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Microsoft States GPL3 Doesn't Apply to Them

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the they-is-special-you-understand dept.

Microsoft 509

pilsner.urquell writes "Microsoft yesterday issued a statement proclaiming that it isn't bound by GPLv3. Groklaw has a very humorous rejoinder to the company's claim. From that article: 'They think they can so declare, like an emperor, and it becomes fiat. It's not so easy. I gather Microsoft's lawyers have begun to discern the GPL pickle they are in. In any case it won't be providing any support or updates or anything at all in connection with those toxic (to them) vouchers it distributed as part of the Novell deal ... These two -- I can't decide if it's an elaborate dance like a tango or more like those games where you place a cloth with numbers on the floor and you have to get into a pretzel with your hands and feet to touch all the right numbers. Whichever it is, Novell and Microsoft keep having to strike the oddest poses to try to get around the GPL. If they think this new announcement has succeeded, I believe they will find they are mistaken. In other words, not to put too fine a point on it, GPLv3 worked.'" EWeek has further analysis of this proclamation.

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Enlighten me... (5, Insightful)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766655)

How can MS be bound by GPL3 if they avoided using GPL3ed code after June 29? Can you write code that is licensed by future versions of GPL? Wouldn't that make it dangerous for someone to use the code in case they do not like the future version? Sorry for the ignorance Cheers!

Re:Enlighten me... (0)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766693)

Yes, you can.

"GPLv2, or later"

Re:Enlighten me... (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766825)

What happens if the rules are completely rewritten to say that you are not allowed to distribute GPLvX code at all? I know that's not going to happen, but it's a little strange to indefinitely subscribe to a policy that could change at any time into something you may not agree with?

Re:Enlighten me... (4, Informative)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766875)

As a developer you do not have to use the "Or any later version" language. You can simply reference the version you want your software to be distributed under. IIRC this how the GPLv2 is applied to the Linux kernel. Thus it will not automatically be subjected to GPLv3 unless the developers make a consious decision to move to it.

The way I always understood it, using the "any later version" language is akin to saying "I beleive in free software, the FSF and I'm in it for the long haul".

Re:Enlighten me... (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766989)

Thus it will not automatically be subjected to GPLv3 unless the developers make a consious decision to move to it.


Software is not automatically subjected to GPLV3 with the default language of "or, at your option, any later version". All that means is that someone can choose to distribute a GPLV2 application with that language under either GPLV2 or GPLV3. It's each individual distributors choice.

Re:Enlighten me... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767023)

Ah yes, you are correct. I realized after I posted that my wording was a bit off. I was trying to explain that it does not automatically apply, that it's at the discretion of the copyright holder but you're correction makes it much clearer...

Re:Enlighten me... (1, Insightful)

G Morgan (979144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767185)

The way I always understood it, using the "any later version" language is akin to saying "I beleive in free software, the FSF and I'm in it for the long haul".
No it's just stupid. Lets assume for now that the FSF aren't going to make fundamental changes to the way the GPL works. Tomorrow they could go bankrupt and the arbitrator would sell their IP rights to the highest bidder, potentially MS. At that point MS can make GPLv4 and allow themselves to use all the GPLv2 or later code without respecting freedom.

Re:Enlighten me... (3, Interesting)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766835)

So basically, when you use GPLed code, you have to agree to anything that gets put in there or risk losing the right to use that code? What if the code is deeply integrated into your system and then a new version of GPL comes along with stipulations you do not agree to? Are you pretty much screwed? If so, given the sentiments of the OSS community, MS should never have agreed to being bound by future versions of GPL. I mean, what if GPLv4 says you ought to reveal the context in which the GPLed code is being used?
Seems like a bad decision by MS and now they're complaining when caught with their hands stuck in the ooze in the OSS jar (I like that analogy, however inaccurate it may be)

Cheers!

When you buy Vista (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766991)

the EULA says you cannot copy (even to another computer you own) you cannot look at, benchmark or otherwise disinter the internal workings. You agree that MS can come in and change stuff adding programs and removing others as they feel fit. You also allow them to audit your machine.

Oh, and they can change the terms as they wish just by posting to their webpage.

Re:When you buy Vista (1)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767065)

Yes, I know that. But if I was seriously concerned about MS making changes to EULA that I cannot live with, I would click on 'I disagree' and go to the store and get my money back!

Re:Enlighten me... (4, Informative)

casings (257363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767057)

So basically, when you use GPLed code, you have to agree to anything that gets put in there or risk losing the right to use that code?
That's how licensing works (and M$ should know this better than anyone). You are bound to the provisions (as long as its lawful of course). If they didn't want to agree to the GPL, they shouldn't have used the code. Reinventing the wheel takes time, effort, and money. Microsoft decided against it, now they are stuck. Of course Microsoft can try and take the GPL to court to see if it's lawful or not, but that would be a long battle that would probably just ending up costing Microsoft a lot more money.

