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European Commission Support of FRAND Licenses Hurts Open Standards 137

Posted by timothy
from the but-it-felt-so-fair-and-reasonable dept.
jrepin writes "While the UK has seen the light, the EU has actually gone backwards on open standards in recent times. The original European Interoperability Framework required royalty-free licensing, but what was doubtless a pretty intense wave of lobbying in Brussels overturned that, and EIF v2 ended up pushing FRAND, which effectively locks out open source — the whole point of the exercise. Shamefully, some parts of the European Commission are still attacking open source."
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European Commission Support of FRAND Licenses Hurts Open Standards

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @12:33PM (#42442061)

    Many European citizens still think Europe will bring more democracy but it mostly brings more power to corporate lobbies.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @12:46PM (#42442137)

      That's often true, but on the other hand, look at something like ACTA, where national governments were lining up to back the Big Media position, and it basically died because of a European-level grass-roots campaign.

      Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way of knowing which level(s) of government will actually side with their people and which will side with their corporate sponsors these days, particularly with all the conveniently indirectly elected "representatives" throughout the system now.

    • Many European citizens [whom?] still think Europe will bring more democracy [citation needed]

    • by r1348 (2567295)

      That will last til we pretend that the European Commission is a "technical" institution and, as such, doesn't need to be voted.

      • by Freultwah (739055) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:47PM (#42444999) Homepage

        The Commission *is* a technical institution. Its business is to draw up legislation based on general principles and guidelines agreed upon in the European Council (consisting of democratically elected heads of state). Said legislation is usually amended or shot down in either the Council of the European Union (consisting of democratically elected ministers from member states) or the European Parliament (consisting of democratically elected representatives from member states), the latter of which has a final say. It is a damn shame that the European people do not realise how much power the Parliament really has and therefore do not participate at its election nearly as enthusiastically as they should, participation hovering around the 30% mark and if you ask me, such detachment from the matters of the continent is borderline autistic.

        The Commission does not decide anything. All it can do in that regard is present its case well enough in front of the Council of the EU and the EP. All those controversial EU regulations that domestic governments sell their people as coming from the Commission (‘and sorry, there's nothing we can do, Barroso told us to stick our heads in the oven’) have actually been then ratified by the governments themselves and by consensus, often because they would not dare pass such legislation at home because it would render them unelectable for quite some time. And most of them have also been called into life by the same local elected officials.

        I realise that there is no direct counterpart for the Commission in any of the member states for a direct comparison, but I liken them to the technical and unelected staff at the ministries who nowadays provide most of the legislation in most countries according to the guidelines from elected officials. You don't elect all the administrators and the various specialists and the lawyers who work at ministries. Likewise, you don't elect the Commission. It should remain an independent technical tool to provide legislative proposals that the elected officials could then shoot down if necessary.

        • by Kergan (780543)

          It is a damn shame that the European people do not realise how much power the Parliament really has and therefore do not participate at its election nearly as enthusiastically as they should, participation hovering around the 30% mark and if you ask me, such detachment from the matters of the continent is borderline autistic.

          +1. It is, though note that there's an interesting side effect: minority groups such as ecologists, extreme right- and left-wing groups, and regionalist or independentist groups (e.g. the UKIP and their ever-so-colorful Nigel Farage) have a lot more clout at the EP than they typically do in national parliaments. They're under-represented at the national level; they're over-represented at the EU level. For better or worse, they end up having a say on things that they otherwise wouldn't. In a sort-of weird ma

        • by manu0601 (2221348)

          The Commission does not decide anything.

          Did you heard about latest EU treaties and directives? The commission now validates budgets that member states are allowed to present to their parliaments. They do decide things.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Many European citizens still think Europe will bring more democracy

      Can you point at a single citizen that still thinks this way? Oh, sorry, I misread. You wrote "will", as in, perhaps one day in the future... Yeah, maybe there's still some people with hope, but I believe the number of such people is getting smaller and smaller.

      Seriously, Europe is all but about democracy. In fact, it has stolen democracy from once sovereign states. And when the people vote no for Europe, it still goes forward with more Europe. What's even more sad, is that despite people's discontent, in

    • by Kergan (780543) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:48PM (#42443813)

      Methinks you've no idea of what you're talking about. Only the most uninformed American, British and Continental European could possibly have anything to say about EU democracy -- and that would be if, and only if, they followed Anglo-Saxon news.

