Microsoft tells GPLv3 to talk to the hand
Nothing to do with us
We were all wondering what Microsoft would do about GPLv3. Turns out the firm wants nothing to do with it, and has issued a statement outlining exactly how it plans to ignore the new license.
It also rejects any suggestion that the GPLv3 will have any effect on its patent immunity deal with Novell.
In a statement, the firm said: "Microsoft is not a party to the GPLv3 license and none of its actions are to be misinterpreted as accepting status as a contracting party of GPLv3 or assuming any legal obligations under such license."
The agreement between Microsoft and Novell sees Microsoft issue certificates to Novell's customers granting them immunity from prosecution for alleged infringement of Microsoft patents in the Linux source code.
It is controversial because GPL seeks to ensure that all users of licensed code have the same benefits, and so outlaws deals between vendors that grant their users exclusive rights. The Microsoft/Novell deal exploits a loophole in the earlier version of the license, as the agreement is technically between Microsoft and Novell's customers, not between Microsoft and Novell.
The deal has been "grandfathered" in GPLv3, that is, it is recognised, but future arrangements along similar lines are ruled out.
The Beast of Redmond says while some industry watchers might regard its deal with Novell as tacit acceptance of the terms of GPLv3, it does not.
"We do not believe that Microsoft needs a license under GPL to carry out any aspect of its collaboration with Novell, including its distribution of support certificates, even if Novell chooses to distribute GPLv3 code in the future," it said, adding that GPLv3 "licensors" have "no authority to represent or bind Microsoft in any way".
Microsoft acknowledges that the legal situation is still a little murky, for all its own clarity of thought on the matter. So until the legal situation is clarified, it is simply going to limit the scope of the Novell support certificates it provides so they do not entitle support or updates for any GPLv3 licensed code.
"The patent covenants offered by Microsoft and Novell to each other's customers are unchanged, and will continue to apply in the same way they did previously," it said. ®
Don "If I write an original C++ program on my PC, running windows, I can do absolutely anything with it" Mitchell obviously didn't read this one...
Evidently there is plenty in the license that comes with Visual Studio...
"Go on, do what you like!" - M$
"Microsoft threatens its Most Valuable Professional"
Which obviously means that when using M$ products you cannot do want you want, when you want, at all.
Open Source however says you can do want you want, but if you sell it to somebody else you need to give it to everybody else as well.
Or if you modify and improve it, you need to make it available to everyone else. This way software can evolve and you evolve it and we don't have to re-invent the wheel each time. Value is in supporting and improving. Not lock-in
slightly less onerous.
To Don Mitchell
You misunderstand what the GPL licence is about - I suspect you've read too much of that FUD that comes out of Redmond !
You can write any program you like, and having written that program you can do whatever you like with it and licence it to others (or not) in any way you like - yes all that using free llicence tools. You can also take any GPL program and modify it for your OWN use without any restrictions or any requirement to make that changed software available to anyone else.
What the GPL (and other free licences) do is say that if you want to incorporate someone elses work into yours AND distribute it, then you can no longer limit what others can do with it. If you don't want to be bound by it then all you have to do is not include someone elses work in yours ! In effect, it's designed so that some big corporation can't simply take a load of open source programs, package them up and try to pass them off as their own work and restrict what others can do with them (yes, I really have seen boxes running Linux where the vendor claims all rights to what's in the box !)
To put this in perspective, what do you think would happen if you took Windows, fiddled with the UI and tweaked a few other bits, then tried to sell it as your own work ? Or if you built some item of consumer electronics running Windows plus your own software and didn't bother to pay Microsoft for the Windows ? You'd be breaking the licence terms you got Windows under and could rightly expect to hear from the lawyers at Redmond.
The GPL gives you MUCH more flexibility than that - for example you CAN take a pile of GPL software, tweak it a bit, and sell it (perhaps as part of an appliance). Just think of the saving being able to lift a whole OS instead of either writing your own or paying to licence a commercial one. The flip side is that in return for getting all that for free you are expected to pass on that freedom. However, that does not mean that ALL the software in that appliance automatically becomes open - you CAN have your own proprietry programs running, and many vendors do manage to make and sell successful products using free software alongside their own proprietry programs.