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IBM And Sony Form Linux Alliance 165

Posted by Zonk
from the everybody-else-is-doing-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CNN is reporting that IBM, Sony, and Philips are creating a Linux adoption group. Called the 'Open Invention Network', it is intended to protect vendors and customers from patent royalty fees while using OSS." From the article: "Patents owned by OIN will be available without payment of royalties to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against others who have signed a license with OIN, when using certain Linux-related software. Traditionally, patents have been pursued for two primary reasons -- to defend one's own intellectual property or for barter to trade in cross-licensing agreements to gain access to other companies' patents. OIN represents a new form of cross-licensing that its backers say could spur innovation. "
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IBM And Sony Form Linux Alliance

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  • Makes sense (Score:3, Funny)

    by level_headed_midwest (888889) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:44AM (#13996954)
    Now Sony can make a Linux rootkit too!
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by WormholeFiend (674934)
      Now Sony can make a Linux rootkit too!

      Nah, it's not a rootkit, it's an "Open" Source Protection to make sure that SCO^H^H^Hshameless companies don't impurify our precious bodi^H^H^H^Hcode.
  • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd.harrelsonfamily@org> on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:44AM (#13996958) Homepage
    This certainly seems like a good idea, but am I the only one that thinks that seeing Sony in this list is rather out of character, especially given Sony's recent actions?
    • by strider44 (650833) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:49AM (#13996990)
      Probably not. However you're forgetting how big a company Sony is. Just think of IBM - on one hand they are fighting against Microsoft through Linux and their servers and services, but on the other hand they are manufacturing chips for Microsoft's brand new console. They're all companies, not a single person. It's not personal, it's business. Noone involved in the rootkitting is also involved in this Linux alliance.
      • by EulerX07 (314098) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:03AM (#13997065)
        Hell, I'm sure the "Sony Consumer Electronics" groups has regular disagreements with the "Sony Music" group.
        • by Jonny_eh (765306) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:33AM (#13997295)
          Ya, they probably have really tense cross-department picnics.

          I can just see the SCE guys going to eat the cake, and the Sony Music guys saying "You can't eat that until we say! It's copywritten!".

          Oh well, I guess the moral is that Sony Music doesn't want you to have a cake and eat it too.
          • It's a good thing I don't have mod points this week. I can't decided if this is Funny, Insightfull, or just a bad pun...

          • it is a copyRIGHT not a copyWRITE. That means it would be COPYRIGHTED not COPYWRITTEN. These are rights they are taking away from us, not pencils.
          • I think the biggest dispute is between the "uncoolness" of Sony Media (face it the pigopolists suck and no amount of advertising is going to change that perception in the market and the more time it spends in court attacking it's customers the wrose it will be) and the damage that it is doing to their sales. What is really suprising is that Sony Electronics has not forced a name change on Sony Media in order to minimise the damage being done.

            Hmm does this partnership point to Sony seeking the coolness fac

      • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd.harrelsonfamily@org> on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:06AM (#13997079) Homepage
        Perhaps you are right. In the eyes of the law, a corporation is a single entity. I guess that people (myself included) also tend to think of it as a single entity. Maybe I should think of it as having "multiple personality disorder." The only problem is that I like to spend my money with companies who support linux, and I like to not spend my money on companies who support DRM. *Harrkev's head explodes.*

        But seriously, I also wonder what the requirements for membership in this group is. This is a "if you don't sue me, then I won't sue you" club. But what if a corporation wants to join without holding any patents? They would get a lot out of joining, but not really have anything to contribute. Would they still be allowed to join?
        • "If you have patents" doesn't seem to be the defining feature of the group. The defining feature seems to be "if you won't sue open source over use of any of your patents." If you have 0 patents, you're not likely to sue anyone, are you.

          Think of the KDE foundation. Allowing them to use these patents is the whole purpose of the excersise. That they probably have no patents themselves is irrelevant. Yet, to be truly open, they are allowing other entities (such as commercial operations) to use these pate

        • In the eyes of the law, a corporation is a single entity.

