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Perens Counters Claim of GPL Legal Risk

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-so-fast-my-friend dept.

The Courts 145

Microsoft Delenda Est writes "After ACT, a Microsoft front group, started claiming that the GPLv3 was legally 'risky' and could give rise to anti-trust liability, eWeek has published a rebuttal by Bruce Perens. Aside from the fact that IBM, HP, Red Hat, and a couple dozen corporate lawyers are watching over the creation of the GPLv3, there is already precedent that shows the GPL is unlikely to give rise to any significant liability — Daniel Wallace v. FSF. In that case, pro se litigant Daniel Wallace was all but laughed out of the courtroom for alleging the GPLv2 violates anti-trust law, and the GPLv3 clauses in question are simply clarifications and extensions of clauses in the GPLv2. Presumably, that is why the ACT neglected to cite any precedent substantiating their allegations."

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*Yawn* (1, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677693)

Group that is backed by Microsoft to kill GPL says GPL 3.0 is bad.
Respected open source partisan says GPL 3.0 is good.

No bias on that one...

"open source partisan," what is that? (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678339)

I don't think you are going to get very far if you try to equate free software advocates with PR hitmen. One group is composed of volunteers out to promote software freedom and your rights. To do this, they share their code and documentation freely. The other group is composed of people who are paid to advocate positions, regardless of their personal beliefs - a job the more closely resembles prostitution than other professions. The company they represents thinks of developers as pawns to fuck over [slashdot.org] and routinely calls their users worse. It's a good thing that most people can see through the bullshit this second group has to offer.

Of course, you might be able to point out some kind of vast conspiracy to strip me of my rights that I might have missed. I have not seen it in the GPL, or on the FSF site or in anything Perens has ever written. Go ahead, make my day.

Re:"open source partisan," what is that? (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679953)

The fact that you claim the moral high ground does not mean you are some sort of saintly martir. Everyone has an agenda. If you are one of these free software "advocates" I hope you're the exception rather than the [slashdot.org] rule [slashdot.org] .

The company they represents thinks of developers as pawns to fuck over

Nice language. This seems to be your favorite soundbyte of the moment. Something some mid-level manager at a company with 60,000 employees said years ago. Talk about hanging on for dear life.

I was wondering though - what do you think about Stallman claiming anyone who does not subscribe to his beliefs is "immoral" and should be doing something else? Is that just his opinion, or should I generalize that to anyone who claims they're "advocating"? After all, if you can generalize your "pawns to fuck over" FUD, I don't see why Stallman's position should not apply to the community as well. Which means people would have a genuine right to be critical of him and by extension worried about the direction the GPL is taking.

Re:"open source partisan," what is that? (1)

inca34 (954872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680607)

You have completely failed to convince me that the "moral high ground" of FSF does not make them more likely to fairly, honestly, and straightforwardly represent my and the public's interests better than the other group.

So he used some nice words to contrast volunteer positions versus paid positions, big deal. The essence of his argument boils down to this: We do what we do for the love or for the money. It turns out that people will lie for money. How many will lie for love?

That may not make him or anyone in FSF a "saintly mart[y]r" (who apparently is unquestionable?), but it does give their "agenda" a better chance of being for the people and not just for the wallets of some executive management teams.

Re:"open source partisan," what is that? (-1, Flamebait)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681507)

To answer your point, my relationship with Microsoft (and IBM and CA and Sybase and Oracle and Ford and Mazda) are purely commercial. If their products do what I purchased and/or licensed them for, then fine. Otherwise It's unlikely that I'll be using them much. Aside from organizing foreign wars of genocide, I really could care less about the morality of a corporation, mostly because I don't expect a corporation to be a moral entity at all.

That the FSF (or KDE or GNOME or whatever) is likely to do X and Y for "love" and not money simply does not enter into the equation. If their products (sold or given away) do what I need them to do, then I'll use them. Otherwise I won't.

It's code. It runs on my computer. Does it do the job? That's all. No different than my refrigerator.

The agenda of people like Richard Stallman and Bruce Perens and "twitter" here is to force me to acknowledge that dogma trumps functionality. That's fine, but it's not a POV I subscribe to. If Stallman wants to make copyright law go away, that's fine too. I agree it's broken in many ways, but then I don't think a software license like the GPL is the Ultimate Answer. That's just my opinion of course. You are entitled to yours.

Finally, my response to "twitter" was geared to making sure everyone realizes that he is exactly the thing he claims doesn't exist - a "partisan" that exhibits the worst possible type of "join us or die" extremist behavior which does a tremendous disservice to the very ideals he's supposed to be "evangelizing" 24/7 to anything that moves and has two ears. He (and people like him) has an agenda and he pushes it with the same insane zeal as Microsoft, to the point of driving attention away from things that really matters. FUD is a two way street.

Re:"open source partisan," what is that? (1)

jayp00001 (267507) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680725)

I think that the point of the ACT article is that gpl3 DOES take away your rights. IANAL but in essence it seems to me that GPL3 is trying to make it impossible for anyone that creates GPL3 code to partner with any commercial company. It also seems to say that if I wanted build upon your GPL3d work, I am not allowed protect my intellectual property. It also seems pretty ambiguous, and I think that when GPL3 goes to court (as seems inevitable) it will be decimated becaue of its ambiguity. If GPL3 wants to be successful it needs to remove the nonsense and get back to protecting the 4 freedoms.

Re:"open source partisan," what is that? (3, Insightful)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680879)

There is nothing in any GPL v1, 2, 3.. that says you can't partner with a commercial company. There are many commercial companies producing GPL'd code (Canonical anyone?).

However, it was always the goal of the GPL to make it such that if you wish to benefit from the years of hard work GIVEN to you FREELY by developers that created the GNU toolset, you would have to play by their rules. Which are very simple. Make your work freely available. Distribute the source code... now.. you can charge for the distribution.. you can charge to set it up for someone.. you can charge for support.. you can charge for training...

It is redirecting the money to where it belongs. In the information age, knowledge is power/money. If you have the knowledge to do your own support/training/deployment/sales pitch to management, more power to you, you have now become a consultant that can sell that service.

There are VERY viable commercial models using the GPL, you just have to claw your way out of the proprietary software model that is so unnaturally imposed by our backwards IP laws (thus the GPL is helping you to make this cognitive shift).

If you disagree, don't use GPL'd code.

It's really pretty simple :)

You're wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18682339)

> impossible for anyone that creates GPL3 code to partner with any commercial company

If you own the code (rather than using *someone else's* GPLv3'd code), you can license it under any terms you want--you probably wouldn't license it to them under the GPL at all. So no obstacle there.

> It also seems to say that if I wanted build upon your GPL3d work, I am not allowed protect my intellectual property.

From whom? You can still sue 3rd parties. You're just not allowed to take other people's code, then assert patents against your fellow users... but how fair is that? Aren't you essentially extorting the other parties? You take their code by using your patents to steal* their rights to their own code, given that the patents will forbid anyone but you from using their code? Please remember, the FSF is against software patents to begin with. The US is the only country to recognize them, and that only came about due to bad legal precedents.

