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Red Hat Software Businesses Software Microsoft Patents Linux

Red Hat CEO Talked Patents with MS 126

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the sleeping-with-the-enemy dept.
c3ph45 writes "Before the Novel-Microsoft deal, Red Hat was in talks with Microsoft over patents. Thankfully, the deal fell apart before Novel made their infamous partnership with Microsoft. As has been reported before, Red Hat doesn't plan to enter into any patent agreements with Microsoft, but it leaves open the question: What if both Red Hat and Novell had entered into such deals? One large vendor doing so has caused enough disruption. How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?"
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Red Hat CEO Talked Patents with MS

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  • by raffe (28595) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:34AM (#19687359) Journal
    I don't know the exact text of the agreement but I am bit worried about the contributions from the distros that have signed the deal.
    The code that for example novell puts in the kernel is covered by the GPL 2, but how will that work out with the patent deal they made? Will a switch (if)to GPL 3 of the kernel change this? GPL 3 speaks more of patents than GPL 2.
  • so wtf? (FTFA) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bl8n8r (649187) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:42AM (#19687387)
    In an interview with Reuters, Szulik declined to say whether
    his company is now in negotiations with Microsoft over signing
    such a patent agreement.

    "I can't answer the question," he said.
  • Good thing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CarpetShark (865376) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:44AM (#19687397)
    More people would get the distinction between cooperative communities and commercial companies, and move to Debian.
  • Re:Mass hysteria (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:44AM (#19687405)
    Hah, I was going to post 'The same way: Ridicule and disgust.'

    I think we are very quickly approaching the point where something has to break. Either the government steps up and admits that it doesn't give a shit, or people in general start to notice what is going on and there are major problems.

    (I know patents and copyrights are not the same thing, but they are symptoms of the same problem. Bear with me here.)

    The RIAA has started suing everyone and their grandmother (literally) and the general populace is starting to realize how unfair it is, and that the tactics the RIAA is using are -allowed- by the government.

    Patents are starting to prevent cool devices from existing, and threatening the ones we already have. (Blackberry.) There have been quite a few reports lately about 'x device will have to be disconnected because someone else hass a patent' etc. Discomfort enough people with money, and something is going to happen.

    Copyright is even starting to overstep its bounds and artists everywhere are finding themselves restricted instead of encouraged. Yes, they are still encouraged to innovate, but let's face it: Most art improves on other art, rather than being wholly original. Patents are starting to restrict them as well. Imagine if someone patented cel-shading or any other style. With our current system, that could be done.

    Things keep getting worse instead of better, and someone -will- step up and do something about it soon.

    "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." -- Thomas Jefferson, emphasis mine.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson [wikiquote.org]

    We've been a lot longer than 20 years without 'such a rebellion'.
  • by pieterh (196118) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:18AM (#19687577) Homepage
    This has been clear for ages. See my article on Digital Majority [digitalmajority.org].

    Linux (and all the free software it supports) is a compelling technology that underpins huge new markets. Microsoft wants to tax these markets. It has been accumulating patents, and lobbying for software patents in Europe, and investing in Intellectual Ventures, to create the necessary tools. It has decided the time is right to move. Its strategy is to divide and conquer the Linux community, by making deals with the commercial vendors. The deals don't need to be patent deals, they just need to allow Microsoft to pump some money into the companies in question, so they become slaved to Microsoft's policies. This is a standard operating procedure for MSFT.

    The real targets are the large Linux users - big business. These firms will be asked politely but with force to pay a MS tax on Linux, in the name of "interoperability" and "intellectual property". The carrot will be interoperability with Microsoft's stacks, the stick will be that wallet of "infringements".

    Above all, Microsoft wants to make life hard for IBM: its fear and loathing of IBM underpins its strategy in the Linux space.

    There are two big problems with Microsoft's strategy:

    One, it has moved too soon and too aggressively, probably scared by the GPLv3, and has created serious anger with those large firms it's supposed to be gaining as "Linux customers".

    Second, it is playing games with an industry - the patent industry - that is more evil even than Microsoft. By feeding the trolls, it's sowing the seeds of its own departure from the software business.

    Three, it is forcing IBM to move to action against Microsoft. The Open Invention Network (OIN) can be seen as a direct counter to Intellectual Ventures, which although highly secretive about its investors, most likely runs on MSFT cash.

    Red Hat will, IMO, eventually make a deal with Microsoft, as will Canonical. The deal won't mention patents at all, but it will come to the same: cash flowing from Microsoft to Linux vendors, in sufficient quantities that they will be forced to play nice with Microsoft's plans.
  • by McGiraf (196030) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:36AM (#19687657) Homepage
    "Red Hat will, IMO, eventually make a deal with Microsoft, as will Canonical."

    Not sure about Canonical doing this, look at bug #1 in their buglist:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1 [launchpad.net]
  • a modest proposal .. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rs232 (849320) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:15AM (#19687951)
    Why don't RedHat start sending threatening letters to MS customers telling them that they are in violation of RH patents.
  • by csoto (220540) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:29AM (#19688065)
    is that it highlights the FOSS community's basic inability to come together over topics. Not that this is a bad thing, but it has to be accepted that some members of the community (yes, RH and Novell are extremely valuable members) will do things others wouldn't. Learn to live with it. Don't quit your day jobs...

    (PS- I call shenanigans!)
  • You know (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nrgy (835451) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:55AM (#19688345) Homepage
    this stuff is starting to scare me more and more each time I read it. Sure you can talk about "We will just do without them" but the fact is the corporate world does contribute to linux. How much do they and where would linux be without it I really can't say. But to act like what they do contribute is insignificant is bs if you ask me.

    I like linux, I've been using it for the past 5 years as my only os, but that doesn't mean I run around with blinders on thinking all is fine and dandy. Would linux continue on if as a community we said screw you guys I'm going home, I'm sure linux would go on but how much would it slow its ability to keep up with the likes of Windows, OSX, and the other os's available? I never here anyone mention this factor when talking about picking up our toys and going home. My thoughts on this go much deeper and there are many more factors that I haven't mentioned but my main point is I'm a little worried with all thats been going on lately. Call me a worry wort if you want but I like my linux and if worrying about all the bs that has been tossed around as of late is wrong then so be it.
  • Re:so wtf? (FTFA) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:16AM (#19688581) Homepage
    Not only did Red Hat's Szulik say "I can't answer that question" about whether he was in negotiations with Microsoft, but Microsoft "couldn't be reached for a comment" according to TFA. So, it is a safe bet there are discussions.

    But that shouldn't be surprising. Red Hat said, after all, that

    "We continue to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency."
    - they never said "no deals with Microsoft about patents." And rightly so - the problem with the Novell-Microsoft deal is exactly that it is a vague 'innovation tax', mentions no actual patents, and is therefore completely nontransparent. Other deals regarding patents could be different.

    A patent deal in which, say, Red Hat license specific WMA-related patents in order to ship WMA-playing software legally is 'reasonable' - at least assuming that that particular software is not GPL (or, if it is, if the patent license applies to all users of the software, not just Red Hat customers). I say 'reasonable' using scare quotes because this is reasonable only under the current highly-problematic US patent system. But, given that system, if Red Hat want to ship certain products, they must reach agreements concerning their patent holders. A sad fact of life.

    (Note: I have no idea if WMA is patented, or not. This is just an example for illustration purposes.)

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