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Little things that matter in language design
A brief message from Novell
Posted Nov 24, 2010 19:44 UTC (Wed) by nteon (subscriber, #53899)
Posted Nov 24, 2010 21:55 UTC (Wed) by vblum (guest, #1151)
The copyrights owned by Novell are those which are owned by Novell, which are those owned by Novell, which are ...
I had no time to type the rest, but please continue to read out loud until you reach the end of the sentence, after that we'll tell you the file names.
Posted Nov 24, 2010 22:19 UTC (Wed) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Specifically, this makes it clear that the unix copyrights are not being sold to Microsoft.
that was the reason for needing this statement, and it does a very clear job of answering the question.
Posted Nov 24, 2010 22:46 UTC (Wed) by mikov (subscriber, #33179)
Posted Nov 24, 2010 23:06 UTC (Wed) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Posted Nov 26, 2010 19:16 UTC (Fri) by vblum (guest, #1151)
What I find hilarious is that no one knows, no one including Novell, who actually owns what part of "the Unix copyrights", due to the Berkeley litigation and earlier Unix history. So Novell's wording is exactly consistent with the assumption that not even Novell knows exactly what they own. Instead, they simple state that they own what they own.
Of course this answers the relevant concerns, but the lack of clarity on what it actually is that they claim ownership to is somehow entertaining.
In this case RMS is right about "intellectual property" being confusing
Posted Nov 25, 2010 4:51 UTC (Thu) by FlorianMueller (guest, #32048)
This confusion validates RMS's long-standing criticism of the use of the term "intellectual property" when only a single category of IPRs is meant. I still disagree with RMS that the term should be refused in general: it's too common and it's not that bad.
There have been other cases of confusion, such as between IBM and TurboHercules, where "intellectual property" ultimately also turned out to be just patents (temporarily, they also talked about trade secrets, but I've never heard of that theory again, so it came down to just patents).
The SEC filing on the Novell deal was clear: 882 patents. Even that number could mean different things. In my analysis of the announcement of the transaction, I state an example of an Apple patent that was filed in 40 countries and could count as 1, 7 or 40 patents depending on methodology.
I guess between the SCO story and the copyright part of the ongoing dispute between Oracle and Google, copyright raises more concerns than ever.
On the patent side I haven't yet seen any factual cause for concern. As I explain in my aforementioned analysis, Microsoft files for that number of patent applications every quarter just in the US, and we're talking about a consortium (even though its details are unknown as of now) involving other technology companies, so no shareholder would be able to just take decisions singlehandedly anyway.
Posted Nov 25, 2010 15:46 UTC (Thu) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
I don't know if Novell's patents, such as the Commerce One set, were "pledged" or "transferred" to OIN, or if they just gave them a broad, transferable licence which OIN could pass on to it's licensees.
Some of the info on OIN's website is too vague (does "own" mean "owns the patent" or "owns a sufficient licence to protect its licensees") but there might be some useful stuff.
Posted Nov 25, 2010 15:50 UTC (Thu) by FlorianMueller (guest, #32048)
Nothing is known about the terms of the contribution Novell made when it joined. If the sale was irrevocable, then OIN will keep those even if Novell leaves post-acquisition. Otherwise, Novell might be able to terminate and get the patents back, possibly in exchange for some payment. But OIN calls itself open without being open, so we don't know :-)
Concerning the cross-license agreement, if Novell terminated, OIN would be affected, but some rights would continue for some purposes. Also, termination has a notice period before it takes effect.
Posted Nov 25, 2010 21:59 UTC (Thu) by elanthis (guest, #6227)
"IP" or "Intellectual Property" validates the idea that you can own thoughts. That is bullshit. Neither trademarks, patents, nor copyrights have anything at all to do with owning thoughts, but instead cover the ability to distribute copies or implementations of designs. If you have a patent, you don't own the IDEA of the patent; you simply own the right to manufacture an implementation of the design within the patent. The whole purpose of the patent system is to encourage corporations to publicly disclose their ideas for future generations while allowing them to maintain a profit in the short term to recoup development costs and make some capital (obviously broken massively in the case of software patents, but that's a different topic).
If you want a short term to refer to the group of laws covering trademarks, copyrights, and patents, that's totally cool -- we English speakers love to short-hand everything we can (hence why we're never going to use "GNU/Linux" over just "Linux", sorry RMS) -- but "IP" is just a horrible choice. It implies things that it shouldn't and it teaches naive people that thoughts and ideas and intellectual concepts are ownable property, when they are not.
GNU/Linux is a great name
Posted Nov 26, 2010 1:24 UTC (Fri) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
It's not all or nothing, it's the more the merrier. Ten people saying "GNU/Linux" is better than nine, and a million and one is better than a million.
Each one of us can decide to help or not.
GNU/Linux is a great name, no!!!
Posted Nov 26, 2010 15:26 UTC (Fri) by danielpf (subscriber, #4723)
When you say GNU/Linux, to most people the first impression is not the meaning that you attach to the words, but only the impression made by the word sounding. If the first impression is bad, then the result is opposite to what you want. GNU is a bad choice because for most people it sounds odd and at best conveys the idea of an exotic animal, completely foreign to the wished message. Further, a sequence of capital characters hurt. Linux on the other hand sounds good and does not convey any particular meaning.
So I disagree that the more one repeats GNU/Linux the more the free software ideal are propagated. On the contrary, repeating GNU too much may be counter-productive as long as people haven't learned what it is supposed to mean.
A better marketting strategy could be to use Linux for the general public and then GNU/Linux for people more aware of free software concepts.
GNU/Linux is a great name, awwww yehhhh!!!
Posted Nov 26, 2010 16:56 UTC (Fri) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
That was a theory in the 90s but I don't see it happening anywhere.
Who are the "more aware" people? LWN readers? I don't see any cases of LWN readers who say "Linux" to n00bs and "GNU/Linux" when we're here on LWN.net.
I guess the problem is that you're drawing a "we" policy, but you can't decide what "we" do. You can only decide what *you* do.
If "we" followed your plan of saying "Linux" in, say, 75% of situations and "GNU/Linux" in 25% of situations, that might lead to a larger visibility of GNU because 25% could be an increase and so you'd have made a real difference.
But instead, your plan only applies to you, so the result is that you've decided to only mention GNU 25% of the time. That won't change much. As one person, you can't change much, but you can do the maximum possible. That's 100%.
It's another rule of marketing: keep your eyes on the prize (if a theory doesn't square with reality, the theory's wrong or you're applying it wrong.
Posted Nov 26, 2010 12:13 UTC (Fri) by danielpf (subscriber, #4723)
My proposition: "IPL" for "intellectual permission laws".
Posted Nov 26, 2010 16:06 UTC (Fri) by dmarti (subscriber, #11625)
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