> I would worry much more about the million odd patents IBM have, where
> IBM have no general statement of this nature than the Red Hat ones.
> Perhaps once the Red Hat statement is published IBM can be persuaded to
> show willing ?
I'm is off dealing with patents from Sun, Sony, Apple, and Microsoft. Their
patent portfolio is like a nuclear arsenal: mutual assured destruction, so
nobody actually uses their stockpile.
The down side of the GPL language handling patents implies that they more or
less put a patent into the public domain. I.E:
> Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We
> wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will
> individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program
> proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be
> licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.
However, looking at the text of the license, it seems that it might be
possible to issue a patent license allowing use for the patent only in GPL
licensed programs. (Thus IBM could issue a blanket statement saying that any
of its patents may be used in GPL code, without necessarily unilaterally
disarming itself with regards to Sony's patents.)
Opinions from Lessig and Stallman and a few random lawyers would be required
to really get the issue decently clarified, though. (It would be best if
such a license could be a one-paragraph addendum to the GPL itself, perhaps a
GPL V2.1?) Using the GPL as a patent pool would be extremely useful to free
software in the long run...
> > More importantly, licensing patents only for pure GPL'ed use
> > is unlikely to become a norm that you can expect broad adoption of
> > in free software businesses, as many of them tend to be proponents of
> > slightly different copying permissions. If we have a bunch of patents
> > licensed for GPL-only, another bunch for MPL-only, another bunch for
> > pure-BSD only, then the patent proliferation that I described
> > yesterday will still probably occur.
> I would agree to an extent. Certainly purely GPL is excluding stuff
> which has identical 'all of package' rules like db3, Qt free editions,
> and much of KDE.
That said, a GPL-only patent license looks like the minimal set of permission
grants required for a patent to be compatable with the GPL, and such a setup
does start to turn the GPL into a patent pool anyone can join, which isn't
entirely a bad thing...
And the existence of a less permissive license doesn't prevent the existence
of a MORE permissive license. (Dual GPL/BSD, for example...)
The whole patent issue is largely a matter of big fish using patent pools to
exclude small fish. A free software patent pool has been proposed repeatedly
but never had the critical mass to get off the ground. (On a related note, I
entirely understand Red Hat seeking defensive patents due to the mexican
standoff nature of the modern patent landscape, but hope they plan to use
them wisely for the good of the community...)
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