11.26.06

Gemini version available ♊︎

GPL Section 7 vs. Brad Smith

Posted in GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft at 9:09 pm by Shane Coyle

The GNU General Public License, Version 2, is the license that applies to redistribution of a great many Free Software projects, many of which are included in Novell’s Linux offerings. I would like to contrast some aspects of the GPL 2 and the words of Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation at the news conference.

The GNU GPL is a license that covers copying, redistribution, and modification – it is not an End User License Agreement, there is no restriction on your use of GPL software ever, but there are rules for redistribution. Of particular note in reference to the Novell-Microsoft deal is Section 7 (emphasis mine):

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.

Now, here are some of Brad Smith’s words from the day of the deal, particularly in reference to the Patent aspects of the agreement and Novell’s payment of royalties on their Open Source Software offerings:

To do that one of the things we fashioned was an approach that will ensure, for example, that every customer who purchases a subscription, for example, for SUSE Enterprise Linux, will get not only service and support from Novell, but will get as part of that, in effect, a patent covenant from Microsoft. We knew that this was something we had to figure out a way to accomplish, because that was the number one thing that customers were telling us. Customers told us that they wanted us to find a way to address the patent issues directly among ourselves in the industry, so they wouldn’t have to figure out how to deal with these things instead.

By fashioning this covenant we’ve been able to do that. Today Novell is the only company in our industry that is able to provide a customer not only with the code to run Linux, not only the service and support for it, but the patent, a patent covenant that runs for Microsoft Corporation, and that we think is very important, again, as you heard from Ron, for all of the customers in the industry.

There is, of course, a little bit of economics involved, as they always are, and you’ll see in the press release some references to this, although you’ll also see that we’re not announcing any numbers today. But, as you’ll see in the press release it makes clear that on the patent side, we dealt with both of these sides of the equation. We dealt with the need for an up-front balancing payment, a balancing payment that runs from Microsoft to Novell, reflecting among other things the large relevant volume of the products that we have shipped. And you’ll see, as well, an economic commitment from Novell to Microsoft that involves a running royalty, a percentage of revenue on open source software shipped under the agreement.

The terms of Microsoft’s Patent Pledges are restrictive and discriminatory, not allowing for any redistribution of code outside of contributing to OpenSUSE.org (for Novell’s benefit), and not allowing commercial interests any rights.

If Novell has entered into this “Patent Covenant”, agreeing to paying royalties in return for these Microsoft license terms for their users, therefore allowing its partner Microsoft to limit their user’s redistribution rights, are they violating the GPL? Or, is it the brilliance of this deal that now Novell customers would be violating the GPL if they redistribute, since they are the ones with the rights which cannot be passed on?

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 07/02/2023: Fedora 39 Development Plans Outlines

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 06, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, February 06, 2023



  3. Links 06/02/2023: Escuelas Linux 8.0 and Many Political Issues

    Links for the day



  4. Links 06/02/2023: Sparky 6.6 and IPFire 2.27 – Core Update 173

    Links for the day



  5. Taking Back Control or Seizing Autonomy Over the News Cycle (Informing People, Culling the Marketing)





  6. Reality Versus Fiction: EPO Insiders Versus EPO Web Site and UPC 'Churnalists'

    The "official" sources of the European Patent Office (EPO), as well as the sedated "media" that the EPO is bribing for further bias, cannot tell the truth about this very large institution; for proper examination of Europe's largest patent office one must pursue the interpretation by longtime veterans and insiders, who are increasingly upset and abused (they're being pressured to grant patents in violation of the charter of the EPO)



  7. Links 06/02/2023: Linux 6.2 RC7 and Fatal Earthquake

    Links for the day



  8. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, February 05, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, February 05, 2023