I mean, what if GPLv4 says you ought to reveal the context in which the GPLed code is being used?
Assuming that the context isn't GPL'd as well, then this is an example of a provision that would be unlawful (and hence invalidate the license), so things like this won't be included in the license. A license can't apply to original works unless the author chooses it to.

Seems like a bad decision by MS and now they're complaining when caught with their hands stuck in the ooze in the OSS jar (I like that analogy, however inaccurate it may be)
They are a big company and will most likely find a way out (probably by completely rewriting the code) but it's good to see that they are at least sweating it.

Re:Enlighten me... (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766905)

Yes, you can.

"GPLv2, or later"

My emphasis. Microsoft is not bound by GPLv3 by distributing code marked GPLv2 or later, provided they keep their obligations re. GPLv2. However, I doubt that SuSE/Novel will stay non-GPLv3 for long when e.g. gcc starts being GPLv3 or later.

Re:Enlighten me... (3, Interesting)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766915)

Actually I think they are asking if you could release code as "GPLv3 only" before the GPLv3 was published.

"GPLv2, or later" allows anybody, MS included, to chose "GPLv2" and ignore anything written in the GPLv3 license.

IANAL, but my guess is releasing your code as GPLv4 only would be the same thing as not releasing it till the GPLv4 was published.

The current conversation is based on the (highly likely) premise that Novel will put GPLv3 code in SUSE before MS shifts all their licenses. This is speculation but it is almost guaranteed given the amount of SUSE userland owned by the FSF.

Only if you want to (1)

archeopterix (594938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766925)

Yes, you can.

"GPLv2, or later"
At your option, so please stop spreading misinformation. Thank you.

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

Guess Again (4, Informative)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766935)

Re: How can MS be bound by GPL3 if they avoided using GPL3ed code after June 29?
Yes, you can. "GPLv2, or later"

You are (intentionally?) misrepresenting what the GPL says. If Microsoft distributes GPLv2 then ***Microsoft*** gets to choose if they are bound by GPLv2 or GPLv3. Example, I downloaded Apache back when it was covered by GPL2. I can make changes to it and distribute those changes under v2 or v3 if I want to. The people who made Apache cannot force me to upgrade to v3. However, now that v3 is out, Apache will be distributed under v3. If I now download Apache, I'm stuck in version 3.

So the answer to grandparent's question, "can MS be bound by GPL3 if they avoided using GPL3ed code" is that yes, MS avoids being bound by it. Basically they would have to never update linux - or fork it - but what they have right now is GPL2 and GPL2 it shall stay.

read GPL2 for yourself [gnu.org]

If the Program
specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any
later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions
either of that version or of any later version published by the Free
Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of
this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software
Foundation.

Re:Guess Again (1)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767015)

So the answer to grandparent's question, "can MS be bound by GPL3 if they avoided using GPL3ed code" is that yes, MS avoids being bound by it. Basically they would have to never update linux - or fork it - but what they have right now is GPL2 and GPL2 it shall stay
So what is so wrong about MS's claim that groklaw needs to post a 'humorous rejoinder' and /.ers have to be bitterly sarcastic? Well, the average /.er is always bitterly sarcastic, but why is this a big deal *NOW*? Maybe later when they do update Linux (the kernel of which is still in GPLv2), they can avoid appendages of it that are GPL3ed?

Thinking about it, the Linux community might switch the kernel to v3 just to screw with MS and all it's Linux partners...

Cheers!

Re:Guess Again (4, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767085)

I don't think it's the Linux Kernel MS has to worry about anytime soon. It's the hundreds of programs in a default SLES installation that are owned by the FSF. They will surely be released as GPLv3 very soon now.

If Novell wants to update the bulk of the userland programs in SLES they will surely at some point need to embrace GPLv3. It's that or fork the v2 versions and maintain them on their own.

Re:Guess Again (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767049)

Example, I downloaded Apache back when it was covered by GPL2. I can make changes to it and distribute those changes under v2 or v3 if I want to. The people who made Apache cannot force me to upgrade to v3. However, now that v3 is out, Apache will be distributed under v3. If I now download Apache, I'm stuck in version 3.
Exactly. They can put developers to work keeping old v2 code updated themselves (IE their own fork of the software), which is going to hurt them. Or they can follow the OSS community in adopting v3, which they obviously don't want to do. There's no good option for them. Their declaration that v3 doesn't apply to them is them realizing this and saying, "Oh $&^%!"

Re:Guess Again (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767103)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Apache have its own license agreement and doesn't use GPL?

Re:Guess Again (1)

DavidpFitz (136265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767169)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Apache have its own license agreement and doesn't use GPL?
You are quite right. The current Apache license is at version 2.0, and Apache HTTP Server uses this, not any GPL license. Ignore the asshats higher in this thread that seem to think Apache (I assume they mean Apache HTTP Server) is licensed under the GPL at all, let along GPLv3.

