I think it is important that the open source products also have an obligation to participate in the same way in the same way in the intellectual property regime.
That’s why we’ve done the deal we have with Novell, where not only are we working on technical interoperability between Linux and Windows but we’ve also made sure that we could provide the appropriate, for the appropriate fee, Novell customers also get essentially the rights to use our patented intellectual property. And I think it’s great the way Novell stepped up to kind of say intellectual property matters. People use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property in a sense have an obligation to eventually to compensate us.
Let’s start off with the claim of obligation. That’s up to the courts, ultimately, to decide whether a specific piece of the Microsoft Patent Repository is valid and what, if any, damages have occurred by use in linux (or, any other patent holder vs. any other alleged infringer).
But that’s really moot when you read what Ballmer said about the Novell agreement. Because it isn’t clear they can only distribute coupons that provide GPLv2 software. They would have to make it very clear to the Novell users they distribute to, “If you install any GPLv3 then you’re using our patents in a disallowed way… you aren’t protected.” And even then, unless they have very tight language they are dead in the water.
And even if not, they’re puffing the magic dragon if they’re going to hide behind the Novell agreement, “Look at us, we’re trying to be pals” whilst those very customers aren’t protected. They just can’t have it both ways. Either Novell users are protected, even under GPLv3, or they aren’t (under GPLv3) and the facade is covering the other face.
Ultimately what’s important is for the people to come to terms with what these corporations are actually doing… what they’re pulling. We need to recognize our society from the wider view, and then look down at the specifics, to decide for ourselves what’s good and bad.
Most people don’t take that time, which is a mixed blessing. Enough people infringing copyrights, enough corporations trying to beat their customers into compliance with arcane law and idiotic economic models… let’s face it, the muscles will always lay behind the invisible hand in that battle. Sooner or later the society crumbles or gets reformed just like any other system.