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Final Draft of GPLv3 Allows Novell-Microsoft Deal 113

Posted by Zonk
from the and-we-all-go-forward-singing-together dept.
famicommie writes "All of Novell's fingernail biting has been for naught. In a display of forgiveness and bridge building on behalf of the FSF, ZDNet reports that the final draft of the GPLv3 will close the infamous MS-Novell loophole while allowing deals made previously to continue. From the article: 'The final, last-call GPLv3 draft bans only future deals for what it described as tactical reasons in a 32-page explanation of changes. That means Novell doesn't have to worry about distributing software in SLES that's governed by the GPLv3 ... Drafting the new license has been a fractious process, but Eben Moglen, the Columbia University law school professor who has led much of the effort, believes consensus is forming. That agreement is particularly important in the open-source realm, where differing license requirements can erect barriers between different open-source projects.'"
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Final Draft of GPLv3 Allows Novell-Microsoft Deal

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  • TiVo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by danbert8 (1024253) on Friday June 22, 2007 @08:51AM (#19606901)
    So does that mean TiVo can continue to sell their products because their deal was made before GPL3 was drafted?
    • Re:TiVo (Score:5, Informative)

      by MadTinfoilHatter (940931) on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:05AM (#19607029)

      So does that mean TiVo can continue to sell their products because their deal was made before GPL3 was drafted?
      The patent-deal issue, and the Tivoization issue are completely different topics. Furthermore TiVo can continue to sell their products for as long as they like, as long as they use GPLv2-licenced software - and the stuff that's already GPLv2 won't magically become v3 just because a new version is released. Only future releases will be affected for those projects that decide to go v3.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SnowZero (92219)
      TiVo should be fine unless the Linux kernel is relicensed, which is not going to happen any time soon, if ever. Even then, they could always just fork off at the last GPL2 kernel release, as its not like they desperately need most updates (are they even on 2.6 yet?). Any other libraries/interfaces they use outside of the kernel should be LGPL or MIT/BSD, so they should be fine unless some critical program/daemon they need to run becomes GPL3 only. I guess if that happens its time to adopt a BSD userspace
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday June 22, 2007 @08:53AM (#19606919) Homepage Journal
    Eben Moglen's (and FSF's) stance on this issue seems to be that the language of GPLV3 will automatically cause all GPLV3 software distributed by Novell in SLES to be protected by the Microsoft-Novell deal. Now, IANAL, but Eben Moglen is. I'm not sure he's 100% right, but I'm also not sure he's 100% wrong either. I wonder if that would hold up in court?
    • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:02AM (#19606987) Homepage Journal
      There is the court of law, and the "court of public opinion". One data point, and you can argue the significance, is the number of reputable kernel hackers who've dropped Novell like a cheating sweetheart.
      For all the sound and fury about GPLv3, I submit that it's really all good. Some strong ideas were expressed by the FSF, feedback came, and the wording was polished such that the final product may prove acceptable over time.
      A gold star, a group hug, and a round of Koom Ba Ya for all my friends.
    • It would seem like there's no need for grandfathering in anybody. After all, MS-Novell/linspire/xandros already have protection in the form of GPL2. As long as they keep that version of the code separate tehy can go on indefinitely. When the software is relicensed for a version upgrade, it is a new product with new license terms... they should understand that as these companies are experts at writing such terms for new versions of THEIR software. Expecting it to function in this fashion is no different
      • Per the opinion of the FSF that I have posted on Slashdot. Xandros is not GPL protected. The previous poster is completely wrong. Xandros is now protected by Microsoft but that helps none because they can no longer disrepute.
    • But would you want to be the one that confirms it... From ether side?
    • by Julie188 (991243)
      Yes, of course it will hold up in court. If they could have found a way to null the Microsoft/Novell deal they would have done it. Not sure it's really necessary anyway. The Microsoft Subnet blog [networkworld.com] points out that ultimately the market will decide who wins. Dekstop virtualization technologies and things like Google apps will make all of this a who-cares five years from now anyway, least from an OS perspective. The desktop will be some version of something running on some version of something else and we'll al
  • Old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cato (8296) on Friday June 22, 2007 @08:55AM (#19606933)
    This story is from 4th June... Another great bit of Slashdot editing.
    • depends. news can be relative... kind of like cars. this is new news, to some who did not come across the article previously. I think statistic-based news that becomes considerably more dated as the article ages is `not a good post`... but some things slip through the cracks and do add value.
  • by nanosquid (1074949) on Friday June 22, 2007 @08:56AM (#19606939)
    This affects "GPLv2 or later" projects that can't be relicensed because some of the contributors can't be reached.