D.

Re:Guess Again (4, Informative)

cching (179312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767193)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Apache have its own license agreement and doesn't use GPL?
Yep, you are correct. All software from the ASF uses the Apache License, Version 2.0. http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0 [apache.org]

IIRC, their whole raison d'etre is because they don't like the limitations of the GPL with respect to commercial software.

Re:Enlighten me... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766941)

"GPLv2, or later"
"or"
Remember, this isn't a programming language. It can mean both or and xor. User X would be within their rights to use program Y under such a license as only GPLv2 disregarding GPLvLater.

Re:Enlighten me... (2, Informative)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766963)

"GPLv2, or later"

Quoting from GPL itself:

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Library specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option [emphasis mine -mi] of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Library does not specify a license version number, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

Re:Enlighten me... (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766969)

You do realize that the "GPLv2 or later" clause is a choice that is made by the redistributor at the time of distribution, right? So Microsoft could *choose* to distribute under GPLv2 or v3. If they don't distribute, they're not bound by the license.

Here's the complete section in question (emphasis added):

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public
License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either
version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Truth be told, I'm not really following PJ on this one. I know of no legal theory that would cause a license to reach out from a second party and latch onto a third party just because the second and third parties have an agreement. In the case of a contract that binds partners, the responsibility usually falls upon the second party to execute a compatible agreement with the third. Failure to do so would place the second party at fault. i.e. Novell could get in trouble, but Microsoft would be shielded by only having a non-GPL agreement with Novell, not directly with the Linux developers.

Now a judge might not be happy with the legal games that Microsoft is playing (can you say 'extortion'?), but I can't see him binding Microsoft to a contract they didn't directly accept.

GPL is a license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19767067)

The GPL is a License, not a contract. MS's EULAs are the same, so if they want to invalidate their own EULAs they may go right ahead. Also, the coupons had no expiry date and were for SLES updates, so it very well should apply to them since FSF, MS, and Novell are ALL parties to this agreement. What, did you sign anything to get MS's special non-commercial "hobbyist" patent covenant, or MS's special "customer of Novell" patent license? No!

PS: Since MS is asking for money on GNU/Linux, I think a few things should be expected back of them.

Why would you ever use the "or later" clause? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766987)

Why would anyone ever release code under a "GPLv2 or later" clause? If the code writer wants to protect his/her rights, I'd think they'd want to stick to something that's known rather than gamble on something unknown coming some time in the future.

Re:Why would you ever use the "or later" clause? (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767137)

Blind faith in the FSF? :-)

I know I wouldn't do it, but it seems many software authors have. It's their call, of course.

Re:Enlighten me... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767059)

I intereperate that to mean that I as the licensee can choose which version so long as its v2 or later.

Re:Enlighten me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766729)

Please do not feel obligated to apologize for your ignorance, ignorance is what powers the Slashdot servers.

Re:Enlighten me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766763)

You are correct. You can't be prosecuted for something that wasn't illegal at the time you did it. I have no idea if this is the case here however.

Re:Enlighten me... (1)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767051)

Actually, that is incorrect. Microsoft is a great example of it. Being a monolopy changes the rules AFTER a company does what ever actions it took to get there. For example, I can bundle products together and it is perfectly legal to do so, except, if you are convicted of being a monolopy, in which case, the rules change and actions you did in the past... like "tying", become illegal retroactivly. (If Microsoft wern't ruled a monolopy, the "tying" would have been just considered a standard competitive business practice.)

Bill

Re:Enlighten me... (1)

Daychilde (744181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767191)

monolopy, eh? ...I wouldn't ask, but you used it *three times*. heh.

Re:Enlighten me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19767165)

You can, however, be declared an enemy combatant and gitmo'd indefinitely

Re:Enlighten me... (5, Insightful)

Sam Andreas (894779) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766815)

You're right. The article summary is very misleading.

FTA -

But, to avoid any doubt or legal debate on this issue, Microsoft decided not to have those SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) certificates cover support or updates of any code licensed under GPLv3. "We will closely study the situation and decide whether to expand the scope of the certificates in the future," Gutierrez said. Regardless of the Microsoft change to those certificates, Novell will continue to distribute SLES with its full set of functionality and features, including those components that are licensed under GPLv3, said Bruce Lowry, a Novell spokesperson.

I don't know all the details of this certificate deal with Novell, but it seems that Microsoft is just covering themselves by saying that their certificates don't cover GPL3, just software licensed under previous GPL's, but Novell is going to provide GPL3 software to Microsoft certificate customers anyway.

I can see issues brewing, but it's nothing like what the summary and headline on this story claim.

I liked this bit... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766867)

As always, Microsoft remains committed to working with the open source software community to help improve interoperability for customers working in mixed source environments and deliver IP assurance.

HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Re:Enlighten me... (5, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766997)

The argument was being made that because MS was distributing "vouchers" for GPL-software, they would be considered distributors of GPL software, hence bound by the distribution terms of the GPL. Since the vouchers had no "expiry date" on them, the argument was made that if someone cashes in their voucher after Novell releases a version that includes GPLv3, then MS is, by association through the voucher, distributing GPLv3 code and hence bound by that license.

I always thought the legal logic was a little weak, myself. However now that MS is publicly trying to retroactively change the meaning of already-distributed vouchers, I can only assume that their lawyers are actually afraid that this argument would stand up in court.

This statement by MS amuses me to no end, actually. It betrays how afraid they are of the growing power of Linux (in terms of both consumer acceptability and legal power).

Re:Enlighten me... (4, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767123)

Microsoft has bought Suse vouchers from Novell, and sold them to customers. The vouchers have no expiration date.

According to FSF lawyers, when someone hands one in for a copy of Suse, then at that moment Microsoft distributes that version of the software; if it contains GPLv3 code, then there you are.

See this Groklaw article [groklaw.net] . Eben Moglen knows copyright law.

I hereby declare... (5, Funny)

alienmole (15522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766677)

...that tax laws don't apply to me. Oh, and those pesky laws about parking and speeding, too.

You aren't the only one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766739)

These folks [nhpr.org] seem to agree with you.

Re:I hereby declare... (0, Offtopic)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766741)

...that tax laws don't apply to me. Oh, and those pesky laws about parking and speeding, too
Well, you just described Libertarians...

libertarianv("An unregulated free market parking system will allow handicapped people to park near the entrance without letting fat f*cks abuse the system");

Cheers!

obHomerSimpson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766839)

How could you?! Haven't you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church? Captain Whatshisname? We live in a society of laws! Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies? For fun? Well, I didn't hear anybody laughing, did you? Except at that guy who made sound effects..

Re:I hereby declare... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766911)

In the true context of the article, not the trollish summary, the correct statement would be:

I hereby declare that the parking laws of Britain do not apply to me if I do not ever step foot in Britain.

Re:I hereby declare... (1, Troll)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766957)

...that tax laws don't apply to me. Oh, and those pesky laws about parking and speeding, too.

The part of the GPLv3 that they are repudiating here is the part which might allow someone to claim that they can redistribute Microsoft code as open source by relying on the GPLv3.

This approach appears entirely reasonable and sustainable to me. If someone were to assert that they had the right to sell pirate versions of Vista based on some kooky reading of the GPL and the Novell deal it is going to fail pretty early on.

What Microsoft is attempting to ensure here is to deny any party the ability to claim that there was some form of constructive agreement to the GPLv3 terms. I think it probably works even if someone does prove that Microsoft has distributed GPLv3 code. Microsoft limits remedies for doing so to a tort claim brought by the actual copyright owner. They effectively cut the ability to claim rights derived through the GPL.

It is a perfectly sensible legal approach. RMS is not the law.

Mr. Gates Has Escaped Taxes. (0, Flamebait)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767101)

Microsoft used stock options to avoid taxes [billparish.com] for years [billparish.com] . The tradition continues under his sham charity [billparish.com] .

Defrauding the government and pension plans is probably easier than conering a market, so I don't think they are going to get away with their assaults on the GPL. Sooner or later they will have to use GPL3 code if they want to stay relevant. They won't be able to do that through proxies forever if they can at all.

Turnabout is fair play... (4, Funny)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766697)

So I guess Microsoft's EULA does not apply either?

Re:Turnabout is fair play... (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767007)

Right, if you're just selling tickets that other people can exchange for Windows support. MS isn't distributing software for Novell; it's just selling vouchers that people can exchange for Novell support. Nothing to do with software distribution.

Now, if MS servers were hosting software licensed under GPLv3, that would be an issue. But that's not happening. MS isn't even granting people access to software on Novell's servers, or handing out vouchers that Novell will exchange for such permissions. So the GPL in any form should not apply.

No EULA applies anywhere, ever. (2, Informative)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767087)

Okay so that is an oversimplification, but you cannot force someone to enter a contract to use something AFTER they have already paid for that privilege. The only legally valid EULA would be one you sign before purchasing the software.

Note that IANAL and that this is not valid legal advice not an endorsement of any practices explictiely forbidden by EULAs.

Has it ever been tested? (3, Interesting)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766705)

Serious question here:

Has there been any successful court action enforcing any version of the GPL?

Not settlements. I'm talking about an instance where a court in the U.S. has upheld GPL against a violator.

Re:Has it ever been tested? (5, Informative)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766745)

A quick Google search [groklaw.net] revealed that yes, it has gone to court and won.

Re:Has it ever been tested? (2, Informative)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766921)

A quick Google search revealed that yes, it has gone to court and won.

O.k., to simplify what I read, a company placed their open development under GPL and the SAE wanted it closed so they could charge fees. Further they said it was derivitive of their owned work. The company won against the SAE. I don't see this as the test. It is a test, and an important baby step to the full test, but still not the difinitive one.

Is there one where Company A releases code under GPL, Company B releases a derived project under a closed license and the case went to court?

Re:Has it ever been tested? (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767117)

The FSF only want infringers to stop infringing / seize distribution, they're not in it for punitive damages. Companies are happy to comply, because their lawyers tell them "if this goes to court, we're fucked beyond belief". HTH.

Re:Has it ever been tested? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767173)

Is there one where Company A releases code under GPL, Company B releases a derived project under a closed license and the case went to court?


SCO v. IBM, but that case hasn't gone to trial yet. See the SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux [thescogroup.com]

Re:Has it ever been tested? (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767187)

Jesus Tapdancing Christ, please read the fine article:

the only real ruling that has been made in the case is a discovery ruling by Magistrate Judge Paul Komives, permitting DrewTech to take the deposition of a third-party witness.

The GPL wasn't ruled on. It's never been tested by an actual ruling in the United States. Personally I think that GPL2 is a completely valid and applicable license (i.e. it terminates if it's breached, leaving you violating copyright), but there's no case law to directly support that, and all the wishing in the world won't make it otherwise.

Re:Has it ever been tested? (4, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766899)

No. There have been cases of infringement, but a case has never been necessary - some diplomatic talk by a FSF lawyer has always been enough to let infringers see the error of their ways.

There's no real need to "uphold" the GPL, it is utterly rock solid. Anybody is free to choose whether they want to accept its terms or not, if you accept it only gives you extra options you didn't previously have (like being allowed to distribute software that contains other people's GPL code, under the GPL).

The bite is: if you don't accept the GPL, then you have no license to the software at all, and default copyright law situation applies - you're not allowed to modify or distribute software relying on GPL'ed parts at all!

Fighting the GPL would mean arguing that you voluntarily accepted its terms (how else did you get the right to modify / distribute), got extra options without any payment or anything in return - but still you're not actually bound by those terms. Good luck.

Re:Has it ever been tested? (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767001)

Fighting the GPL would mean arguing that you voluntarily accepted its terms (how else did you get the right to modify / distribute), got extra options without any payment or anything in return - but still you're not actually bound by those terms. Good luck.

Nice sentiment but I'd like to see it tested in court. Related, but different, those that thought the "shrinkwrap" license was rock solid found out otherwise.

I think "the lawyers" need to find a good solid case to take to court. They need to stop accepting settlements and agreements, at least once, to firmly establish their position. Otherwise, they may find themselves in the position of being considered shakedown artists in the same vein as the RIAA, MPAA, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. Or, they run the risk of being accused of settling easy to avoid a potentially damaging judgement.

It has to be tested.

Re:Has it ever been tested? (4, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766945)

Has there been any successful court action enforcing any version of the GPL?
The point is that the GPL is so obviously-enforceable, that there is no need to test it.

If you want to distribute code, you need a license, or you are in violation of copyright law. So if the GPL is invalid, you don't have a license, since the GPL is the only thing giving you such a license to begin with. This simple logic has kept the GPL out of the courts, since (except for SCO) lawyers and the people that pay for them generally do not like unwinnable cases.

This current matter with Microsoft and the GPL3 is a completely separate issue, though. Microsoft aren't directly distributing code; they are just handing out vouchers for said code (or will be, if they continue handing out vouchers after Novell starts to distribute GPL3 code - which will be soon). That is Microsoft's defense - they aren't distributing the code themselves. Yet, if a major lawsuit should ensue between Microsoft and a Linux vendor, the issue may arise nonetheless: Even if Microsoft are not distributing the code, they are helping a partner to distribute it. This implies that they are tacitly not contesting certain claims in that code, or that the basic business model implied by that code is not seen as illegitimate by Microsoft. I am sure the lawyers can argue this for a few years.

Re:Has it ever been tested? (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767099)

No - the GPL is far too clear, it is very unlikely you will ever find a violator stupid enough to court, they will always settle.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766709)

those games where you place a cloth with numbers on the floor and you have to get into a pretzel with your hands and feet to touch all the right numbers.
WTF are you talking about?

Re:Huh? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766871)

Sounds like a geekier version of Twister.

Contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766711)

"In any case it won't be providing any support or updates or anything at all in connection with those toxic (to them) vouchers it distributed as part of the Novell deal."

Does that place them in the position of being in breach of contract, though? I can't imagine the deal between Microsoft and Novell allow either of the parties to decide they don't like it any more and to just stop. Does it open Microsoft to problems from people who have received vouchers already?

