Getting mono into FC extras

Tom 'spot' Callaway tcallawa at
Sat Mar 19 14:26:53 UTC 2005

On Sat, 2005-03-19 at 14:05 +0000, Paul wrote:
>> >I've taken the time to read over the reasoning behind not allowing (yet)
>> >Mono into FC Extras, but I have a bit of a problem with it.
>> There is no conspiracy against Mono. Mono is legally ambigious. A post
>> to a mailing list does NOT consist of a legally binding patent grant of
>> any sort. You cannot use the "well, you have other legally ambigious
>> things" as grounds for inclusion.
>AIUI, MS have said that people can use the .NET framework without any
>sort of restriction - which includes on non MS platforms. By virtue of
>them not having taken *any* action against *any* of the open source
>implementations of .NET 

Unfortunately, patent law doesn't work this way. Its different from
trademark law, where you have to be aggressive and protect yourself from
infringement. If you are aware of the patents (and we are), and you
knowingly infringe, then you're screwed. You're actually in a better
place if you don't know about the patents, then you can apologize and
pay the patent holder for right to use (which also violates the GPL), or
stop violating the patents.

And Microsoft has made it very clear that they do hold patents that Mono
relies upon.

However, while it is about not getting sued, more importantly, its about
not violating the GPL. Everyone distributing Mono today is doing so in a
clear and obvious violation of the GPL.

>> If you know of a package in Fedora Core or Extras that is violating its
>> license, or various laws (specifically, US laws), point it out, and
>> we'll check it out through Red Hat Legal.

I know we've already sent the "Java issue" to the powers-that-be.

>and if MS's latest patent application goes through, OpenOffice. (MS
>are trying to patent XML!).

Wow. Only a little prior art there. If XML gets patented, OOo is the
least of our worries.

> If the people who look after the kernel and
>their report are is to believed, the kernel (isn't it supposed to
>infringe quite possibly on 100 or so patents?)

There are definitely bits of the kernel that do. (NTFS, for example). I
think a lot of those patents were IBM patents though, and IBM's written
promise not to pursue patent infringements against OSS seems to make the
Red Hat lawyers happy.

>> If you care about Mono, there is a way to get it included:
>> Get a patent grant from Microsoft, in writing, that says that they
>> permit unrestricted use and redistribution of their patents in Mono.
>> Now think for just a second. If Microsoft really wanted people to use
>> Mono, wouldn't they have done this already? They have an army of
>> lawyers, who undoubtedly understand the GPL all too well. They have to
>> be aware that such a patent grant would be required for Mono to be legal
>> under the GPL. They have yet to do this.
>True. Yet as I've said, they have yet to do anything about it, nor do I
>think they ever will. MS don't accept the GPL as a licence and probably
>never will (despite numerous claims that GPL code is used within their
>vastly inferior product line).
I hope you're right, but my hopes can't consist of our packaging policy.

>> If and when Microsoft does this (or Thomson, in the case of Mp3), we
>> will revisit the acceptance of Mono into FE. However, until that time,
>> the issue is closed. We cannot and will not willingly infringe upon
>> patents.
>Which is fair enough. I've always had a bone about FC not including mp3
>and DVD facilities, but accepted it. What will be interesting is how FC
>does things if the EU patent laws come in - basically, very little can
>be done.

Yes, then we will truly be in a very sad and depressing place.

When playing with the law (and with companies that have fleets of
lawyers), if you are not vigilant, you'll be screwed.

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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