          Sony is huge, with both regional companies and different companies covering different sectors. I expect most legal actions Sony has are brought against these companies, not the Corporation as a whole.
        • But seriously, I also wonder what the requirements for membership in this group is. This is a "if you don't sue me, then I won't sue you" club. But what if a corporation wants to join without holding any patents? They would get a lot out of joining, but not really have anything to contribute. Would they still be allowed to join?

          I don't see why not. From the /. description:

          "Patents owned by OIN will be available without payment of royalties to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to a

        • Maybe I should think of it as having "multiple personality disorder."

          Or, in the case of a company like EDS, a seven headed dragon. ;) Tough to kill once it gets in the door of your IT operation.

          Think of this patent pool as the Microsoft Protection Program. The nuclear option if MSFT tries swinging the patent ax at Linux. If MSFT was smart they'd start planning a new competitive strategy. Fortunately, there's no fear of a ray of intelligence penetrating executive row at the Redmond campus.

          It's sti

        • by vertinox (846076) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @11:06AM (#13998209)
          Perhaps you are right. In the eyes of the law, a corporation is a single entity. I guess that people (myself included) also tend to think of it as a single entity.

          Corporations are not sentient beings.

          If they were, they'd be large 100 foot tall immortal beasts living off the blood of small children.
        • In the eyes of the law, a corporation is a single entity. I guess that people (myself included) also tend to think of it as a single entity. Maybe I should think of it as having "multiple personality disorder."

          Think of it as a tribe - composed of a number of related individuals with different (though often similar) moral codes and behavior.

          Or think of it as a school - with different sports teams under different coaches and different service clubs, where one team might be rife with bullying and steroid use a
      • by altoz (653655) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:10AM (#13997102)
        I'm sure Sony employees are just as outraged as the rest of us are about the rootkit. Fact of the matter is that the entertainment moguls (music, tv, movies) are in a completely different division doing idiotic stuff. Think about it, if MIT had one professor that ran a criminal record on his students, there would be other professors on campus that would be outraged. Same thing here.
      • by div_2n (525075) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:12AM (#13997121)
        Yet as a consumer I can only judge the company as a whole and not the individual divisions since I have no idea how deep the evil streak runs and don't want to chance that some other product or service is equally as nasty.
        • To me, this is no different than HP.

          If it's HP, and it's a printer, great.
          If it's HP, and it's computers...well...RUN

          I don't know how they do so great with one, and so damn poorly with the other.
          • Ehh?

            HP are one of the worst when it comes to printer ink predatory pricing! (enterprise printing MFD's are ok though). Ink that costs more per gram than solid gold?
            HP desktops I could take them or leave them, they're all the same to me.
            HP wintel (and winamd!) severs are brilliant, probably best of the breed!

            Curiously enough, the printing division with their super-ink is most profitable, whereas the server division is almost always losing money.
      • Probably not. However you're forgetting how big a company Sony is. Just think of IBM - on one hand they are fighting against Microsoft through Linux and their servers and services, but on the other hand they are manufacturing chips for Microsoft's brand new console.

        Saying IBM or Sony is like saying United States of America. Are you talking about Texas or Hawaii or Massachusettes?

        They're a little bit different.
        • by xtracto (837672)
          Saying IBM or Sony is like saying United States of America. Are you talking about Texas or Hawaii or Massachusettes?


          As a non-USA citizen I often think of USA as Geroge Bush and its government actions. I mean, that is the image you guys give to the world, it does not matter if you are trying to save the dolphins from the tuna nets down there... it is the overall image you give that counts.

          Same thing for companies, look at Microsoft. They have several nice technologies and research (and its main CEO donates a
          • As a non-USA citizen I often think of USA as Geroge Bush and its government actions. I mean, that is the image you guys give to the world, it does not matter if you are trying to save the dolphins from the tuna nets down there... it is the overall image you give that counts.

