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RMS Blasts Sun's Open Source Patent Licensing 591

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the always-with-a-skeptical-eye dept.
cdlu writes "RMS takes Sun to task on its recent announcement that it is releasing 1,600 patents to the open source community. Among the major points, the license the patents are released under doesn't apply to patents, and Sun has not promised to not sue anyone using the technology within free software projects."
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RMS Blasts Sun's Open Source Patent Licensing

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  • by mooniejohnson (319145) <mooniejohnson+slashdot.gmail@com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:16PM (#11532396)
    In other news, touchdowns scored during SuperBowl, Microsoft releases FUD against Linux, Anonymous Cowards seek First Post, and people complain about poll options.

    Just very RMS. ;-)

    • I'm sorry I read your comment, but I want my 6 seconds back, you thieving bastard.

      That the CDDL is inapplicable to patents is a very valid point and, if true, nullifies the entire benefit of this "release." I may be flamebait, but you're just offtopic.
    • by Steeltoe (98226) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @06:25AM (#11538444) Homepage
      To properly understand people, it's crucial to see where they're coming from, not brand them as crazy, that's just an easy way to opt out of understanding. I think people misunderstand RMS' goals with the GPL.

      RMS wants to do away with copyright and all "Intellectual Property-rights" entirely. He does not want to force everyone to use the GPL, but he created the GPL, "copyleft" as an answer to copyright: Since Free Software cannot legally obtain source or dumps from proprietary software, there was a need for a license that allowed everything to be shared. Except to proprietary software, since they're restricting sharing unnaturally. How else would Free Software be able to compete against copyright? It's an ironical stab at copyright.

      When RMS started, he was laughed at. Nobody believed quality software could be made by people in their spare time. Leaders of corporations thought that making something like a UNIX OS would be impossible for others to achieve, but forgot it's us, human beings , who really created the software in the first place. Now, we're seeing Free Software is ahead in some respects, and is slowly overtaking proprietary solutions and making them uncomfortable.

      RMS doesn't live in his own world, he sees the illusion our society is building its card-house on. He sees "IP-rights" as unnatural: It is natural to share information. With the advent of free cost copying and distribution of information (The Internet), we as a society now have roughly two choices:

      1) Implement more and more draconian laws to conserve our social structure as it is now. Only the elite will be able to produce and invent, while the poor becomes poorer both in monetary riches and knowledge - one of the ways to oppress people. There's no way to prevent the freedom of information, except to create higher and higher barriers between every entity in this world: nations, cities, communities, institutions, neighbours, family, your own brain. Yes, it becomes ludicrous at a point, but at that point, who can stop it? When you've already lost touch with your community, nobody is on your side anymore.

      A way to do this, is to create an artificial war against an abstract enemy, thus making people think they need these laws for protection. Even though more people die in car-accidents each year, than to this fictious enemy.

      Back to point #2:

      2) Another approach is to create a natural abundant society where people collaborate and contribute to the whole. Free Software is only the beginning, and has already proven its more efficient, flexible and reusable than proprietary solutions. Technology will slowly eliminate limitations and create abundance. In such a society, work will be more like play than the hour-wrecking, time-stretching, guilt-ridden, manipulative, forced labour we have today. Why are we waiting for the clock to turn 4-5 if there's not more work to be done that day? In fact, most of the population will not be required to "work" at all, and what work exist can be done taking turns on it. It requires a mature society that will take care of all its inhabitants. Like it or not: socialism, though just like in Europe not everybody need be treated equally.

      The GPL is not forcing anybody to do anything. Copyright and so called "Intellectual Property-rights" are forcing people, and is the enemy to a natural progression towards an abundant society.

      Abundance or not, is really a state of mind. Some people want to create a future of everlasting feeling of lack. You need more, and more, and in order to get it you have to do what they tell you to do. No matter how advanced technologically we get, we will never be happy, we will be slaves to emotions being manipulated by a paranoid society - our spirit crushed or perverted into material goal-chasing.

      I want to live in a mature, natural and abundant society, don't you?

