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GNU is Not Unix Sun Microsystems

OpenOffice.Org Now Under LGPLv3 107

Posted by kdawson
from the not-just-lip-service dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Sun has moved OpenOffice.org to the LGPLv3 license. In his blog Sun's Simon Phipps cites worry over software patents as being one of their main reasons for this move: 'Upgrading to the LGPLv3 brings important new protections to the OpenOffice.org community, most notably through the new language concerning software patents. You may know that I am personally an opponent of software patents, and that Sun has already taken steps in this area with a patent non-assert covenant for ODF. But the most important protection for developers comes from creating mutual patent grants between developers. LGPLv3 does this.'"
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OpenOffice.Org Now Under LGPLv3

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  • Software (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday March 07, 2008 @09:59AM (#22674514) Journal
    You may know that I am personally an opponent of software patents

    Software is the only thing you can have both a patent AND a copyright on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aerthling (796790)
      Don't patents apply to the method and copyright to the implementation?
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        Yes.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        No. The "method" is the implementation. It's a term that's used to describe the invention. The paperclip, for example, described in the patent, is "a method to fasten pages of paper together".

        And the idea that copyright can protect the little metal clip from copying is one of the worst perversions of the patent [wikipedia.org] system I've heard.

        Moreover, you can't copyright the patent claims, diagrams and descriptions. The basic point of the patent registration is that the contents of the patent are available to the public
      • Technically, but since every combination of primitive ideas seems to be patentable, all the company has to do is patent the entire class of software serving the specific function theirs does, and no one can create a competing implementation.
    • by Chrisq (894406)
      Is that true? If so it defeats the argument that patents are good because they put information into the public domain after a certain time. I rather thought that patenting something removed your right to have copyright protection.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The idea is patented. The very specific implementation (the code) is copyrighted.
        The patent on the idea will eventually expire. The exact specific code used in their specific implementation will remain copyrighted longer.

        Imagine someone long ago patented the idea of the book when they wrote the first one and copyrighted it. The patent on the idea of books would long ago have expired, but each individual book can still be copyrighted for a certain period of time.
        • I think this could be a little misleading. There is no link between patents and copyright. A work of art is copyrighted: a computer program, being a work (source code) is copyrighted like a novel or song is copyrighted. The fact that the software may be a clever invention is not why it is copyrighted. It is copyrighted because someone wrote it (although an author can elect to forgo copyright). What I think is a little misleading is the term "specific implementation", because it may imply a link between the
      • by mhall119 (1035984)
        The MP3 format is patented, the LAME encoder is copyrighted. Even after the MP3 patent expires, LAME will still be copyrighted.
    • Re:Software (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sayfawa (1099071) on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:32AM (#22674878)
      Unfortunately, plots of books and movies are also being patented by people like this. [plotpatents.com]
      • Re:Software (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sm62704 (957197) on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:53AM (#22675144) Journal
        Those people belong in prison.
        • Andrew Knight is the inventor of Storyline Patents.

          The connection between patent law and unique fictional storylines necessary to conceive of Storyline Patents may never have been made if Andrew Knight did not occasionally dabble in fiction... Recognizing that fierce competition for publication and financial reward focused on the quality of storytelling, as opposed to the quality of the underlying storyline itself, and further recognizing that even the world's most skilled storytellers (of which he is c
        • by SeaFox (739806)

          Those people belong in prison.

          Sounds like a plot for a movie...
      • Everyone knows there are only so many plots [google.com].

        Almost any story can be glibly described in a few sentences. What makes a story good, or even great is in the telling, that's why a talented author would copyright his particular expression.

        The only possible use of a "plot patent" is strictly to troll and whine "wah, he stole my idea, but made it better than I could!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by skoch (238567)
      > Software is the only thing you can have both a patent AND a copyright on.

      This is not true, Mechanical components have patents on the idea, and copyrights on the drawings of the machine that implement the idea. Software is the same way, patents on the idea, but copyrights on the source code and executables.