            Sounds like you have a bad case of ignorance. You might want to work on that. It is like someone from the USA thinks all French are cowards, or all Germans are fascists, or all Muslims are terrorists. It is great you can admit your fl
            • "It is like someone from the USA thinks all French are cowards, or all Germans are fascists, or all Muslims are terrorists. "

              Isn't that pretty much true? How many jokes have seen on slashdot about the french being cowards?

              • Jokes are jokes. And while many people here do joke about the French, etc, do they really believe it? And if they do, then the same applies to them as does the original guy.

                Actually, many in this country do believe these things and are equally ignorant.

            • Read the parent carefully, he's talking about image. Image is the issue. He's not saying that it's just his "problem". It is the overall image that counts!

              I'd agree. I'm Aussie (married to a Texan, mind you) and everywhere the same anti-US sentiment is prevalent. It's not about the american people, much the same way that WW2 wasn't about the German people, it's about the government and the actions of the government.

              So, America is a "democracy", the people are, to some extent, responsible for the actio

              • Yes, I did read it carefully. I understand it is our image he sees as bad. And I still reply to that saying that is stereotyping.

                You should accept that America's negative international image is a result of the voting of its people. When you have done so, what will be your next step?

                Ahh yes, the good old "using a person's words against them" trick. Unfortunately you see, honest answers thwart such tactics. So you seem to be somewhat aware of our politics. First of, we are "Republic" not a democracy. Se
            • I don't think slashdot helps with America's negative PR. If a non-american was to come onto slashdot they would encounter for the first time: the view that global warming is simply a conspiricy to undermine capitalism, support for invasion of Iraq, scores of racist comments about Indians. In my life I've met many nice and nasty Americans. A common trend amongst them is that the Americans that challenge my own perceptions of the stereotyped "greedy, violent and rude American" tend to be the ones that underst


              • Yes, there are some here on /. who fit the stereotype of "the ugly american". It is also true that you can find something ugly about all peoples here. But you must admit that /. is decidedly left leaning including USA posters.

      • Yeah, during the day I'm really a nice guy, but from midnight till 4 AM I'm doing couple of break-ins and rob a few 7-11's. But that is a completely different me!! So "you should put the other half of me in jail".
        • You have utterly missed the point. Like so many people, you have bought into the notion that a corporation is a person, a single entity of one mind which decides on every action it takes.

          It's not. Despite any legal status, corporations are made up of many groups; in Sony's case, many different companies! It's utterly silly to say "I'm not buying a PS3 from SCEA because Sony BGM did something really stupid". It's akin to having nothing to do with someone because their brother did something you don't l

          • "having nothing to do with someone because their brother did something you don't like" sounds like a recipe for a long term feud if the people are popular enough.

            After a few centuries, the people "having nothing to do with someone" are long dead but the feud remains. I know that the French are still around but for the life of me I can't figure out why. And I'm originally a Quebecois, a French speaker.

            Human memory runs broad, not deep. That's why I don't trust it. Its too easy to forget exactly why anything.
    • It may seem to the public like they are one big entity, but in reality they are a huge company with many opinions within. This is really true of any organization. Even within our own department here there are huge disparities of attitudes. Sometimes a project will arise that only needs one programmer and they get free reign on how to do things. Invariably they will write it in their favorite language on their favorite platform. If an outside person were to see my programs they would think "wow, they really
    • PS3 Linux [gamespot.com] and the CELL processor, of course.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @10:57AM (#13998136) Journal
      Most obvious is that japanese sony != american sony. Secondly is that hardware sony != content sony.

      Content sony only cares about pushing its wares but so does hardware sony. Hardware sony does not want people to not buy their hardware because it is to crippled while content sony does not want people to use their hardware to duplicate their content.

      Then you got japan sony coming from a slightly different culture then the american "lets sue" sony.

      But what I think is at the heart of this is the Sony that does not want to be owned by Microsoft. While the internet tv might not have happened I am sure there are people at sony that would dearly love the idea of them producing the "next pc". It is the only possibly explanation for Linux on the playstation sold by sony itself. They can't make a single cent profit on it. So why do it if not for learning wether it can be done?

