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FSF Positioning To Sue Microsoft Over GPLv3?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the no-easy-out dept.

GNU is Not Unix 369

mjasay writes "Groklaw notes that the Free Software Foundation has decried Microsoft's attempts to distance itself from its obligations to abide by GPL Version 3 (press release here). Citing Microsoft's earlier declaration that they are not bound by GPLv3, the Free Software Foundation declared, 'Microsoft cannot by any act of anticipatory repudiation divest itself of its obligation to respect others' copyrights.' The press release implies that the Free Software Foundation may sue Microsoft over the issue."

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369 comments

GNU poop (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20387877)

i stepped in some

ThoughtCRIME - how fucking original (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388173)


ThoughtCRIME - how fucking original

I am all for fucking 'em but let's wait until they fuck with us first

Stickin' IT to the Man (-1, Troll)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387885)

You go girl! Slap that MS bitch.

How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (4, Interesting)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387889)

Can someone explain how MS would be bound by GPL3? They make no GPL software.
The Novell deal was made prior to GPL3.
How does GPL3 relate to MS at all?

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (3, Insightful)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387951)

Sounds like FSF just wanted to get in the news. Or on slashdot, or whatever. Reading the press release, they don't really SAY much... other than "We hate you Microsoft, neener neener neener."

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (5, Interesting)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387969)

IIRC the GPL3 would apply to MS as soon as someone redeems a SUSE voucher that they received from MS. MS would argue that merely giving out the vouchers is not distribution but most people (the FSF included) see it differently.

I'm not sure if that holds true or not (IANAL, etc.) but it should be interesting to see how this plays out. MS is obviously at least slightly worried or they wouldn't have issued the PR in the first place.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (4, Interesting)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388065)

The angle MS and Novell are taking is that Microsoft's vouchers apply to Novell's GPL v2 stuff. If Novell just happens to distribute GPL v3 stuff in place of that, then it's Novell distributing it of its own free will and not a procurement via Microsoft.

I say the FSF has a right to question that tactic. I'm just not sure where the courts will fall on it.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (3, Insightful)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388201)

I'd say that because the distribution of the vouchers predates GPLV3, that MS has a leg to stand on here.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

Pensacola Tiger (538962) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388729)

Microsoft is worried enough to have repudiated the vouchers that Novell was to have used as FUD where GPLv3 software is concerned:

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.

So it looks as if Microsoft will be left holding a bag of worthless vouchers as soon as Novell adds GPLv3 code to SuSE.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (3, Insightful)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388135)

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

MS would argue that merely giving out the vouchers is not distribution but most people (the FSF included) see it differently.
Sorry, but most people, (IANAL) including judges IMO, would not. If I buy a movie from blockbuster, and they give me a coupon for a free whopper from Burger King, would blockbuster be suddenly responsible for the conduct of the BK employees and the food service?

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

Random832 (694525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388325)

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

This was a reaction to a statement by MS. They would not have made that statement if they were not worried.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (2, Insightful)

Doctor-Optimal (975263) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388603)

This was a reaction to a statement by MS. They would not have made that statement if they were not worried.
And if MS had let this pass without a statement the slashtards would (still) be channeling Neil Patrick Harris and yelling "It's scared!". When you are an ideologue all evidence points to your favored conclusion.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388361)

I'm not going to argue your movie/burger analogy (+1 for originialty though!). However I would like to point out that MS did issue a concerning the GPL3 [microsoft.com] which is what prompted the response from the FSF.

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

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (2, Insightful)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388857)

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

A voucher is just a form of money. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388155)

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

 

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388311)

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


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

That contention aside, even viewing the GPL as a contract (or, rather, a contract offer), the argument seems to fail since there is no evidence of agreement by Microsoft to be bound by the contract, and thus no contract formed that is binding on Microsoft in the first place.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388529)

Mod parent up. It's one of the more insightful posts I've read here. I'm not fan of MS by any stretch of the imagination, but this is just turning into a witch hunt.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (5, Insightful)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388767)

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

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

I reckon that's roughly the scenario that the FSF is hinting at here. It's obviously not a straightforward 'you distributed our software' copyright lawsuit.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388841)

Well, for analogy, consider that I contract with someone to distribute bootleg copies of a CD for me, in return for coupons. I then claim to the judge that I owe nothing to the record label, since the license of the CD was not a contract and did not compel me to give up my pre-existing funds. :-)

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

Bruce

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

roscivs (923777) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388933)

Well, for analogy, consider that I contract with someone to distribute bootleg copies of a CD for me, in return for coupons. I then claim to the judge that I owe nothing to the record label
This is absolutely correct. The record label has no reason to sue you for copyright violation, as you weren't the one (a) duplicating their CDs, or (b) distributing them. This seems pretty straightforward to me.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388449)

Giving out vouchers is NOT distributing software. If you have to go to Novell to redeme the voucher, its Novell doing the distributing, not MS. Also, doesn't v3 exclude the MS Novell deal anyway?