      That does not make software patents a good idea however.

      • by sm62704 (957197)
        With software, as you said, you can have copyright on the source ("blueprints") AND executables. With a new type gear you can only copyright the blueprint, not the gear itself.
        • by samkass (174571)
          With software, as you said, you can have copyright on the source ("blueprints") AND executables.

          It's a subtle point, but you can't have a patent on either the source or executables, only the ideas/mechanism they express.

          Software *is* a fundamentally different construct than anything that came before it, and it's going to break a lot of these "software is the only thing that..." comparisons. It doesn't make any sense to be to allow someone to patent physical mechanisms but not software that has just as much
          • by sm62704 (957197)
            Software *is* a fundamentally different construct than anything that came before it

            True, but it's been around for over half a century, and that's discounting Ada Lovelace [wikipedia.org], the world's first programmer, who died in 1852 (the machine she wrote programs for, Babbage's Analitical Engine, wasn't actually constructed until the late 20th century).

            Why is physicality so valued as to deserve patents when software is not?

            Why should software deserve patents when music does not?
    • Software is the only thing you can have both a patent AND a copyright on.
      I agree that software patents are by and large a bad idea but your claim of exclusivity between patents and copyright is demonstrably
      not true [wikipedia.org]. It's been possible for a long time to have both a design patent and a copyright on the same item. It's uncommon I'll grant you, but definitely possible.
    • by tepples (727027)

      Software is the only thing you can have both a patent AND a copyright on.
      But what's so special about that? Cartoon characters are among the things that you can have both a trademark AND a copyright on. Integrated circuits are something that you can have both a patent AND a mask work right on.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:00AM (#22674520)
    The LGPL is in no way "lesser" than its hideously deformed cousin the GPL. Where the second one takes and takes, the first one gives and gives. It promotes community through sharing rather than through vigorously tilting at windmills.

    If the LGPL were a presidential candidate, it would be Barack Obama -- "Yes we can." The GPL would be Ron Paul -- "We need the gold standard and protectionist trade."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I guess there is a reason you are "BadAnalogyGuy"
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:04AM (#22674568)
      Never before in Slashdot history have you so completely earned your screenname. I salute you, sir.
    • by mmcuh (1088773)
      How can someone "take and take" by publishing free software?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
        Because it takes as payment the entire work of someone who relies on the supposedly "free" software.

        The LGPL only requires such payment if changes are made directly to the LGPL'd work itself.
        • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:30AM (#22674850)
          So wait... How does that work? Chances are if someone relies on free software outside of free software projects (such as Debian, Mozilla, Ubuntu, Open Office, etc.) they work as a business and use free software to get the job done. Most of the time that software never leaves the company so the company could say that it will provide the source to anyone who requests it (being nobody) the company is in no way obligated to publish the modifications they made. They just can't prevent someone who has the source from uploading it to a server and having people download it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Knuckles (8964)
          Because it takes as payment the entire work of someone who relies on the supposedly "free" software.

          How so?

          Entire work: you mean that, e.g., the entire product portfolio of IBM becomes copylefted as soon as they use GPl'ed software in one of their products?
          supposedly "free": you mean that the GPL changes its clauses after you incorporated GPL'ed code into your product?

          • Not their entire product portfolio, no. But if one product uses a GPL library, that entire product becomes GPLed. Even if that library was used without any changes.
            • by Knuckles (8964)
              You are right of course, but GP said "the entire work of someone", and GP is not correct.

              Also, what you write is true only when one uses the GPL code on purpose, and this is well documented in the license, no surprises. It's easy to avoid too, simply by not using code that the author only makes available under this condition. In case you meant that inadvertent use of GPL'ed code can lead to these consequences: this is pure FUD, it has never happened in practice and not judge will likely ever rule that way.