      Might it someday be possible to buy in the store a non-ms computer? Worse perhaps a computer that is not like today's pc's at all but far closer to say, oh a mobile phone?

      MS has really screwed over every single company it has dealt with and the IBM Sony's of this world would dearly like to see a future were MS can't dictate so many terms.

      It is basic economy. When your supplier controls you you are not in control. At the moment it is MS that control the PC and PC makers like sony don't like that.

      So it is not out of character at all. Sony is just trying to get maximum profit. MS being toned down a bit means that sony can better dictate the terms, the terms probably being "we want more cash".

      Simple really.

    • especially given Sony's recent actions

      Yah, the immediately previous story on the page is California's class action suit against Sony. Horns one minute and halo the next! Or maybe they want to get friendlier with Linux so they can get DRM working on Linux as well?

    • No, it makes perfect sense-

      Sony wants to make sure they can come out with rootkits for mainframes, in case people start buying them again.
  • cost of a license (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Jah Shaka (562375)
    interesting... so how much is a license and are we protected against license costs in the future?

    ""Patents owned by OIN will be available without payment of royalties to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against others who have signed a license with OIN"
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:07AM (#13997084)
      Software patents are not acceptable, these companies and others pushing for a stable ABI (binary drivers) are attempting to co-opt linux. To accept this patent pledge we would first have to accept that software patents are acceptable, they are not. If these companies are not prepared to mount legal challenges to patentability of software, this is at best an empty and worthless gesture, at worst an attempt to undermine copyright protection for software authors.
    • My $699 Linux license protects me from things like GPL lawsuits, acts of God, and robot attacks. It sounds a bit steep at first, but SCO assures me it was money well spent!
  • by Ryvar (122400) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:47AM (#13996976) Homepage
    The idea of an anti-patent patent trust is as old as the hills, but to see this much corporate clout behind it was unthinkable not five years ago. It feels like there's been a sea-change and I like it. More important than helping IBM and Sony fight Microsoft, if this idea gained momentum it could seriously roll back a lot of the current technical stagnation on account of software/algorithm patents.

    Color me cautiously hopeful.

    --Ryv
    • by htd2 (854946)
      It all rather depends on how many patents end up in the combined pot and what value these patents have in the real world.

      The reality of IBM's last foray into patent donation to the OpenSource community was much much less impressive than the publicity it generated. Most of the patents were either irrelevant to the OpenSource community or about to expire or both.
    • They have to be careful pooling patents, they can open themselves up to collusion, price fixing and anti-competition lawsuits. It would be the same as with Microsoft, just with a group of companies controlling what does/does not get into the free patent group. Nothing in this agreement is binding on other parts of the companies, Sony is a HUGE company as is IBM. So if they want to sue each other over patents OUTSIDE the common pool they can still do so.
  • Any drawbacks that my admittedly short sight missed? Can individuals join to avoid getting sued? Do groups need to have patents to join? I assuem they're still allowed to sue non-members, otherwise there would be no incentive for outsiders to join.
    • It sounds basically like a license agreement for use of a patent. Basically, by licensing an OIN patent from the patentholder you agree not to sue Linux developers over infringing on any patents you hold. By suing someone over infringement of one of your patants, you are infringing the OIN patent. I really can't tell if you basically agree not to ever sue against Linux, or if it is simply limited to the term in which you are using the patent. I haven't been able to actually find the text of an OIN agree
  • by ooze (307871) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:54AM (#13997012)
    Yep. It's the next best thing to abolishing patents altogether for spurring innovation. And it's the furthest they can get in that area. Noone can abolish any laws in a democracy when there is a rich lobby that depends on them.
  • I'm actually glad that Sony wanted to join this grup. If any company has interest in it, why not? The group will possibly grow even bigger... maybe companies like Microsoft? :P I heard Philips say "Everyone's invited", so...
    • by wpiman (739077) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:01AM (#13997052)
      These three companies make their money in services and hardware-- ie. not software. I can't possibly imagine Microsoft joining given this. It would be like Microsoft and Oracle starting a group which would give out free hardware, and use the Open source community for free services (obviously hard to do). These hardware and service companies would want nothing to do with it.
    • "Everyone's invited" is from Samsung.
      IIRC the catchphrase goes like "Samsung. DigitALL. Everyone's invited"