Although I don't think the deal between Microsoft and Novell was a good one, I also think it was underhand of the FSF to "grandfather" in a deal like this, and I don't blame Microsoft for claiming it doesn't apply to the deal.

EULA (1, Redundant)

dbfruth (707400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766725)

I declare Microsoft's EULA does not apply to me.

Re:EULA (1)

ClaraBow (212734) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766917)

Let's all hold hands and declare together :-)

Correct - It most probably doesn't (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767119)

The reason being that the MS Eula is subject to your state's Sale of Goods Act (or something similar). In most cases that act declares that if it looks like a sale, flies like a sale and quacks like a sale, then it is a sale. That is why MS CDs are for sale in the second hand market on E-bay, a US company.

Sounds like (2, Insightful)

BlueLightSpecial (898144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766737)

Sounds about as useful as the emancipation proclamation and the time of it's creation. to sum up: Lincoln: "All the slaves in Confederated-held (aka not our)territories are free!" and MS: "We declare that we are free from the laws of the government under which we are placed"

Twister (4, Funny)

Obyron (615547) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766749)

I can't decide if it's an elaborate dance like a tango or more like those games where you place a cloth with numbers on the floor and you have to get into a pretzel with your hands and feet to touch all the right numbers.

That's the most bass-ackwards mangling of Twister I've ever heard. Didn't these people have childhoods!?

Re:Twister (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766809)

That's the most bass-ackwards mangling of Twister I've ever heard. Didn't these people have childhoods!?
Don't be silly. Of course they did! They just kept them cinched down tight.

Re:Twister (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766823)

>
Yeh we did, but things weren't quite a silly then.

Signing statements.... (0, Flamebait)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766757)

Hey, they work for Bush.

Don't like how the law works? Just say they don't apply to you, and carry on with considering them.

I recognize this from somewhere... (1)

Devv (992734) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766771)

I am now king of this playground and there is nothing you can say to stop it in any way forever and ever.

Revoke license? (0)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766779)

Is it possible to revoke Novell's right to distribute a GNU/Linux distribution?

Assume, for a minute, that the owners of all the GNU/Linux public code decide that Novell should not be able to redistribute their code... What consequences would that have?

Just wondering...

Y

Re:Revoke license? (1)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767005)

Seeing as how Novell is an owner of some of the GNU/Linux codebase, I doubt that's going to happen. They'll also do their best to keep the Linux kernel from moving to GPL3. As long as Novell abides by the terms of the license the kernel is distributed under, it would be completely against the intent and spirit of the GPL to prevent them from redistributing it.

Re:Revoke license? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767079)

That would be bad.
For one thing Novell does contribute a good bit of code that most to things like X and like it or not Mono.
I know some people don't like the Mono project but things like Beagle, Banshee, and F-Spot are very popular.
SAX which I think is about the best X configuration program around is also GPL. More distro's should use it.
How much code has Suse/Novell put into Linux? My guess is a lot. Then you have Novell as one of the heroes in the SCO case or has everybody forgotten that?
I wish people would STOP trying to use software to enforce their political and or philosophical views.
Bottom line is you can't do it since Novell has contributed a LOT of code to Linux. They are part of the community. Not only that but the GPL so far doesn't allow for this kind of stupidity.
Next thing you know people will want to restrict FOSS users to just Communist Pacifist Methodists!
Got to love it. Welcome to GPL 4.
If you distribute this software you must
1. Distrubt the source code for the software.
2. Allow the users of the software to modify the software to better suit their needs.
3. Allow the users of the software to redistrube the software freely.
4. Must always wear the robes of the church of RMS.
5. Must spit when saying the names Microsoft and Bill Gates.
6. Must vote for the political canidates that RMS feels are not evil.

Wait a second (4, Informative)

JavaRob (28971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766785)

As long as they don't redistribute any GPLv3 software, they're correct.

The core of Linux, for example, is pretty much guaranteed to stay at GPLv2 (not just for "Linus didn't like it" reasons, but also pretty big logistical issues like "getting every copyright holder to agree on the change").

I'm guessing the bits and pieces that make up any distro will gradually contain more and more GPLv3 software -- then they basically have to deal with it (accept the v3 license to redistribute those parts, or not accept it and NOT distribute the new versions of that software).

If they (or anyone) wants to fork software based on the last GPLv2 version and maintain the fork themselves, they're welcome to, of course.

But are they even distributing at all? Can someone clarify the certificate thing for me?

Re:Wait a second (2, Informative)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766975)

As long as they don't redistribute any GPLv3 software, they're correct.

There are two arguments being brought up with regards to this:

1 - The GPLv2 license has an option to specify that code is licensed by "GPL version 2 or later". If this is the case then the argument goes that many of those who wrote code under GPLv2 could simply say "well now my code is licensed under GPLv3".