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388015)

The claim I've always seen from the FSF is that Microsoft will (when Novell's Suse distro starts using GLP3 packages) become a "GPL3 distributor" because of their vouchers. There's something in being a distributor that means they're not allowed to be part of the deal that they were part of (which would mean they couldn't have the vouchers, which would mean they would be in the situation, which would mean the GPL3 might never have included the section prohibiting it, which means MS and Novell may have done a deal...)

TBH, I can't see how it would stand up in court, but then IANAL.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388177)

this post is untrue.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388477)

Any more detail on that, or just a blanket "it isn't true"?

Some of the exact details may be wrong, but the general "MS being a distributor of GPL3 and hence bound under GPL3" thread of my reply seems to agree with the thread of the main reply to the OP.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

Enoxice (993945) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388447)

Hmmm...the premise for Back to the Future IV, perhaps?

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388075)

The Suse vouchers that MS handed out had no expiry date and nothing stating which version of Suse they were valid for.
GPLv3 states that if you give rights to certain users, you must extend those same rights to ALL users without exception.
If a single person uses a Suse/MS voucher to obtain software licensed under GPLv3, ALL users of that software are immune from lawsuits by MS.

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (3, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388081)

I'm at a loss there too.

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

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

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

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

Followup (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388123)

As a followup to my own post, this seems to be the issue of contention:

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

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

Re:Followup (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388399)

I'm not so sure paying others to distribute works in this manner is an infringement of copyright.


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

If Novell is following the terms of the GPL and is somehow getting paid by Microsoft to distribute software, Microsoft is neither bound by the license (which they never agreed to, which is the only way they could be "bound" by it), nor are they covered by the license (a gratuitous license, as the FSF claims the GPL is, doesn't "bind" anyone, it only conditionally allows you to do things), nor are they violating the license, nor are they violating copyright law. At least as I see it.

If Novell is not following the terms of the GPL, it would be very hard to make anything stick against Microsoft, anyway, though Novell would be vulnerable. The GPL doesn't somehow create obligations for third parties engaged in business with people who are directly distributing GPL software, and, really, that's the kind of anti-GPL FUD that is usually spread by GPL opponents trying to create fear legal risk to discourage GPL adoption, so its kind of weird if the FSF is now embracing that idea.

Re:Followup (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388737)

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

"Lawyers make things clearer?!?"

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388441)

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

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

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

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388505)

That isn't precedent (yet), and it's a pretty obviously wrong decision written by someone who has no clue how computing systems work.

More Tripe from Kdawson (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388313)

You have to understand that most of KDawson's stories lack any connection to facts. Mostly they are like that frothy combination of fecal matter and lube you get from prolonged active ass fucking.

Re:More Tripe from Kdawson [sic] (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388903)

Hey Cowie, you're pretty short on facts yourself. Not only does the editor spell his nick "kdawson" (No Caps, stinkfinger), I challenge the notion that he doesn't have a better grasp on reality than you. The fair-minded reader can see what s/he thinks about it [slashdot.org] .

I don't defend kdawson automatically, but this was overboard, imo. May I be modded to hell if I'm just kissing up...

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388665)

Well, the theory is that since Microsoft is paying Novell - and has a contract with them - to distribute copies of SuSE to customers who have coupons. The coupons are not just like paying with dollars, since the coupons have no real cash value and there is a contract that says what they are for. So Microsoft is a party to that distribution because it has essentially contracted for someone else to distribute software for them. If you contracted for someone else to distribute bootleg copies of Britneyz new hit, do you think you would have much chance of convincing the court you aren't a party to her label's copyright license or otherwise an infringer?

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

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

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

Bruce

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388909)

Why does everyone seem to forget that Microsoft also itself distributes software [wikipedia.org] whose copyright is owned by the Free Software Foundation? It's not just the coupons, folks! They are distributing GCC and the entire GNU toolchain!