    For new projects, or if all the developers agree, or for new contributions to existing projects, you can strike the clause permitting earlier deals if you like.
    • What makes you believe that that particular license modification is allowed? Generally, modified versions of the GNU GPL are forbidden to reduce the ridiculous proliferation of just-different-enough-to-be-incompatible licenses.

      • You can't change the text itself.

        You can add a wrapper. You say the code is under the Foo Public Licence. In that, you refer to the GPL.
        • You can add a wrapper. You say the code is under the Foo Public Licence. In that, you refer to the GPL.

          Right, you can distribute a new program under any license you choose, including a modified GPL. But to be clear, you can only do that if you are the author of the program in question. If you receive a GPL'd program from somebody else, then the only way you can redistribute the program is under the unmodified GPL; that is the really clever feature of the license.

    • by Kjella (173770)
      That'd probably be an additional restriction, and if it's not one of those permitted by the GPLv3 which I don't think it is, then it's no longer GPLv3 licensed nor compatible with any other GPLv3 software like libraries, others can't use your code in other GPLv3 projects etc. and it'd be wrong to call it GPLv3 at all. The part which says that the work as a whole must be distributed with no other restrictions is of course at the core of the GPL, at the same time it doesn't allow for "good" restrictions. For
  • Divide and Conquer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davermont (1001265) on Friday June 22, 2007 @08:57AM (#19606949)
    Good. Despite my displeasure with the MS/Novell deal, I think it's best not to create in-fighting within a community that has worked so hard to get where it is in the market. Divide and conquer is an old trick.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      One could also call it pruning of the old branches though.
    • by Locutus (9039)
      yes, it's probably a good move since otherwise, Novell, and the other losers who signed up with Microsoft, would only have been forced to fork their distro packages as they moved to GPLv3. That would have been bad and could very well been one of the expected results Microsoft wanted. They don't want licensing fees, they want Linux out of the picture and splitting the market with truckloads of forks would have soured businesses on Linux and OSS.

      So good move by the FSF and I find it comforting that 'the coun
      • The Novell deal is sepperated from the other deals by the all important March 28 date. Anyone having questions should just email the FSF just as I did.
    • The deal was allowed not to please Novell, Microsoft or even Novell's customers. The deal was allowed to get the patent protection from the Novell/Microsoft deal. Microsoft is expected to distribute GPLV3 software. As soon as it does so (don't forget the coupons already sold), M$ will effectively donate any patents theoretically covered by that software. If the kernel would be GPLV3, and M$ would distribute it (by coupons or otherwise), the kernel would gain patent protection from M$ patents. Why would an
      • Microsoft is expected to distribute GPLV3 software. As soon as it does so (don't forget the coupons already sold), M$ will effectively donate any patents theoretically covered by that software.

        This concisely explains the tactical reason for the exception. It is also why Microsoft will not distribute GPL V3 software. IANAL, but it may invalidate the Novell agreement anyway. I don't know that Novell can really breathe easier at all.

