Microsoft Patent Aggression Continues Against Free Software

Friday 17 July 2009 by Bradley M. Kuhn

I think this news item from yesterday mostly speaks for itself, but I could not let the incident go by without blogging briefly about it.

There has been so much talk in the last two weeks that Microsoft has changed with regard to its patent policy toward Free Software. We fool ourselves if we trust any of the window-dressing that Microsoft has put forward to convince us that we can trust them in this regard. Indeed, I spoke extensively about this in my interview on the Linux Outlaws show this week.

What we see in this agreement between the Melco Group and Microsoft is another little above-water piece of the same patent aggression iceberg that Microsoft has placed in our community's way. They continue to shake down companies that distribute GNU/Linux systems for patent royalties. As I've written about before, it's difficult to judge if these are GPLv2-compliant, but they are almost certainly not GPLv3-compliant. If there were ever a moment for the community to scramble to GPLv3, this would be it, if for no other reason to defend ourselves against the looming aggression.

In the meantime, we'd be foolish to trust any sort of promises Microsoft has to make about their patents. Would they really make a reliable promise that would prevent their ongoing campaign of patent aggression against Free Software?

Update: In related news, I was also glad to read FSF's new statement on the issue, which includes some of the same comments I made on Linux Outlaws Episode 102.

Posted on Friday 17 July 2009 at 10:28 by Bradley M. Kuhn.

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Both previously and presently, I have been employed by and/or done work for various organizations that also have views on Free, Libre, and Open Source Software. As should be blatantly obvious, this is my website, not theirs, so please do not assume views and opinions here belong to any such organization. Since I do co-own ebb.org with my wife, it may not be so obvious that these aren't her views and opinions, either.

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