      Just nitpicking.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sony just wants IBM's Linux knowledge to develop a better rootkit for their CDs.
  • Protection racket (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    First impressions, this stinks. Let's extrapolate. What happens when this 'protection club' gets a little competition? Instead of one universally broken patent system for all we then have several competing gangs all trying to form the biggest group, each further partitioning knowledge into feudal provinces. Besides which, Sony are involved. Who of sane mind is ever going to trust a company with Sonys record now? To me a big point of Linux is a the 'fuck you' to the nasty big corps. To be honest I'm quite gl
    • Re:Protection racket (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      , but at the end of the day when I saw that IBM ad with Linux portrayed as a child I couldn't help thinking of IBM as a child molester walking the kid out into the woods

      Actually they chose a child because it best represented the mentality of most Linux fanboys.

      Funny how it's "control and profit" minded companies employing most of the people working on OSS (not necessarily to work on OSS, but most OSS developers have to earn a living to allow them to "play"). Gee, I wonder how /. manages to pay for all
  • Especially given how Sony so well-embraced Linux with the available Linux development toolkit for the PlayStation 2.

    Does anyone know will Sony offer a Linux development toolkit for the upcoming PlayStation 3?
  • Honestly, just because the patent (under what terms exactly?) is available at no cost doesn't make it good. There is a lot of reasons to dislike software patents: price is one of them but not the only one. Additionaly, what about the completely broken USPTO? the lack of research for prior art? tre triviality? What about the complexity of the patent itself? How will you know what is exactly covered? As an analogy: think Freeware vs Free Software.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Of course this doesn't make patents "good" . . . but the truth is, they're here to stay for the foreseeable future. If the "good guys" can use their patents to fight the "bad guys", it's a better world.

      Not that the USPTO doesn't still need a good overhaul, but until then, this will help spur innovation.

  • by Slashcrap (869349) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:16AM (#13997144)
    Oops, sorry. I seem to have mis-spelled "Fuck you Sony, you rootkit spreading scum suckers". The keys are right next to each other.
    • No, you misunderstand Sony's motives - the rootkit is showing their support for Linux!

      You see, the rootkit only infects Microsoft Windows, and the "DRM" only stops Microsoft Windows from playing or ripping the music - Linux is splendidly unaffected by the code, and can play (and rip) the music effortlessly.

      So, what Sony is doing is giving people more reasons to NOT run Windows but instead run Linux.

      So, the actions of the two groups are in harmony - they are both supporting Linux at the expense of Microsoft.
    • Some day slashdot comments are going to implode in a illogical paradox.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2005 @09:23AM (#13997194)
    Aren't we suppose to be hating Sony now?

    (Go ahead and mod redundant, just like you did the FIRST POST that made this joke)
  • This is great but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ankura (769374)
    Patents owned by OIN will be available without payment of royalties to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert (my emphasis) its patents against others who have signed a license with OIN, when using certain Linux-related software.

    ... would OIN be willing to counter-sue (backed up with its patent portfolio) say an 800 pound gorilla who find Linux violating some patents and sues linux users.

    That doesn't seem to much sense so here's an example scenario:
    - MSFT decides L
  • Platform independent rootkit.
  • Does that mean tux can yell out: LINUX ALLIANCE ASSSSEEEEEMBLEEE and have big blue and sony fly from the sky to fight crime?
  • Considering Sony Music/BMG has been in Slashdot an awful lot lately, before we cheer or scream "DOOOOOOM", I want to know how much of Sony-BMG interacts with Sony the computer company? How much will Sony-the-Bad influence Sony-the-Good?

