Prof. Eben Moglen says that GPLv3 will prevent a user’s loss of freedom in light of the details of the Novell-Microsoft deal.
Microsoft claims that the Linux kernel infringes on many of Microsoft’s patents. Microsoft would love to be a gatekeeper telling which Linux kernel users can continue to use Linux and which can’t by covering certain Linux users. Novell isn’t making as much money as they’d like to. Novell becomes a target for Microsoft’s millions—Novell recently agreed to take $348m of Microsoft’s money in exchange for signing a patent agreement which says that Microsoft won’t sue users of Novell’s GNU/Linux distribution for alleged patent infringement. This makes it look like Novell is agreeing to Microsoft’s claims that patents are being infringed and Novell is signing this deal for the benefit of Novell’s users.
In reality, no substantive proof of infringement has come from Microsoft, and Novell’s deal with Microsoft probably made enough big Linux kernel development corporations nervous enough to want to push hard for the Linux kernel to be distributed under GPLv3, the next improved version of the GNU General Public License; the license under which the Linux kernel is distributed.
So, it’s looking more likely that Novell did do the free software community a favor, even if they did it by making a huge mistake for themselves.
Also worthy of note, Moglen’s review of the “open source” language which led to this outcome:
“What’s happened is that “Open Source” has died as a useful phrase – Free Software, the GPL, the FSF – all have become major stakeholders in the industry in Microsoft’s verbiage.”
“Once you’re a major stakeholder you don’t go back to being a minor stakeholder unless you go bankrupt – and we can never go bankrupt because we have no business to lose.
“So if we’re major stakeholder. now we stay that way until the end of the chapter, and that’s a problem for Microsoft.”