      Get real. Seriously.

      The parliament is elected in very much the same way as the US congress is. The EC officials are suggested by elected heads of state, and must be approved by the EU parliament [wikipedia.org].

      When new directives and regulations are in the pipe, the entire process is entirely transparent. They publish pretty much everything they do in no less than 23 languages. Consider that for a moment. 23 languages. If you've got anything to say about whatever the EC and the EP are working on, you merely need to read up and participate. And you can. And some do. At all levels. It's grass-root stuff, really. And grass-root movements actually get their way every now and then (e.g. ACTA), contrary to what occurs in the US congress.

      The EU's key issue, if any, is this: When local parliaments transcribe a directive into local law that relates to improving air quality, they'll readily take credit for it. But when heads of States agree to pass a tough but much needed reform as an EU treaty, directive or regulation, they'll instantly blame the EU for it.

      A case in point would be France's latest president, Hollande. He campaigned saying he'd renegotiate the stability pact. Anyone with an ounce of clue knew that he was full of shit. But even his key opponent, Sarkozy, didn't call him out on it, because the EU is far too convenient a scapegoat to lay bare. Hollande went on to lick Merkel's feet and promptly enact the actual treaty. And he'll need it, to pass further legislation down the road to axe the public sector. Want you to bet that he won't place part or all of the blame on the stability pact when he does?

      Its other key issue would be the UK press' Euro-skepticism at large. Which, I assume, is your main source of information -- directly or not.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      FRAND is still much better than what national governments have.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        FRAND is bullshit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_and_non-discriminatory_licensing [wikipedia.org]. Lawyers will have a field day in spending millions upon millions of dollars ramping up as high as possible exactly what Fair, Reasonable, and non-Discriminatory terms really actually means. In transactions totalling trillions of dollars is it not reasonable to demand say just one thousand dollars to access what cost billions of dollars to develop.

        So just M$ et al working to corrupt one countries elected representa

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          I didn't say it was good, but a bad standard is still better than no standards at all. Interoperability is a result in itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @12:44PM (#42442129)

    Whats the betting that the rich closed source US software venders that managed to secretly get this through
    pay either no tax or just a gesture contribution like starbucks etc yet somehow sell billions of pounds/euros/dollors worth
    of mostly crap software into the EU, So sell here then pay tax here!, As for patents on software in general these MUST
    be abolished either completly OR have a very short life say 2 years with no extensions.
    As for copyrights thats another area that desperatly needs to be re-thought.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @12:58PM (#42442203) Homepage

    According to the article, there are [still] no software patents in the EU. So theoretically, any FRAND claims of software patents should be ignored. Of course, software patent holders never say "these are software patents." They just say "patents." It'll be interesting how initial claims of this sort will work out.

    • by zzyzyx (1382375)

      Well, you know the drill. Software patents are not legally allowed but this doesn't stop the European patent office from issuing them. And having a patent invalidated is a long and expensive judiciary process.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The author starts with the assertion that because he saw the promos for the workshop "only" weeks beforehand, it was therefore a secret plot :
    ... organise something in the shadows, so that the open source world would be caught hopping. The fact that I only heard about it a few weeks beforehand ... shows how quiet the Commission kept about this. This secrecy ..."

    He knew about weeks ahead of time, yet claims a shadowy plot to keep the workshop secret, then his logic only gets worse from there. Triple tinfoi

  • If FRAND patents exclude OSS, then there's something wrong with OSS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FRAND patents include per-unit license fees.
      How do you pay those on a product you want freely copied by as many people as possible?

      • FRAND patents include per-unit license fees.
        How do you pay those on a product you want freely copied by as many people as possible?

        Let me introduce you to my friends the Arabs and a little something they've cooked up called "zero".

        If per-unit license fees are zero why do you need to pay anyone?

        • by Microlith (54737)

          Were you trying to make a point here?

          If per-unit license fees are zero why do you need to pay anyone?

          And if the per-unit license fees are non-zero, who pays for the patent license? Who gets sued by the patent holder?

          • by RCL (891376)
            GPL doesn't mean you have to make software available for free to everyone. You just sell it with sources included, if your clients decide to redistribute without paying fees, they will get sued by original patent holder.
            • by Microlith (54737)

              GPL doesn't mean you have to make software available for free to everyone.