              G
              • Frankly, that depends on how you define "work". From context, I thought he was only talking about the work in question using GPL code, and not all work by that person. And frankly, after the myriad senseless RIAA rulings, I don't put any stock in what a judge isn't likely to do.
                • by Knuckles (8964)
                  Well, I can only go after what he wrote. Your point is well taken regarding judges, but the fact remains that it's easy not to use GPL code if you can't or don't want to abide by the license. Nothing but the GPL entitles you to the code in the first place.
        • Look the GPL is "free" in that you can not catch a unicorn [GPL program]. The most you can do is feed it [add code] and take rides [use it].

          Now would you stop playing the stupid "not free" game.
          • by Rogerborg (306625)

            Then the unicorn fucks your prize poodle, which has little baby unicorns. Then it fucks your cat, which also has little baby unicorns, as does your assraped pet parrot.

            Stupid analogy? Meh, I'm not the one that started babbling about unicorns.

      • by miffo.swe (547642)
        They dont let companies take whatever they need and then bastardize it. Some people think that all free software should be like Kerberos, bending over handing the lube to the rapist. That way companies can take what they need giving nothing back.

        Demanding someone elses work for free is just retarded, especially when you are a company selling your products for a hefty price-tag.
    • Sun Refuses LGPL for OpenOffice; Novell forks [slashdot.org]... One is starting to wonder what is happening...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kdemetter (965669)
      It depends on how you look at it :

      In GPL , anything that is derived from that code , must also be published under GPL .
      So all code use must be GPL .

      Lesser GPL changes this , in that it allows the LGPL'ed software to be linked with non GPL'ed software ( ie it can use non gpl libraries)

      This means that , if OpenOffice remains pure PGL , then there's a problem if someone wants to extends OpenOffice with properietary libraries . This problem doesn't present itself with LPGL.

      Off course , there's a danger that the
    • by dpilot (134227)
      > If the LGPL were a presidential candidate, it would be Barack Obama -- "Yes we can."
      > The GPL would be Ron Paul -- "We need the gold standard and protectionist trade."

      I think I get it...
      So the GPL is like a car with clear windows - pretty much anyone can drive one, and anyone can see inside.
      The LGPL adds the "tinted windows" option so it still can be driven by pretty much anyone, but people outside can't see in.

      I know it's a bad analogy, but I had to respond to BadAnalogyGuy with a car analogy, espe
      • by jZnat (793348) *
        If you want a car analogy, here you go:

        The LGPL is like a car where anyone can make modifications to it or add after-market parts to it, but only has to allow that same right to people it distributes said car to for the original part of the car. The GPL, however, would be a car where any after-market parts added to it would also have to be modifiable and distributable in the same way the entire car itself was.
    • by Jackmn (895532)

      Where the second one takes and takes
      The GPL takes nothing away. It grants you permission to distribute software licensed under it (a right you would normally not have due to copyright law) under a specific set of conditions.
      • (a right you would normally not have due to copyright law)

        Just a nitpick - it's a right you wouldn't normally have due to a copyright holder not granting that right. The copyright law itself effectively says the copyright holder can determine the distribution rights. The GPL relies on this fact to work. Without that protection, the GPL would have no teeth at all.
    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      The LGPL is in no way "lesser" than its hideously deformed cousin the GPL.

      Actually, I've found the LGPL almost totally useless. It works OK for C link libraries, but it has too many situations where it devolves into the GPL. If you include any LGPL C++ templates, then your program must be LGPL. If you use any LGPL Ada generics, your program must be LGPL. Its debateable whether simple C macros and #defines render you LGPL. Lisp macros are debateable too [common-lisp.net].

      So LGPL really does not do what a lot of people seem to

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        Out of interest, how do you put copyrighted content into the public domain? Seriously, what's the statute or case law on that one?
        • by T.E.D. (34228)

          Out of interest, how do you put copyrighted content into the public domain? Seriously, what's the statute or case law on that one?

          A damn good question. When I was a kid, public domain was the default, and you had to explicitly say if you wanted to keep copyright. Now you get a copyright automaticly and its a total PITA to get rid of the damn thing if you don't want it.

