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Re: Restrictive Patent Usage

From: Federico Heinz <fheinz@vialibre.org.ar>
Date: 28 Nov 2002 12:50:45 -0300
To: Dan Kegel <dank@kegel.com>
Cc: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <1038498645.20946.552.camel@michelle>
On Wed, 2002-11-27 at 23:30, Dan Kegel wrote:
> If you're quite sure the draft policy is totally incompatible with
> the GPL, please provide some concrete examples of how an
> open source project might be harmed by the adoption of the
> draft policy.  I'd be happy to hash this out in more detail.

Moglen's article specifically talks about article 7 of the GPL, which
states:

"7.  If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute
so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and
any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not
distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would
not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who
receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you
could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from
distribution of the Program."

With the current policy, this means that if you write code that
implements a patent available through a royalty-free but field-of-use
limited license, you cannot distribute code under the GPL (and hence
cannot use GPL code save for in-house programs) because you are not able
to grant the user all four freedoms (the user cannot freely yank the
code from the program and paste it into another that is outside the
field of use).

So, in essence, it becomes impossible to release under the GPL a program
that implements such a standard, and thus to link such a program to any
GPL code, which is a MAJOR problem. So, yes, the policy as it stands is
*not* acceptable for free software developers.

Of course, we'd be spared all this mayhem if the governments of the rich
nations of the world would show some spine and stop the whole software
patents lunacy (or at least stop pushing the rest of the planet to adopt
their own ridiculous standards), but it seems that our chances of seeing
that happen become slimmer by the minute...

	Federico Heinz
 

Received on Thursday, 28 November 2002 10:54:10 GMT

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