  9. Links 05/02/2023: Wayland in Bookworm and xvidtune 1.0.4

    Links for the day



  10. Links 05/02/2023: Pakistan Blocks Wikipedia, Musharraf Dies

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, February 04, 2023

    IRC logs for Saturday, February 04, 2023



  12. Links 04/02/2023: FOSDEM Happening and Ken Thompson in SoCal Linux Expo

    Links for the day



  13. 2023 is the Year Taxpayers' Money Goes to War and Energy Subsidies, Not Tech

    Now that a lot of powerful and omnipresent ‘tech’ (spying and policing) companies are rotting away we have golden opportunities to bring about positive change and maybe even recruit technical people for good causes



  14. Getting Back to Productive Computer Systems Would Benefit Public Health and Not Just Boost Productivity

    “Smartphoneshame” (shaming an unhealthy culture of obsession with “apps”) would potentially bring about a better, more sociable society with fewer mental health crises and higher productivity levels



  15. Links 04/02/2023: This Week in KDE and Many More Tech Layoffs

    Links for the day



  16. Dotcom Boom and Bust, Round 2

    The age of technology giants/monopolies devouring everything or military-funded (i.e. taxpayers-subsidised) surveillance/censorship tentacles, in effect privatised eyes of the state, may be ending; the United States can barely sustain that anymore and raising the debt ceiling won't solve that (buying time isn't the solution)



  17. Society Would Benefit From a Smartphoneshame Movement

    In a society plagued by blackmail, surveillance and frivolous lawsuits it is important to reconsider the notion of “smart” phone ownership; these devices give potentially authoritarian companies and governments far too much power over people (in the EU they want to introduce new legislation that would, in effect, ban Free software if it enables true privacy)



  18. IRC Proceedings: Friday, February 03, 2023

    IRC logs for Friday, February 03, 2023



  19. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, February 02, 2023

    IRC logs for Thursday, February 02, 2023



  20. Links 03/02/2023: Proton 7.0-6 Released, ScummVM 2.7 Testing

    Links for the day



  21. Links 03/02/2023: OpenSSH 9.2 and OBS Studio 29.0.1

    Links for the day



  22. Links 03/02/2023: GNU C Library 2.37

    Links for the day



  23. Sirius Finished

    Yesterday I was sent a letter approving my resignation from Sirius ‘Open Source’, two months after I had already announced that I was resigning with immediate effect; they sent an identical letter to my wife (this time, unlike before, they remembered to also change the names!!)



  24. The Collapse of Sirius in a Nutshell: How to Identify the Symptoms and Decide When to Leave

    Sirius is finished, but it's important to share the lessons learned with other people; there might be other "pretenders" out there and they need to be abandoned



  25. Links 03/02/2023: WINE 8.1 and RapidDisk 9.0.0

    Links for the day



  26. Links 02/02/2023: KDE Gear 22.12.2 and LibreOffice 7.5

    Links for the day



  27. Linux News or Marketing Platform?

    Ads everywhere: Phoronix puts them at the top, bottom, navigation bar, left, and right just to read some Microsoft junk (puff pieces about something that nobody other than Microsoft even uses); in addition there are pop-ups asking for consent to send visitors’ data to hundreds of data brokers



  28. Daily Links at Techrights Turn 15, Time to Give Them an Upgrade

    This year we have several 15-year anniversaries; one of them is Daily Links (it turned 15 earlier this week) and we've been working to improve these batches of links, making them a lot more extensive and somewhat better structured/clustered



  29. Back to Focusing on Unified Patent Court (UPC) Crimes and Illegal Patent Agenda, Including the EPO's

    The EPO's (European Patent Office, Europe's second-largest institution) violations of constitutions, laws and so on merit more coverage, seeing that what's left of the "media" not only fails to cover scandalous things but is actively cheering for criminals (in exchange for money)



  30. European Patent Office Staff Votes in Favour of Freedom of Association (97% of Voters in Support)

    The Central Staff Committee (CSC) at the EPO makes a strong case for António Campinos to stop breaking and law and actually start obeying court orders (he’s no better than Benoît Battistelli and he uses worse language already)


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts