Mono Platform

Tom 'spot' Callaway tcallawa at
Tue Mar 15 14:25:05 UTC 2005

On Tue, 2005-03-15 at 03:25 -0600, Gain Paolo Mureddu wrote:

>Exuse me for saying this, but weren't Debian (and thus Ubuntu) folks 
>unconditional defenders of Free Open Source Software?

Thats really a question for Debian and Ubuntu. They continue to ship GPL
applications that decode mp3, which is extremely well patented, without
an unrestricted patent grant permitting royalty free distribution. This
violates the GPL, last time I looked. (IANAL)

> According to what I've been able to make out of this discussion (which is by the way, way 
>over my head), the concern of Red Hat lawers is that the conditions on 
>which this particular package has been made available are not so clear, 
>to say with all its words, because of Microsoft's .NET patents that may 
>pevent the use of the package due to infringement (key word here, 

A couple of key points:

- Microsoft has patented most of the ideas being implemented in .NET
(and thus, big chunks of Mono)
- Microsoft is building a patent portfolio (both in patents and in
lawyers) as fast as they possibly can.
- Microsoft keeps making veiled threats about "somebody, somewhere"
holding Linux responsible for patent infringement.

So, is Mono really worth it? 

Section 7 of the GPL v2 is pretty clear on this:

"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

In the case of mp3, we know royalty-free redistribution is NOT
permitted. In the case of Mono, we have no legally binding evidence to
show that it is. We can't assume that it is ok, we have to get it in
writing from the patent holder.

Or to put it very simply:

if (known_patents) {
	switch (patent_license) {
			return 1;
		case UNKNOWN:
		case NO_LICENSE:
		case default:
			return 0;

Tom "spot" Callaway: Red Hat Sales Engineer || GPG Fingerprint: 93054260
Fedora Extras Steering Committee Member (RPM Standards and Practices)
Aurora Linux Project Leader:
Lemurs, llamas, and sparcs, oh my!

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