      Ask yourself, who is working against the natural progression of evolution,
  • Nice job, Sun. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sparkster812 (670872) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:17PM (#11532416)
    I think it's a great thing Sun has done for the community, regardless of the feelings some people have for them. It's definitely got a positive spin on it, and hopefully will result in more open source software.
    • Of course this has a positive spin. This is coming out of their marketing / public relations.

      Has anyone seen the end of the tunnel? In the end, you will be able to run those free software from linux on an overpriced sun hardware. That's it!

    • Re:Nice job, Sun. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:24PM (#11532546) Homepage Journal
      Having been following this controversy for a while, I am not so sure. The following concerns have been raised:

      1) Patents may have been donated only to CDDL projects, which would still preclude them from being used in GPL'd projects.

      2) It is not clear what the actual scope of the licensing is and whether it will be GPL-compliant.

      I am hopeful that these issues can be worked out, but it is too soon to tell whether this will actually be helpful or just a publicity stunt devoid of any real meaning.
      • Re:Nice job, Sun. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        1) It's pretty clear that patents have only been donated to CDDL projects (that is in fact people working on Solaris) and that GPL'd projects, or any other open source project not under the CDDL are excluded. And I don't think one can really speak of the patents being donated, it's simply a necessity for Sun to make sure that people are actually able to work on OpenSolaris and they wouldn't be if they were not allowed to use the patents.

        2) I may be wrong, but from my understanding it's clear right now that
      • Re:Nice job, Sun. (Score:3, Informative)

        by tonyr60 (32153)
        "2) It is not clear what the actual scope of the licensing is and whether it will be GPL-compliant"

        Depends what GPL-Compliant means. CDDL is very similar to GPL and appears to have much the same end game - if you develop with CDDL/GPL then all derivative works must use the same license.

        However that also means that they are mutually un-compliant. Something developed under the GPL cannot be licensed under CDDL and vice-versa.
    • Re:Nice job, Sun. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Though I would readily agree that Sun has done a lot of good things for the community, releasing, or rather not releasing this patents certainly isn't one of them.

      So what did Sun do? They basicly opensource Solaris under a license that makes sure that the Solaris code can not be used in any opensource projects not under the especially created license (which is every other open source project out there) and then with a lot of noise declared that people developing for Solaris will not be sued for patent infr
    • Re:Nice job, Sun. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vile Slime (638816)
      To,

      All those who modded down the parent take note of the following:

      It's Sun's property, they can do whatever they want with their property.

      Anybody/everyone who thinks that if source code is opened for viewing that it must also be opened for use with the GPL or Tom-Dick-and-Harry's License is full of it.

      I'm sure that the powers that be at Sun would be more than happy to tell RMS to stick it you know where. Just as RMS seems to think it is his God given right to do all so often.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:18PM (#11532430)
    Last year IBM took a significant step forward in cooperation with the free software community, by offering blanket licenses for 500 of its patents to all free software developers. This does not cover all of IBM's software patents, which must number in the thousands. And there are other areas where IBM does not yet cooperate with the free software community--they have not provided the necessary information to port a free BIOS to ThinkPads, for instance, and they are still pursuing Treacherous Computing. Nonetheless, this is a real step. Recently Sun made an announcement that superficially seems similar. It said that Sun had given us "free access to Sun OpenSolaris related patents under the Common Development and Distribution License." But those words do not really make sense. The CDDL is a license for the copyright on software, not a policy for licensing patents. It applies to specific code and nothing else. (Copyright and patents have essentially nothing in common in the requirements they impose on the public.)

    So what has really happened here? Reading the announcement clearly, I think that it doesn't announce anything at all. It simply describes, in a different and grandiose way, the previously announced release of the Solaris source code as free software under Sun's idiosyncratic license, the CDDL. Outside Solaris, few or no free software packages use that license--and Sun has not said it won't sue us for implementing the same techniques in our own free software.

    Perhaps Sun will eventually give substance to its words, and make this step a real one like IBM's. Perhaps some other large companies will take similar steps. Would this make free software safe from the danger of software patents? Would the problem of software patents be solved? Not on your life. Neither one.

