Microsoft Tries to Wiggle Out of the GPLv3

Microsoft wants to “play” in the Open Source game, but they want their own bat and ball… and they want to be able to take it home if things don’t go their way. They are the proverbial 800 pound gorilla… but, they may not be able to break the GPLv3 (Gnu Public License, Version 3) provisions that they don’t like.

Microsoft Tries to Spit Out the GPLv3 Hook

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has an article in eWeek that states: “Microsoft wants everyone to understand that GPLv3 has nothing to do with the company, its Linux partnerships or anything else Redmond-based. In other words, Microsoft is doing its best not be caught on the hook of GPLv3. Ah, Microsoft you’d love to be able to do that, wouldn’t you? Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s vice president of intellectual property and licensing, spelled it out: Microsoft is ‘not a party to the GPLv3 license, and none of its actions are to be misinterpreted as accepting status as a contracting party of GPLv3 or assuming any legal obligations under such license.’ I’m no lawyer, but let me spell it out for Microsoft. In Section 0, Terms and Conditions, of GPLv3 we find that ‘to ‘convey’ a work means any kind of propagation that enables other parties to make or receive copies.’ Moving along, we reach Section 3, where we find, ‘When you convey a covered work, you waive any legal power to forbid circumvention of technological measures to the extent such circumvention is effected by exercising rights under this License with respect to the covered work, and you disclaim any intention to limit operation or modification of the work as a means of enforcing, against the work’s users, yours or third parties’ legal rights to forbid circumvention of technological measures.’ Notice that phrase ‘You waive any legal power.’ That sounds to me that if Microsoft were to convey a Linux distribution like Novell’s SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) to a customer and some of the included code was covered by GPLv3, Microsoft’s Linux patent threats go right down the toilet.”

I suspect we will be hearing about this issue for some time. And, I imagine Microsoft will be wrangling with it back and forth. Will this affect their new protection racket scheme? I think ultimately, it will!

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