              Correct.

              You just sell it with sources included, if your clients decide to redistribute without paying fees, they will get sued by original patent holder.

              The FSF thought of this abuse and made sure that doing so would be a violation of the GPL. You can't redistribute in that situation.

              Arguments from ignorance are so wonderful.

              • by RCL (891376)
                Yeah, someone pointed that already to me. Hmm... GPL is contradictory then, as you can sell your copies of the program, but cannot prevent anyone from re-selling them at lower price. Essentially, it's never "free as in speech", it's always "free as free beer" ;/
                • by Microlith (54737)

                  GPL is contradictory then

                  No it isn't. The GPL is entirely consistent.

                  you can sell your copies of the program, but cannot prevent anyone from re-selling them at lower price.

                  Capitalism at its finest, right? The cost of the product itself drops to zero and vendors have to compete on other things.

                  Essentially, it's never "free as in speech", it's always "free as free beer" ;/

                  It is always "free as in speech." That just happens to bring the "free as in beer" part along with it. This is why many FOSS developers fin

                  • by RCL (891376)

                    GPL is contradictory then

                    No it isn't. The GPL is entirely consistent.

                    I was under impression that it tried not to imply "free as in beer" and clearly separate the concept. Probably was wrong on that account.

                    you can sell your copies of the program, but cannot prevent anyone from re-selling them at lower price.

                    Capitalism at its finest, right? The cost of the product itself drops to zero and vendors have to compete on other things.

                    Well, that is essentially to say that there's no value in producing the software. I strongly disagree with this: not everyone is able to program, and from those who can, not everyone has enough discipline to produce an usable result; thus software price cannot drop to zero in nowaday's world (maybe in future, when everyone becomes a programmer...).
                    The issue seems to be c

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      I was under impression that it tried not to imply "free as in beer" and clearly separate the concept. Probably was wrong on that account.

                      It dismisses the notion that you can't sell GPL'd software, but does not go into detail as to how. That's not its scope.

                      that is essentially to say that there's no value in producing the software.

                      No. There's value in producing it. My time and expertise are worth a pretty penny.

                      not everyone is able to program, and from those who can, not everyone has enough discipline to pro

                    • by RCL (891376)

                      you can sell your copies of the program, but cannot prevent anyone from re-selling them at lower price.

                      Capitalism at its finest, right? The cost of the product itself drops to zero and vendors have to compete on other things.

                      that is essentially to say that there's no value in producing the software.

                      No. There's value in producing it. My time and expertise are worth a pretty penny.

                      I don't follow. The ability of people to program has no connection to any per-copy licensing schemes.

                      If something has 0 price, it has no value. If you cannot prevent redistribution of your program with zero price that means that you aren't selling the software. You may sell subscriptions to your server where you run some essential part of the software that you don't redistribute, you may sell consulting services on how to use your software better, support, advertisements etc - but still, you aren't selling the software itself. That means that your programming time and expertise aren't getting rewarded, the

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      If you cannot prevent redistribution of your program with zero price that means that you aren't selling the software.

                      Possibly. If I sell a program + source under the GPL to someone who isn't technically adept, I've still complied. Of course, if it's widely distributed, then perhaps my earning potential is more in my skills rather than per-copy license fees.

                      You may sell subscriptions to your server where you run some essential part of the software that you don't redistribute

                      Which is what led to the Affero

                    • by RCL (891376)

                      If you cannot prevent redistribution of your program with zero price that means that you aren't selling the software.

                      Possibly. If I sell a program + source under the GPL to someone who isn't technically adept, I've still complied. Of course, if it's widely distributed, then perhaps my earning potential is more in my skills rather than per-copy license fees.

                      If your program is widely popular, it means that people see value in it. How you, a "value provider", can extract reasonable reward without basing your price on some metric related to its actual usage (be it per-copy license or per-CPU, or per-unit-of-time etc)? Remember, that even if you personally don't care, there will be someone who will care, will extract that income and force you out of business (e.g. using lobbying as illustrated by this article).

                      you may sell consulting services on how to use your software better, support, advertisements etc - but still, you aren't selling the software itself.

