Think again, FSF tells Microsoft on GPL3
Between the lines
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) appears to be polishing up its legal sabers over possible violations of the General Public License (GPL) by Microsoft.
In a statement released today the FSF told Microsoft it's prepared to use its "resources" directly or indirectly to protect Linux copyrights and to ensure continued compliance with the GPL.
"We will ensure - and to that extent of our resources, assist other GPL3 licensors in ensuring - that Microsoft respects our copyrights and complies with our licenses," the FSF said.
It was a curiously worded, and round-about statement, released nearly two months after Microsoft effectively refused to recognize GPL3 or to be bound by the license's terms and conditions under its distribution and support deal with Novell.
Microsoft said in July: "We do not believe that Microsoft needs a license under GPL to carry out any aspects of its collaboration with Novell, including its distribution of support certificates, even if Novell chooses to distribute GPL3 code in the future. Furthermore, Microsoft does not grant any implied or express patent rights under or as a result of GPL3, and GPL3 licensors have no authority to represent or bind Microsoft in any way."
The FSF deliberately designed GPL3 to scupper Microsoft's Novell deal, by extending its support for Novell's Linux under GPL3 to all Linux users.
Today, the FSF argued Microsoft cannot exempt itself from GPL3. "Microsoft cannot by any act of anticipatory repudiation divest itself of its obligation to respect others' copyright. If Microsoft distributes our works licensed under GPL3, or pays others to distribute them on its behalf, it is bound to do so under the terms of that license," the FSF said.
Unless Microsoft changes its stance, legal action is the only possible end point for this latest chapter in the story of Microsoft versus open source. There is no legal precedent – to our knowledge – that has been used to enforce GPL or that could compel Microsoft to adhere.
GPL has - effectively - been something users have adhered to from a sense of goodwill. Clearly, Microsoft subscribes neither to a sense of goodwill or the FSF's Paddington Bear hard stares.
Microsoft was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.®
Re: eh?? Still missing something.
You've missed a point. That is only *one* of their violations.
"Suppose GPL3 says something like, 'if you distribute (or procure the distribution), of a program (or parts of a program) - and if you make patent promises partially to some subset of the distributees of the program - then under this license you have given the same promise or license at no cost in royalties or other obligations to all persons to whom the program is distributed'."
Now, GPLv3 is out, and it *does* say that. Microsoft refuses to extend the deal to all other linux users, and is therefore in breach of GPLv3.
eh?? Still missing something.
So if all they have done is not provided code re gpl2 all they need to do is send people CD's of code when they request it (re the case about the phone that had GPL in it and no source that went through the courts at some point) and I'm sure MS will just say "yadda yadda yadda you can get it if you request it and no one has yadda yadda yadda" *send disk to sad folks with no life who do bother requesting* jobs done.
All it sounds like to me is that FSF has decided it's in the mood to scare off any real corporate interest in the product so only geeks with beards will want it. I'd love to see how "major corporate backers" will perceive this "threat" sounds like SCO to me.
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but what's the violation?
Enforced in Germany
Many readers already stated it:
The GPL has been actually enforced at least in Germany. This means that a transgression can be legally pursued in this EU country and surely on many others.