So if you don't want to share, don't. But don't pee in the communal well and act snobbish when they try to take away your IP rights. (Bad pun, huh?)

> It also seems pretty ambiguous, and I think that when GPL3 goes to court (as seems inevitable) it will be decimated becaue of its ambiguity. If GPL3 wants to be successful it needs to remove the nonsense and get back to protecting the 4 freedoms.

I think it's you who is confused, based on the misapprehensions you harbor. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm not having any trouble with the GPLv3 draft. You might find it helpful to consult a legal dictionary or read the rationale documents. The rationale documents, in particular, detail exactly why and how the clauses support the four freedoms.

That doesn't mean the draft is perfect, of course. So if you do find any potential situations that would be problematic, by all means, bring them to attention and explain how they impact the four freedoms. They have open forums for comments, after all.

* In this case, it is stealing, because they no longer have the rights after you take them. The GPL, by contrast, allows people to essentially "copy" rights and distribute them to others, which I believe to be a good thing.

Re:"open source partisan," what is that? (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680965)

"open source partisan," what is that?

I don't know about anyone else, but it sure sounds to me like you fit the bill.

Just because Perens isn't being paid to make this statement (at least directly -- he makes his money largely from his free software advocacy, and this is part of that) doesn't mean that he's not a biased source. He's been one of the core supporters of the GPLv3 from the beginning. His position is just as unsurprising as Microsoft's.

Re:"open source partisan," what is that? (1)

LionMage (318500) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682077)

Partisan [reference.com] : "an adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, esp. a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance"

Don't know where "PR hitmen" came from, but the definition of partisan does seem to more-or-less describe Bruce Perens and a host of other advocates. Bruce might object to the terms "biased" or "emotional," but I think one could objectively point to other opinion pieces he's written where he shows some bias at the very least. Everyone is biased, so this isn't a particularly strong condemnation.

Re:*Yawn* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18678411)

Eh, you expected them to be unbiased? It's sort of the nature of a debate that people with opposing views argue against each other. If you're not interested in the arguments, well fine, this is not the news your were looking for, move along.

I consider the GPL v3 and related stuff to be just the kind of thing I go to slashdot to read about.

bias is fine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18680467)

bias is fine... i'm biased that 2+2=4. it has served me well.

everyone has a bias. the key is if one allows the bias to impact the reasonableness of one's conclusion. i've changed my mind on a number of issues despite a bias that existed prior to my changing my mind. it can happen.

i do agree it is rare, though. i can't recount how many arguments i've been in where the conclusion smacks me in the face, i argue the points, they get ignored and i get slimed. it appears to be a quirk of human nature - but they do know enough not to discuss the arguments. they know on some level, even if it is subconscious, that they can't support their bias.

anyway, bias is often an issue, but not always.

judge an argument on the quality of the argument... overly focusing on bias while ignoring the arguments is a red herring and in poor style.

"saying that shows"? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18677737)

English much?

Why tagged Linux? (1, Insightful)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677743)

Why is this tagged Linux? Linus already indicated that Linux will not be under GPLv3.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677837)

Well, if you call it GNU/Linux the way RMS wants, you'll realize that the GNU part (at least the non-LGPL) almost certainly will be GPLv3.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678019)

you'll realize that the GNU part (at least the non-LGPL) almost certainly will be GPLv3.

All the talk of GPL3 has overwhelmed the fact that there is an LGPL3, which will share most of the GPL3 language. It will most certainly be applied to GNU LIBC.

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (4, Funny)

chihowa (366380) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679293)

OT, I know, but Bruce... c'mon. It's impolite to usurp all of the +5 mods on an article about yourself!

Re:Why tagged Linux? (5, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679641)

OT, I know, but Bruce... c'mon. It's impolite to usurp all of the +5 mods on an article about yourself!

I'd rather you hear it from the horse's mouth than from the other end of the horse :-) I guess that's a pretty good description of ACT's lawyer, isn't it?

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680099)

Dammit. Now you're taking all the +1funny mods, too.

But, really, how about a separate analysis of LGPL v3? Can an LGPL v3 library be linked to a closed source device that uses DRM with unknown keys?

Re:Why tagged Linux? (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680297)

But, really, how about a separate analysis of LGPL v3? Can an LGPL v3 library be linked to a closed source device that uses DRM with unknown keys?

As long as you can change the library without limitation. Don't lock down that library. And your DRM must not depend on the integrity of that library to work.

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (0, Flamebait)

morganew (194299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681705)

From your post it's clear that you aspire to be both a lawyer and a comedian. And while I concede that as a lawyer you make a good comedian, no one will be laughing if this license is finalized without addressing some of the legal issues Wilder outlined.

Maybe you should apply your comic timing to chiding those dozen lawyers to get this agreement right, while there is still time. ACT provided you with some free-to-you legal analysis of the GPLv3 from a very well respected IP lawyer [piipa.org] , and you are busy calling him names instead of taking advantage of it? Brilliant idea!

You claim to be a "leader" of the Open Source community, perhaps you should start acting like one.

Oh, and Wilder ALSO has an Engineering degree, so it looks like he has sees your bid, and raises you one degree.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18683085)

Unfortunately, dispite his background, his goal here was not to sincerely contribute to the GPL development. He could have done that by participating on the committee, or using the feedback process. Eben Moglen, the general counsel for FSF, read his paper and declined to respond to him. No doubt others on the GPL committee have also read the paper.

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18678525)

Well, if you call it GNU/Linux the way RMS wants

Wrong. He wants you to call Linux "Linux", to call GNU "GNU", and to call the combination of the two "GNU/Linux".

Re:Why tagged Linux? (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677989)

As has been reported here previously, Linus is actually pleased with GPL3 draft 3, and will at least consider placing the kernel under GPL3. He really did not like previous drafts. But even if the kernel stays at GPL2, the C library, the main library in a Linux-based distribution, would go to LGPL3, it's copyright is owned by FSF in full. So are GCC, Emacs, a number of other programs. And no doubt other projects will go to GPL3.

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678145)

Of course, anyone who really doesn't like GPL3 for some reason is free to fork gcc, emacs, etc. and maintain their own GPL2 versions.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678517)

And those forks will have to be significantly better than the GPL3 originals if they are to last longer than a month or two. I can count the number of successful forks on one hand.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678847)

And those forks will have to be significantly better than the GPL3 originals if they are to last longer than a month or two. I can count the number of successful forks on one hand.

They will be significantly better for people who prefer GPL2 over GPL3.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (3, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678993)

And those forks will have to be significantly better than the GPL3 originals if they are to last longer than a month or two. I can count the number of successful forks on one hand.

They will be significantly better for people who prefer GPL2 over GPL3.

That won't be the users, since GPL3 doesn't restrict them at all. So, a GPL2 fork of any GPL3 product will need to be technically better to attract the users. It's unlikely that anyone motivated to fork backward to GPL2 will be able to muster sufficient community resources to make such a thing better than the GPL3 version.

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1, Troll)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18683265)

It's more important, at this point, for Open Source projects to attract developers than it is to attract users.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (2, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679037)

You'll be surprised how significant a fork over a license change can be [xfree86.org] .

That said, I seriously doubt there will be much traction in GPLv2 forks, as most of the people who appear to oppose GPLv3 either have little respect behind the principles of GPLv2 (and argue as such), or oppose the GPL altogether (I am really not seeing heavy opposition from any group that believes in strong copyleft licenses, using arguments that are based upon the superiority of strong, copyleft, licenses.) Neither of the groups I mentioned has much incentive to hijack development of GPL'd projects to keep them on GPLv2.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (4, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679265)

You'll be surprised how significant a fork over a license change can be.

Why has *BSD acheived less of a market than Linux? Which of these popular reasons do you believe?

  • Because BSD came out for SCSI disks, and Linux came out for PC disks, and BSD has never been able to regain the early-mover advantage.
  • Because people like and respect Linus.
  • Because the good developers prefer sharing-with-rules licensing to gift licensing.
  • Because even RMS is more warm and fuzzy than Theo.

:-)

Bruce

RMS/Theo popularity contest? (3, Funny)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681511)

Because even RMS is more warm and fuzzy than Theo.
You're INHUMAN! And your inhumanity retroactively excuses code theft. Which we didn't do. How dare you accuse one of our developers of code theft! It wasn't deliberate; it was a mistake. We meant to rewrite the copied code before committing it to the tree, and thereby create merely a derived work of the original, but not 'derived' in the legal sense, mind you. We didn't really steal anything because it didn't actually run or anything.

You inhuman bastards are the reason we hate Linux.

</Theo>

Re:Why tagged Linux? (0, Flamebait)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18683309)

Because the FUD campaign regarding the BSD license in the mid to late 90's was capitalized on and echoed by the Linux community to drive 'the market' (as you term it) toward Linux.

Not the whole story, but a component of it. And it *was* a FUD campaign in all it's glory.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679143)

Of course, anyone who really doesn't like GPL3 for some reason is free to fork gcc, emacs, etc. and maintain their own GPL2 versions.

This is pretty much always said with the rhetorical implication that a fork of gcc in particular would require an impossibly large degree of intellectual labour to maintain seperately.

"Of COURSE you're free to fork gcc under GPL 2! But you'll find, after a few months, that in practice the program is just too complex to be able to maintain your own fork effectively. So when you discover this and come crawling back, you'll have already learned that in effective reality it's GPL 3 or nothing without us needing to have said a word about it. So we get to have our cake and eat it too. We can give people the illusion that they're completely free to do their own thing, and we don't have to relinquish the appearance of holding the moral high ground, because they'll discover that they actually effectively *can't* do their own thing all by themselves. Cool, eh?"

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678649)

IIRC, Torvalds said he's pleased with the changes, not that he's pleased with GPLv3 itself. The misunderstanding boils down to a poorly written CNET headline:

"I'm actually pretty pleased [com.com] . Not because I think it's perfect, but simply because I think it's certainly a lot better than I really expected from the previous drafts," he said in an interview. "Whether it's actually a better license than the GPLv2, I'm still a bit skeptical, but at least it's now 'I'm skeptical' rather than 'Hell no!'"

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679115)

As has been reported here previously, Linus is actually pleased with GPL3 draft 3, and will at least consider placing the kernel under GPL3.

Linus' position on a kernel licence switch has been greatly distorted. While he didn't like the earlier V3 drafts for some of its ideology he wouldn't have transfered the kernel over from V2 anyway for the simple fact that he doesn't have the copyright for the entirety of the kernel codebase. There is no practical way for him to contact all copyright holders to get approval for a switch in the license. The Linux kernel will always be GPL2. This is why the GNU project wants you to assign copyright over to FSF for work they absorb under their umbrella so they have complete control over the code for relicensing.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679381)

There is no practical way for [Linus] to contact all copyright holders to get approval for a switch in the license. The Linux kernel will always be GPL2.

Fortunately, it's not as big a problem as you believe. But how can the Linux kernel project, with its thousands of developers, change its license? We can't even reach them all, and some of those developers are dead and their estates don't know software licenses from driver's licenses. But changing the license is easier than most people think.

First, it's not a fundamental change: the intent of GPL 3 is that of GPL 2, the change is in the implementation. Given that, what would be required for such a change would be for Torvalds (or someone else) to publish his intent to start making releases with the new license, as a legal notice. A certain number of people would object, and they would have the right to require that their contributions be removed from the new release.

The kernel team has never been loath to replace code when necessary, and never slow to handle the job, no matter how large the item to be replaced. Just look at the replacement of Bitkeeper with "git", a big job that took a ground-up rewrite and yet was working in five weeks. So, code belonging to GPL3-objectors would be swiftly dealt with.

After some time passed, the release would happen under the new license, and life would go on. There is precedent for this, as Torvalds has already made two significant changes to the prelude to GPL2 on the kernel, publishing his intent and then making a release.

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680659)

So the kernel would still be infringing on the copyrights of the people who are out of the loop, but because they're out of the loop we don't care about them, and if they ever started caring about us they probably wouldn't sue us?

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680955)

Bruce, maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not aware of a legal theory that would make this work the way you describe. Code licensed under GPLv2-only (as opposed to GPL v2 or later) can't legally be distributed under a more restrictive license, such as the GPLv3. To do so would be a copyright violation, and announcing one's intent to do so in advance would not change this. Linus of course can relicense his code, but not that contributed by others without their consent. Everyone, including Linus, must abide by the licenses by which that code was contributed. They must either get the consent of the GPLv2-only contributors, or strip that code, before releasing the entire thing as GPLv3 (or even GPL v2-or-above).

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

asninn (1071320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681115)

The kernel team has never been loath to replace code when necessary, and never slow to handle the job, no matter how large the item to be replaced. Just look at the replacement of Bitkeeper with "git", a big job that took a ground-up rewrite and yet was working in five weeks. So, code belonging to GPL3-objectors would be swiftly dealt with.

No, I don't think that's true. The fundamental difference is that git was being developed when McVoy started interfering with actual development; Linus didn't mind the fact that BK was unfree at all as long as he could get his work done with it (and that necessitates other developers also being able to use the program).

GPLv2 code would probably be replaced if a serious problem with the GPLv2 was discovered - for example, if, for some reason, it turned out that the license contradicted itself and that you couldn't actually distribute GPLv2 code you didn't write yourself after all. But barring that, as long as the GPLv3 is "only" an improvement over the GPLv2, I don't see why there would suddenly be a big rush to replace code when there's no technical reason.

And that's doubly true when you consider how huge and complex the kernel really is: it was pretty easy to write an initial replacement for BK, but development certainly carried on (it didn't just spring into existence bug-free and chock-full of features), and BK, like most projects, is laughable in terms of size and complexity when compared to the kernel.

So I neither believe that it could be done as easily as replacing BK, and I also don't believe that Linus would seriously consider it unless there was an actual technical reason why all GPLv2 code would suddenly have to be rewritten from scratch in a hurry under the GPLv3 instead.

What's more likely is that code that was contributed as being under the GPLv2 *only* will slowly be replaced by "GPLv2 or GPLv3" code; and when all pieces are suitably licensed, there may be a switch from "GPLv2 or GPLv3" to "GPLv3 only", at which point the kernel would properly be licensed under the GPLv3. But it just as well might not happen, and if it does, it's going to be an evolution, not a revolution.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

Dick Wilder (1086699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682441)

Mr. Perens says that changing the license from GPLv2 to v3 is "not a fundamental change: the intent of GPL 3 is that of GPL 2, the change is in the implementation." I guess it depends on the eye of the beholder. This is the first time that the FSF has decided to use a change to the GPL as a means to attack an existing, legal agreement between two companies. That seems like a fundamental change to me both as to its intent and implementation.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678003)

Why is this tagged Linux? Linus already indicated that Linux will not be under GPLv3.

OK. Maybe I'm just behind the times or something, but what was "wrong" with GPLv2?

I've glanced at the side-by-side comparisons between the two, and I see the changes, and I've heard many people gripe about GPLv3, so why is there a push for it?

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678035)

Because it allows for Novell / Microsoft type agreements???

Re:Why tagged Linux? (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678083)

OK. Maybe I'm just behind the times or something, but what was "wrong" with GPLv2?

GPL has never stood alone, it has always depended on the local interpretation of copyright and other law to give it force, and those things change over time.

When the GPL was written, there was no web, music came from phonograph records, video from tape, and rather than DRM there was rudimentary software "copy protection". The renaissance of microprocessors, software, the web and digital media worked a tremendous change in the law with many changes to copyright, patents, the nature of consent, contracts, tear-open licenses, and copyright permissions. And there have been many trials over those years that added interpretation to laws that GPL 2 depends upon. As the law changes, GPL must change to keep up with it, or it will become increasingly un-enforcible.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

PMuse (320639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678697)

The renaissance of microprocessors, software, the web and digital media worked a tremendous change . . .

Seems to me to be more of a naissance, since there wasn't much of a dark age in computing between the invention of the microprocessor and now.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682253)

there wasn't much of a dark age in computing between the invention of the microprocessor and now
Actually, I think there are several candidates for "dark age of computing". Pick one:
  1. The rise of the C/C++/Java (pick one) language instead of a more safe-by-design language as a programming standard.
  2. "Endless September" dating from when AOL users became a significant factor in Usenet
  3. Microsoft Windows 95 - dating from mail and network applications defaulting to behavior that had been proven unsafe a decade or more earlier.
  4. The takeover of email by unscrupulous advertisers - dating from when the majority of people on Usenet started actively discouraging email responses, instead of encouraging it.
  5. The advent of the software patent - stifling most innovation.


Personally, I hope the age of the software patent is short-lived and we can look back on it as a bad dream.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

PMuse (320639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18683031)

The so-called dark ages, if dark they were, lasted ~900 years and are characterized as a retreat from the scholarship and achievements of, inter alia, ancient Greece. While generations are short in computing, our analogy should be seeking a period of at least years when we forgot or ignored what those before us knew. Perhaps:
  • The disconnected era (between initial multi-user computing and the ubiquitous networks of today).
  • The pre-web era (though the advent of the web is more of a naissance without the 're').
  • The age of Windows (which hasn't ended yet).
Myself, I think that the history of computing is better characterized as a continuous rise, with brief accelerations, brief pauses, but no significant retreats.

re: what was "wrong" with GPLv2? (3, Informative)

g2devi (898503) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678589)

Besides the other reasons stated (the N-M deal, the GPL depends on US-specific concepts), the GPL v2 is incompatible with more free software licenses than it needs to be and this leads to some license fragmentation.

The GPL v3 attempts to fix this problem by adding a "permissions clause" which allows the original license owner to add other permissions (e.g. the LGPL is now the GPL plus some permissions) and by adjusting the license to be more compatible with the free software norm (e.g. the Apache license is now almost compatible with the GPL v3. The patent clauses are now compatible, unfortunately the Apache indemnity clause was a bit too strong for the GPL community to swallow. ).

This "permissions clause" makes it easy for the average user to understand how different flavours of the GPLv3 can combine -- just drop incompatible permissions and end up with the common subset (which would be no less restrictive than the GPL v3).

This could allow you to define the CPL, PHP license, Mozilla license, etc as GPL + some permissions and either get rid of the original license or publish "equivalent GPL+permissions versions" of these licenses along side the orignal (simpler) license so as to make it obvious how you can combine code from your license with other licenses.

Re:Why tagged Linux? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679127)

Ask the authors of the majority of the licences in this [opensource.org] list that are copyleft.

The simple reality is that GPLv2 wasn't perfect. Many projects have seen the need to create their own licenses, often licenses that are incompatible with the GPL. Some of those licenses are more liberal than the GPL, others are more strict. In many cases, small changes to the GPL that would have had the support of the vast majority of people who use it, would have made the license acceptable.

The big one concerns the effects of patents.

Legal Risk Numero Uno (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677779)

I think that the first legal risk that the Microsoft Corporation should worry about is the risk of pursuing anti-competitive business practices. Their historic success at monopolizing personal computing software has not escaped anyone's attention and we know that it isn't all because of their stellar products.

GPLv3 in the marketplace (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18677799)

You could argue that the restrictions that GPLv3 is intended to prevent -- web services running off GPL software without sharing code, for example -- are a marketplace effort to move open source licensing closer to BSD-style.

Thus, if the marketplace already views GPLv2 as too encumbered, it is unlikely that commercial code released in the future will be licensed under GPLv3, or that commercial entities will contribute to GPLv3 open-sourced projects. Before you argue that this is irrelevant, consider the amount of commercial code that has radically improved Linux in the past five years or so.

I'm not sure if this an argument for or against GPLv3.

Might as well claim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18678155)

that the MS source being leaked was merely the marketplace deciding the code belonged PD.

Or piracy that the software should be free. (though this last one is actually closer to reality: piracy is the only way in a government mandated monopoly for the market to set its price).

Re:GPLv3 in the marketplace (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678345)

You could argue that the restrictions that GPLv3 is intended to prevent -- web services running off GPL software without sharing code, for example -- are a marketplace effort to move open source licensing closer to BSD-style.

Well, this might be moot because GPL3 won't prevent the performance of web services using undisclosed modified internal GPL3 code. RMS feels that this is your right, and has only provided a way for people to optionally apply the Afero GPL, which does prevent this, to GPL3 code.