    • Infighting within the free software community was probably a concern, but likely not the only one. Novell has leverage, you see: they have an overwhelmingly strong case in the SCO lawsuit, but they can cave if they choose. Worse, Novell can give the ownership of Unix to SCO -- and then the IBM/SCO case may possibly blow up.
  • So when the 5 year deal runs out... will Novell be able to renew it? I would presume not..good news, no?
  • Kudos ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Friday June 22, 2007 @08:59AM (#19606965) Homepage Journal
    All these stuff about free software, people acting together and stuff, are, despite the turmoil and bickering, maybe because everything moves forward in spite of the turmoil and bickering, filling me with much hope.
  • Foolish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThePolkapunk (826529) on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:00AM (#19606971) Homepage
    This seems a bit foolish to me. By not locking out the MS-Novell and other deals, it's as if they're being rewarded for weakning open source.
    • Re:Foolish (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:31AM (#19607287) Homepage

      It's actually an evil scheme on the part of the FSF to get Microsoft to distribute GPLv3 software, thus taking away their ability to make patent threats. Further, the Novell-Microsoft deal looks to be mostly harmful in practice - that sort of deal is horribly problematic in theory, but in this particular case it's worth more to the community to yell "Bad Dog" really loud rather than to sucker punch them.

    • Except open source is not weaker; if you think it is because of the deal, I'd like to see some evidence. What are the facts?

      * Novell and SUSE has been consistently one of the biggest contributors to free and open source software and still is. While probably your distro X is packaging Linux software (a truly wonderful thing), let's not forget that Novell are the ones ensuring that developers can work on this free software. Countless developers to work and improve KDE, GNOME, the Linux Kernel, OpenOffice,
      • by init100 (915886)

        While probably your distro X is packaging Linux software (a truly wonderful thing), let's not forget that Novell are the ones ensuring that developers can work on this free software.

        My distro is Red Hat. Anything else that you have to say? ;)

        • > My distro is Red Hat. Anything else that you have to say? ;)

          Nothing except I love RedHat, the developers there, and what they've done and keep doing for free and open source software. That doesn't mean I need to ignore SUSE/Novell's huge contributions as well. :)
      • by Locutus (9039)
        one problem, Microsoft has no intention of helping spread Linux and OSS no matter how much they get for licensing fees. I'll say it again, that is not how Microsoft works. They make their money on Windows, by Windows, for Windows and anything else threatens the Windows gravy train. Therefore, there is another motive for what Microsoft is doing and the side-effect of more Linux systems must be looked at as a threat when those systems are tied to Microsoft's false IP claims. It is very likely that those cust
  • It sounds like the process has been compromised. Since the FSF will release future versions of all their stuff under GPLv3, why allow the MS/Novell deal to use the newer code? Perhaps they're worried that those companies actually have the resources to maintain a GPLv2 fork that could come to dominance over their own? Maybe killing SUSE isn't a good idea? What's the tactical reason?

    I've also been reading Linus comments on Tivoisation, and I agree with him in principle. However, I see the potential threat th

    • Re:Compromised (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:35AM (#19607323) Homepage

      What's the tactical reason?

      Tactics are exactly the answer here - the FSF has a history of making tactical compromises. The FSF's process has no more been compromised over this than it was when they decided to release the LGPL and license GNU libc under it.

      • gr8_phk wrote:

        What's the tactical reason?

        And somehow Chandon Seldon got a +3, Informative for:

        Tactics are exactly the answer here - the FSF has a history of making tactical compromises. The FSF's process has no more been compromised over this than it was when they decided to release the LGPL and license GNU libc under it.

        Personally, as an outsider on this particular issue; I am no closer to an answer to gr8_phk's question. What exactly is informative about answering "What's the tactical reason" with "The tactics"?

        Can anyone provide an actual answer?

        Thanks,
        ~Rebecca

        • And somehow Chandon Seldon got a +3, Informative for:

          It's only a +2 informative. I get an awesome karma bonus. =P

          Can anyone provide an actual answer?

          Three main reasons:

          1. Although agreements like the Novel / Microsoft deal are extremely dangerous, this specific agreement isn't that big a threat. Microsoft's empty threats aren't forcing everyone to license SuSE in order to use the GNU/Linux system.
          2. By allowing Novel and Microsoft to distribute GPLv3 software, the FSF hopes that Microsoft will end up distri
          • Thanks, That helps, hopefully someone will mod you up on this one.

