BSD folks position on GPL, Novell, IBM, SCO, and MS...

Mike Hauber mchauber at
Tue Nov 28 14:12:12 PST 2006

On Tuesday 28 November 2006 15:21, Jan Husar proclaimed:
> On 11/28/06, Mike Hauber <mchauber at> wrote:
> > On Tuesday 28 November 2006 07:08, Jan Husar proclaimed:
> > > On 11/28/06, Dag-Erling Smørgrav <des at> wrote:
> > > > Mike Hauber <mchauber at> writes:
> > > > > I was just wondering what the general consensus was on the GPL,
> > > > > Linux in general, SCOs lawsuit, Sun's open sourcing, IBMs
> > > > > contributions to Linux, Novell's contributions, Novell's deal with
> > > > > MS and how this really affects SuSe (there's a lot of hype on that
> > > > > and I literally don't know what to believe at this point).
> > > >
> > > > Why should we care?
> > > >
> > > > The SCO lawsuits are doubly irrelevant: firstly because SCO is not
> > > > going to win, secondly because BSD is immune by virtue of the 1994
> > > > settlement with USL.
> >
> > I don't think the USL settlement matters to SCO.  After all, Linux is
> > immune by virtue of the GPL (in addition to SCOs claims being
> > fraudulent), but that didn't stop SCO from making fools of themselves. 
> > It's not Darl and company specifically that I'm worried about.  It's
> > other companies that can come along and pull the same stunts.  How long
> > would it take before prospective customers get weary of the idea of open
> > source as a whole if litigation claims (fraudulent as they may be)
> > continue?
> Well, GPL v2 isn't the security as it was before, when you counts
> software patents.
> That's why there is this "extremic" proposal for gpl version3, or
> better say some people found it extremic. If you look at US there is
> lot of extremic stuff going around, e.g.
> new companies (patent trolls) which have only reason to exist to
> create patents and sue everybody.
> > > > As for the Novell-MS deal, I don't see how it affects BSD at all.
> > >
> > > You are right, there is no direct affect on BSD however software
> > > patents is in issue no matter if it's GPL or BSD mostly in United
> > > States, in EU we are still fighting the patent problematics.
> > >
> > > Today is voting in ITRE (Information, Technology, Research and Energy)
> > > committee within European Parliament about IPRED (Intelectual Property
> > > Rights Enforcment Directive) which basicly means, criminalization of
> > > abusing of patents, trademarks and copyright (e.g. sentece to jail,
> > > freeze of accounts and so on)
> >
> > This was pretty much my concern as far as OSS goes.  If SCO actually
> > succeeded with their claims (which I know they won't), or if other SCOs
> > come along, I don't think the only target would be the GPL.  I see patent
> > issues becoming a real problem not just for the GPL side of things but
> > the BSDs as well (my stance, of course, is that it shouldn't because
> > patents lately have been blindly awarded and seemingly requested for the
> > purpose of fraudulent lawsuits).  If companies are scrambling for patents
> > in order to bring litigation or to protect themselves from litigation via
> > counter-suits, I doubt that when the fingers start pointing, the GPLd or
> > BSDd code would be excluded...  In fact, I tend to think they would be a
> > preferred target just because it's open source, and we are by far the
> > biggest threat that proprietary companies have.
> Patents is problem for propietary, non-propietary, freeware or
> opensource e.g. all the software out there.
> > I see this basically as a threat to everyone, not just the few it's
> > starting out with.  That's why I asked, and I hadn't really heard much at
> > all from the BSD side of the aisle.
> Yes, the BSD community is kinda quiet also in Europe, I found that
> really negative.
> > What if Sun pulls a SCO with their Java?  If IBM pulls a SCO with their
> > contributions?  If Novell pulls a SCO with their contributions?  I would
> > like to think that their intentions are honest, but after SCO, and then
> > MSs very weird deal with Novell, who knows?  (and by the way, is IBM
> > working with the BSD community as well?  I hadn't read anything on that,
> > and would be interested to know more if they are).
> This is just a speculation and really lame one ;/
> > Although my preference is the BSD license, I'm very much a fan of OSS,
> > whether it be licensed under the BSD or GPL, and I'm just concerned about
> > whether or not this could escalate into a trend against OS code in
> > general.
> >
> > Appreciate your inputs.  Thanks,
> >
> > Mike
> Current situation of the patents in EU or better say in Europe.
> 2005 - European Parliament rejected computer impemented invetitions
> directive (which means for 4 years the same or similliar directive
> can't come to vote)
> 2006 - European Parliament adopted a new directive EPLA (European
> Patent Litigation Agreement), which basicly means EPO (European Patent
> Office, which is outisde the democratic control of EU) will have their
> own courts and judges for the patent problematics and nobody can't
> tell them what to do, even if the EP (European Parliament) rejected
> CII (Computer Implemented Invetitions)
> 2006 - IPRED2, criminalization of patent, trademark and copyright abuse
> 2007 - Community Patent, backdoor for software patents and other nasty
> stuff (such as dna, nano, drug, research patents and so on)
> As you can see there are lot of problems around adopting patent
> "protection", right now the situation is bad, but can be worse. EPO is
> granting software patents even if they aren't  aplicable in Europe,
> after EPLA will come to it's function or Community Patent based on
> London/Munich patent agreement we will have really similliar situation
> like the United States have now.
> Hows the patent problematics and law is in United states I have just
> conclusion and information from news paper. Is there someone dealing
> with it in US?
> Jan

Whoa.  You seem to be far more legally inclined than I, so I'm not even going 
to pretend to know anything specific as far as what actions are being taken 
by .gov here in the States.  However, I do know that there are patents 
popping up that the OSS communites are growing more and more concerned about.  
One example: (link may wrap):,140,028.PN.&OS=PN/7,140,028&RS=PN/7,140,028

I provide the link, but I couldn't tell you much about the language of the 
patent itself, except to reiterate whats already been said.  This is a patent 
for compiling code to run on different operating systems...  If that really 
is the case, then I don't think that it's just the GCC at risk.

There should be laws about claiming things like this.  There is nothing unique 
about it, and most developers kits have something at least too similar for MS 
to say, "This is our idea, and we would like to protect it."  If it's unique 
to them, then fine.  But if it's something that has been used by most 
developers out there, it available to the public to use at will, it's methods 
are commonly known, then the patent in no way, shape, or form should be 
issued.  In fact, I believe that companies who do this should have to pay 
fines for even attempting it.


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