          I did a lot of research on this the first time it came up. This area is sort of a "bug" in copyright law. The usual method for working out su

          • by Rogerborg (306625)

            Thanks, that's about my thoughts on it as well. There's a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication [creativecommons.org] available, but I have no idea if it has any legal basis.

            Also, there's the thought that I might want to re-claim rights for Good as well as Evil: for example, if Evil Megacorp swiped the work and tried to pass it of as their own (and to assert rights over it). For that reason, I just use CC Attribution now, rather than trying to fight the Man.

            • by T.E.D. (34228)

              Also, there's the thought that I might want to re-claim rights for Good as well as Evil: for example, if Evil Megacorp swiped the work and tried to pass it of as their own (and to assert rights over it).


              That's actually a *feature* of Public Domain. If you don't want Evil Megacorp doing that, keep your copyright.
    • by dh003i (203189)
      If you use software, you agree to the license under which it's sold. You have a legal AND moral obligation to abide by contracts that you agree to. No-one forced you to agree to those contracts. That's true of both GPL'ed software and of "EULA'ed" software.

      If you use GPL'ed code in your application, you have a legal and moral obligation to license your app under the GPL. End of discussion. If you don't like it, don't use GPL'ed software. Maybe the only reason the software's there is because the owners wante
  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:04AM (#22674560) Homepage Journal

    I've always claimed that whenever Sun wrote a strange license, it was because their lawyers told them to.

    You may recollect a small war between Sun and MS over the MS effort to "embrace and extend" Java.

    I suspect we'll see more GPL3 and LGPS3 as it is shown in practice to provide the same patent potection as CDDL.

    --dave

  • ... Now, I don't know MUCH about GPL, etc. But the fragmentation of licensing agreements (LGPL, GPL, CC, CC2.5, ETC) is just going to confuse people

    It is the SAME problem that most people have with linux - Linux is GREAT ... but most people don't care. It is too confusing choosing a distro, and a lot of people will just stick with the first or second distro they find, because they don't care about all the variations.

    On the other hand, most people don't care about these things (GPL et al. doesn't mean m
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AvitarX (172628)
      It would be nice if people stuck to LGPL 2+, GPL 2+, Old X11/New BSD or multi-licenses that included them. This would allow for compatibility for the most part. Other licenses that are compatible but not multi-license are OK too, but really should just be one of those IMO (based solely on momentum, not quality).

      CC is not a Free or Open license (as it is used for the most part anyway). So I think your post is just further muddying the waters.
      • by tepples (727027)

        It would be nice if people stuck to LGPL 2+, GPL 2+, Old X11/New BSD or multi-licenses that included them.
        What license would you recommend for (say) a Free video game, both the code and the assets-other-than-code such as sampled sound, music, models, textures, scripts, and the like?
        • What license would you recommend for (say) a Free video game, both the code and the assets-other-than-code such as sampled sound, music, models, textures, scripts, and the like?

          I don't think you can assume a single license is appropriate for both code and non-code to begin with.

          • by tepples (727027)

            What license would you recommend for (say) a Free video game, both the code and the assets-other-than-code

            I don't think you can assume a single license is appropriate for both code and non-code to begin with.

            Not all video gaming platforms run Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux, or Mac OS X. In fact, some of them have no "file system" to speak of. This means that both code and data have to be placed in the executable and linked into the same address space. As I understand the GNU General Public License, that would put the data under the GPL if any of the code is under the GPL.

            Even with a file system, the GPL doesn't make clear what counts as "separate and independent works, which are not by their nature extens

        • by AvitarX (172628)

          I would personally probably use a license that allowed GPL 2+ use for everything. And only accept submissions that were given to me as GPL and BSD so that I could later change it as I pleased. The Submitters would have to trust me not to close off their code. But even if I did, hopefully the part I released for Free would be enough not to receive too much spite.

