FSF Speaks out on GPL v3 and Novell, but What Is It Saying?

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The Free Software Foundation is clarifying that the last call draft of GPL v3 won't punish Novell for its partnership with Microsoft, according to this Red Herring piece. It indicates that the license will prohibit those who participate in "discriminatory patent deals" made after March 28, 2007, from distributing GPL v3 software.


Microsoft and Novell, on the other hand, will be able to maintain their relationship as is, it seems. A statement on the FSF Web site says:

Novell is not prohibited from distributing [software released under GPL v3] because the patent protection they arranged with Microsoft last November can be turned against Microsoft to the community's benefit.

We're not exactly sure how the FSF folks plan to convince Novell to use their agreement as a weapon against Microsoft, but then again, maybe they're not expecting Novell to do anything. Maybe the statement refers to Eben Moglen's comment last month that Microsoft was shooting itself in the foot with its SuSE vouchers. The minute the first one is redeemed after GPL v3 is in force, he said, Microsoft will have no choice but to give the same patent protection to all Linux users.


First, since when does simply voicing an opinion make it truth? Sure, FSF will say Microsoft has "no choice," but we don't think Microsoft will give in on this without a fight.


Second, if the statement above is referring to Moglen's comment, what's the point of being so cryptic about it? The position has been thoroughly articulated more than once already.


According to Red Herring, a Novell spokesperson simply says the company remains committed to its partnership with Microsoft, "which [they] believe will help grow the Linux market."


Oh, and in case you're wondering, the final GPL v3 is set to be released on June 29.