            On the "being pedantic" sidenote; I have karma bonus disabled, but you start at a base of 1, not zero. So the 2 positive mods you got give 2+1=3, it'd have been +4 with your bonus. But in either case, thanks for the answer :)

            ~Rebecca
            • by gr8_phk (621180)
              Now that I think of it, the MS/Novell deal apparently has a limited term (5 years?). So that particular deal becomes a non-issue at some point. If there are possible advantages like the other poster suggested (MS distributing Linux...) that would be outweighed by any disadvantages because those go away in 5 years - and a renewal would not be exempt.
  • Does anyone know whether RMS has backed down on this? Or has he simply flip-flopped like politicians?
    • Does anyone know whether RMS has backed down on this? Or has he simply flip-flopped like politicians?

      RMS is a pragmatic idealist, not a blind one. He is and always has been willing to "back down" on issues where that will, from what he sees, serve his ideals better in the long term.

    • by Dan Ost (415913)
      Strategically, RMS has never wavered. However, he's very good at recognizing when tactical changes (which I believe this to be) are appropriate to achieving his strategic goal (which remains unchanged).

      In the grand scheme of things, I don't think it matters one way or another whether the grandfather clause remains part of GPL3 or not. If RMS sees it the same way, then by allowing it, it disallows similar agreements in the future, but appears merciful to those who previously made agreements in "good faith" (
    • When did things like compromise, flexibility, willingness to be convinced by arguments, etc., become bad things? Equated with "backing down" or "flip-flopping"? I'm guessing probably around the time the Bush administration convinced Americans that thought and rational decision-making is a bad thing, and that being steadfast is better than being right.

  • Here's a big clue-in as to why everyone and their mama has been discussing their decision to deal or not deal with MS.

    I guess this means that GPLv3 really is closing in?
  • by Otter (3800)
    All of Novell's fingernail biting...

    This was yet another of those deals where a company includes the usual collection of possible disasters in its SEC filings and the morons at Groklaw turned it into one of their "Company We Don't Like Trembles In Fear Of Teh Community!" fantasies, right?

    • I like a good part of RAH's work, and am offended sometimes at the attempt by a certain website to coopt the term grok.

      It ain't yer battle club to swing. It's RAH's. I doubt if yer involved with the CAW (well, eric probably is...)
  • Fale (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wiseman1024 (993899)
    Seriously, every day I'm more and more unhappy with the GPLv3. We have four big problems, which are digital restrictions management, patents, tivoization, and trap deals. The GPLv3 was about preventing these problems from happening, or at least, from affecting us. Yet right now it barely solves one of them. With every new revision, the GPLv3 got more and more fagged up, to the point it's now a stupid overhyped version of GPLv2 with little to no improvement, a pointless license.

    Now I'll consider relesing my
    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Now I'll consider relesing my stuff with my own license that will address these issues, and I encourage others to do likewise.
      Sure you go do that since you seem to think that you are smarter then a ton of lawyers peer reviewing the GPL 3 license, but then I guess its a programmers fate to keep reinventing the wheel.
    • by Dan Ost (415913)
      Could you please explain how you think GPL3 fails in the four goals? I don't see it.

      DRM: GPL3 code is explicitly not covered by DMCA and therefore is legal to circumvent.

      patents: already implicitly included in GPL2, now explicitly included in GPL3.

      tivoization: did they remove this requirement?

      trap deals: forbids new deals, but grandfathers in old deals that might have been made in "good faith". Always a good idea to avoid making people "criminals" after the fact.
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      Well, it appears that GPLv3 still addresses DRM by noting (legally of course) that the software licensed by it is not an "effective control mechanism" or anything like that, so if it does include DRM, it is explicitly allowed to remove said DRM system regardless of what the law (DMCA, EUCD, etc.) say.