          I don't disagree with the GPL 3 in principal, I just don't want stuff closed off from v2 (or vice-a-versa).

          If I was feeling generous I may perhap
    • by mdwh2 (535323) on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:25AM (#22674788) Journal
      But the fragmentation of licensing agreements (LGPL, GPL, CC, CC2.5, ETC) is just going to confuse people

      Different licences for different purposes. And remember that before these licences came along, individuals would often release software under their own (often poorly worded) licences, or sometimes not at all. Sometimes the licences are ambiguous, or the authors feel compelled to add in all sorts of arbitrary restrictions (I guess that's their right, but it's annoying when there's no logical reason). Indeed some people still do that. When I see something that's licenced under "GPL" or "CC", I know exactly what I'm getting, and don't have to worry if I can or can't do something, or if even though it's advertised supposedly "free" I'm going to download it and find it's crippleware, trialware, or has all sorts of licence restrictions.

      Recently I was looking for free graphics to use for writing games, and I came across one from years ago that had some licence saying it was free, but only for Windows because he wanted to be the one to "port" it to another platform. Huh? I thought, why should the graphics need to be changed for a different platform? Thankfully I then found a later version of the graphics which he'd sensibly released under CC.

      I'm not sure that comparing to Linux distributions makes sense. You might as well complain that having thousands of pieces of software available is "confusing", and this is comparable to Linux distributions. If people just choose the first licence they come across because the rest are too confusing, that's fine.
      • Different licences for different purposes. Sure, but sometimes those purposes are compatible while the licenses are not. That is the problematic fragmentation. Take for example a look at Apache 2.0 vs GPL 2. GPLv3 fixes this, so now it is possible [fsf.org] to use Apache 2.0 code in GPLv3 projects.
      • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Friday March 07, 2008 @11:06AM (#22675272)

        remember that before these licences came along, individuals would often release software under their own (often poorly worded) licences ... When I see something that's licenced under "GPL" or "CC", I know exactly what I'm getting, and don't have to worry if I can or can't do something
        Furthermore, it's worth noting that when it comes to proprietary software, the licensing landscape is very confused and inhomogeneous. Each software package has its own custom EULA. Though they often share similar features (e.g. "no liability"), there are often all kinds of ridiculous clauses buried among the boilerplate legalese. Volume license agreements are no better: you have to be very careful when selecting them (are we talking per-user? per-installation? per-processor? per-active-instance?).

        As you point out, at least with open-source licenses, there are only a handful of major ones that cover the vast majority of software. Once you know about them, you can very quickly know how much control you'll have over the code, and can confidently download/install/use/modify as required.

        There is no proprietary equivalent to this kind of well-organized and relatively homogeneous licensing landscape. (Of course not! Having "named" proprietary licenses would make it too easy for a customer to compare different product licenses and select the less onerous ones.)
    • It is too confusing choosing a distro, and a lot of people will just stick with the first or second distro they find, because they don't care about all the variations.


      Thats not necessarily a bad thing though.... If someone who has never used the command line on Ubuntu before tried Gentoo.... I think there would be lots of headaches for the developers....
    • But the fragmentation of licensing agreements (LGPL, GPL, CC, CC2.5, ETC) is just going to confuse people
      LGPLv3 is a big step away from fragmentation. While LGPLv2 [opensource.org] was a separate license, LGPLv3 [opensource.org] is just an exception to GPLv3.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Which people? GPL generally doesn't affect end users as far as I understand.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:43AM (#22675012) Journal

      Oh wait, no MS has several, off the top of my head, the OS, directX, media player. Office offcourse as well, but that is a seperate product. Does IE still come with one? Silverlight?

      In fact most windows software comes with a EULA all written differently.

      So you claim that people have no problem understanding all these different EULA's but would be confused by the far simpler opensources licences of which only about a dozen are in actuall use?

      Bad troll, no cookie for you! This is 2008, we expect more nowadays. Go on, mention soundcard drivers, why don't you.