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (5, Informative)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388723)

They make no GPL software.


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

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

-Peter

Re:How is Microsoft bound by GPL3? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388829)

They make no GPL software.
They don't [microsoft.com] ? Yes, the latest version includes GNU utilities and gcc. Since these had to be modified to work for Interix, then, since Microsoft has owned Interix since 1999...Microsoft makes GPL software.

Clarification (4, Informative)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387897)

Microsoft said they are not distributing any GPLv3 software or code, so they are not bound by said code's license, namely the GPLv3. They never said they will not abide by the GPLv3 if they are bound by it by distributing any GPLv3 stuff.

Re:Clarification (1)

ScaredOfTheMan (1063788) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387985)

So does this mean MS is hoping to splinter FS development, into GPL 2 and 3? isn't it a forgone conclusion that everything will (some day) be GPL v3? I am confused what this means for all those that signed on with MS?

Re:Clarification (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388253)

I think it means that MS is not using or distributing any GPLv3 code and therefore is not bound by the license. Yet. I can't read anything more in what they're saying.

Re:Clarification (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388523)

Heh... if by everything you mean everything under gpl2 now except the linux kernel, then yes.

Re:Clarification (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388557)

So does this mean MS is hoping to splinter FS development, into GPL 2 and 3?

No, Microsoft issued the vouchers as part of their deal with Novell, the FSF read the voucher text and then worded GPL 3 with the goal of trapping Microsoft into weakening their patent position. For better or worse, it's the FSF playing legal games here and Microsoft just trying to do business.

Re:Clarification (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388963)

Oh, you think Microsoft was not playing games when it cross licensed Novell's customers instead of Novell to avoid the patent terms of the GPL? They were just doing business, right? Well, this is payback.

Bruce

Re:Clarification (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388509)

I found what I was looking for. Here [groklaw.net] . Please, disregard my previous posts on this thread :D .

Cool (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387915)

I think this is great news. Honestly if M$ will not follow other software copyrights does that mean that I don't have to follow M$ copyrights? Oh yeah I forgot it's one of the Golden Rules. Yet again he who has the gold makes the rules.

Re:Cool (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387961)

What GPL copyrights is MS impinging upon? MS made a deal with a company that was distributing software with a GPL license, and then the FSF changed the license in an attempt to force MS to give away it's patents. It was a sleazy move by the FSF, and will fail in court, and is harmful to the whole open source movement.

Re:Cool (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388097)

And I'm sorry for adding the apostrophe in "it's".

Re:Cool (5, Informative)

janrinok (846318) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388149)

Not quite right there. The FSF have not changed the license under which Novell distributes its software. It was issued under the GPL2 and remains under that license. Microsoft have not infringed upon GPL2. However, if a significant number of developers move to the new GPL3 license then Novell have to make a choice. Either accept the new license conditions or do not accept the new software that is being developed under GPL3. If they do the former then Microsoft could well be accused of infringing GPL3 because their vouchers are a form of distribution - that might not be the correct legal term but I believe that you understand what I'm claiming. If Novell don't accept the new license conditions with the new software then they cannot include it in whatever they are offering. If sufficient elements of the new software are changed by their developers to GPL3 then Novell could find themselves stuck with an out-of-date distribution, or be forced to fork and update many elements of Gnu/Linux themselves in order to keep it under GPL2.

It is by no means certain that your claim that it 'will fail in court' is correct. Many people who know far better than I seem to think that it will succeed.

Re:Cool (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388565)

So if I give you $5, and you buy a whopper, am I now distributing whoppers?

Re:Cool (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388849)

No. But the courts will decide whether Microsoft's vouchers for Linux software to be supplied by Novell do equate to distributing software licensed under the GPL. IANAL, but many lawyers seem convinced that it does equate to one and the same thing. Of course, FSF have not decided to sue Microsoft - they have simply said that Microsoft cannot get around the GPL3 simply by saying that they (Microsoft) don't like it as a license. AFIAK, no software covered by GPL3 has yet been issued under the voucher scheme.

Re:Cool (1)

sveard (1076275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388853)

Money can be used to buy anything, including a whopper. This voucher can not be used to buy a whopper, it can only be used to obtain Suse. So your analogy is wrong.

Re:Cool (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388629)

Actually, all it takes is for one of the main package maintainers to change licenses for their packages. For instance, Samba (which is used for networking and file sharing with MSwindows systems) will have future versions released under GPL v3. Either Novell uses the newer Samba (which will trap Microsoft), or it does not use the newer Samba (and gets left behind).