    We can be quite sure that not all large patent holders will do this. In fact, there is one company with lots of patents that surely won't take such a step. That is Microsoft, which says it is our enemy. Microsoft would love to make useful free software effectively illegal, and has plenty of money to pay lawyers to use whatever avenues governments provide them.

    But the danger is not only from those that specifically consider us their enemies. It also comes from patent holders that are the enemy of everyone. These are the patent parasites--companies whose sole assets are patents, and whose only business is threats. Patent parasites don't really produce anything, they only suck the blood of those who do. As regards their choice of victims, they have the scruples of a mosquito, so you're only safe if they don't think you're worth biting.

    Consider, for instance, the company founded by ex-Microsoft executive Myhrvold, which cheerfully says it is spending $350M to buy up patents (not specifically in software) so it can go around threatening and bullying everyone else. Of course, these parasites don't like to describe their activities in such terms. Much as the mafia, when it threatens to attack local businesses unless they pay, says it is charging for "protection", Myhrvold's company prefers to say it is "renting out" the patents. It expects this investment in what we could call the "patent protection racket" to pay off handsomely. For that to occur, lots of people have to get bitten.

    The danger of software patents is not limited to free software, which is why the opposition to software patents is not limited to free software developers. Everyone involved with computers, aside from the megacorporations, must expect to lose. For instance, proprietary software developers are much more likely to be the victims of patents than to have a chance to use patents for aggression. Although I don't think proprietary software is ethically legitimate, it is a fact that developers of proprietary software are in the same danger from patents, and many of them know it.

    Then think of all the software that is neither free nor proprietary: private-use software, software developed for and used by one client. Most software is pri
    • This does not cover all of IBM's software patents, which must number in the thousands.

      Missing a zero somewhere?
    • Copyright 2005 Richard Stallman
      Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved. ;)
    • FUD is a bad for both sides. Microsoft don't have any kind of history of using patents badly.
    • Since when is a copy-and-paste of the article "insightful?"

      If Sun didn't have a patent on big, heavy purple servers, I'd be whacking a moderator with one right now.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:39PM (#11532810) Homepage Journal
      I think the difference between IBM and Sun in this case is that IBM did not give us everything, but did not attempt to tell us that they were. Sun attempted to promote that they were giving more than they actually did.

      Thanks

      Bruce

  • by byolinux (535260) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:18PM (#11532434) Journal
    Basically, RMS argues that the Sun announcement offers 1600 patents for CDDL (their license for OpenSolaris) and doesn't clearly state that they are opening their portfolio to all free software licenses.

    If they do that: Great. If they don't: That's not so good, Al.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:26PM (#11532572) Homepage Journal
      You mean that Sun does not clearly state that they are not opening their portfolio to all Open Source developers. Indeed, I think they deceptively state that they are. When you read the fine print ("under the CDDL license and the OpenSolaris developer process") you only realize that they are not offering it to all Open Source projects if you understand Open Source licensing issues.

      Bruce

      • If they are, why would they not want to sing it from the rooftops?

        Specifically what licensing issues do you refer to?
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:36PM (#11532752) Homepage Journal
          If they offer it to all Open Source projects under all currently-accepted Open Source licenses, I'll sing it from the rooftops for them.

          Specifically, the grant is promoted as being to the community of Open Source developers, but its terms restrict it to software that is under a license that is unique to Solaris. The Linux developers, who use a different license, can be sued for using the same patents. And Sun attempts to tell us how charitable a community member they are for doing this. It has a deceptive flavor that sticks in the craw of many Open Source developers.

          Bruce

          • currently-accepted Open Source licenses

            Which includes the GPL, right? If that's the case, I'll see you on the rooftop.