                      The whole dynamic has changed. Instead of seeing this as a flaw, see it as a shift in the market. Proprietary software developers, of course, oppose this.

                      Has it? So far it looks like FOSS world takes a loss a

                    • by RCL (891376)
                      So what's your business plan for a software like Photoshop? People aren't keen on paying large pre-order prices, and you cannot sell just a "first copy" otherwise.

                      BTW, it's not about "selling copies" at all, that's a wrong way to think about selling the software. What is ultimately wanted is to tie the reward to actual value provided. Thus, it would be probably more fair to sell run time so someone who uses software a lot also pays more than someone who just installed it once and then forgot about it - th
    • by Microlith (54737)

      No, there's nothing wrong with F/OSS software. FRAND is simply incompatible with F/OSS due to its nature of burdening arbitrary "methods" with monetary fees.

      • Open Source doesn't imply no fees.

        Is the truth that OSS is all about getting something for nothing?

        • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:11PM (#42442733)

          Open Source doesn't imply no fees.

          Imposing mandatory royalties on standards makes it impossible to comply with the standard in FOSS projects. You end up with patent holders capable of dictating who can and cannot use the software. That defeats the purpose of FOSS, particularly the stuff that falls under licenses like the GPLv2 and GPLv3.

          Is the truth that OSS is all about getting something for nothing?

          This is you simply being a troll. Stick to white knighting for Apple.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BasilBrush (643681)

            Imposing mandatory royalties on standards makes it impossible to comply with the standard in FOSS projects. You end up with patent holders capable of dictating who can and cannot use the software.

            That's incorrect. The ND of FRAND is for non-discriminatory. Everyone can use it, so long as they pay.

            Again there is nothing intrinsic to open source that means no cost. If the OSS community has munged those two dissimilar things together, then that's how it's broken.

            This is you simply being a troll.

            No, it's me pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

            • by Microlith (54737)

              Everyone can use it, so long as they pay.

              So for a program covered by the GPLv3, who pays? The developer? The person who redistributes it? The end user?

              there is nothing intrinsic to open source that means no cost.

              FRAND on software (and software patents in general) imposes costs that are little more than rent-seeking, and impinge upon the ability to redistribute as many legal landmines are laid regarding who would be in violation of the patent license once distributed.

              • So for a program covered by the GPLv3, who pays? The developer? The person who redistributes it? The end user?

                So your saying there's a problem with GPL v3. So blame RMS.

                FRAND on software (and software patents in general) imposes costs that are little more than rent-seeking

                Landlords are entitled to collect rent. Patent holders are entitled to collect royalties. If the OSS can't cope with that reality, then again it's the fault of the person(s) who wrote the license so many OSS projects use.

                Either that or the whole concept of OSS is broken.

                • by Microlith (54737)

                  So your saying there's a problem with GPL v3. So blame RMS.

                  The only way there could be a "problem" with the GPLv3 (or GPLv2) is that you can freely redistribute it and cannot impose additional costs on those who receive it from you. But what happens if they redistribute it? Who pays? How do you track the number of distributed copies and pay?

                  Landlords are entitled to collect rent.

                  It's a poor phrase, unfortunately. Software patents are nothing like actually collecting rent because they provide no utility to t

                  • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

                    by BasilBrush (643681)

                    Who pays? How do you track the number of distributed copies and pay?

                    Perhaps that's what the FSF should be working out, instead of pushing GPL v3.

                    Software patents are nothing like actually collecting rent because they provide no utility to the one paying.

                    I often chuckle when people justify torrenting movies on the basis that Hollywood movies are so bad these days it's not worth paying for them. The irony that if they were so bad, why are they downloading seem lost on them.

                    Likewise, if the patented idea has no utility, then don't use it. If it does then pay for it.

                    If you're Microsoft, Apple, or a proprietary software vendor of any, or a holder of software patents, then yes Open Source and Free Software are "broken" to you.

                    I'm a proprietary software developer. More to the point, I believe that when people labour towards something that is con

                    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:12PM (#42443461)

                      Perhaps that's what the FSF should be working out, instead of pushing GPL v3.

                      Why should the FSF spend its time working out how to co-exist with something that they object to?

                      I often chuckle when people justify torrenting movies on the basis that Hollywood movies are so bad these days it's not worth paying for them.