But your posting touches on a more fundamental topic, where the market is attempting to move Open Source licensing. There will always be a difference between the goals of companies who offer licenses along with their developed code, and companies who receive those licenses. Companies that receive Open Source code will always want BSD-style licensing as it gives them more options to keep their own development using that code proprietary. Companies that release Open Source code will tend to want a more restrictive license as this enables a dual-licensing revenue stream so that they can charge those folks who want to keep their development proprietary.

We can leave the motivation of non-companies to another discussion, since your question did not touch upon it, but they often have reasons to want a sharing with rules (GPL) license over a gift (BSD) license. And of course a detailed discussion of motivation for gift or sharing licenses would be much larger than this little posting.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:GPLv3 in the marketplace (1)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679343)

We can leave the motivation of non-companies to another discussion, since your question did not touch upon it, but they often have reasons to want a sharing with rules (GPL) license over a gift (BSD) license.
One notable instance where creators (companies or no) often prefer a gift license over a sharing with rules license is when the software promotes a standard, where adoption of the standard (and a uniform reference platform for same) is often more important than the implementation itself.

Re:GPLv3 in the marketplace (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679535)

One notable instance where creators (companies or no) often prefer a gift license over a sharing with rules license is when the software promotes a standard, where adoption of the standard (and a uniform reference platform for same) is often more important than the implementation itself.

I state this in paper on which Open Source license to choose that I give to corporate customers. If you really want everybody to adopt it, even your worst enemy, use BSD. But then don't complain if they make it work incompatibly from your version, as Microsoft is wont to do.

Bruce

Re:GPLv3 in the marketplace (2, Informative)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679683)

RMS feels that this is your right, and has only provided a way for people to optionally apply the Afero GPL, which does prevent this, to GPL3 code.
Affero GPL [wikipedia.org] is the correct spelling.

I had to stop using scroogle's search scraper and go to google directly to get the spelling correction. I am sure there are others with this problem.

Re:GPLv3 in the marketplace (4, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679833)

Thus, if the marketplace already views GPLv2 as too encumbered, it is unlikely that commercial code released in the future will be licensed under GPLv3, or that commercial entities will contribute to GPLv3 open-sourced projects. Before you argue that this is irrelevant, consider the amount of commercial code that has radically improved Linux in the past five years or so.

Yes, do consider the amount of corporate contribution to Linux, and then think about why that work has gone into Linux and not into BSD. Why have IBM, SGI, Red Hat and others chosen to put so much effort into improving Linux rather than BSD? I posit that the GPL, far from being a bitter pill that corporate contributors unwillingly swallow, is the reason they chose to contribute to and work with Linux. IBM, for example, has no interest in putting its efforts into improving a codebase that can be ripped off by Microsoft or other competitors. Code contributed to a GPL project reaps returns in the form of other code that the contributor gets to use, but code contributed to a BSD project may or may not.

Consider Sun, also. They're in the process of open-sourcing Java, and there are strong rumors that Sun plans to license OpenSolaris under GPLv3. Why not BSD?

Because BSD is better for those who take, and GPL is better for those who give. There are exceptions, of course, but in general contributors have fewer concerns with the GPL than with the BSD, and that is why the corporate world has overwhelmingly favored GPL over BSD. IMNSHO, it's also why the volunteer community has overwhelmingly favored GPL over BSD.

What does this have to do with GPLv2 vs GPLv3? Well, projects that get corporate contributions are going to have to look and see if v3 poses any risks to the continued flow of contributions. In practice, I really doubt that any corporations who are willing to contribute and whose contributions we want are going to be put off by GPLv3 because v2 and v3 are essentially the same. v3 tightens up some loopholes and fixes the language, but the basic goals expressed by the license are identical, so the only people who might like v2 but not v3 are those who want to exploit the v2 loopholes -- meaning those who want to exploit the open source community and don't care about their reputation in that community.

If GPLv3 keeps such bad-faith contributors out, I think that's a bonus, not a cost.

Re:GPLv3 in the marketplace (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681249)

so the only people who might like v2 but not v3 are those who want to exploit the v2 loopholes -- meaning those who want to exploit the open source community and don't care about their reputation in that community.

In other words, the SCOs of the world.

Re:GPLv3 in the marketplace (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18683411)

that is why the corporate world has overwhelmingly favored GPL over BSD.

It is inherently impossible for you to make this assertion. Many elements within the corporate world overwhelmingly favor BSD, if by that is meant, they adopt the BSD code base into their product. They can do so far more quietly than if they incorporate GNU-licensed code.

There is a HUGE install base of hardware that runs on code derived from the BSD code base. And there are contributions back to the BSD code base from said companies.

It's a gray area, and most GNU enthuiasts and advocates only see 'their' side of the code base to comment on, but readily comment on the 'other side' as if they have a clue about it.

MY computer doesn't parse licenses (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677803)

It works just fine without one. They are merely a waste of disk space. Licenses are for lawyers. Not for regular people, or computers. A simple "created by..." is good enough. Nobody can take the code away.

Re:MY computer doesn't parse licenses (3, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678629)

my computer doesn't parse licenses, it works just fine without one

Then, you are not running any recent Mac or Windows system. Your computer probably depends on the work of people who would not have released their code at all without the GPL. Like the GCC developers, for example, whose work started with Richard Stallman's first implementation. GCC is most likely used to compile the system you are running.

Richard Stallman agrees with you. He doesn't restrict your right to use the software. It is copyright law that restricts your right to distribute other people's software, to modify it, etc. Richard would rather that there were no copyright law. Since there is, he uses the GPL to turn copyright law upon its head as well as he can.

Bruce

Re:MY computer doesn't parse licenses (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679655)

What I'm saying is that the computer doesn't read and agree with a license when I fire it up. "Trusted" computing is an apparent attempt to change that, I suppose.

Since there is, he uses the GPL to turn copyright law upon its head as well as he can.

Yes, I actually DO agree with that. GPL derives its power from copyright law, which of course is a good thing. I am happy to see this happening for that reason. But a big problem, to me anyway, is multiple licenses in one program. Talk about bloat! The big companies work under a single copyright. Not very well, I might add, but they're rakin' it in. So, who am I to argue with success? Maybe I'm a bit too anxious and want to eliminate the middleman and cut straight to the chase. Ignore all licenses. It's a shame that too many people don't understand that we won't need GPL if their is no copyright law. They seem to be under some impression that they can't use the code if a big company "takes" it. If somebody wants my code for whatever purpose, it's not for me to say or do anything about it. He would gain no exclusivity over it without copyright law. I still have my copy to do with as I please. What I'm concerned about is that with all these people worrying about licensing, it leaves little time for un-distracted(?) coding. It's like a nag screen in the back of your head. And even worse is the number and variation of licenses. The whole FOSS thing is moving from a bazaar to a Tower of Babel. The licenses will bring the whole thing tumbling down. As a business, I would avoid it for these reasons. Because then I would have to be concerned about being held liable for some mysterious, obscure copyright violation that only a lawyer could see. Licenses take up disk space. It's like a ball and chain. Imagine if each of my Snap-on wrenches came with a foot long, ten pound "dongle" stipulating how I can use it. Well, all that weight just made the tool pretty useless. The same is happening to software. The licenses are getting that it will be prohibited to use the program for what I bought it for. Well, here's hoping that someday Stallman's trumpets will bring down the Walls of Jericho [wikimedia.org] .

