Posted by: Anonymous Coward
on November 21, 2006 07:05 AM
Personally, I think it is a big deal but not for the reasons people think. If fools want to pay Microsoft for patent protection, by all means do so, but I wonder if they may later be opening themselves up to a different set of problems. Basically:
1) Under the GPL v. 2, many of these software programs cannot be distributed if one cannot guarantee redistribution rights (including appropriate patent licenses). If Novell is aware of any such infringement, they are not allowed to distribute the GPL'd software program. Therefore they are given *no* protection by Microsoft in this agreement.
2) This is bad for Microsoft because it creates an impression (accurate or not) that they are willing to go down the SCO road and sue their own customers (most businesses using Linux are also Microsoft customers, right?).
In the end, this is very bad to all parties of the agreement and not for the reasons Moglen mentions.
Free software is big enough now that we can survive this. Microsoft and Novell on the other hand may not be (Novell is certainly not if things go wrong, and Microsoft is probably an even bet).