2 - People who have those vouchers from MS For copies of SUSE may hold on to them until parts of the linux kernel and other related software is actually released under GPLv3. Once that happens then they'll redeem those vouchers for the version of SUSE that has the GPLv3 code in it.

Re:Wait a second (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767063)

I think the question the GP was asking was, when step 2 occurs, which entity is responsible for actually distributing the software to the users? If it's Novell, and not Microsoft, then it's unclear to me how Microsoft would be bound by the GPL.

Re:Wait a second (2, Informative)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767129)

"The GPLv2 license has an option to specify that code is licensed by "GPL version 2 or later". If this is the case then the argument goes that many of those who wrote code under GPLv2 could simply say "well now my code is licensed under GPLv3"."

Sure, they can say that, but that only applies to those who accept the code from that point on or those who redistribute it with GPLv3.

You can't retroactively change a license agreement. I can license *you* my code under the BSD license and then license *Microsoft* the same code under the GPL. That doesn't make *you* bound to the GPL or anything.

The license agreement accepted by the party who received the code at the time they received it is the only thing that matters. "Or later" means that the party who received the code can then modify it and relicense it under a later version, not that the license the receiving party accepted can be modified.

Re:Wait a second (1)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767141)

1 - The GPLv2 license has an option to specify that code is licensed by "GPL version 2 or later". If this is the case then the argument goes that many of those who wrote code under GPLv2 could simply say "well now my code is licensed under GPLv3".

They can say that, but the code originally distributed under the GPL2 can still be used and redistributed under the GPL2, even if the original author republishes it as GPL3. (Of course, the republished version is bound by v3).

The purpose of the "or later" clause is to allow forward compatibility with future licenses. It should not, and can not, be used to revoke rights previously enjoyed by the end users. It's really not that scary of a clause.

Re:Wait a second (2, Insightful)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767091)

The Linux kernel is probably going to remain GPLv2 for quite a while, but the core of the GNU/Linux operating system is mostly GNU software which is (or will be) GPLv3 or later. Good luck making a Linux distro without GNU tools or anything GPLv3 in general.

Re:Wait a second (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767175)

I'm guessing the bits and pieces that make up any distro will gradually contain more and more GPLv3 software

Except that in practice, "gradually" probably means "the next time the FSF makes a point release of coreutils". The kernel may not be going v3 any time soon, but you can bet that most GNU packages [fsf.org] will be switched as they're upgraded.

As of this very second, the above list already says that such common packages as cpio, gv, mailutils, radius, sed, and texinfo are "GPLv3orlater". Those are relatively simple and/or "static" packages, but still nothing I'd want to have pay someone to fork for me. I definitely would not care to maintain my own perpetually GPLv2ed branch of GCC, and I suspect that day will be coming very soon.

Imperial Signing Statements (0, Offtopic)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766793)

It's a signing statement [wikipedia.org] . Since Bush has been breaking the law without legal authority [google.com] using them, and Bush's admin was hustled into power by Jack Abramoff's network, who was initiated into lobbying at Preston Gates [google.com] (yes, that Gates, though it's the huge corporate lawyer father of Microsoft's "Bill"), why shouldn't the richest, most powerful man in the world start signing his own imperial decrees? It's all the rage among his aristocratic class. There's safety in numbers - of emperors and of dollars.

Re:Imperial Signing Statements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19767019)

Did you not see that Bill Gates is the world's second richest man now?

IAAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19766811)

I have not seen the MS-Novel contract but I would imagine that after their team of lawyers went through ti they concluded that is Novel distributes and GPL2 code they need not honor it any support agreement.

Keep in mind MS employers more legal council then most.

or just be a typical slashbot and think MS is being arrogant.

Re:IAAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19767209)

IAAL
I hope you have an army of paralegals working for you to correct all your typos and grammatical errors. I certainly wouldn't want you representing me...

I have not seen the MS-Novel contract but I would imagine that after their team of lawyers went through ti they concluded that is Novel distributes and GPL2 code they need not honor it any support agreement. [wtf?]

Keep in mind MS employers more legal council then most.

From the article (3, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766813)

"At this point in time, in order to avoid any doubt or legal debate on this issue, Microsoft has decided that the Novell support certificates that we distribute to customers will not entitle the recipient to receive from Novell, or any other party, any subscription for support and updates relating to any code licensed under GPLv3."

How very interesting. The Novell support certificates that Microsoft distributes don't entitle the recipient to get support for GPLv3 code. So why would anyone buy one of these things from them?

Re:From the article (2, Funny)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766939)

So why would anyone buy one of these things from them?

Most the time those things from big companies are printed in high quality glossy paper and look so nice! Maybe they could be framed and set up for display.