      • The point wasn't that people need to read them. The point was that software developers, when searching for an applicable license, have TOO many to choose from, because everyone seems to think we need new, updated ones.

        Too many choices is ALMOST as bad as not enough choices.
    • by fermion (181285)
      There is no confusion to the average user. Open Source means I can download and use it without anyone hassleing me, but I won't because it is free and therefore not as good as stuff I pay for. Closed source means that I can download and use it, and someone might hassle me, but probably not, so i won't bother to pay for it, but since I should have paid for it, it is better.

      There are only two casses where I hear people claiming to be confused. The first is trying to close previously opened project. This

  • Sun still has an on-again, off-again relationship with open source. If they truly want to show that they are committed to open source, they would release ZFS under the GPL so that it can be integrated into Linux.
    • by zdzichu (100333) <zdzichu@@@irc...pl> on Friday March 07, 2008 @10:43AM (#22675006) Homepage Journal
      Let it go... Sun released ZFS on open source license. It already got integrated in few systems. Open source != GPL. Free software != GPL.
      We, linux guys, want ZFS features. But we are not center of the universe. Let's just wait for btrfs to mature and Daniel Phillip's ddlink to take off.
      • by nguy (1207026)
        It already got integrated in few systems. Open source != GPL. Free software != GPL.

        No, but Linux==GPL. Sun could release ZFS under a Linux-compatible license without affecting anything else (they could triple-license it).

        The only reason Sun isn't releasing ZFS under the GPL or a GPL-compatible license is to prevent Linux from using it. And that tells you that Sun is lying when they are saying that they are supporting Linux; they are trying to hurt Linux and replace it with their shit.
        • by htd2 (854946)
          Oh come on without Sun's donations to the OpenSource community Linux would be about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

          Sun is the largest commercial contributor to the code base which makes up a modern Linux distribution, the last stats I saw suggested that they had donated more code than the next two largest commercial supporters IBM and RedHat combined.

          Hardly the actions of a company that is hell bent on destroying the OpenSource movement.
        • No, but Linux==GPL. Sun could release ZFS under a Linux-compatible license without affecting anything else (they could triple-license it).

          The only reason Sun isn't releasing ZFS under the GPL or a GPL-compatible license is to prevent Linux from using it. And that tells you that Sun is lying when they are saying that they are supporting Linux; they are trying to hurt Linux and replace it with their shit.


          While I think you have a point, and I share (to a degree) your suspicion with regards to Sun's motivations
        • by dfghjk (711126)
          Yes, of course, that's the only reason. There couldn't be any other.

          Why does Sun, or anyone for that matter, have any obligation to provide source under the GPL? How do you know if Sun could release ZFS under a Linux compatible license?
      • Actually, Sun said that they are going to GPL ZFS. Of course, they're in the middle of a patent lawsuit over ZFS right now, so it's probably not the best time.

        From what they have released, I'm rather hopeful that they will release ZFS, given time. And I think you can already use it with FUSE (although I'm not sure how stable that is just yet).

        True, Sun can be funny at times about these things, but I really hope that ZFS catches on, because the ideas behind it are great.
    • If they truly want to show that they are committed to open source, they would release ZFS under the GPL so that it can be integrated into Linux.

      You mean the GPLv2, of course. It's my understanding that GPLv3 code isn't eligible for inclusion, either.

  • I'm happy that Sun is taking the FLOSS movement seriously. I'm a Java developer working with Netbeans on Linux and OOo has been my main office suite since the StarOffice days. Sun seems to 'get' FLOSS, but I'm wondering how that's helping their bottom line? Are they doing this because it's helping them sell servers (or something else), or out of desperation?

    In other words, I hope that they are doing this because they realize (and reap) a distinct business value and not just because they're desperate. Should
    • by nguy (1207026)
      The only thing Sun is "getting" about open source is that it is killing their business.

      And Sun's support of open source is pretty similar to Microsoft's "embrace and extend": they are trying to use open source as leverage for creating proprietary software businesses again. Fortunately, they are as inept at doing that as they were at selling proprietary software.