                      Ok so opposition to software patents == piracy now?

                      if the patented idea has no utility, then don't use it. If it does then pay for it.

                      This makes the assumption that the patent is valid and actually provides use. Never mind all the crap patents used by patent trolls, ones that get invalidated after long court battles. Never mind patents that are violated without even being aware of it.

                      Putting patent "methods" into standards is something good exclusively for proprietary software vendors as a way to exclude FOSS solutions.

                      I'm a proprietary software developer.

                      And, quite obviously, opposed to Free Software. It's pretty obvious.

                      I believe that when people labour towards something that is consumed by others, they should be paid.

                      You also are defending the status quo. Unsurprisingly, there are people who disagree with it.

                      I don't understand why people here are so desperate to devalue computer programmers so their work is worth nothing.

                      That's not at all what is happening here. This is you trying to paint FOSS developers in a bad light and stump for the pro-patent status quo.

                    • I believe that when people labour towards something that is consumed by others, they should be paid.

                      You also are defending the status quo. Unsurprisingly, there are people who disagree with it.

                      Clearly not people that need work to put food on the table.

                      That's not at all what is happening here.

                      Really and truly, it is.

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      The complete and utter dishonesty in your argument is astounding.

                      Clearly not people that need work to put food on the table.

                      Don't worry, you still have copyright. You can also earn money in ways other than per-unit licensing.

                      Really and truly, it is.

                      No, it's you waging a war against Open Source Software of all kinds.

                    • by RCL (891376)

                      I believe that when people labour towards something that is consumed by others, they should be paid.

                      You also are defending the status quo. Unsurprisingly, there are people who disagree with it.

                      The status quo reflects a natural phenomenon: the inequality among people. The creators constitute a tiny part of the population [nngroup.com].

                      The ideas behind FOSS should not be understood as an attempt to change that rule, or it will end up in a catastrophic failure like communism, where it was also assumed that everyone wants to work [wikipedia.org] (which turned up not being the case in practice, most people prefer not to work if there's a possibility).

                      So, FOSS should somehow recognize the observed inequality and should find a w

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      FOSS should somehow recognize the observed inequality and should find a way to proportionally reward the 1% of creators.

                      What, by acquiescing to the demands of patent holders (who aren't necessarily the people who created them)? Your argument makes no sense, unfortunately.

                    • by RCL (891376)
                      Well, there are two arguments:

                      1) FOSS not rewarding "creative 1%" proportionally.
                      2) Whether patent authors should be rewarded at all.


                      I think #1 is self-evident, as there are few GPL software authors (be them individuals or corporations) who accrued significant wealth by selling their GPL'd software.

                      Regarding #2: as I said in other posts, I cannot generalize here. I know personally two people who applied and were granted a patent, both work in rather successful, but not omni-potent companies (gamedev
                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      1. FOSS not rewarding "creative 1%" proportionally.

                      But who are the creative 1%? are they not the people who created the FOSS in the first place? How are they not being rewarded?

                      I think #1 is self-evident, as there are few GPL software authors (be them individuals or corporations) who accrued significant wealth by selling their GPL'd software.

                      What is "significant wealth?" What about having a good job that pays decent wages and benefits, making money not off licensing the software but making the software fill

                    • by RCL (891376)

                      But who are the creative 1%? are they not the people who created the FOSS in the first place? How are they not being rewarded?

                      What is "significant wealth?" What about having a good job that pays decent wages and benefits, making money not off licensing the software but making the software fill a role, capitalizing on one's expertise? There are a great many who work on the Linux kernel doing this, among other FOSS projects.

                      I think that 1% is defined separately for each area. E.g. in game development business, 1% is the game developers themselves + people around them (publishers, etc). All the above hardly number a thousand for any specific game, whereas the games are usually sold in at least hundreds of thousands (and this is considered failure nowadays), often millions of copies.

                      In FOSS world, 10% are probably the people who ever committed any single change to the project's repository and 1% are the project's real authors.

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      I think that 1% is defined separately for each area. E.g. in game development business, 1% is the game developers themselves + people around them (publishers, etc). All the above hardly number a thousand for any specific game, whereas the games are usually sold in at least hundreds of thousands (and this is considered failure nowadays), often millions of copies.

                      So that 1% is pretty much "out of thin air."

