Feeds

Open sourcerers do battle for GPLv3

Perens weighs in

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Open source luminary Bruce Perens has come out fighting in defence of the latest draft of GPLv3.

The draft, which seeks to prevent patent protection deals like that struck late last year by Microsoft and Novell, has come under heavy fire from proprietary software advocates such as the ACT (Association for Competitive Technology).

ACT lawyers argue that GPLv3 might "create new liabilities for its drafters and users".

In a document drafted by Richard Wilder, an attorney at Sidley Austin and the intellectual property counsel for ACT, the association warns that the anti-MS/Novell clause could constitute tortious interference.

Perens disagrees: it is up to developers to chose to use GPLv3, or not, he says. No one is being forced to use it, so the warnings of potential tortious interference hold no water with him.

He told eWeek that ACT is a lobbying front for Microsoft: "Obviously, GPL software is displacing Microsoft enough to have them concerned, and it's doing it at customers who are important to them. A lawyer's job is to scare the other side if they can—because they know it's cheaper than winning a case in court."

Mountains and molehills

Mark Taylor, a former head of the Open Source Consortium in the UK, thinks the whole thing is being blown out of all proportion.

He told us: "The only people worrying about the GPL draft are people like ACT. Everyone else is really pleased with the draft. The original GPL aimed to prevent deals like the one between Novell and Microsoft. They just found a loophole. This draft closes it."

Taylor also believes that the test of the success of the draft will be in whether or not developers chose to use it. But he also notes that the draft is just that: a draft. The implication is that any issues that it might have will be hammered out of it by the free software community. After all, debugging complicated documents is what they do best.

But Wilder also suggests that the real aim of the Free Software Foundation is to stop links being built between the free and proprietary software worlds. Certainly, readers have suggested to The Register that the changes put in place to prevent new deals similar to the one between MS and Novell could undermine the open source movement by making it harder for those two groups to collaborate.

According to Wilder, the limitations imposed in GPLv3 are too strict, seeking to prevent deals between those patent holders "in the business of distributing software", while leaving the door open for similar deals by other parties.

Perens dismisses such concerns. He told eWeek: "It is now, and always has been, legal to make proprietary software that runs on a GNU/Linux system. Oracle does it with no problem, for example. That's not a bridge between the proprietary and open-source world? Why is that legal? Because the FSF made it so."

"What we really are hearing here is a representative for the world's biggest closed software company trying to make a case that the Free Software Foundation isn't open enough for them, when of course Microsoft does not give people anything close to the rights that FSF grants on every bit of software that they own." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
China: You, Microsoft. Office-Windows 'compatibility'. You have 20 days to explain
Told to cough up more details as antitrust probe goes deeper
Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit
And at the back of the field, Windows 8.1 is sprinting away from Windows 8
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?