyer will clear this up.
          {In your best Daffy Duck "youcallthisacloseup?!?" voice:}

          "Lawyers make things clearer?!?"
        • Re:Followup (Score:5, Informative)

          by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:32PM (#20389641) Journal

          No need for a lawyer, just use common sense. Yeah, sense still works-- our legal system isn't yet that messed up. So let's run through the facts:

          1. MS claims GNU/Linux violates 235 of their patents. MS refuses to reveal anything to substantiate these claims, knowing that every last one of their claims will probably be worked around or invalidated. (In any case, should never have allowed the patenting of software.) MS is also not saying whether they will sue.
          2. MS cuts a deal with Novell about their Linux distribution. The main item of this deal is that MS promises not to sue Novell customers for any alleged violations of MS's patents. Complete details of this deal remain unknown to the public.
          3. The FSF, which happened to be in the process of revising the GPL to deal with "Tivoization" and was therefore luckily in a good position to respond swiftly to this threat, does respond. They add language saying you can't promise not to sue some users of GPL software over patent violations. You can't discriminate among recipients. All or none get the protection.

          It's pretty clear what MS could do had things gone according to their plan, but I'll spell it out. MS would be in position to collect protection money from every GNU/Linux user in the world. And it wouldn't be a one time payment either. Same thing SCO tried. Just like that, the entire free software world would no longer be free. Have to pay for MS's blessing to do anything. And you know, given that cost maybe Windows would be (or look like) a better deal. Plus, Windows would have a big advantage if development on GNU/Linux software slowed way down because developers constantly have to work out deals with MS, and check whether any changes have newly violated any of the MS patents that were blessed. Not saying MS would do such despicable things, but if you believe that, I've got this bridge in Brooklyn....

          But we're safe. The FSF has defused this threat. The bullies are afraid to take these issues to court. No need to be worried about technical violations. The spirit of the GPL is most certainly violated by such schemes. Yes, even the spirit of GPL 2. Courts do look at intent when considering cases. But good to have it spelled out in GPL 3, to avoid confusion.

      • by cp.tar (871488)

        To be sued for copyright infringement, I must have actually made copes of and distributed GPL'd software, not "conveyed" or "propagated" or any other such language.

        Well, why don't you ask the MAFIAA what they think about it.

        Making it available in any way (and why vouchers would be excluded escapes me) makes you guilty of copyright infringement. Check one of the recent articles here, for one.

        • by stinerman (812158)
          That isn't precedent (yet), and it's a pretty obviously wrong decision written by someone who has no clue how computing systems work.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:33PM (#20388665) Homepage Journal
      Well, the theory is that since Microsoft is paying Novell - and has a contract with them - to distribute copies of SuSE to customers who have coupons. The coupons are not just like paying with dollars, since the coupons have no real cash value and there is a contract that says what they are for. So Microsoft is a party to that distribution because it has essentially contracted for someone else to distribute software for them. If you contracted for someone else to distribute bootleg copies of Britneyz new hit, do you think you would have much chance of convincing the court you aren't a party to her label's copyright license or otherwise an infringer?

      All of the software that gives "GPL 2 and any later version" as its license is now optionally under GPL3, and new versions of Samba, LIBC, etc., will be "GPL 3 and any later version" and will be included in SuSE. So, Microsoft is obligated under GPL3 if SuSE accepts one coupon for a distribution that contains "GPL3 and later" software. Possibly MS is obligated for "GPL2 and later" software, although that is less clear.

      Microsoft has the right to tell SuSE to stop honoring coupons now and keep the money, and then Microsoft would have to refund anyone who had outstanding coupons and eat crow in public. If Microsoft does not do that, it's going to be difficult to show that they didn't accept the license, since they had a way to escape from doing so.

      MS is obviously concerned, they would not be making noise if they were not. I suspect that they have lost their last chance to keep Free Software away from their patent portfolio by doing this. They gave up the chunk of rights that we would not have already had due to doctrine of laches, etc. And they will settle for that rather than go to court.

      Bruce

      • "If you contracted for someone else to distribute bootleg copies of Britneyz new hit, do you think you would have much chance of convincing the court you aren't a party to her label's copyright license or otherwise an infringer?"

        OK, but what if I distribute vouchers to purchase legitimate copies of Britneyz new hit, and the distributor decides instead to distribute bootleg copies? Am I in violation of the copyright? I entered into a contract with my distributor in good faith. They changed the rules afte

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bruce Perens (3872) *

          OK, but what if I distribute vouchers to purchase legitimate copies of Britneyz new hit, and the distributor decides instead to distribute bootleg copies? Am I in violation of the copyright? I entered into a contract with my distributor in good faith. They changed the rules after the fact.

          It seems to me that Novell can't possibly have guaranteed to Microsoft that it either party would continue to have the right to distribute under Microsoft's contract terms, or that the licenses on the software would stay

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arth1 (260657)

        All of the software that gives "GPL 2 and any later version" as its license is now optionally under GPL3, and new versions of Samba, LIBC, etc., will be "GPL 3 and any later version" and will be included in SuSE.

        Of all people, I though you'd be careful to say GNU LIBC or glibc when you meant the GNU implementation only, cause plain libc is not subject to GPL -- there are implementations under various licenses.
        (And even if you meant glibc, that's LGPL, and not GPL.)

    • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:37PM (#20388723) Homepage Journal

      They make no GPL software.


      I don't know who modded this up, but the question doesn't make any sense. People who make GPL software aren't bound by the GPL with regards to their own software.

      The GPL applies to anyone who distributes covered software and doesn't own the copyrights.

      -Peter
  • Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by DimGeo (694000) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:39PM (#20387897) Homepage
    Microsoft said they are not distributing any GPLv3 software or code, so they are not bound by said code's license, namely the GPLv3. They never said they will not abide by the GPLv3 if they are bound by it by distributing any GPLv3 stuff.
    • by DimGeo (694000)
      I found what I was looking for. Here [groklaw.net]. Please, disregard my previous posts on this thread :D .
  • I think this is great news. Honestly if M$ will not follow other software copyrights does that mean that I don't have to follow M$ copyrights? Oh yeah I forgot it's one of the Golden Rules. Yet again he who has the gold makes the rules.
    • by DimGeo (694000)

      I think this is great news. Honestly if M$ will not follow other software copyrights does that mean that I don't have to follow M$ copyrights?
      That's right, you don't have to. As long as you don't touch that software.
    • by Pojut (1027544)
      Two wrongs don't make a right (even if three lefts do...but that's not the issue at hand here.)
  • Confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:41PM (#20387925)
    Wouldn't MS actually be using and distributing software using GPL'd code in order to be bound to it? If this is the case I hope the FSF goes after them, but if MS isn't using any code and says "we dont like it we wont use it" then I dont see the point of the case.
    • by hasbeard (982620)
      I am not a lawyer but the issue seems to be the language in GPL3 regarding the term "conveyance," and what it means to "convey a work" or "cause it to be conveyed." Read it and see what you think.
      • I am not a lawyer but the issue seems to be the language in GPL3 regarding the term "conveyance," and what it means to "convey a work" or "cause it to be conveyed." Read it and see what you think.

        When it comes to copyright law it seems like the law means whatever the lawyers involved can convince a judge to think it means. After all, if there is such a thing as "contributory infringement" where merely telling someone where to find pirated content counts as a copyright violation, then it sure seems like the MS/Suse voucher scheme should count too.

        Live by the sword, die by the sword.

  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:45PM (#20387989)
    275lbs, wielding his "chair of Google", the solar-panel-for-a-sex-machine, Steve BAAAALLLMMEEERR!

    And in the BLUE corner, weighing in at 65lbs, with his slippery-slope of a stomach, sliding down icy hilltops, the racer himself, TUX!

    *ding ding*
  • Gross Speculation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vthokie69 (549779) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:58PM (#20388193)

    This isn't really news. It's just gross speculation. It's more the FSF equivalent to the FUD that MS spreads regularly. I sincerely doubt that either MS or the FSF wants to get into a major legal fight. It's extremely expensive and does neither side much benefit. Microsoft is going to go out of its way to avoid distributing any GPL3 code. Likewise, I don't see Microsoft abusing its patent library to extract cash out of anyone. If history is any indication, they primarily use their patent stash as a defensive mechanism much like all the other big companies like Sun, IBM, etc.

    All of this speculation is blown way out of proportion. The true threats patent-wise to both free software and Microsoft alike are the patent trolls that produce nothing and only receive revenue from patent royalties and litigation.

  • Legal Maneuvering (Score:4, Interesting)

    by saterdaies (842986) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:59PM (#20388205)
    The issue is that Microsoft has given indemnities to customers of companies like Novell. Seeing that, the FSF decided "let's make it so that the GPL v3 means those indemnifications mean that M$ can never sue free software users even if they aren't Novell customers".

    I guess I'm one of those ends don't justify the means people. M$ shouldn't be suing FOSS, but you can't create a new version of a license and retroactively apply it to M$. We'd all be yelling at the top of our lungs if MS retroactively altered their Windows XP license so that it, say, required to be renewed every year for a fee. And there are loopholes - how many agreements say things like "we can change this agreement without notifying users and continued use is considered agreement with the updated terms."

    Let's fight for real progress rather than shady legal maneuvering - because, let's face it, the evil companies will always be better at it!
    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      I guess I'm one of those ends don't justify the means people. M$ shouldn't be suing FOSS, but you can't create a new version of a license and retroactively apply it to M$.

      You can't make a license retroactive. I believe the legal principle here is estoppel. IANAL. Basically, you cannot declare Version 1.0 of your code is distributed under GNU GPL2, then later you say Version 1.0 is now distributed under GNU GPL3. You have to release a Version 1.1 to do that.

      If you don't look carefully, that seems to get turned on its head with most applications of the GNU GPL. I'm a big fan of free / open source software, and I release much of my code under the GNU GPL, but I've never be

      • by Jim Hall (2985)

        You can't make a license retroactive. I believe the legal principle here is estoppel. IANAL. Basically, you cannot declare Version 1.0 of your code is distributed under GNU GPL2, then later you say Version 1.0 is now distributed under GNU GPL3. You have to release a Version 1.1 to do that.

        If you don't look carefully, that seems to get turned on its head with most applications of the GNU GPL. I'm a big fan of free / open source software, and I release much of my code under the GNU GPL, but I've never been

  • A tiny flaw (Score:2, Redundant)

    by davmoo (63521)
    Before the FSF sues Microsoft, they should probably wait until Microsoft has actually violated the license they are filing that suit over. So far, that I am aware of, Microsoft has yet to distribute anything that is covered under GPL3.

    And even if they do distribute something in the future, the FSF would be well advised to make sure they have the best legal representation that money can buy. Because we *know* Microsoft does. And everyone here should be smart enough to know that in a court room, its not ne
  • The MAFIAA getting sued for malicious prosecution, now the FSF (potentially) suing MS over GPL violations...I think I just saw a pig fly by the window. But seriously, how can this get any better?
  • by maynard (3337)
    rms has quite the big mouth, but not even he has one large enough to take a bite out of Microsoft's legal department. I think he just picked a fight he can't win.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:30PM (#20388593) Homepage
    Microsoft will be "exempt" from the GPLv3 simply because they will never distribute or pay others to distribute GPLv3 code: since the FSF foundation has made clear they believe that paying others counts as distribution, the Novell deal will not encompass any GPLv3 stuff.

    So for all those who hope that Microsoft will somehow get caught with their hand in the GPL cookie-jar/trap, forget about it. They are already very careful, and GPLv3 makes them even more careful.

    Rather, what the GPLv3 does is make a large amount of future open-source development unavailable to Apple. Apple, unlike Microsoft, ships a large amount of GPL based software: GCC, emacs, a lot of random utilities, etc.

    And Apple's solution is to buy up the copyright when possible (CUPS), replace (I've heard talk about replacing gcc), and/or fork at the last GPLv2 version.

    The GPLv3 is designed to be unpalitable to many companies: TiVo, Apple, Google, etc, and they will sooner forgoe anything released under GPLv3 than deal with the liscence. This is a feature of the GPLv3, not a bug.

    But it is a feature that will only be noticed by its absence: large companies avoiding GPLv3 code except for internal use.

    -Nicholas Weaver

  • The problem with deals like the MS-Novell deal is that they have the potential to partition our community. Such deals are also bad from a purely economic point of view, as they give an unfair advantage to a single distributor. I don't think we want any future deals like this, so the GPLv3 included provisions designed to ensure that you can't just choose who will get patent protection - you must extend the protection to everyone if you do offer such protection at all.

    Remember that the GPL is designed to

    • "Section 11 How do the new terms of section 11 affect the Microsoft-Novell deal? We attack the Microsoft-Novell deal from two angles. First, in the sixth paragraph of section 11, the draft says that if you arrange to provide patent protection to some of the people who get the software from you, that protection is automatically extended to everyone who receives the software, no matter how they get it. This means that the patent protection Microsoft has extended to Novell's customers would be extended to ever
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CDarklock (869868)
      The GPLv3 is a steaming pile.

      Nobody who writes anything worthwhile likes it.

      The GPL basically means "if you use this body of code, whatever you contribute must be given out freely".

      This is a great deal when what you contribute is of negligible value compared to the original codebase.

      But when you look around and see a vast teeming community of ignorant retards who can't write decent software to save their lives, this deal sucks.

      The internet isn't the elite anymore. It's a vast teeming community of ignorant r
  • Jeez (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trifish (826353) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @04:57PM (#20389997)
    From the press release made by the FSF:
    Microsoft has said that it expects respect for its so-called "intellectual property"--a propaganda term designed to confuse patent law with copyright and other unrelated laws

    To FSF: "intellectual property" is not a "propaganda term" and the term is not designed "to confuse patent law with copyright and other unrelated laws".

    In standard English, the term "intellectual property" term collectively refers to any or all of the following:

    - Copyrights
    - Trademarks (or service mark)
    - Patents

    Sometimes also to:
    - Trade secrets
    - Trade names

    I stopped reading the press release after reading that sentence...

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

Working...