                      In FOSS world, 10% are probably the people who ever committed any single change to the project's reposit

                    • by RCL (891376)

                      So that 1% is pretty much "out of thin air."

                      How so? I did not mean that there are 1% of people, super creative in all areas. 1-10-90 rule applies to each activity separately. You have 1% of creators in movie industry (and billions of "consumers"), you have 1% of active committers in any given FOSS project, etc. That's because people are seemingly not equal to each other and in any given activity the majority is passive.

                      However, the problem of compensating that 1% fairly (i.e. according to the value they provide to masses) still stands. And Free Sof

                    • by Rozzin (9910)

                      A license that does not offer a rewarding development model is an invitation for corporations to come in and exploit the developers.

                      Out of curiosity, and since it helps to establish whether your arguments actually have any grounding in actual experience: what do you do for a living, what's your method of compensation, and what is your yearly income?

                    • by RCL (891376)
                      I am a video game programmer, salaried, several years of experience in gamedev and more than ten in total, won't comment publicly on the income, but I consider it good for my current country. Feel free to drop me a mail if you want more details.
                    • There's no dishonesty. Just a different opinion. Is the only acceptable opinion the one you have?

                  • Software patents are nothing like actually collecting rent because they provide no utility to the one paying.

                    If it has no utility for you, you wouldn't license it and wouldn't be missing out on anything, right? Of course there's some benefit being conveyed to the licensee (user). Specifically, the useful result of someone's research and development efforts. If it weren't beneficial, you'd have no interest in it and not care if it were patented or not.
                    The problem isn't that things patented aren't useful, the problem is that inter-operability standards should avoid patented methods so that implementations can

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      Where'd all the pro-software-patent types come from?

                      If it has no utility for you, you wouldn't license it and wouldn't be missing out on anything

                      What if I infringed on the patent without realizing it? What if the patent is part of a critical standard? What if, a few years down the line and millions of dollars later, the patent is invalidated? What have we gained, except to make some lawyers richer?

                      there's some benefit being conveyed to the licensee (user). Specifically, the useful result of someone's resear

                    • by RCL (891376)

                      Where'd all the pro-software-patent types come from?

                      Apparently Slashdot started to be visited by people who live off of creating software, i.e. professional software developers. Myself being one, I'm divided in patents case: when I think about it from "weekend programmer"'s point of view, the patents are certainly bad. When I think from my professional point of view, they are a mixed bag: sometimes we have to give up certain tech to avoid unnecessary payments, sometimes we license, sometimes we benefit from what few patents we have...

                      I wouldn't call patent

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      Apparently Slashdot started to be visited by people who live off of creating software, i.e. professional software developers.

                      Being a "professional software developer" does not require unwavering support for software patents. I do find it amusing that the whole "free software developers are amateur, unprofessional developers" lie is leaking into Slashdot.

                      When I think from my professional point of view, they are a mixed bag: sometimes we have to give up certain tech to avoid unnecessary payments, sometimes we

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      Your zealotry far outweighs anything posted by the other commenters thus far.

                      Zealotry? I'm opinionated, not a zealot.

                      Not to mention that you have a habit of attacking the person instead of their arguments.

                      I attack their arguments, then point out they're a tool.

                      You need to cool off.

                      By which you mean, "stop disagreeing with the pro-software-patent postings," right?

                    • You mentioned EOLAS as a patent that I guess you think covers something with no utility. Clearly most people think browser plugins have utility. The problem with the EOLAS patent wasn't that plugins aren't useful. The problem was that they sat on their "rights" for years, then launched a sneak attack. In the landlord-tenant analogy several types of estoppel would have prevented that. You're probably familiar with "squatters rights". In that case, Microsoft was the squatter on EOLAS claimed property. Perh
              • by Rockoon (1252108)

                So for a program covered by the GPLv3, who pays? The developer? The person who redistributes it? The end user?

                At least one of the above.

                This is really not that complicated.

                • by Microlith (54737)

                  If it's any of them you're still opening up a massive can of worms and burdening the use/redistribution of the program for no other reason than to pay leeches.

                  • by Rockoon (1252108)
                    Its not me opening up that can of worms... its the insistence on a license and distribution model that cannot easily handle various real burdens which creates the can of worms out of thin air.
                    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:37PM (#42443719)

                      its the insistence on a license and distribution model that cannot easily handle various real burdens which creates the can of worms out of thin air.