      • by Bert64 (520050)
        Sun's business isn't about selling proprietary software...
        It's about selling the complete package:

        hardware, software, support

        Their business is, and always has been, selling a complete package that works well together... The cost to them of producing the software was always quite high, with open source they can reduce that cost while encouraging new people to become familiar with their stuff. Sun's customers are large business/government and always have been, they want people to download their software for f
    • I hope that it continues to send waves down the IT marketplace and continues to encourage organizations to provide free (libre) software.

      It will...FOSS is the way of the future for software. All the big software companies know it and are either 1.) embracing it and integrating it into their business model (RedHat, IBM, Sun), or 2.) casting it out and hope they can bury it with FUD and litigation (Microsoft, SCO). More and more proprietary companies are turning to the light side as they realize this. Some faster than others.

      • by Bert64 (520050)
        There is a difference there tho...

        Microsoft and SCO depend on the sales of proprietary software, software being available for free renders their business model obsolete, and they would rather fight tooth and nail to prevent that rather than have to reinvent themselves. If software sales dried up overnight, these businesses would become hugely unprofitable and face bankruptcy.

        RedHat, IBM and Sun don't depend on selling software, they all make most of their money from selling support services, although IBM an
  • With these changes in licensing and governance, can we expect to see a merger of the NeoOffice guys back into OpenOffice?
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday March 07, 2008 @11:54AM (#22675898) Homepage
    That patent non-assert covenant is almost identical (and the differences are in the parts that aren't important) to Microsoft's patent no- assert covenant for its XML formats. Many have said that the latter is unacceptable for use with free software. It's also interesting to compare those two non-assert covenants against the one IBM provides for their patents that cover OpenOffice, and for Microsoft's OSP. I've made a little page that lists all four of these non-assertion covenants [nyud.net], side-by-side, with corresponding sections highlighted in matching colors.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HiThere (15173)
      I rarely read MS EULAs, because I never use MS products. But I've read one of the patent non-assert agreements on a proposed OOXML standard. ("A", because they've continued to shift the proposal, and because they reserve the right to continue to change it after it gets approved, presuming that it does.)

      The non-assert agreement only guaranteed that the patents would not be asserted against fully conforming implementations. But the specifications of the standard (at that time) were such that nobody, includ
      • The non-assert agreement only guaranteed that the patents would not be asserted against fully conforming implementations.

        That requirement is also in IBM's non-assertion covenant. (Well, IBM says fully compliant, not conforming, and Microsoft doesn't have the word fully in theirs).

        But the specifications of the standard (at that time) were such that nobody, including MS, could actually build a fully conforming implementation. (Including such wonderful statements as "split the text layout in the same way that Word 95 did."(paraphrase. I'm *NOT* going to read that mess of garbage again!)

        It never had anything like that in it. What it had was basically a set of flags, that someone importing documents from old versions of Word and WordPerfect (and a few others) could use to record the fact that those documents had formatting settings that OOXML does not handle, so that, for example, if you wanted to convert back to the old documen

        • by HiThere (15173)
          I didn't say I was comfortable with Sun or IBM EULAs...I said I was reasonably comfortable with the GPL family of licenses. Saying that Sun and IBM didn't make the same limitations that MS made doesn't mean that I trust or accept their pledges either. But I haven't had occasion to try to understand them. I've had occasion to try to understand MS' EULA, and that's when I decided to switch to Linux. And I've had occasion to understand the GPL, and the GPL3.

          When Sun's license is the GPL3 or the LGPL3, then
          • P.S.: From your comments I feel that we read very different MS patent pledges about OOXML. (Do you have any reason to believe that they only made one that became public?) The alternative is that we understood certain sentences as having very different implications. Admittedly, IANAL, and I tend to put the darkest reasonable interpretation on words that are represented as coming from MS. If they guarantee a right to do something, I tend to take the narrowest reasonable interpretation of what that covers
        • by Bert64 (520050)

          It never had anything like that in it. What it had was basically a set of flags, that someone importing documents from old versions of Word and WordPerfect (and a few others) could use to record the fact that those documents had formatting settings that OOXML does not handle, so that, for example, if you wanted to convert back to the old document format, you could preserve that. The spec also said that programs producing new documents should not use these flags.