            If they do make this a CDDL only thing, then it's a shame.. I care about Free Software.
          • They not only don't do god, they're damage to the Free Software community. Those patents are a means of sucking developers into their not-compatible-with-anything license. Code that you develop under CDDL cannot be used in anything that even links a GPLed library, and your CDDL-licensed libraries cannot be used in GPL programs. Thus, we would be better off without this "gift".
      • by starseeker (141897) on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:01PM (#11533160) Homepage
        This may not be a strictly relevant point, but I'll bring it up anyway:

        What are the odds that, of those 1,600 patents, NONE of them are violated by Linux in its current form? (I'm assuming near zero, since both Solaris and Linux are unix like operating systems. Has anybody with sufficient knowledge actually looked at the patents in question?)

        If Sun were worried about killing Linux or other open source software, I don't think they would need to resort to trying to get people to suck in their code and then sue them. In most cases they don't need to waste their time - a simple filing of a patent case, even of no merit whatsoever, is enough to torpedo most open source programs. The options are a) pay up or b) break the patent. Either one takes $$. So why try a bait and switch approach when all they need to do is swing a flyswatter?

        The Linux kernel and a few other programs might be able to mount some kind of defense, but if you want to kill the open source movement you don't need to kill the Linux kernel. You just hit the wealth of small, non-funded private projects that make Linux and friends worth using. A kernel is pretty useless by itself. Even if the big projects could survive, open source as such would still die.

        Maybe I'm blind, but I just don't see how the CDDL and the patent "release" does anything except highlight a problem that has always been there and is still there. Twenty useless, indefensible, overly broad patents could conceivably be enough to sink 10,000 open source projects in the wrong hands. And if they go after users it's The End, regardless. Maybe Sun is trying to bait a booby trap here, but I just can't see it. If Sun has those patents, they are a potential headache for Linux no matter what, if they cover things that people might want to include in the kernel. If Sun wants to be a bad guy there is nothing stopping them even without the CDDL. So the upshot is, they're exactly the same problem they were to begin with. Maybe it would be easier to prove patent violation if CDDL code were used, but if matters reach that stage for most open source projects it's already far too late.
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:48PM (#11533973) Homepage Journal
          What are the odds that, of those 1,600 patents, NONE of them are violated by Linux in its current form?

          OSRM has a list of patents they found that Linux might infringe upon. No court has ruled whether or not any of those patents are valid. My attorney can look at the list and answer some questions, but I can't look at it. If I did, it would contaminate my work on Linux and I might have to pay triple damages for knowing infringement rather than unknowing. The law is set up so that you get penalized if you look. This is just one of the many very bad things about the software patent system.

          My fear is that without a direct patent attack on Linux, Sun has no hope of making further headway with Solaris. Give the Linux folks just two years and there will be no value left to Solaris, Linux will have far overtaken it.

          Bruce

  • by kevinx (790831) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:18PM (#11532440)
    Its a TRAP!
  • Promised? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slavemowgli (585321) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:21PM (#11532488) Homepage
    What difference would it make if Sun "promised" to not sue free software projects "using" those patents? Maybe I'm wrong, but I think a mere promise wouldn't hold up in court, anyway.
    • Re:Promised? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slipstick (579587)
      Actually it would make a great deal of difference. I'm a little lazy today but if you go search google for IBM's announcement regarding their 500 patents you will see that it is given in very specific legalese that I'm quite convinced would stand up in court as a "license" to use their patents.

      So the "promise" requested from Sun isn't just a "we promise not to sue", it is a very specific request for a "use license" for the patents. Such a license can be posted on their website independent of their CDDL lic
    • Re:Promised? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aim Here (765712) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:36PM (#11532754)
      Actually, you're wrong. 'Promissory estoppel' is the legal terminology in a number of english-speaking countries for promises which DO hold up in court. There are a number of circumstances where if I say 'You can do X without me suing you' then I legally can't sue you for X.
    • Re:Promised? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Landaras (159892) <neil@[ ]neman.com ['weh' in gap]> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:44PM (#11532884) Homepage
      IANAL (yet). This is not legal advice.

      You are right in that donative promises are generally not enforceable in court. However, there is a legal doctrine called "reliance."

      Specifically, if I make an unenforcable donative promise to you, and you reasonably and foreseeably rely on that promise, the courts will step in and enforce that promise.

      The textbook example of reliance is a company that promises a worker a pension in return "for the consideration of his many years of previous service." The problem is that prior consideration (in this case the previous years of service) can not be bargained for, and we fail to have a binding contract here since consideration is offered by the company (the pension) in exchange for no consideration by the worker.

      However, due to the equitable principle of reliance, if the worker retires (which would be reasonable and foreseeable) the courts will enforce the promised pension.

      So, if Sun publicly promised to not sue open / free software projects for using their patents, you reasonably and foreseeably rely upon that promise to use their patents in a open / free software project, and Sun sued you or others for patent infringement, the courts could be reasonably expected to enforce Sun's earlier promise.

      Remember though, that Sun has not promised to not sue you for using their patents outside the CDDL, and even if they did you might have to pay a lawyer to get a court to enforce said promise.

      - Neil Wehneman
      • You are right in that donative promises are generally not enforceable in court. However, there is a legal doctrine called "reliance."

        Even more simply viewed, their "promise" would really be a license. An IP license is really nothing more than a covenant not to sue. As for mutuality of consideration, their license requires that all derivative works be released under the same license as well as contains some patent cross-licensing provisions (IIRC) which should certainly suffice as consideration. It doesn

    • Re:Promised? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:09PM (#11533319) Homepage
      If you say "I'm not going to sue you over X", and then you go ahead and do it, the judge will basically say "If you don't believe yourself, why should we?"
      -russ
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:29PM (#11532625) Homepage Journal
    What truly scares me is the lack of long-term thinking among some open source projects that I keep track of with regards to the CDDL. The best example I can give is that I was reading the forums over at the ReactOS project; and OpenSolaris was mentioned. IIRC, No-one in the entire thread (which was about using some of OS in ROS) mentioned the patent angle...and given that ROS could easily be shut down over it, that omission alarmed me.

    OpenSolaris (Or any CDDL project) is a torpedo waiting to sink any GPL project whose members happen to think about looking at CDDL code.

    RMS is right on this, and he should be; he crafted the GPL during the days when reading AT&T code carried similar considerations.
  • Sun (the celestial body) rises in the east, and sets in the west.
  • He is right... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ThinkTiM (532164)
    software patents are the major threat to anyone in the software business who doesn't have a 7 figure bank account. And he is not allowing any distracting moves (such as open-sourcing Solaris) to change his fight against them.

    What is the point of open-sourcing Solaris (read free as in freedom) if we can't be sure of using the code that has been "opened" to further the open-source movement? Sun must open its software patents in order to do this.
  • uh-oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by revery (456516) <charles@cac 2 . n et> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:33PM (#11532696) Homepage
    RMS takes Sun to task...

    Later on, he gave IBM a stern talking to, and then towards the end of the article, he gave Microsoft a vigorous tongue lashing. Also, mosquitos, as a species, were maligned.

    Seriously guys, the trash talk is getting embarrassing...

  • by wombatmobile (623057) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:33PM (#11532708)

    Somewhat similarly, Sun honcho Jonathon Schwartz posts these comments about IBM's patent assignments to the OSS movement in his blog [sun.com]:

    ps. You've got to love IBM's ability to play the community. Going through some of the patents they "donated" to the open source community a few weeks back, it looks as if they all, curiously, seem to be due for payment - and thus potential expiration - this year. Were they destined for the bit bucket (turns out IBM is among the largest patent expirers in the world, along with its largest issuer).

    And some of the patents have nothing to do with open source software - my favorite in the heap is this one [uspto.gov].

  • by wheelbarrow (811145) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:34PM (#11532725)
    I have no problem with the world according to Richard Stallman as long as compliance is voluntary.

    As a software creator I am free to choose to release the software for free and I am free to demand payment for my software. On the other side of the coin, consumers are free to accept my terms or not.

    Oh wait, we already live in that world. So what is his beef with people making decisions for themselves?
    • Free Software, in the GPL/FSF/Stallman sense is not about price at all. You should make money from your software, you should sell it- just allow people to study and modify it, redistribute and distribute it too.

      What is the software you are creating? Software like Adobe Photoshop, or custom software for internal use/a client?

      Don't forget - the FSF sells Free Software too. It helps them survive. [fsf.org]
    • Obviously you didn't RTFA. He's not having a go at Sun because of their CDDL license, he's having a go at Sun because they're threatening F/OSS developers with patents (and spinning that they're good guys because they're not going after the Solaris developer base with those patents).

      This isn't about what Sun does with it's software. It's about Sun threatening to charge you royalties for YOUR software, that you wrote yourself, on your own, with no help from them. See the difference?
  • Any chance for any news involving RMS not to include the word "blasts" in the header? Seems he does not have any other opinion expression mode. :)

    Those are Sun's patents.

    • Those are Sun's patents.

      I agree with you, however, if Sun had not made their original announcement, RMS wouldn't currently be "blasting" them about it.

      I'm tired of the mega-corporations spouting deceptive legalese and press releases in order to gain the respect of hippy, freedom loving FOSS advocates and developers. Don't these corporations know that they're not fooling anybody? Why bother?
  • by john_anderson_ii (786633) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:37PM (#11532779)
    Unfortunately I see it as a gimmick.

    Let's look at Sun's Open Source strategy:
    You can take OpenSolaris source code and modify it. You cannot take OpenSolaris patented concepts and place them into other works OSS or otherwise. If things pan out for Sun that means they will have a large developer base dumping code into Solaris, which will make Solaris better and more competitive. Sun basically just improved Solaris with no R&D by leveraging the OSS community. It appears, as of now, that Sun is in this for free skilled labor and nothing else. They are trying to have their cake (revenues from Solaris) and eat it to (no competing products resulting from Open Solaris concepts because of patent issues). The open code without the freedom from patents is like saying "Hey, developers, help me make a buck off this OS by contributing your code for free."

    It doesn't take a zealot or a great deal of common sense to notice this. I say let Sun do it, and when they don't attract the huge developer base they hoped to attract maybe they will rethink their OSS approach.
  • ...that every post criticizing RMS thus far has been modded as Troll or Flamebait? Every Single One?

    Some of them are trolls, but come on...is RMS a sacred cow now?
    • But you said it yourself, all the posts which was modded as trolls where critizing RMS, not his viewpoints. In case you are unsure about the difference. A trolling post is 'RMS is a dufus' while a constructive criticism is 'I disagree with RMS on the point that the GPL is a good license'. See the difference?
    • Criticising a person should be marked as flamebait, criticising his stance if stated in reasonable language will be given appropriate moderation.

      So if you can point to one of the posts that actually makes a good criticism about RMS's article rather than the man himself I'd like to see it.
  • Sun is sitting on a bunch of patents that they are not using for anything. Kudos to them that they want to see them taken somewhere by somebody. When was the last time you gave somebody a computer that cost you bucks back in the day but is now a door stop?
  • by ignorant_newbie (104175) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:52PM (#11533015) Homepage
    It's easy to ignore what he says, because he's obviously nuts. But, attacking the speaker instead of the argument is a logical fallacy ( ad hominum ).

    Often, he's right about things, and this is one of them. Sun is a hardware company, not a software company. they're trying to get the foss community do their software maintenance for them, so they can continue to sell their hardware. They're not, in this case, particapating as equal partners with the foss community ( any more than apple is ), they just want our help with their code.
    • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:09PM (#11533328) Homepage Journal
      It's easy to ignore what he says, because he's obviously nuts. ...

      Often, he's right about things, and this is one of them.

      I'd say that he's obviously nuts, in the sense that Martin Luther King was obviously nuts: they both have a single issue that they care passionately about, to the exclusion of all other considerations.

      Both were/are right. Both were personally offensive enough that some people are still unwilling to forgive them, or accept their positions.

      Today, we know that, however offensive MLK and his followers may have been, the Dream in his ``I have a Dream'' speech was worthwhile. There are still way too many people who've never forgiven MLK for being unpopular, and for proving them wrong in their racism.

      As time passes, it becomes more and more clear that RMS is dead on in most of his positions, and the people who say otherwise are beginning to open themselves up to comparisons with MLK's detractors, who are generally a nasty bunch.

  • by the-build-chicken (644253) on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:02PM (#11533169)
    ...for your open source contributions that help him undercut your wage.

    IBM understands it...you're not winning a war by IBM playing 'nice' with the opensource community. A company will do whatever is profitable. At the moment, IBM get's free code and great PR out of a few token gestures. They they outsource any actual development work to [insert current outsource country here] which use your freely given code to lower their development costs. RMS argues that there is enough money to be made in the service markets to sustain your wages...well, guess what...IBM has been making a pretty spectacular play for that service market for quite some time now...and it's taking your freely given software and using it to increase it's market penetration. Do you really think that 'small developer X' will be able to compete with IBM in the service market? But it's ok, RMS will be safe because he can always make a living on the tour circuit.

    Brilliant strategy guys, see you in the soup kitchen line.
    • by Ur@eus (148802) on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:19PM (#11533534) Homepage
      Anything else you want to blame on open source while your at it? World hunger? The asian tsunami? Religious bigotry?

      Face it, the vast majority indian software developers are doing proprietary software development for US companies, not offering solutions based on open source software. The open source vs properietary software debate has very little to do with outsourcing.

      That said outsourcing is not the big bad thing you like to paint it as. Economic growth in Asia hurts America as little as economic growth in Europe after WW2 did, in other words it do not hurt at all, in fact it a positive contribution.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:07PM (#11533280)
    There it goes...I have been saying it all along. Sun has always been untrustworthy. Take NFS for example. Didn't they do that dirty trick of relasing the NFS specs only to sue everybody else that implemented the protocol? Or what about StarDivision? They bought out that poor company only to distribute its product under the dubious OpenOffice guise. And what about the dirty money they have dumped into Gnome and X.Org? Yet another trick to infiltrate the opensource community with patent ridden software! But with this disgusting CDDL (which was approved by that evil OSI -- obviously they got kickbacks) the cup has runeth over. It is clear that Sun is trying to infiltrate the open source community with their evil patents as they have done dozens of times before. So, I propose:

    1)Everybody stop using NFS. If it comes from Sun, it can't be good.
    2)Dump OpenOffice now! It is just another trojan horse of theirs.
    3)Dump GNOME! Besides, when there is KDE, who needs it?
    4)Dump X.Org. It has been touched by evil. Can't be too carefull with these matters.
    5)Do not write applications using Java. Java is evil. There are god knows how many of these no-good Sun patents in there. Sun can pull the carpet under your feet at any time.
    6)Burn every machine that has this dispicable Sun logo on it. It may infect your trustworthy intel and ibm servers which have served you so well in the past.

  • by starseeker (141897) on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:22PM (#11533585) Homepage
    Mr. Stallman doesn't seem upset with Sun so much as with the whole problem of software patents (which is a much more sensible position.)

    Let me say it again for those who won't read the article - IT DOESN'T MATTER whether or not Sun releases these patents. ANYBODY with a patent and no sense of ethics can do incalcuable damage to the free software movement. Even if sun broadened it's release to include all open source licenses, 1,600 is just a few leaves in a forest. And personally I wouldn't consider Sun's hands to be the most dangerous. Suppose Microsoft hires itself a few proxies with big patent portfoilos to sue every small to medium size open source project they can find, and all users they can track down? Sun's patent release doesn't do ANYTHING about that problem, and that is the real problem here.

    Sun is unlikely to do anything so rash - they don't dominate the market and can't affort to become the next SCO in public relations. Microsoft can, and it can even more so afford for hired flunkie companies to be reviled.

    Patents are far and away the most dangerous threat to open source software. But, to be a bit fatalistic, I think if the large corporations get serious about killing open source, nothing will save it. If nothing else, they could try to buy some laws making giving away software for free illegal, because it is unfair competition. The biggest problem with enemies is that they are your enemy. They will not stop until you are dead, and how you die is of no importance. The specifics don't matter - the fact someone wants you dead is enough to seal your fate unless you can either change their minds or force them to back off. I don't know how open source can do either, at least in the US, where money is everything.

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