Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Linux.com | openSUSE holds public IRC Q&A on Microsoft/Novell deal

"Nat Friedman: That's a good point. Also one thing to consider is indemnification being offered by other companies. So for example, Red Hat and Oracle both claim to offer patent indemnification to their customers. If you are customer A, and you buy Linux from one of those companies, they promise to step in and protect you from any patent lawsuits. But that promise is only for their customers. So if you make a copy of the software and give it to customer B, who did not pay Red Hat or Oracle, the promise does not extend to customer B.

This is similar in concept and in form to the promise Microsoft is making to Novell's customers. So my guess is that GPLv3 will need to be compatible with the existing business practices of all those Linux companies. Hewlett-Packard offers that, too, I believe. "

Sure, Nat. They're similar in the same way that paying someone not to beat you up is similar to paying someone to stop a bully from beating you up.

Nat thinks that GPLv3 needs to take companies into account, and I can understand why he thinks that. It completely misses the point of the GPL, but Richard Stallman hadn't yet given his speech when this little IRC session happened.

Companies don't have to use GPL-licensed software to build their businesses, they can develop closed, proprietary software on their own and keep it locked up if they want to. They choose to use software licensed under the GPL because the terms of the license suit their needs. If the terms of the license no longer suit them, they can choose to continue on with software licensed under terms more friendly to their goals, or they can choose different software.

Maybe I'm just jaded, but there appears to be plenty of spinning going on in this li'l interview...like someone from Novell/openSuSE ("Adrian L") hinting that Ubuntu is actively violating the GPL. Read up.

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