This clears nothing up
Posted Nov 28, 2006 17:47 UTC (Tue) by grouch
In reply to: This clears nothing up
Parent article: Novell's IRC session on the Microsoft deal
The patent "agreement" covers packages distributed by Novell which includes GPL'd code. Novell purchased blanket patent protection for these packages from a single patent holder. Denying the "agreement" is a license (permission to use) does not change the effect of the agreement. Novell's statements that "[...] Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents" does not change the fact that entering into such an agreement with Microsoft while specifying packages that are covered by that agreement which include GPL'd code is an implicit acknowledgement of patent infringement.
Novell purchased the patent license on behalf of Novell's customers. Novell's customers cannot pass that license along when the customers distribute the GPL code received from Novell. This is not the same as the indemnification sold by, e.g., Red Hat. Red Hat is selling a warranty, as provided for in the GPL. Novell is selling a specific patent holder's promise not to sue, also known as a license, which is a grant of permission to use any patents, regardless of validity, that the specific patent holder may have that read on the packages distributed by Novell.
The agreement's blanket coverage for any and all patents held by the patent holder is not equal in its coverage for all persons included. It divides the people it covers into end users and developers. It further divides developers into commercial and non-commercial. It is an inequitable license, which goes against the intent and purpose of the GPL even though it covers packages which include GPL'd code.
Novell has enhanced Microsoft's FUD machine. Novell has purchased rights for its customers from a single patent holder. Novell's customers cannot pass those rights along with the code those customers redistribute. Novell has purchased a license from Microsoft which flies in the face of the intent and purpose of the GPL:
For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.
Preamble, GNU GPL
Novell's purchase of a non-distributable patent license from a single patent holder, which covers packages that include GPL'd code, named by Novell, is a violation of the intent and purpose of the GPL.
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