[sclug] Open Letter to the Community from Novell

Roland Turner SCLUG raz.fpyht.bet.hx at raz.cx
Wed Nov 22 20:04:54 UTC 2006

On Wed, 2006-11-22 at 19:18 +0000, ed wrote:

> On Wed, 22 Nov 2006 09:22:28 +0000
> "Roland Turner (SCLUG)" <raz.fpyht.bet.hx at raz.cx> wrote:
> > Novell is not in a position where it can admit "it is our intention to
> > co-operate with Microsoft in destroying its only serious platform
> > competitor, thereby helping Microsoft to re-establish its effective
> > (and unlawful) monopoly". Consequently, no useful information about
> > Novell's actual intentions can be gleaned from Novell's stated
> > intentions.
> but the monopoly is still established. the 95% desktop market is very
> much a monopoly, nothing there needs re-establishment.
> it's almost just a sad, and accepted fact. it's often the de-facto
> desktop. sadly.

Ah, yes, I spoke loosely. Substitute "to use its existing effective
monopoly to unlawfully establish another". Whatever words you prefer,
Novell cannot openly acknowledge participation in a criminal enterprise.
I'm not saying that Novell is doing so, merely that you cannot determine
its failure to do so from its espoused intentions. Considered in the
light of Microsoft's past behaviour, it appears to me to be reasonable
to at least contemplate the possibility that Microsoft is seeking to
commit further crimes and that Novell is knowingly co-operating.

> > Note in particular clause 7. If Microsoft is maneuvered into actually
> > suing someone for patent infringement over use of non-Novell Linux,
> > and wins (so it becomes established in law that running Linux does
> > require licenses on Microsoft patents), then Novell will have to
> > abort (or at least suspend) its Linux business overnight:
> > 
> > GPLv2> For example, if a patent
> > GPLv2> license would not permit royalty-free redistribution
> > GPLv2> of the Program by all those who receive copies
> > GPLv2> directly or indirectly through you, then the only way
> > GPLv2> you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
> > GPLv2> refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
> > 
> > Note that this is a constraint on Novell's activities, not a
> > constraint on its licensees' activities; consequently Novell can't
> > escape this particular constraint by indemnifying its licensees
> > (customers). This is different to a prohibition arising from
> > co-operation with an attacker that you suggest; such measures are
> > being discussed for protection against DRM and patents in GPLv3.
> well, ms can go on a real rampage then can't they! the moment novel
> happens to become much of a competitor for them, it's simple to off
> them.

I suspect that Novell is in a position to disuade Microsoft from doing
this, but that wouldn't stop someone else from forcing the issue, which
is why I said "If Microsoft is maneuvered...".

> > It is conceivable that Microsoft is planning to do this to Novell,
> > but I suspect that it's more likely that Microsoft is aiming to
> > repeat the FUD campaign that it has already waged under the SCO
> > banner (which requires that the game be played for an extended
> > period; the FUD being more valuable than victories in court). It
> > will, no doubt, successfully FUD at least some customers into
> > choosing Windows over Linux.
> this was one of my thoughts too, but it seemed a little too obvious for
> ms to go down that route. particularly by polluting the repositories
> with 'malware' with the only purpose really to infect other distros with
> THEIR cancer!

Erm, that would be self-defeating because of the "viral" bit:

GPLv2>   6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any
GPLv2> work based on the Program), the recipient automatically
GPLv2> receives a license from the original licensor to copy,
GPLv2> distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms
GPLv2> and conditions.  You may not impose any further restrictions
GPLv2> on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.

Microsoft's inserting submarines into software under GPLv2 would almost
certainly eliminate Microsoft's ability to prosecute infringers.

- Raz

More information about the Sclug mailing list