This, of course, is based on the assumption that Microsoft distributing coupons for SuSE is akin to distributing the software.

Re:Cool (2, Insightful)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388161)

What GPL copyrights is MS impinging upon? MS made a deal with a company that was distributing software with a GPL license, and then the FSF changed the license in an attempt to force MS to give away it's patents. It was a sleazy move by the FSF, and will fail in court, and is harmful to the whole open source movement.

Well, the FSF didn't change the license radically - and it only affects two kinds of software: the software initially written under GPL 3 and the software including the GPL version x or any later.

The software which was licensed under GPL x or later was so licensed even before the GPL 3. And the possibility of license change was plainly stated.

Compare that to companies that reserve the right to drastically change their licensing at any time. Microsoft included.

Re:Cool (1)

boa (96754) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388425)

>Well, the FSF didn't change the license radically - and it only affects two kinds of software: the software initially written under GPL 3 and the software including the GPL version x or any later.

>The software which was licensed under GPL x or later was so licensed even before the GPL 3. And the possibility of license change was plainly stated.

Wrong. The GPL v2 text says: "either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version."

It is up to the user of the software to choose between GPL v2 or a later version, not up to the author. The author may of course change the license for other versions, but that's another matter.

HTH & HAND

Re:Cool (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388471)

Wrong. The GPL v2 text says: "either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version."

It is up to the user of the software to choose between GPL v2 or a later version, not up to the author. The author may of course change the license for other versions, but that's another matter.

HTH & HAND

I'm sorry, I don't see either where I said the author chooses nor how it is relevant: if the user chooses so, the software is GPL 3 and MS distributed GPL 3 software.

Or am I getting something wrong?

Re:Cool (1)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388805)

I'm sorry, I don't see either where I said the author chooses nor how it is relevant: if the user chooses so, the software is GPL 3 and MS distributed GPL 3 software.

If someone wants to distribute a piece of GPL software with the "either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version" wording, they can comply with the terms of the GPL v2 and distribute it, comply with the terms of the GPL v3 and distribute it, or even comply with the terms of GPL v17 whenever it comes out and distribute it. It's their choice.

This is completely different than what you see in EULAs, where the author says, if you use (not just distribute) this software, you have to agree to such-and-such terms, which the author reserves the right to unilaterally change down the road, taking away whatever freedom you had under the old version.

Re:Cool (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388537)

Users don't need a license, only distributors.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388615)

But, "version x or any later" is at the option of the person DOING the redistribution. The copyright owner grants that choice by offering the option (in this case assuming x is version 2, and not 3).

Re:Cool (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388759)

OK. So does that mean that Novell will be forced to distribute the software under GPL 2 (if possible)?

Re:Cool (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388175)

Good thing that the FSF and the GPL has nothing to do with the open source movement, otherwise that might have been a problem.

Re:Cool (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388007)

I think this is great news. Honestly if M$ will not follow other software copyrights does that mean that I don't have to follow M$ copyrights?
That's right, you don't have to. As long as you don't touch that software.

Re:Cool (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388125)

Two wrongs don't make a right (even if three lefts do...but that's not the issue at hand here.)

Re:Cool (1)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388165)

That's like saying because OJ got away with murder we should all be able to. I second who ever just said "Two wrongs don't make a right".

Confused (2, Interesting)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387925)

Wouldn't MS actually be using and distributing software using GPL'd code in order to be bound to it? If this is the case I hope the FSF goes after them, but if MS isn't using any code and says "we dont like it we wont use it" then I dont see the point of the case.

Re:Confused (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387997)

I am not a lawyer but the issue seems to be the language in GPL3 regarding the term "conveyance," and what it means to "convey a work" or "cause it to be conveyed." Read it and see what you think.

Re:Confused (1)

Keeper (56691) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388101)

What's interesting is that if Microsoft is in violation of the GPL3, it means that they don't have a license to distribute GPL3 software. Which means that they can't distribute GPL3 software without violating copyright.

The kicker is that they aren't distributing GPL3 software, so even if they are "conveying" GPL3 software via a voucher, they still aren't distributing it (in terms of copyright), which means they can't be touched on the grounds of a copyright violation.

