FSFE Newsletter

simo simo.sorce at xsec.it
Tue Jan 8 03:39:08 UTC 2008

On Mon, 2008-01-07 at 18:05 +0000, Rui Miguel Silva Seabra wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 07, 2008 at 03:22:35PM +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> > Rui Miguel Silva Seabra <rms at 1407.org> writes:
> > > On Mon, Jan 07, 2008 at 12:40:18PM +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> > >> Sure.  What project/initiative/activity do you think FSFE and FFII should
> > >> coordinate on?
> > >
> > > The main issue, of course, software patents.
> > 
> > I was hoping for something a lot more specific.
> It's impossible to be more specific, since the fact that there has been
> little coordination has resulted in *no* critic about the result of the
> case in terms of software patents from FSF Europe.

You can't really seriously argue about (anti)patents in an anti-trust

> Even Samba (Jeremy) is now using a foundation (made up by SFLC) on the US
> to get to the documents in an NDA fashion. NDA development is bad enough
> on hardware drivers. On formats and protocols it is a poison pill.

Actually, this is not right.
Having the docs is definitely better than having none, even under NDA.
Remember that the source code will be available, everybody can read it
and even write documentation reading the source code.

> The EU is happy-happy joy-joy[1] about the whole charade where it
> has granted Microsoft the right to demand royalties for it's software
> patents to Free Software users.

The EU has no such granting power, patent law allows Microsoft to ask
for royalties. You should remember that before the conclusion of the
case MS had much stricter terms to access the documentation and a patent
license with per unit royalties was unavoidable. Now we get a flat fee
for the docs and we are not required to sign any patent license.

True the EC could have gone as far as imposing MS to provide even the
patent license for a flat fee, or, in theory even oblige MS to grant a
license to anybody for free. But we couldn't get that far this time.

> Even if it's a one-time payment royalty, it's a royalty on software
> patents which implies respecting them.

Unfortunately there is no one-time payment for patent royalties, it's a
per shipped unit one afaik.

> If this view from the result is incorrect, please tell me how it is so,
> for this comes straight from Kroes's statements and Microsoft's
> agreements.

I think the current situation is better then the previous, could be
better, but it is not worse.
I can't see this big patent problem you see, the fact that a certain
part of the establishment is ok with software patents is not new at all,
we all know that.
I honestly don't think this case changes any balance in that respect.


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