Re:MY computer doesn't parse licenses (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679471)

IANAL but i think that every program from the smallest "hello world" up has some sort of license so just remember
  lawyers are just folks that never stopped playing in the debate club and laws are just the "rules of the game"

Re:MY computer doesn't parse licenses (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679839)

The license is there, but the program will run without it. To the computer it's just another occupied block of disk space that goes completely unused. That much less space for my documents. But you're right. We're just caught in the crossfire in a fight amongst lawyers.

Can we trust? (1)

triskaidekaphile (252815) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677813)

Does Microsoft know anything about anti-trust?

Well, I suppose they are anti-trusting their consumer base.

The only part I don't agree (1)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677821)

But, to Perens, the fact that Microsoft is currently giving to customers coupons that can be redeemed for a copy of SUSE Linux indicates that these coupons are intended to be redeemed for a copy of the copyrighted GPL 2 software.

"So, Microsoft is actively participating in distribution of the GPL2 software today, and must have assented to GPL 2 to do that, because any distribution without assent to GPL2 would be infringement. Under GPL 2, they have already given away the rights to use Microsoft patents that are applied in the Novell distribution, for any use in any GPL software, by anyone, forever," Perens said.


Giving away coupons doesn't equate to distribution but to promotion. Giving away coupons makes Microsoft a distributor of GPL2 software as much as giving away free BigMac coupons makes a radio station a BigMac distributor. That's promotion, not distribution.

Anyway, I think GPL3 is very welcome to stop people to circumvent and thus negate the very 4 freedoms that are meant to passed along with any distribution of GPL'd software and derivative works.

Re:The only part I don't agree (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678477)

Giving away coupons makes Microsoft a distributor of GPL2 software as much as giving away free BigMac coupons makes a radio station a BigMac distributor.

The word "coupons" might have led you astray. What Microsoft is giving out is paid-up Novell licenses which Microsoft pays for. Either the distribution or support inherent in those licenses, which is done on Microsoft's behalf, involves copying: a direct infringement if you haven't agreed to the license. And there is also the potential for contributory and vicarious infringement in the law. In contrast, when a radio station gives out Big Mac coupons, it is always doing so on behalf of Macdonands, who is paying for that form of advertising. So, it's not the same thing at all.

Bruce

Re:The only part I don't agree (1)

tkinnun0 (756022) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681137)

That sounds a bit vague. Let's say I have a patent on thing X which I've only put in my product Y and I'm going to distribute OSS Z. Let's say following events happen:
A) I start distributing Z,
B) Someone puts X in Z,
C) I become aware of X in Z,
D) someone on Slashdot becomes aware of A and/or B.

Which sequences of events would cause me to have to give away my patent and at which point should I have stopped distributing Z to prevent that:
A before B before C before D?
A before B before D before C?
B before A before C before D?
B before A before D before C?
B before C before A before D?
B before C before D before A?
B before D before A before C?
B before D before C before A?

Re:The only part I don't agree (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681251)

"Giving away coupons doesn't equate to distribution but to promotion. Giving away coupons makes Microsoft a distributor of GPL2 software as much as giving away free BigMac coupons makes a radio station a BigMac distributor. That's promotion, not distribution."

Well, IANALBIMO. The radio station in your example may not be "distributing" BigMacs, but id does tie them up in the legal liability chain to some extent. If someone gets poisoned by the BigMac they bought with the radio station coupon, that station will be included in the lawsuit/insurance settlement sure as day. That is, unless McD's signs a "hold harmless" agreement/waiver of subrogation.

Point is, if you get involved with someone else's product, you also get involved with the legal aspects of that product. So in that sense, the Microsoft/Novell agreement is similar to your example - just not in the way you suppose.

Twofo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18677847)

Twofo [twofo.co.uk]

So Glad I use SUSE (2, Funny)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677881)

Wow! After reading that the GPL v3 could constitute a legal risk by me, I'm happy I'm using SUSE and not <insert distro here>, which isn't covered by the non-agression treaty setup between Microsoft and Novell.

Think about the droves of people and organizations who will now be joining us (Microsoft and Novell) in ensuring their users and customers are lawsuit-free by only using GPL v2 and hiding behind the MS agreeements.

Thank you ever so much, Steve!

Thank you Ron!

Seriously - I figure the GPL v3 is being worked over so much that - like v2 - whatever challenges will hold up just fine.

Good rebuttal by Bruce Perens (4, Funny)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18677951)

Hey, I actually read the article - I must be new here :-)

I am looking forward to the V3 release of GPL and LGPL. I especially like the way the new LGPL draft basically just references the V3 GPL (draft), with exceptions.

I believe that Microsoft's claims of anti-competitiveness of the new GPL is laughable. Microsoft sets a high standard for anti-competitive activities, in my opinion. Also, people and organizations who want to live, play, and build systems in the LGPL/GPL infrastructure world should be allowed to do so - Microsoft's push here seems to be desiring to remove people's freedom to pick alternative (to Microsoft) development strategies. No big surprise.

I have some influence on my customers (I am a consultant) and I use this influence to convince them to go open source on more of their projects.

Re:Good rebuttal by Bruce Perens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18678289)

Hey, I actually read the article - I must be new here :-)

In Soviet Russia, the article, whose I for one welcome as our reading overlords, reads YOU in Japan(!), you wifeless insensitive clod!

Re:Good rebuttal by Bruce Perens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18679375)

... in space! [slashdot.org]

Re:Good rebuttal by Bruce Perens (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679065)

I don't get the whole anti-competitive thing either.

Let's look at three scenarios:

Let's say you grant me a license to your software, and license it GPL. If I give or sell a copy to my competitor, I must give him the same chance to make changes that I had. How is that anti-competitive? It sounds like it levels the field, not the opposite. If I write software that does the same thing later, I have the choice to write it from scratch, to pay for libraries, or to release my sources and build on what you licensed to me already.

If you grant me a closed-source license, then I might not be able to sell to my own competitors or customers, and I might not be able to give them the source even if I chose to do so. That gives you a competitive advantage over me, but that's okay because I bought the software from you according to my own judgment.

If I write the software myself, I can pick and choose which customers and competitors can buy licenses to my software at what prices and can determine who, if anyone, gets the source. If I don't advertise a price and only sell by inquiry and quote, then I can even charge one customer more than another based on how much of a threat I consider them to be in the marketplace. I can intentionally make it more difficult for certain competitors to use my software in their IT environment, and they may never know. If it's completely closed source, they can't easily fix it. If it's open or I grant them their own license to the source, they can. However, if I'm picking and choosing who gets source licenses, my biggest competitors won't, even if I offer source licenses to other customers.