Re:Confused (1)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388617)

I don't think this is a threat of a copyright violation suit. The FSF is setting themselves up for a defence of a patent infringement suit. If Microsoft tries to sue over a patent that's implemented in FSF software, the FSF can say that Microsoft actively aided and abetted the distribution of that software under GPLv3. It's basically a means of boostrapping a patent license out of the Novell-MS deal...

Silly (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388883)

So the FSF thinks that the GPL3 will protect them from patent infringement? Seems like a lost cause. If the FSF is violating a patent or two, chances are it is a violation that predates the GPL3.

Anywhile, once the lawyers get involved it just increases the odds that everyone else will get screwed.

Re:Confused (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388115)

I am not a lawyer but the issue seems to be the language in GPL3 regarding the term "conveyance," and what it means to "convey a work" or "cause it to be conveyed." Read it and see what you think.
When it comes to copyright law it seems like the law means whatever the lawyers involved can convince a judge to think it means. After all, if there is such a thing as "contributory infringement" where merely telling someone where to find pirated content counts as a copyright violation, then it sure seems like the MS/Suse voucher scheme should count too.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

And in the red corner, weighing in at (4, Funny)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 6 years ago | (#20387989)

275lbs, wielding his "chair of Google", the solar-panel-for-a-sex-machine, Steve BAAAALLLMMEEERR!

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

*ding ding*

Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388117)

Check out the lawyers' fees in the SCO vs. world + dog cases. Suing Microsoft will be very very expensive. The only thing the FSF can hope for is that some judge finds Microsoft's behavior so egregious that he awards costs to the FSF.

The people with deep pockets get justice and the rest of us suffer. That is the basic strategy the RIAA uses for instance. They go after people who can't afford lawyers. The victims have to give the RIAA their life savings because they can't afford to do anything else. Many people think SCO's plan was that IBM would buy them because it would be cheaper than fighting. You get the idea. Anyway, the FSF isn't that rich. I'm not hopeful about the outcome.

Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388069)

Guys calm down. No one is suing anyone. Microsoft isn't fucking with the GPL (yet). It's just the FSF releasing a statement condemning MS from their earlier statements and all of the patents MMS has recently made. Honestly guys, read the damned press release.

Also what the hell is up with the FSF using big words? "repudiation"
Wow guys that's great you know those big words and all, but maybe you'd get a less alarmist reaction from people *couch*slashdot-editors*cough* if you used simpler words.

Re:Ugh (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388811)

*couch*slashdot-editors*cough*

Holy crap! thats one heck of a cough you have there if you're coughing up furniture. You may want to see a doctor or an upholsterer for that.

I misread with some irony ... (1)

cablepokerface (718716) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388109)

I misread "GPL Version 3 (press release here)" as "GPL Version 3 (please release here)".

I know v3 had some unhappy campers but shees ...

The Steve Balmer Fan Club (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388113)

It's funny seeing the Microsoft haters get so worked into a tizz they rail at shadows. Between the FSF, Slashdot, and GPL wannabes I am SO ejoying myself. I love how you guys gnash your teeth and scream and it gets to the tenth page of a newspaper after like, uh, six months. Maybe if you try a little harder you could grow a column inch.

Love and kisses, The Steve Balmer Fan Club.

Re:The Steve Balmer Fan Club (0, Troll)

Vulva R. Thompson, P (1060828) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388343)

Anyone else think that these pro-MS trolls are getting as boring and unoriginal as the anti-MS trolls? How about something fresh and original?

Innovate people, innovate.

I wanna distance myself from GPL 3 too... (1, Offtopic)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388153)

Is FSF going to sue me, or the company I work for... I make software with the following License agreement which is GPL 3 Incompatable.

Here is program, here is the source and here is my bill for the work I have done... After you pay the bill you can do whatever the heck you want with the code, its yours.

I don't see any reason for Microsoft to feel obliged with following GPL 3, They hadn't had any say in the matter, the License was designed in response to Microsoft's control of the market... There are no laws that force them to use it. Any of the patent agreements they did was with code of a different license.

A lot of OpenSource Activist don't like GPL3 I myself dislike it and feel that it is a move in the wrong direction. If FSF going to start suing companies it is just going to hurt FSF more then it will ever help.

Re:I wanna distance myself from GPL 3 too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388261)

If you take someone else's GPLv3 Licensed code and release it to someone with those claims, then yeah, you should be sued. (Probably by the person who own the copyright on the code though, not the FSF.)

If you are just writing everything yourself, then what does this have to do with the GPLv3 at all?