                      Artificial burdens. At this point software patents don't exist in the EU and hopefully they never will. Of course, if you think that insisting upon the distribution model the GPL (or any FOSS license) allows is a flaw, then you're pretty much anti-FOSS and should just admit it.

                    • by Rockoon (1252108)

                      if you think that insisting upon the distribution model the GPL (or any FOSS license) allows is a flaw, then you're pretty much anti-FOSS and should just admit it.

                      My distaste for the GPL is because its not FOSS.

                      GPL is not free. BSD is free.

                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      My distaste for the GPL is because its not FOSS.

                      Your distaste for the GPL is arbitrary.

                      GPL is not free. BSD is free.

                      Let me guess, you're a proprietary software developer that copies liberally from BSD projects.

                    • by RCL (891376)
                      I'm not the GP, but decided to chime in. I'm not anti-FOSS, although I like BSD more than GPL. However, neither of those licenses forbids you to sell the software. What's wrong in selling a GPL'd program? That way you can pay for per-unit costs. Whoever decides to redistribute must also include the said costs (IIRC, GPL includes provision for distribution costs) or they may get sued by the original patent authors - it's up to them. Looks fair and GPL-compliant to me.

                      P.S. Calling people "leeches" is not a
                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      I'm not anti-FOSS, although I like BSD more than GPL.

                      You sound anti-FOSS.

                      What's wrong in selling a GPL'd program? That way you can pay for per-unit costs.

                      But what if you don't sell it? What about people who download the sources from you and then redistribute it?

                      Looks fair and GPL-compliant to me.

                      It's not. It's a GPL violation.

                      Calling people "leeches" is not a good way to negotiate.

                      So patent trolls who sue to extract licensing fees aren't leeches? How do they contribute to the industry in any way? Well, you

                    • by RCL (891376)
                      Hi! :)

                      I think GNU has internal logic, and it's precisely blind following of this logic that makes GNU folks so unforgiving and uncooperative. This discussion helped me to realize what their point is: The speech is only free (as in freedom) if IP used in it has zero price. That's actually pretty close to "intellectual" communism. While I see the logic in their statement (if someone declared certain topics - like, govt actions - a valuable IP and started to issue licenses for talking about them publicly, th
              • by RCL (891376)
                Every time you decide to redistribute GPL program that you bought or obtained from someone who paid for patent license you need to include per-unit costs in your price (and pay it to a patent owner). If the said per-unit cost was non-zero, you cannot redistribute the program for free, but actually GPL does not mandate you to redistribute software for free; it allows to include whatever costs you take for redistributing it (this time it means patent costs).
                • by Kjella (173770)

                  Every time you decide to redistribute GPL program that you bought or obtained from someone who paid for patent license you need to include per-unit costs in your price (and pay it to a patent owner). If the said per-unit cost was non-zero, you cannot redistribute the program for free, but actually GPL does not mandate you to redistribute software for free; it allows to include whatever costs you take for redistributing it (this time it means patent costs).

                  Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is actually spelled out quite clearly even back in the GPLv2:

                  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 Program.

                  Directly or indirectly basically means it is your responsibility to license the whole downstream for a potentially infinite number of copies. Since no patent owner is going to give you such a license - it's basically permission for everyone, anywhere to use their patent - you can't distribute the software at all. This in intentional so that patent owners can't use their patent to "sell" copies of GPL code.

                  • by RCL (891376)
                    Thanks for correction, never read it carefully. Well, that part of GPL is unreasonable, it basically equates free as in free speech with free as in free beer. Isn't it contradictory with the intent of GPL to allow you to sell copies of your program?
                    • by Microlith (54737)

                      that part of GPL is unreasonable

                      Not at all. It ensures the software stays free and not leashed to the creator. What happens if they sell the patent to a company with a vested interest in killing the software?

                      it basically equates free as in free speech with free as in free beer.

                      No, it doesn't. It establishes the GPL for what it is: a way to keep users of FOSS independent of 3rd party entities should they choose to be.

                      Isn't it contradictory with the intent of GPL to allow you to sell copies of your program?