      Patents still seem to be almost fine; it even has compatibility with the Apache License v2, so that's pretty important. I heard that they were allowing the MS/Novell deal because as soon as Novell distributes
  • I've two open source projects that I'm working on, and both are either going to be released GPLv2 or maybe even BSD. I might even contemplate, gasp, Public Domain. Once you make the mental leap that you are going to be giving your software away, then, what difference does it make how you do so? I really don't want to spend too much time worrying that someone might make money with my stuff when I know that I won't.

    The GPL is sorta irrelevant in a way. Any more, open source can mean any number of licenses
    • by fsmunoz (267297)
      I really don't want to spend too much time worrying that someone might make money with my stuff when I know that I won't.

      Great, use the BSD licence, it will be perfect as a non-copyleft free software licence, which is what you're aiming for.

      The GPL is sorta irrelevant in a way

      For you, maybe. But you're assuming that everyone also "doesn't worry" in the way you do, and you are discounting the fact that other - apparently a large number - people have other reasons to use a copyleft licence such as th
    • by ThogScully (589935) <neilsd@neilschelly.com> on Friday June 22, 2007 @10:30AM (#19608043) Homepage

      Once you make the mental leap that you are going to be giving your software away, then, what difference does it make how you do so? I really don't want to spend too much time worrying that someone might make money with my stuff when I know that I won't.

      The the appropriate license for your projects is BSD or public domain, but that doesn't necessarily mean that others have the same perspective. Is it so hard to imagine that others would want to ensure their code and modifications to it remain open? That's what the GPL is for: ensuring that is getting more complicated as the older defitions of using code and distributing code and modifying code are getting blurrier, so a new revision of the GPL is going to clarify some of that.

      I haven't made my mind up on the v3 stuff yet, but I'm a GPL supported more than a BSD supporter. But I can still understand why someone would want to follow the "more free" BSD policies for simplicity's sake to avoid a lot of the legal wranglings and to encourage more ubiquitous acceptance of the code into more markets/uses.

      -N
      • by tjstork (137384)
        I think what I tried to speak to, but failed at, was that, at one time, the GPL was a rather revolutionary license, and had gotten a lot of mindshare.

        The original GPL was essentially a rallying cry more than a license, and the GPLv2 was more sedately worded but just as radical in thought. Nowadays, free software is much more accepted as a thought, and so, GPL is becoming an important but not so dominant, flavor of free.
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      I really don't want to spend too much time worrying that someone might make money with my stuff when I know that I won't.

      It's not about making money. There's plenty of examples of companies making money off GPL code that they didn't originate (or write). The difference between the choices you've noted are the requirements and ownership of the code. GPL requires in-turn contribution of changes made and maintains copyright to the author. BSD requires credit and retains copyright. The public domain is s

    • by s4m7 (519684)

      I just don't see the need for this license at all.

      There exists a multitude of licensing options because all this finite detail about exactly how and why and when and where you can use free software does matter to a lot of people. There are a good number of die-hard BSDers that believe that "as long as I get credit, do as you like". For many, more restrictions are important to them. For them GPL, Apache, or one of the other 53 OSI approved licenses exists so you can pin down exactly what rights you wish to maintain. It's not necessarily about whether

    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      Look at it from a business standpoint. If I add a feature I need to a BSD-licensed project, for example, and contribute the code back so someone else can maintain and extend it and keep it integrated with new versions (so I don't have to keep updating and applying my own patches as new versions get released). Now a competitor can come along, extend my feature a bit, use that in their own product and never let me have access to their extension. But if I did the same with a GPL-licensed project, then although

    • by cparker15 (779546)

      I really don't want to spend too much time worrying that someone might make money with my stuff when I know that I won't.

      Hold it right there. Free software copyleft licenses don't exist to prevent capitalism. They exist to prevent turning free software into proprietary software. It has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with secrecy and control.

      From Selling Free Software [gnu.org]:

      Except for one special situation, the GNU General Public License (20k characters) [gnu.org] (GNU GPL) has no requirements about how m

    • by soulhuntre (52742)
      I just don't see the need for this license at all.