It sounds to me like the first scenario is the most friendly to competition, not the least.

Re:Good rebuttal by Bruce Perens (1)

noahclem (72148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681299)

Let's say you grant me a license to your software, and license it GPL. If I give or sell a copy to my competitor, I must give him the same chance to make changes that I had. How is that anti-competitive?
That's not anti-competitive. But let's try a different scenario: let's say that a bunch of big companies and a non-profit get together (let's call them the wild bunch, because we like them) to discuss ways to stop a competitor from getting an edge by providing its customers with assurance that they won't be liable to another large company for patent infringement, if any exists. The "wild bunch" decides to add a term to the software license to take away the competitor's ability to compete because of the deal it made to protect its customers. The stated reason given by the "wild bunch" is that the competitor shouldn't be able to "make a separate peace" - everyone should needs to stand together against that large patent owning company, customers be damned.

We talk about the fact that free software has "grown up" because big companies are adopting it, and big companies are sponsoring developers (who of the major contributors doesn't work for a big company these days?). Well, when big companies get together and decide to specifically exclude another big company from a market, they call that a group boycott, an antitrust violation.

Noah Clements
IANAN (I Am Not A Nimmer)

Re:Good rebuttal by Bruce Perens (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681361)

Let's say you grant me a license to your software, and license it GPL. If I give or sell a copy to my competitor, I must give him the same chance to make changes that I had. How is that anti-competitive? It sounds like it levels the field, not the opposite.

The court that threw out Daniel Wallace lawsiut against the FSF more or less said the same thing:

[T]he GPL encourages, rather than discourages, free competition and the distribution of computer operating systems, the benefits of which directly pass to consumers. These benefits include lower prices, better access and more innovation.

Re:Good rebuttal by Bruce Perens (3, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679097)

Thank you. You might find this one [technocrat.net] useful as well. I wrote it just before GPL3 version 3 came out, the conclusions are unchanged upon reading the third draft. The scope of GPL3's tivo-ization restrictions has been reduced somewhat, but my advice on how a company could handle DRM still applies.

Bruce

Most interesting part... (2, Interesting)

srmq (123358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678123)

Perens thinks that with the Novell-MS deal, MS is granting rights to all their patents that may be used in a SUSE distribution for any use in any GPL software. And this under the current GPL 2.

... to Perens, the fact that Microsoft is currently giving to customers coupons that can be redeemed for a copy of SUSE Linux indicates that these coupons are intended to be redeemed for a copy of the copyrighted GPL 2 software.

"So, Microsoft is actively participating in distribution of the GPL2 software today, and must have assented to GPL 2 to do that, because any distribution without assent to GPL2 would be infringement. Under GPL 2, they have already given away the rights to use Microsoft patents that are applied in the Novell distribution, for any use in any GPL software, by anyone, forever," Perens said.

Re:Most interesting part... (2, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678785)

Perens thinks that with the Novell-MS deal, MS is granting rights to all their patents that may be used in a SUSE distribution for any use in any GPL software. And this under the current GPL 2.

This started with a legal theory that Eben Moglen, FSF general counsel, gave at the FSF annual meeting. Someone should interview him on it.

Bruce

Re:Most interesting part... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18679335)

Wonder if Microsoft lawyers are scrambling around today researching and having meetings after reading that. Be interesting to see what spin Microsoft puts on the comment too, wouldn't be suprised if they don't use some shill reporter to say something akin to "Bruce Perens made a statement indicating that the GPL could be used to steal patents from their owners". If they do, Bruce should sue and if it comes out in court they were paid by Microsoft to put that spin on his statements then should sue Microsoft too. If only things were so simple of course.

Back to the original statement by Bruce Perens though, it would be nice though if there was an actual court decision that Microsoft couldn't sue GPL software users/vendors/writers for patent infringement. More likely though they would just quit distributing any GPL software and use it as proof that companies shouldn't deal in GPL software as it puts their intelectual property at risk.

The real question of course is did NOVELL by making this contractual agreement with Microsoft in effect protect all GPL'd software from IP lawsuits by Microsoft? One could assume from Bruce's comment that the FSF has done a legal study on it and came to that conclusion, but he does not say that and we all know the breakdown on "assume". It would be nice if some law colleges gave this notion a strong examination and posted it online. Would make for a nice tool to educate the future lawyers in intellectual property and contract law as well.

What????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18678309)

Pray tell why anyone in their right mind would listen to a Microsoft-backed group about anything GPL or open source? Microsoft (or at least their slashdot apologists) calls open source "open sores" and "a cancer". Listening to them about open source is like listening to Iranians talk about Israel, or Israelis talking about Palestine.

Where was this story last night when I was "invited to the firehose" so I could vote it down? Someone please tag this sorry story "troll".

It got me to bite.

-mcgrew sm62704

Res publica conservata est! (1)

iperkins (974060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678453)

Microsoft delenda est... Cato the Elder, Scipio, et al would be proud! Throw the Tarquins off the Tarpeian Rock!!

I wondered if anyone would notice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18681231)

I stole it from a Groklaw sig (SCO delenda est) that prompted me to read up about ancient wars via a quick Google, just for this article.

Well... (1)

sux0rz (90490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678507)

If anyone knows anti-trust lawsuits, its Microsoft. However, they've never been concerned about them in the past.

Thank you ACT! (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18678745)

Thanks ACT, for providing criticizim at such an early stage, providing an opportunity to review the GPLv3 before release. Thank you for the increased public attention.

Allowing the FSF to defend GPLv3 against FUD early in the game simply makes it less likely that people(customers) will be affected by FUD at a later date after GPLv3 has been deployed.

ACT is stupid.

Re:Thank you ACT! (1)

ACT_Spokesperson (1086715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680035)

Wow, you're right!! We're dumb. We spend money to do a legal analysis of the GPLv3 to look at potential downfalls and then share it with the community during the comment period... when they can actually change it.

If we were just trying to spread FUD, that would be idiotic!!!

Perhaps you, Bruce and the rest of the community would be better served by reading, digesting and taking lessons from the actual content of our work we provided, rather than simply launch ad hominem attacks.

Just a thought, not a sermon.

Re:Thank you ACT! (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680421)

I don't care about your work, it will fail. Proprietary software fails all four core concepts in economics, it's a pipedream. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics#Core_concep ts [wikipedia.org] It's like fiat money except, comparatively, very few people have a vested interest in keeping it afloat. The proprietary software industry as a whole may simply be decreed (in court) as worthless at any time. It's a naturally occurring service industry, and software vendors are selling cdr's marked up several million times, this will not hold the test of time. So, go ahead drown in your tar pit, I could give a damn. The FSF will go through your work and learn from it, as well as the rest of the community, many will implement licenses influenced by both your work and the FSFs, and it will happen overnight. The FSF should worry about your work not me. Bruce Perens is responding to your claims and he has every right to do so. In effect there is an army of lawyers working on GPLv3, they are your opponents not Bruce, myself or anyone in the community, targeting us is what makes your work FUD.

