[Mono-list] I need help with FUD

Charles Mason charlie.mas at gmail.com
Mon Jan 19 08:17:07 EST 2009

On Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 7:02 PM, Jonathan Pryor <jonpryor at vt.edu> wrote:
> On Fri, 2009-01-16 at 01:58 -0800, neptune235 wrote:
>> So I've been studying and reading up on Mono, and in the course of this I
>> came upon articles saying that Mono should be quarantined from Gnome, its
>> not free software etc. But in reading these articles, I'm having a hard time
>> seeing the core issues clearly.
> The problems are multifold:
> Software patents suck.
> Software patents *really* suck.
> Software patents *really*, *really* suck.  (Yes, so important that it
> deserves to be mentioned three times.)
> Last, but not least, the FUDsters can't see the forest for the trees.
> Specifically, they spend so much time on Microsoft (a tree) that they
> miss the entire forest of *actual* patent problems, patent trolls, etc.
> Case in point: A long time ago Wang patented, in effect, remote
> procedure calls (or some variation on the theme).  Microsoft licensed
> said patent from Wang (for DCOM).  Sun didn't.  Later, Kodak bought the
> patent off Wang and sued Sun, as Java infringed on the patent.  Kodak
> won, to the tune of $92 million.
> Thus, the FUD-leading question: what are the patent licensing terms
> here?  Does Sun's payoff to Kodak make Java fully, legally clear on this
> patent?  Is Java, now GPL'd, *actually* free (given that we *know* it
> treads on this patent)?  Or does every Java distributor need to worry
> about future patent lawsuits from Kodak?
> The answer: I'm not a lawyer, so I have no idea.  (I would assume that
> some large patent cross-licensing deal occurred, so we don't actually
> need to worry about Kodak suing Red Hat.)
> But the point is that IT DOESN'T MATTER.  *ANYONE* can hold a patent,
> for ANYTHING, and sue ANYONE at ANY TIME.  Ergo, Gnome is not free of
> patent issues, KDE is not free of patents issues, Linux is not free of
> patent issues, Python is not free of patent issues, Ruby is not free of
> patent issues...NOTHING is free of patent issues (except software that
> is older than 20 years old, which is (1) ~useless, and (2) might still
> be covered by patents because of submarine patents, etc.)
> (See also all the lawsuits by small/independent companies against
> Microsoft, Novell, Sun, etc.)
> It's usually not the large companies you need to worry about.  It's
> usually the small ones, as there's no harm in suing (especially patent
> holding companies, as they don't make any products so patent
> cross-licensing isn't even something they care about).
> Thus, the FUD is *extremely* hard to fight, as the first three points
> are quite valid (software patents suck), and then the FUDsters
> mis-represent the fourth fact ("we only need to worry about teh
> Micro$osft!!!") without noting that EVERY alternative they propose faces
> Which means their entire argument falls down to: Microsoft is evil,
> everything they touch is evil, let's all go use something else.
> Which is intellectually vapid, misses the point, and overlooks the fact
> that Microsoft has done a great amount of good (and also owns patents on
> a number of technologies that the FUDsters seem quite OK with, such as
> HTML, CSS, C++, XML....).
> To be intellectually "pure," they should argue for the use of software
> which CANNOT have any patents on it.  Alas, as mentioned earlier, this
> would require using software no one wants to use, assuming any such
> software actually exists.
>> And if that is correct, how can I show to people exactly what that totally
>> free part of Mono is? The FUD is so vague, I get the impression that the
>> entirety of this project is patented by Microsoft, but when I look for
>> details I'm not seeing it. Is there some way I can show people that this
>> isn't the case?
> You can't.  The FUD is deliberately vague because they don't want anyone
> looking at Mono for any purpose, because they really just don't like it.
> I'm sure they'd say mono causes cancer if they wouldn't get laughed at
> for it.  Furthermore, vague assertions can't be fought with facts, as
> there isn't enough substance in vague assertions to argue against.
> It's a losing battle, and will be "won" just as soon as one particular
> religion "wins" over all others (i.e. "never").

Very well said. I agree with everything you have said. The problem is
not Mono or any other software project its that  Patent Law is broken.
They are allowing the Patenting of something that fundementally
shouldn't be Patentable. Its the equivalent of allowing parts of the
English language to patentable. Imagine where comedy & literature
would be if someone held a patent on Metaphors.

Thankful I live in a country where software patents aren't allowed
(for the time being at least). But its still a problem for me since I
don't want any US customers being sued by Patent Trolls or one of the
big software companies.

The only solution to Software Patents its too keep up the campaigning.
Hopefully as the pro software patent companies keep getting stung by
these trolls, eventually they will have to reverse there lobbying and
join the anti software patent camp. Perhaps then the governments will
finally wake up to the issue.

Charlie M

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