                      No

                    • by RCL (891376)

                      Not at all. It ensures the software stays free and not leashed to the creator. What happens if they sell the patent to a company with a vested interest in killing the software?.

                      No, it doesn't. It establishes the GPL for what it is: a way to keep users of FOSS independent of 3rd party entities should they choose to be.

                      The above means effectively a requirement for GPL'd software to be "free as in beer". GPL should state it clearly that it sees no value in software and that "beer" part is a pre-requisite to "freedom" part: No "freedom" without the "beer". The entire concept of "Free Software" is moot, it is essentially Public Domain in disguise.

                    • by Kjella (173770)

                      The above means effectively a requirement for GPL'd software to be "free as in beer".

                      You can charge whatever you want, but those you give it to must be able to give it away for free. If I'm not able to give it away for free, then per the FSF it's not free software because somebody else controls who I can redistribute it to and how much they'd have to pay for it. I'm not infringing on my free speech if I charge admission to my band's concert. But if someone else could demand money every time I'd like to hold a concert, then clearly that's a restriction on my speech. No matter if they hand ou

                    • by RCL (891376)
                      Did you mean that the speech is only free if it costs you nothing?

                      I think that the analogy is wrong. You aren't charged for holding a concert per se, but for playing a specific song. Which is a more fair requirement because it it untuitively understood that using someone's other work to your advantage should cost you something.
            • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:25PM (#42445831)

              Many adherents claim it is all about freedom of information: The right to have the source code to modify. However for them it is really about just not having to pay for anything, though they won't admit it.

              After all, FRAND open standards are something that would appear to be compatible with open information. They are available to all, and the standard contains everything you need to implement it, the fees for redistribution are fixed, and so on. While it does cost money, the information is open, the implementation is open. There are any secrets and you can re-implement it as you like.

              However many OSS heads scream and cry about it, many of the same ones who will declare that OSS is not incompatible with making money. They'll claim it limits freedom but what they are really mad about is that it limits their ability to get things for free. They don't want to have to pay for software, and FRAND does stand in opposition to that.

              People need to decide which kind of free software they care about: Do you care about open access to the source and information, or do you care about not paying? Either is fine but be clear what it is that matters. Don't claim that openness of code is important and then get mad when code is open, but there are fees for redistribution.

              An example would be H.264. The standard is an open one, and FRAND licensed. You can get the reference code and it has been gotten and improved by projects like x264. However, if you wish to distribute your works, you need to pay for it. It is open, but not no-cost.

              If no-cost is what you want, say so. Don't try to claim that you want open access to code, when what you really want is to just not have to pay for any software.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, there's something wrong with software patents. I use both proprietary and FOSS software and appreciate the principles behind both methods of development and distribution. Existing copyright protection even supports the existence of both models

      Say we need software to decode a popular video format. The proprietary developer writes said software and then distributes it in binary form for a fee. If people want to use this software they can do so by purchasing a license to use it and then can continue to use

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:57PM (#42442615)
    The author starts with the premise that it's a shadowy, secret plot, evidenced by the fact he saw the promos for the workshop only WEEKS in advance. I know I always advertise MY secret plots weeks in advance of sitting down to discuss them. He then proceeds to say that the panel, including two representatives from the Free Software Foundation Europe, was a bunch of anti- Free Software shills. The FSF is against free software? Really? Triple tinfoil hat territory.
  • Why is paying fees incompatible with Open Source, unless Open Source is the same as free as in beer.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      You mean, paying per-copy royalties for software patents. Tell me who pays with "open source" or, more critically, Free Software.

  • The article claims that going from royalty-free licensing to FRAND licensing hurts FOSS. That's wrong. Royalty-free licensing can be just as incompatible with GPLv3 for example as FRAND licensing. GPLv3 requires that you need a patent license that allows you to distribute the software directly or indirectly without any restrictions.

    Here's a GPLv3 incompatible license: "I allow you and everybody else to use my patent in your software and any derived software and distribute it under the GPLv3 or a later li
  • Realistically there's a lot of money behind closed source, not just the company producing it but the countless lawyers and political institutions that maintain and write patents. What about the big box stores that sell it and promote it, advertisers won't be left out in the cold either! Free and open source will continue to fight this uphill battle, not that it necessarily can't or shouldn't, but a company that could commercialize this and genuinely play nice with the community and markets would do quite we

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