Re:I wanna distance myself from GPL 3 too... (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388275)

To clear up some confusion: this wrangling has nothing to do with Microsoft's own software. This is with regard to Microsoft's possible distribution of other people's software. To cut the long story short, Microsoft entered into a deal with Novell that could be construed as making them distributors of SuSE Linux, a distribution which includes much software created by the FSF. Futures versions of SuSE might include FSF code licensed under the GPLv3, at which point if Microsoft distributes the software they should be bound by that license (till then most of SuSE Linux is goverend by GPLv2). In a press release, Microsoft tried to distance itself from this possibility by claiming that their deal with Novell would not make Microsoft the distributor, but Novell, at which point indeed they won't be bound by the GPL. The FSF is clarifying that, to the extent Microsoft will distribute their code, they will be bound by the GPL. The FSF is also saying that they might disagree with Microsoft about who is the distributor in fact. That last part is where the lawyers take to the field and the sane people stay home to write code.

Re:I wanna distance myself from GPL 3 too... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388293)

Wow! Look at the MS cocksucker who DIDN'T GET IT! You're not distributing GPL3 software asshat. Microsoft, through their distribution of Novell, will be.

Big fucking difference, eh dipshit?

Gross Speculation (3, Insightful)

vthokie69 (549779) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388193)

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

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

Legal Maneuvering (3, Interesting)

saterdaies (842986) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388205)

The issue is that Microsoft has given indemnities to customers of companies like Novell. Seeing that, the FSF decided "let's make it so that the GPL v3 means those indemnifications mean that M$ can never sue free software users even if they aren't Novell customers".

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

Let's fight for real progress rather than shady legal maneuvering - because, let's face it, the evil companies will always be better at it!

Re:Legal Maneuvering (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388295)

I think you find the MS EULA states it can change the EULA at anytime (and it does change it) and you have to accept [OK].

At least the GPL is for the user[s], not against them.

Re:Legal Maneuvering (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388873)

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

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

If you don't look carefully, that seems to get turned on its head with most applications of the GNU GPL. I'm a big fan of free / open source software, and I release much of my code under the GNU GPL, but I've never been happy with the "or any later version" [fsf.org] bit. It's stupid. The default example given in "How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs" says to include this text:

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

(Lifted from GNU GPL2, but the same text is there in GNU GPL3.) If you copy/paste that into your program (as many developers do) it creates confusion, and I think this is where some of the conflict over the GNU GPL and "viral" accusations comes from. The effect is that I could release Version 1.0 of my program under GNU GPL2. With that text there, someone else may redistribute Version 1.0 of my program to others with the GNU GPL3 license.

Better would have been to leave out the "or any later version" bit. I really wish the FSF hadn't put that in the default example.

Fortunately, this gets some attention in the GNU GPL, and I hope most developers read and understand the whole of the GNU GPL before they apply it. Here's the text from GNU GPL3:

14. Revised Versions of this License.

The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the GNU General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns.

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

(You'll find the same text in section 9 of GNU GPL2, btw.) That is the only place "or any later version" shows up, except for the example at the end. So I now encourage developers to not use the "or any later version" text (and specify the version of the GNU GPL) if they want to ensure a particular version of the GNU GPL. Then you don't fall into the trap of worrying about how the FSF will modify later versions of the GNU GPL to do something you're not comfortable with.

My $0.02.

-jh

A tiny flaw (1, Redundant)

davmoo (63521) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388233)

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

And even if they do distribute something in the future, the FSF would be well advised to make sure they have the best legal representation that money can buy. Because we *know* Microsoft does. And everyone here should be smart enough to know that in a court room, its not necessarily who's right that matters, its who has the best lawyer.

I smell hypocracy... yes, it's coming from /. (0, Troll)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388305)

Amazing how in one week people will be whining about how mean and terrible the RIAA and MPAA are for enforcing their copyrights and then give a big thumbs up when the FSF does the same thing.

Re:I smell hypocracy... yes, it's coming from /. (1)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388423)

Free software supporters are in often in favour of the ethical right to share information.

Through that way of looking at things, copyright law is merely a tool that can be used for good or ill. Copyrights are bad when they're used to stop the sharing of information, but they're good when they're used to protect the right to share information. No hypocrisy there.

Your argument is a bit like accusing someone of hypocrisy on the subject of hammers, because he supports using hammers to build barns, but is against using hammers to bludgeon people to death.

