Forgive me for not trimming this, but it's so well said that it deserves
to be read again.
Whatever Red Hat does, it will be setting a precedent that will guide
later followers. It can expect to be on the other end of the deal
later, so "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is
very relevant here.
Just in case someone thinks this isn't a critical issue, remember that
at least one hostile power, in the form of Microsoft:
- Has repeatedly described Linux as a number-one threat
- Has lots of lawyers, guns and money. Well, if not guns, experience
at software patent litigation.
- Is in the habit of buying companies for bits of intellectual property
that interest them
- Is famous for gutting those companies in gruesome ways
- Has already identified (Hallowe'en documents) software patents as
the most promising tool to attack free software
- Is watching very carefully.
If it's difficult to face the possibility of Red Hat at a bankruptcy
auction, consider threeguysinagarage.com. And remember what the Church
of Scientology did to the Cult Awareness Network.
I don't mean to accuse Red Hat of anything in advance of the evidence, but
the legal obligations of a publicly traded company to its stockholders are
commonly interpreted as a requirement for purely selfish and utterly venal
(and generally very short-sighted) behaviour. That makes me nervous.
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