          So what your saying, is that OOXML is not capable of representing the type of formatting used in these cases?
          Surely that can be considered a shortcoming, and the format should be fixed so that it can represent these types of formatting.

          In terms of backwards compatibility, these old apps will never open the OOXML files directly, another app will have to convert them. Surely this conversion app should be aware of how particular formatting can be represented in both formats while doing a conversion, and shoul

    • by WebMink (258041) <slashdot AT webmink DOT net> on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:23PM (#22681042) Homepage

      That patent non-assert covenant is almost identical ... to Microsoft's patent no- assert covenant

      That's because Microsoft based their document on Sun's. I know that because the author of the Sun covenant is a colleague, because it was released at least a year before Microsoft copied it and because, after I pointed this out, Microsoft credited Sun for the original document.

      (and the differences are in the parts that aren't important)

      I disagree, and I have explained why before on my blog [sun.com]. Sun's covenant is intended to empower open source developers, and Microsoft has altered the parts that make that happen. Most notably, Sun's covenant grants all patents, Microsoft's is limited to "necessary claims". That is a very major difference since it means open source developers cannot be sure they have actually been given cover by Microsoft's covenant whereas they can be certain they have by Sun's. It is deeply regerttable that Microsoft added essential claims language in this way. For those who don't follow links, I also find the conformance requirements and the patent peace asymmetry poor in Microsoft's document.

      Many have said that the latter is unacceptable for use with free software.

      Indeed, and I am among them. However, your implication that the same applies to Sun's covenant is incorrect.

      • You are right that Sun's doesn't have "necessary claims" language, and I'll agree that it is better for these kind of documents to not have such language. Sun's is better in that regard. Sun's is also better in that it covers future versions of ODF, unlike the MS and IBM covenants. However, they don't get full credit for the later, cause it does have that restriction to future versions that Sun participates in. Note that this means that if Sun pulls out of OASIS, future OASIS development of ODF is under

        • by WebMink (258041)

          Note that this means that if Sun pulls out of OASIS, future OASIS development of ODF is under a patent cloud.

          No, that is not the case. In the unlikely event of Sun pulling out of the ODF TC at OASIS (which it currently chairs), future versions of the standard would be covered to the extent they implemented the specifications published while Sun was still a member. Sun's unlikely withdrawal would not invalidate previous covenant protection. Additions to the standard made once Sun was no longer a participant

          • Additions to the standard made once Sun was no longer a participant would not be covered. That seems completely reasonable considering anyone could add anything in Sun's absence

            Would that be a bad thing?

            Letting people add anything they want works fine with software. Why not for specifications, too?

            • by WebMink (258041)

              Letting people add anything they want works fine with software. Why not for specifications, too?

              Indeed. Any addition can be made freely, and that addition will be the sole responsibility of those making it. Just like with software.

  • I wanted to use OpenOffice to control the DRM for my DVR... Damnit! Perhaps I should get IBM to do it for me. Then it is not against the GPL.
  • the vocal majority of Slashdot will do what ever they please because they equate access to ownership. Your silly ruled don't mean anything!
  • I am puzzled by this step. If the concern is MSFT patents, then Sun itself is already protected by the deal it signed with MSFT in 2004. But that deal did not protect downstream users, as was noted at the time [linuxelectrons.com].

    Nor does putting OO under LGPLv3 protect those downstream, since Sun cannot give away any patent rights that MSFT has.

    So a significant effect of adopting the LGPLv3 seems to be that downstream users will now find it impossible to protect themselves by entering into NOVL-style deals with MSFT, beca

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