      RMS is looking for any excuse not to have to take a shower.
  • summary is wrong (Score:4, Informative)

    by DJProtoss (589443) on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:31AM (#19607293)
    The text the article is referring to is unchanged since the earlier drafts, and it certainly doesn't get novell off the hook wrt the linked article - Microsoft may still well have to lean on them to stop them shipping gplv3 code - since the use of the coupons, whilst existing as an effect of the patent agreement, will cause, when useed, a new contract between the coupon issuer [microsoft and novell] and the redeemer [joe bloggs] to be created at the date of redemption. If the code joe bloggs recieves contains gpl3'd code, then under the current draft (and as indicated in tfa) any patent protection indemities offered by that contract will automatically be extended to everybody. Thats why there was the fuss after poeple noted there isn't an expiry date on the coupons - up till that point it was thought they would all be gone by the time gplv3 was out and suse would be fine. Conclusion: either the summariser is misinformed or a turfer. for further info, go have a browse through groklaw [groklaw.net]. They have had pretty good coverage of it.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:42AM (#19607415) Homepage

    All the GPLv3 language does is make merely having entered into the deal not per se a violation of the license. It does not exempt the company from any of the other terms of the license, including the requirement that all recipients receive not merely the protections resulting from any agreement but the right to pass along those protections in turn. So Novell is still on the hook there: as soon as they're faced with GPLv3'd software in their distribution they'll have to decide whether or not they can extend the agreement with Microsoft to cover all Linux users, not just those who got their software directly from Novell. If they can't, then distribution subject to the agreement would still be a violation of the GPLv3 even with the grandfather clause in there.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by abaddononion (1004472)
      I hope your interpretation here is the right one, because this is the way I think things SHOULD be. I cant ever sort out legal mumbo jumbo for myself, though...
  • " In a display of forgiveness and bridge building..."

    What are you willing to bet that it would read quite like that if it were Microsoft displaying the forgiveness?
  • Am I the only one that sees linus's hand in this? I would think that it all came down to him pressing for this act of forgiveness just to try and stop distro balcanization (youd have three smaller, stupid distros -suse, linspire and xandros- only able to use GPL2 and the rest on GPL3), which wouldve played well for microsoft.

    I say the FSF has not lost its edge and focus as to what the real intentions of Redmond are.

    I, for one, welcome our new patent blasting, music playing and freedom catering GPL-III overl
  • The grandfather clause that Richard Stallman added to the latest draft of GPL3 allows Novell to distribute GPL3 code but disallows any similar deal after the Microsoft-Novell deal from distributing GPL3 code.

    The grandfather clause acts as a flip-flop. Any developer who wants to allow their GPL3 code to be distributed by Novell under the Microsoft-Novell agreement will use GPL3 with the grandfather clause included. Any developer who does not want their code distributed by Novell under the Microsoft-Novell ag
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      I think it's more an acknowledgment that the courts tend to take a dim view of trying to bind anyone to terms they couldn't have known about beforehand. So the grandfather clause says that deals entered into before the relevant changes to GPLv3 were penned aren't, merely by existing, a violation of the license. But notice that the language of GPLv3 applies that grandfather clause only to the existence of the agreement. Distribution of GPLv3'd software under such an agreement is not grandfathered, and is sti

      • "So the grandfather clause says that deals entered into before the relevant changes to GPLv3 were penned aren't, merely by existing, a violation of the license."

        So why the distinction between Novell on the one hand and Linspire and Xandros on he other?

        ---------------
        Steve Stites

        • by Todd Knarr (15451)

          Because Novell, at the time it entered into the deal, had no knowledge of the then-nonexistent new language in the GPL. Linspire and Xandros, at the time they entered into their deals, knew about the language and knew it was going to be part of the license.

  • I am a linux user and I am concerned about the in-fighting amongst our community! We all know that some (SuSe Linspire,Xandros)may have made a mistake by signing agreements with microsoft, If the linux community wants to be number one, the bickering about one another has too stop and stop now! All three of the above have been contributers of the linux community for quite some time now (especially SuSe) It is way past time for us to get over our differences and move on! I personally do not care what kind o

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