In a supposed free market and a operating system that proclaims its free for everyone ethos the Free Software Foundation; which holds intellectual property rights on key parts of Linux, is threatening to literally blackball Novell for its dealings with Microsoft.
In a Reuters article on the matter Jim Finkle writes:
The Free Software Foundation is reviewing Novell Inc.’s <NOVL.O> right to sell new versions of Linux operating system software after the open-source community criticized Novell for teaming up with Microsoft Corp. <MSFT.O>
“The community of people wants to do anything they can to interfere with this deal and all deals like it. They have every reason to be deeply concerned that this is the beginning of a significant patent aggression by Microsoft,” Eben Moglen, the Foundation’s general counsel, said on Friday.
The foundation controls intellectual property rights to key parts of the open-source Linux operating system.
Novell angered members of the open-source community that develops Linux and other free software programs in November when it entered a wide-ranging business deal with Microsoft.
Critics called on the board to punish Novell by banning it from distributing new versions of Linux software, said Moglen.
In a post on LinuxWatch Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols tries to clarify the issue by quoting an email from Eben Moglen; executive director of Software Freedom Law Center, where Eben attempted to clarify what was said:
“What he actually asked me,” said Moglen in an email interview, “was ‘Is it true that some members of the community want GPLv3 to keep Novell from distributing future versions of GPL’d software?’ I said, ‘Yes, the Free Software Foundation is opposed to the deal, and is thinking about what to do; there will be a new draft soon [of the GPLv3]” (GNU General Public License Version 3).
Therefore, “The actual quote he prints is entirely accurate, but his lede destroys the context and is making unnecessary waves.”
Now Eben might have been trying to clarify the matter but he may have just ended up muddying it further. While it is agreed that there is nothing in the version 2 of the GPL that hinders the Novell/Microsoft agreements it would appear from the continued reworking of GPLv3 language that some attempt will be made to basically make such agreements in the future an act copyright/licensing infringement.
If the GPLv3 does get ratified then Novell would be barred from selling any version of Linux that has the GPLv3 licensing attached to it. So much for free software and a free marketplace.