As George Orwell writes... (-1, Offtopic)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766817)

"Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." -Animal farm

They're clearly party to the distribution of.... (3, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766829)

Microsoft made a deal with Novell so that Novell will give a copy of
GNU/Linux to anyone with a Microsoft voucher. After this deal, Microsoft
recommended Novell's GNU/Linux distribution and distributed those vouchers
to anyone who wanted one.

So they are basically contracting Novell to distribute GNU/Linux on their
behalf. In legal terms, they're "procuring the distribution of" GPL'd
software, and that's covered by copyright.

I think it's clear that Microsoft and Novell are together distributing GPL'd
software, and the GPLv3 project's team of lawyers are convinced that
Microsoft is indeed distributing GPL'd software.

Re:They're clearly party to the distribution of... (2, Insightful)

SterlingSylver (1122973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767035)

So let's say that the GPLv3's lawyers are correct and that they find some means by which to bring Microsoft to court over non-distributed code. They'll sue Microsoft over Copywrite violation? Use the GPL as a defense against some future patent violation case (which will likely never come as it is much more useful as a threat)? So a bunch of geeks show up to court to thinking that they've got the big guy by the tail, and Microsoft's big nasty lawyers show up planning set a precident as to what counts as distribution and maybe give the GPL a hugely public defeat.

This entire saga sounds like the GPL crowd saying, "Aha! We got Microsoft," but I'm unconvinced that the world is turning because of it. IANAL, but I think that Microsoft would LOVE to test this in court.

MS for copyright reduction? (2, Insightful)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767135)

You think MS will go to court to set a precedent to *shrink* the scope of copyright?

Good news - GPLv3 not viral! (2, Interesting)

alienmole (15522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766843)

Microsoft used to warn anyone who would listen about the GPL being viral. Touching it might give you free software cooties, and worse, infect your own intellectual property. But apparently Microsoft has found the solution to that, and is embracing the new, non-viral GPLv3!

What did we get?.. (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766873)

GPLv3 worked.

It will have worked, when a piece of Microsoft's code is opened for all to see. Wake me up then...

Re:What did we get?.. (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767025)

If there's one thing I learned from the UK government ( they created a terror law specifically to deport basiclaly a single individaul and then found after having putting in all the copmlicated legislation the guy no longer qualified) is that no matter how hard you try you can't legislate your competitors into doing something they don't wat.

Yes, it did work (1)

fizzbin (110016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767089)

Microsoft is backing away from their odious preferential cross-licensing deal with Novell, at least with respect to GPLv3 code. You can argue that's not a win, because no source code was/will be released, but I bet Richard Stallman would disagree.

Re:What did we get?.. (3, Interesting)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767127)

Opening up MS code is not the goal of GPLv3. Preventing code whose authors chose to license it under GPL3 is the goal of GPL3, nothing more. And it will do that.

And saying 'GPL3 doesnt apply to us' is disingenious, becuase it may, or may not. It applies, if they accept some GPL3 code from someone or somewhere, that they dont have any other license to use (incorporate into their own code and/or modify, and distribute - not just 'run it'), then it does in fact apply to their use thereof.

Presumably, MS' lawyers are smart enough to recognize that, but even more so, they are smart enough to use GPL3 for as much FUD as they can, to try and scare people (who dont already understand what the GPL is really abouyt) away from GPL3 (or even 2) software.

Re:What did we get?.. (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767211)

Er, forgot to finish my sentence.

"Preventing code whose authors chose to license it under GPL3" .. from being used in proprietary software.

Or you could just replace "Preventing" with "Protecting".

Re:What did we get?.. (1)

Stefanwulf (1032430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767161)

Given that it allows me freely and legally download and tinker with a top of the line OS and pretty much all the software I could need, I'd say it's been working for some time now.

The purpose of the GPL isn't to force MS to open up Vista, it's to allow people who choose to embrace the free software movement to ensure that it continues, and that works derived from their original efforts remain free.

Now just a minute... (1)

Azuma Hazuki (955769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19766881)

If they ever use any GPLv3 code, they are indeed bound by the license. There's only one way to test this though, and that's to have it tried in court. I know there's little chance of the Linux kernel itself ever becoming GPLv3, but I hope people write lots of GPLv3 software for no reason than that MS said this (yes, I am a fangirl. Sue me.). Someone has got to take these kleptocrats to court.

Does GPL allow for source in 'dead tree' format? (1)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767053)

Just a random thought on my part, but would the terms of the GPL License be fulfilled if someone modified the original source, and provided those who asked for a copy of the source with the entirety of the source code printed out on paper?

END COMMUNICATION

A little to declare victory, IMHO (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19767095)

If they think this new announcement has succeeded, I believe they will find they are mistaken. In other words, not to put too fine a point on it, GPLv3 worked.

I translate this as the following:

GPL Team: We just released GPL3.
MS: It doesn't apply to us.
GPL Team: We win!

I'd wait until a little more time has passed and lawyers on both sides hash it over a bit more before declaring victory. Especially against MS.

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