Re:Thank you ACT! (1)

ACT_Spokesperson (1086715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680591)

Thanks for all your really thoughtful commentary. You're such a kind, open-minded, and well-reasoned human being. No wonder the quality of discussion is so high here on Slashdot.

Re:Thank you ACT! (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680929)

*REVISED*
I am not a lawyer, go argue this with a lawyer, leave me alone. Charge me with anti-trust and you can talk to my lawyer. Otherwise stfu!

Key quote: (2, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679075)

We note that the draft of the GPLv3 does not tear down the bridge Microsoft and Novell have built for their customers. It is unfortunate, however, that the FSF is attempting to use the GPLv3 to prevent future collaboration among industry leaders to benefit customers..

I believe what Horacio Gutierrez really meant was: "It is unfortunate, however, that the FSF is attempting to use the GPLv3 ... to benefit customers..."

Because Horacio's argument just doesn't make sense. Typically, industry collaboration works to benefit the industry, not the consumer. In fact, I believe the boards of most corporations would consider collaboration among companies to reduce price and increase features (thereby reducing profit margins) to be a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the CEO. I'm not aware of any company trying to decrease its profit margin, yet this is what Horacio suggests. In fact, I think it is just the opposite: industry collaboration tends to stifle new features, increase cost, and reduce the functionality and usability of software. The FSF is actually having a positive impact on the industry by virtue of its increasing competition. It is the classic example of how capitalism minimizes inefficiencies in markets - currently, the major proprietary software makers aren't very efficient at producing what the market wants. In comes the FSF, and solves the problem.

Wow! (0)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679455)

Hope the person who wrote this isn't a programmer, I sure wouldn't want to use any software (s)he worked on.

The idea that the GPLv3 is likely safe from litigation because one case against GPLv2 was laughed out of court is itself laughable.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18682601)

Hi Steve! Have you thrown any chairs about lately?

Interesting twist (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18679573)

The threat of being completely cut off from the ability to distribute GPL code can easily be seen as extreme and unfair for any company...

I believe even Microsoft is being forced to admit the power of free software.

Remember when Microsoft said Linux was irrelevant? When Balmer called it a toy?

Now it seems they are making the claim that free software developers must allow Novell to distribute their works, according to Novell's conditions, or suffer liability under a claim of tortious interference.

So it would seem that:

  • Free Software does have an impact on the business world, and:
  • Microsoft is laying claim to it, as if they own it.
  • Developers of free software could be forced to distribute it under Microsoft's terms, or face liability under theory of tortious interference. That is, even though you gave away your software for free, you aren't allowed to change the license terms if it interferes with someone else's established business.

What is particularly galling about this position is that Microsoft's lawyers seem to be of the opinion that if someone stopped giving away their software - software upon which Microsoft has built a business relationship - that Microsoft can now sue the author, who received no money for his work, for damages.

Yes, this is our legal system at work. Where the refusal to give away software can get you sued.

I imagine by this reasoning, Microsoft could be sued for tortious influence the next time they raise the price of Vista.

Read the Papers (4, Interesting)

Dick Wilder (1086699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18680843)

Bruce Perens has responded to the papers I wrote for ACT without having read them. He made the absurd statement to eWeek, repeated here, that the Daniel Wallace case "shows the GPL is unlikely to give rise to any significant liability." I was talking about GPLv3, not an earlier version and the Daniel Wallace case was based on a predatory pricing theory - not group boycott theory as I discussed. Different facts, different law, different result. It would be great if someone with some legal training look at this, if not Mr. Perens. They are at http://www.actonline.org/documents/ACT-GPLv3-Legal -Risks.pdf [actonline.org] and http://www.actonline.org/documents/GPLv3-License-o r-Contract.pdf [actonline.org] .

Re:Read the Papers (1)

allthingscode (642676) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681441)

IANAL, so I would just get lost in your documents, but it's a shame that when someone says:

      You can use my code if:
      1. when you make any kind of money off it, you must give them my code
      2. you add to or modify my code, then you must redistribute it because i would like to benefit from your changes
      3. you can't restrict someone from using my code
      If you violate these, you are not allowed you use my code.

that not only do you have to explain what every letter means, but you have to make sure that they don't try to interpret the spaces between words to mean that they can ignore you.

Novell, in buying SuSE, understood that they were acquiring a company built on the work of others. Just like Microsoft, a corporation, can end a license with another company because of a violation, the developers of Linux can revoke their license under the GPL.

Re:Read the Papers (1)

noahclem (72148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18682685)

That would be a great license, but you couldn't remake all of society with it ;-) GPLv3 both adds to and subtracts from your great license in many ways but here are two major ones.

Subtraction

2. you add to or modify my code, then you must redistribute it because i would like to benefit from your changes
This one went out the door because big companies who are not Microsoft didn't want it.

Addition
If you sell my code, you can't make a deal to protect your customers from my infringing code.

There are those who would intentionally write to infringe on Microsoft's patents just to test the system. I'm all for "fight the power", many patents are not very good and should be challenged. But GPLv3 is the wrong way to go about it. GPLv3 says it's ok to drive a company out of business if it tries to protect its customers.

Re:Read the Papers (3, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18683241)

Mr Wilder, had you sincrely wished to solve any problems with GPL3, there were avenues open to you including participation in the committees and use of the feedback process. But that's not your role here. Your employer is a lobbying front for Microsoft, a company that has a vested interest in spreading fear and doubt about GPL3.

I checked with Eben Moglen, general counsel of the Free Software foundation, before writing a rebuttal to the eWeek material. Moglen had seen your paper and did not consider it worth his time to respond.

I responded to your quotes in eWeek since they had already run in the press. I have no desire to propogate the rest of your material.

I think it would be helpful for you to debate your material with an attorney supporting GPL3, instead of me. Unfortunately, we have not yet found an attorney who sees sufficient merit in your work to find it interesting to engage you.

Bruce

anti-trust law allegations taken seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18681125)

litigant Daniel Wallace was all but laughed out of the courtroom for alleging the GPLv2 violates anti-trust law
I thought he was actually laughed out of the courtroom. Really, he was taken seriously?

Oh, the irony (1)

evil_Tak (964978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18681193)

Interspersed with the article were the following links:

* Click here to read more about ACT's warnings that there are the legal risks associated with the third draft of GPL 3.
* Is GPLv3 dead on arrival? Click here to read more.
* Some top Linux developers have warned that GPLv3 could kill open source. To read more, click here.
* Novell's CEO says he has no regrets about his company's deal with Microsoft. Read more here.
* HSBC is standardizing on Novell's SUSE Linux. Click here to read more.
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