Re:I smell hypocracy... yes, it's coming from /. (1)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388667)

Yeah but who's against the use of hammers for bludgeoning people to death, only music pirates and communists, don't you pay attention to the news?

Re:I smell hypocracy... yes, it's coming from /. (2, Insightful)

vthokie69 (549779) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388885)

I have absolutely no problem with copyright holders enforcing their copyrights regardless of who it is. The problem I have is with the methods that the RIAA and MPAA have used in enforcing copyrights. For starters, the RIAA and the MPAA don't even hold the copyrights, their member organizations do. The actual copyright holders are farming out the dirty work to the RIAA and MPAA. Second, they have been using potentially illegal tactics (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations?) to obtain information. Third, they frequently end up suing or bullying people into settling regardless of guilt or innocence. They are effectively attacking regular folks who also happen to be their customers instead of focusing on the large operations that are wholesale distributing their media and profiting from it. For the small time file sharing, a simple cease and desist order would be sufficient to take care of the problem.

It would be great entertainment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20388427)

to watch FSF's lawyers battle Microsoft's lawyers. All 2 and a half seconds of it.

Oh God I hope so... (0, Troll)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388431)

The two biggest institutional obstacles to the truly universal, mainstream adoption of FOSS legally locking horns, and potentially destroying each other. Legally, economically, and in terms of public opinion.

Yes, please God, YES!

To me the FSF is itself just as big a problem as Microsoft, and I'd like to see it, as an organisation be destroyed to the same extent as Microsoft itself. I'd thought of how wonderful this could be if it were to happen...these two organisations crashing together and mortally wounding each other in the process...but I never dared hope...or dream...that it MIGHT ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

Please do sue Microsoft, FSF. You will lock yourselves and Microsoft into a legal battle which, God willing might even take years. It would prevent you almost entirely from taking action of any other kind during that time. It would exhaust you economically, and if you were to sue pre-emptively, before any concrete violation of the GPL v3 had been committed, it would irrevocably destroy you in the court of public opinion.

Words cannot express the joy that that would bring me. [wikipedia.org]

Hello Alice, welcome to Wonderland.... (2, Funny)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388495)

The MAFIAA getting sued for malicious prosecution, now the FSF (potentially) suing MS over GPL violations...I think I just saw a pig fly by the window. But seriously, how can this get any better?

Re:Hello Alice, welcome to Wonderland.... (0, Offtopic)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388589)

I think I just saw a pig fly by the window. But seriously, how can this get any better?

      George Bush gets impeached?

Re:Hello Alice, welcome to Wonderland.... (1)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388745)

heh, now that's just too good to be true...but then again, gonzalez did resign...

That's a lot of chewing (1, Redundant)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388527)

rms has quite the big mouth, but not even he has one large enough to take a bite out of Microsoft's legal department. I think he just picked a fight he can't win.

Get a chill pill people (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388593)

Microsoft will be "exempt" from the GPLv3 simply because they will never distribute or pay others to distribute GPLv3 code: since the FSF foundation has made clear they believe that paying others counts as distribution, the Novell deal will not encompass any GPLv3 stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

-Nicholas Weaver

Deals like this are bad and must be attacked (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388599)

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

Remember that the GPL is designed to protect the users of computer software, and I think GPLv3's provisions against patent protection deals is a good thing. We must attack such deals as a community. The Slashdot headline is a bit too speculative, but I think FSF would have a valid case if this reached the court one day, but IANAL (I'm not a lawyer).

Full disclosure: I'm a Contributing Member [gnu.org] of the FSF.

I copy from the GPLv3 FAQ [fsf.org] written by brett:

Section 11 How do the new terms of section 11 affect the Microsoft-Novell deal? We attack the Microsoft-Novell deal from two angles. First, in the sixth paragraph of section 11, the draft says that if you arrange to provide patent protection to some of the people who get the software from you, that protection is automatically extended to everyone who receives the software, no matter how they get it. This means that the patent protection Microsoft has extended to Novell's customers would be extended to everyone who uses any software Novell distributes under GPLv3. Second, in the seventh paragraph, the draft says that you are prohibited from distributing software under GPLv3 if you make an agreement like the Microsoft-Novell deal in the future. This will prevent other distributors from trying to make other deals like it.

Consequences? (1)

blurryrunner (524305) | more than 6 years ago | (#20388913)

What are the consequences if Microsoft is shown to be a distributor under GPLv3?
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