    I suspect (hope) Sony is a big enough corporation where the left hand and right hand are fairly independent of each other...

    Trying to avoid the usual /. knee-jerk reaction. :)

  • OPEN INVENTION NETWORK FORMED TO PROMOTE LINUX
    AND SPUR INNOVATION GLOBALLY THROUGH ACCESS TO KEY PATENTS
    - - -
    Investors Include IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony

    New York (November 10, 2005) - Open Invention Network (OIN), a company that has and will acquire patents and offer them royalty-free to promote Linux and spur innovation globally, was launched today with financial support from IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony. The company, believed to be the first of its kind, is creating a new model
  • Was Philips just not worth mentioning in the title? Or too hard to spell correctly compared to the other two?
  • what happens (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sad_ (7868)
    what would happen if sony (or any other company, sony just taken by example) suddenly decides it was a bad idea to begin with and leaves this organisation?
    will they be able to sue all the projects that made use of sony patents or will the patents used during the period a company was member stay 'free of use'?
  • The same Sony of the Playstation 3 patent for making a game work on only ONE console.

    The same Sony of the current issue of the audio CD protections.

    Yeah, I feel REAL happy now...
  • My netmd won't work (4 years and counting), and it's drm'd to fcsk. While I agree that drm may be viable in linux (I don't mind), I hope future models of netmd will be linux compatible. I guess it means I'll have to upgrade to a different model though (this is what you get for supporting a company early on..)

    SONY: SUPPORT THIS PROJECT: http://www.minidisc.org/NetMD_faq.html [minidisc.org]

    I'm sick of rebooting.
  • by hkb (777908) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @10:08AM (#13997665)
    Yes, the name is Sony, but this is an entirely different branch of Sony. Sony BMG is the one who released the rootkit-like CDs.

  • Will it come with a rootkit preinstalled?
  • Is this the same Sony that's using [eff.org] a) DRM to promote their products for playback and b) to restrict fair use rights, while c) recommending a Linux-incompatible ripper (heck, a PC is even defined as running Windows there)?

    What a strange twist of irony that they were to become a backer of... Linux
  • This brings to mind a curious question: would it make sense to include in the GPL a statement requiring that anyone who asserts software patents is not allowed to use the GPL'd software? As open source software grows into greater prominence, such a clause might make companies less inclined to assert software patents if there is a real downside to doing so.

    (Why do I suspect I am going to get flamed badly for asking this question? ;-))
    • It depends on what your aims are. If its political and/or ideological purity, then I would go with the "you assert your patents and you don't use the software" line. I personally don't think adding any such clauses in GPLv3 will do much to stop software patents since there is always the option of taking the last build of any software that was released under GPLv2 and forking it to stay under GPLv2.
  • by eGuy (545520)
    Novell and Red Hat are also founding members of Open Invension Network. I'm not sure about Red Hat but I know that Novell has a slew of valuable patents that would help prevent lawsuits. This is really neat. As more companies become members of the network, the stronger open source will be - legally. This is worst case scenario for companies like Microsoft. For example, would Microsoft shy away from launching a patent infringement battle against red-hat? I don't think they would flinch. But would they l
  • I guess they're trying to make up for what they did with the DRM. Although to be fair, it only affected Windows.
  • I've said it before, but it bears repeating. The serious problem that Free Software/Open Source faces isn't that MS or anyone else will destroy Linux or Apache or whatever with patent litigation. The strength of the vested interests behind the big, successful projects means that's unlikely to happen. The serious problem is that people will be forced or scared away from starting or participating in projects that aren't household names and don't have powerful sugar daddies. No new small projects largely means
  • It's not OIN. It's 'Open Invention Network

    OINk -- because software patents are a pig.

  • It seems to me that what these companies are saying is "Patents stifle innovation, so we're signing them away for practically nothing so that the world may get back to being creative again".
    This is likely to be invaluable ammunition once patent legislation comes back under scrutiny in the US, and the next time the software patent mafia makes a serious move in the EU.

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