[Mono-list] Mono licence

Jonathan Pryor jonpryor@vt.edu
Sun, 20 Mar 2005 08:53:16 -0500

On Sun, 2005-03-20 at 10:33 +0000, Paul wrote:
> Look. The argument FC have put up is over the patents MS hold which Mono
> relies upon. Due to those patents (and again, according to the FC crew),
> distribution under the GPL is not allowed. I'm not crying wolf at all
> either.

Their argument seems to be this: according to GPL section 7, if you know
your product potentially infringes on someone's patents, you cannot
distribute the program.*

If this is the case, then raise this friendly argument: by the same
logic they should stop distributing Java.

Why?  Because Java is known to be infringing patents held by Kodak, as
Sun and Kodak settled last year with Sun paying ~$90 million (IIRC).
Sun likely wouldn't have paid anything if they weren't infringing
(unless they figured that court costs would exceed that limit, which
seems a bit high...).

Further, Microsoft has already licensed those same patents with Kodak,
so it's highly likely that .NET infringes them as well (since it was COM
that was originally infringing...).  IIRC Novell has already licensed
those patents from Kodak, so Mono should be in the clear (one hopes).

So, now that we've established that both Java and .NET infringe on
patents held by someone (Kodak), FC should do the reasonable thing: stop
being a hypocrite and either (a) stop distributing *both* Java and Mono;
or (b) distribute *both* Java and Mono.

All I'm asking for is consistency.

The current solution of "Java Good, .NET Bad" is just hypocrisy,
blatantly incorrect, and doesn't do anyone any good.

 - Jon

* I don't buy this argument anyway.  GPL Section 7 states:

        "If, as a consequence of a court judgment...conditions are
        imposed on you...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..."

The problem is that this hasn't actually happened -- no conditions have
been imposed on Mono by a court judgment (or any other reason).  Until
that does happen -- meaning that there would have to be a patent lawsuit
against Novell alleging patent abuse in Mono -- then Mono is clear.

To say otherwise is to misunderstand patents, and to doom yourself to a
world twenty years in the past, as a patent search found that even the
Linux kernel infringes ~270 patents...

Which brings us to The Truth: ANY non-trivial program will be infringing
someone's patent.  Even JPEG decoding....